Monday, 14 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the long story from the Old Testament, of the encounter between Daniel, the faithful servant of God in the land of exile in Babylon, with another exile, Susanna, a very pious and Godfearing woman, who refused to live in sin and to compromise her own faith to God. And we heard how she was tested when the two elders entrusted with rulership and judgment over the people, wanted to sin with her, and she refused to listen to them or to give in to them.

And even though she had to go through even the risk of death for refusing the attempts of the two elders, but she kept herself strong and deeply anchored in the knowledge that God would come to the rescue of those who placed their trust and faith in Him. And indeed, God did not abandon her to die at the hands of those who would bring her to harm. She was framed and blamed for something that she did not commit, and God would not let His faithful ones to suffer and die in such a manner.

And thus He aroused His Spirit inside Daniel, and made him to speak up and stand up for the sake of the beleaguered Susanna. And in the end, as we heard, the wisdom of God made clear to all through Daniel, managed to overturn all the wicked plots and conspiracies, and all the shrouds of lies that the wicked elders had put in place in order to safeguard themselves at the expense of an innocent, an excuse to get them out of the responsibility for their own sins.

There are indeed a few lessons that we can bring away from all that we have heard today. First of all, it is a reaffirmation by the Lord, a very strong and firm reassurance to us that all those who placed their trust and keep our faith in Him, and who walk faithfully and with commitment upon His ways. We shall not falter and fail, as long as we are faithful to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we put our trust in our human strength alone, we shall fail. Susanna did not worry about whether she could endure all the persecutions by herself, as she was not alone, and God was with her in all of her tribulations. And in fact, God was fighting for her and through His mighty works, He condemned the wicked who conspired against her and tried to push her to sin against her will.

And this brings us to the next thing that we ought to learn. This is that we should be responsible over whatever it is that had been entrusted to us. If we have been entrusted with power and with care over others, our fellow men, then we really should not abuse such power and use it for our own benefit. This is one place where many of us mankind have failed to do, and many of us fell into sin because of this.

The two elders were unable to restrain themselves and they gave in to their lust, their heart’s desire for earthly and worldly pleasures and gain for themselves, even if others were to suffer because of them. In this season of Lent, we practice to control our urges and desires, holding back our greed and the desires of the flesh, so as not to sin further and to be more righteous in all of our actions.

But more importantly, those two elders used their position as the judges and rulers over the people, the position of leadership and great esteem over the people to gain for themselves such wicked pleasures, trying to even cover up their tracks by condemning others who were innocent, with false accusations that brings about death and suffering.

This is a lesson for all of us, that with power and privilege comes responsibility and great burden for us to bear. We must use power responsibly, and we have to realise that whatever God had entrusted to us and given to us, they are nothing more than to bring all of us closer to Him, and to help one another in our lives in this world, and not to make ourselves better at the expense of others.

We have to realise that in this season of Lent, it is a time of great renewal for us, that if we have once allowed ourselves to be corrupted by power and by whatever have been given to us, now we should open ourselves to the opportunity to love and to care for one another, and to give of ourselves freely to those who need our help, especially the poor, the sick, the unloved and all those rejected by the world.

May God help us in our path that we may persevere through the temptations of life, and may we be able to reach out to Him and be saved in the redemption and forgiveness which He had offered us. God bless us all. Amen.

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