Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we heard today the opposition which the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the elders of the people presented against Jesus, as they tried to convince everyone that Jesus was not the Messiah, that He was a fraud and a heretic, and that He had blasphemed against God by His many teachings that seemingly ran contrary to what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had uphold.
Of course it did not mean that all the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were wicked and without good. It did not mean that all the Pharisees were adamantly against Jesus, as the Gospel passage itself reminded us that Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees who believed in Jesus and accepted His teachings. And Joseph of Arimathea was another one of these Pharisees who also believed in Him.
But this opposition against Jesus came about not so much because of what Jesus had taught, as compared to what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law perceived about Him. They saw Him as a rival and a threat to their influence, because what He taught the people seemed to be different from what they were teaching the people, and He rebuked them in various occasions for their supposed lack of true faith.
The Pharisees, the elders and the teachers of the Law were at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of the society of the people of God at the time, they were the ones who interpreted the Law for the people, and they determined how the people would come and worship, and managed the rites and the celebrations at the Temple, regulating all forms of rules in the society.
In such a privileged position and in such a position of honour, it can be easily seen how they were gathering together heaps upon heaps of praises and honour, and therefore, as what is in our human nature, we tend to gloat in such pleasures, being pleased and satisfied by those adulation, and therefore, we grew in our ego and pride, and the same thing happened to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
And thus, they were not willing to let go of all the honour, the fame, the position of honour they have achieved in the world, to listen to the truth of Jesus speaking to them and all the people. They shut the doors of their heart tight and they refused to listen to the Lord speaking to them. To them, the Lord Jesus was someone Who came to destroy all that they have gained in the world.
And this was why the Lord was so critical on His criticism at them. These people have misused and abused their authority, and they have even misled the people of God into the wrong path. And instead of guiding the people of God to come closer to Him through a greater understanding of God’s laws and commandments, and through a greater desire to love the Lord, they have oppressed the people with numerous obligations that were really unnecessary.
It is a lesson for all of us then, as we progress through this season of Lent, for us to reexamine ourselves and our actions. Have we been truly faithful in God, and have we been walking in His path all along? This is the time for us to realise how that there is still so many things we can do to prove our faith to the Lord. We should not follow the path of the Pharisees who placed themselves first before God, and who sought to satisfy their own needs first before obeying God.
Let us all learn through fasting and abstinence, the habit to resist our own selfishness, our pride, our hubris, our greed and all the things that are pulling at us and tempting us to abandon our path towards the Lord. Let us all put the effort to become ever closer to the Lord and to be more faithful to Him. Let us follow Him with all of our heart and find our way to His grace, the life everlasting. Amen.