Thursday, 2 March 2017 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures, firstly from the Book of Deuteronomy, about how Moses laid two choices before the people, either to obey the Lord and be righteous, or to disobey the Lord and turn away from the Lord. The choice was made very clearly, between following the Lord and its accompanying actions, with following the ways of the world and wickedness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we continue through the second day of the season of Lent, we are reminded that in order to follow the Lord, we have to be committed throughout, and we have to dedicate ourselves to His ways. We cannot and we should not be indecisive in this manner, as sooner or later, we will be forced to make a decision and choose between following the ways of God and with following the paths of the world.

We are reminded that Jesus Himself, our Lord, had been rejected by this world, and made to suffer rejection, ridicule, humiliation and eventually death on the cross, by all those who refused to believe in Him and refused to follow Him. Jesus Himself had to endure all the pains and sorrows, and He had to bear the heavy weight of that cross as He made His way from Jerusalem to the hill of Calvary, bearing all the multitudes of our sins and their consequences upon Himself.

This is where all of us Christians are told to share what He had endured and experienced, for just as the Lord had suffered rejection from the world, so we all will also be rejected by the world as well, because of our faith in Him. That is because what is acceptable to God and righteous in the sight of the Lord, is unacceptable for the world. And of course, what is acceptable to the world, is often against the ways of our Lord.

Why is that so? That is because the world had been marred and corrupted by sin, ever since sin entered the world through the sins of mankind. Man had disobeyed the Lord and went away from His ways, and became more and more separated from Him, and Satan became their master instead of their one and true Lord and Master, Who is God. Satan ruled over the world, because he had power over the hearts and minds of many people through sin.

And we know just how busy Satan was in his attempts to undermine the salvation of mankind, as he came to tempt Jesus in the desert in three occasions but without any success, and later on, he would persuade the hearts and minds of the Pharisees and the scribes and elders to rally against Jesus and oppose His works at almost all possible opportunities, before entering into the heart of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to His enemies.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in all of these, we have to understand that the reality of our faith is one that is always come into conflict and opposition with the forces of those who do not want to see us saved from the darkness, those who would rather keep us in our state of sin, chained and kept to the slavery under our sinfulness. But God Who loves us do not want to see us in this way, as He came to rescue us and redeem us from all that had brought us down, and through His own suffering and death, He wants to show us that by following Him, no matter how difficult it will be, that there is a way out of the darkness and into the light.

In this season of Lent, it is important for us to remember what the Lord Jesus had told His disciples, that all those who follow Him must take up their own crosses and follow Him. What does this mean, brothers and sisters? It does not mean that we literally and physically carry up wooden crosses just as Jesus had done. Instead, it rather means that we have to stand up for our faith and commit ourselves to what we believe at all times, even when opposition and challenges come upon us.

Are we able to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to remain true to the Lord even amidst challenges and even persecutions? Let us keep in mind our suffering brethren in faith in many different parts of the world, all those who have to even worry about the safety of their very lives just to remain faithful to the Lord, and where to practice the faith may mean costing someone their freedom, their status in the society, as well as their rights.

Let us all spend some time during this season of Lent, to prepare ourselves wholly that we may grow ever closer to the Lord, so that we will not just treat this moment just as any other moments, but spend it well, by the means of abstinence that we practice during this season, abstaining from sin and from all acts that are against the Lord, and also by helping one another to persevere in our faith.

Let us pray for one another, and support each other, so that even though we have to bear the heavy crosses of our faith, and even when difficulties, challenges and even persecutions come our way, we will not give up and will be able to remain true to our faith, and therefore, be found righteous and worthy of the salvation found in our God alone. May God bless us all. Amen.

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