Saturday, 14 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Sacred Scriptures about the calling of Levi, the tax collector, whom Jesus our Lord called to be one of His disciples, later known as St. Matthew the Apostle, also one of the Evangelists, the writers of the Four Holy Gospels. We also heard about the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation of God and His people, through Himself as our High Priest.

Through these Scripture passages, the Church wants each of us as Christians to know that God is a loving and merciful God, Who is willing to forgive the sins of His people, provided that they themselves are willing to let God forgive them and provided that they are willing to change their ways, that they would sin no more, and from then on, follow the path of the Lord, that is the path of righteousness and justice.

Many of us often acted like the Pharisees, those who charged sinners for their sins and judged them based on what those sinners had done. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were often against Jesus and were vehemently against what He has done, because they often saw Him in the company of sinners, or what is more precisely, the definition of sinners according to them.

Jesus often walked among the least and the abandoned in the society, those with the afflictions of the flesh and the body, as well as the afflictions of the mind and heart. He worked with the destitute, those who were suffering from illnesses such as paralysis, leprosy and blindness, and also with the tax collectors and prostitutes, whom the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the populace in general considered as sinners and as those unworthy of God.

This is something that we must avoid, brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot be exclusive and think of ourselves as the only ones who are worthy of God and His salvation. After all, each of us are sinners, having disobeyed the Lord in small or major ways, and sin has been in our hearts, without exception. The only exception is our Lord Jesus Himself, Who although He was Man, but He was without any taint of sin.

If we are sinners, then surely we cannot and we should not condemn anyone because of their sins. Why is this so? That is because if we condemn others because of their sins, then God will also condemn us because of our own sins. The act of condemnation and being judgmental themselves are sins in their own ways, because instead of trying to help and reach out to our brethren, we close the path and the door to salvation before them.

However, on the other hand, we should also not compromise on the need for a genuine repentance on the part of the sinner. Repentance is required for sinners to receive the grace of God’s mercy. It is a real danger that we become complacent and think that God is ever merciful and forgiving, that we tolerate ourselves and others around us in our sinful attitudes and deeds. God may be forgiving and loving, but at the same time, He also despises all sorts and forms of sin.

A sinner who does not repent remain a sinner, just as many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to repent from their wickedness and welcome the Lord’s truth. Their sins remained because they did not repent, and instead doubled down on their stubborn resistance to the works of our Lord which He made to all of us through Jesus.

Meanwhile, many sinners who repented and changed their ways became great saints, as Levi the tax collector himself showed. He was reviled and discriminated against as a tax collector, but eventually he turned over a new leaf with the Lord, and now he is revered as one of our Lord’s Twelve Apostles, His principle disciples, as well as with the accolade of becoming one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels. Through St. Matthew, many of God’s good works were done.

There were many other examples of sinners who later became saints and devoted servants of our Lord. But there were also many examples of the righteous who were tempted and seduced by the devil and fall into temptation. This is why it is important for us Christians to hold strongly to our faith and develop our spiritual life well, so that we may grow ever closer to God, and we will be better able to live a faithful, Christian life.

May the Lord help us and bless us in all of our endeavours, and may He keep us in His grace so that we may always stay close to Him and remain in His truth, and not fall into eternal damnation. May He forgive us our sins, and may He love us forevermore, gathering us to Himself. Amen.

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