Saturday, 11 March 2017 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day each and every one of us are reminded that as Christians, we have the obligation to love one another, and foremost of all, to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our strengths and might. This is what God had commanded us to do, and which we must do wholeheartedly and sincerely in our daily lives.

It is the heart and the true purpose of the Law of God. God has loved us so much that He wants us all to be like Himself, to be like Him Who is love. And His love is perfect and impartial, and He gives His love freely to all. And therefore, because God is love, so therefore His Law is also the Law of love. He has given His laws to His people so that through these laws, they may learn about love, and also how to love sincerely with their hearts.

But as the time went on, many misunderstood and misinterpreted God’s laws. They used them for their own purposes, to advance their own causes and to gain advantages for themselves. This is what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. Instead of bringing love to the people of God, the laws of the Lord became a source of burden and difficulty for the people, for they had been applied without proper understanding of its true meaning and intent.

And many took the laws and commandments of God at its face value, not realising and appreciating what these laws are truly about. The first and most important of all the commandments that God had given us His people is truly very basic and very simple, that all of us have to love God with all of our might, with all of our strength and conviction, and with our entire and whole beings. It is to follow in what God had first done unto us, giving us His unconditional love by creating us out of love for us, and by granting us His grace of life and His love.

Many of us in the world today love in the way that is not in accordance with what the Lord had taught us to do. We love because we often seek returns from the love which we have given. We love others because we know that those people will love us back and give us back in return what we have given them first, and sometimes we even demand that more should be returned to us than what we give.

That is what happened to our society and communities today, even in the love present between our families and our couples in marriages. We love because it is a conditional and transactional love, desiring for reward and returns on what we have done. This is why we have also become overly engrossed with appearances, with external beauty, desiring pleasures of the flesh, improper sexual conducts, and all the things which led to the perversion of love.

Do we all realise that when we do all these, what we have in us is not love? It is in fact desire and human greed that we have in us, loving only ourselves and caring only for our own needs. It is this selfish love and caring for oneself that had led to the breakdown of many relationships and families, and at the same time, distancing ourselves from the Lord our God.

In the Gospel passage today, all of us as Christians are challenged to overcome this status quo. We are all challenged to break free from this habit of selfishness and greed. We are all called to follow none other than the Lord our God Himself in His examples, in how He has loved us all unconditionally. And what better example there is than the loving sacrifice of Christ?

In this time and season of Lent, we are all called to reflect on the examples of Christ, Who has loved all of His beloved people, and most importantly, as He Himself said in the Gospel today, that true love, and indeed Christian love, is to love all others unconditionally and without desire for returns or rewards. And this includes loving even all those who do not love us, all those who have hurt us and hated us.

And above all else, Christ has Himself done what He had preached, loving all His enemies, forgiving them even from the cross, as He was hung on it dying from His suffering. He forgave all of them from their sins and all that they had inflicted on Him. Are we able to love in the same manner as Christ our Lord had loved? This is a challenge that all of us as Christians should take up on during this time of Lent.

Let us all reflect on this, brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us think in what way we are able to obey the Lord more faithfully by following the examples of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had shown us all how to love and how to obey the Lord and His will. He Himself had obeyed His Father to the very end, and therefore, all of us who believe in Him ought to do the same as well.

May this season of Lent be truly a time of conversion for us, that all of us who have once been unloving, wicked and selfish may be turned into loving, forgiving and compassionate children of God our Father, following His examples in being selfless and true in our love for each other, just as how we love Him with all of our hearts, minds and strengths. God bless us all. Amen.

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