Sunday, 19 March 2017 : Third Sunday of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through the third Sunday of this season of Lent, today we are reminded of God’s love and grace, which He had given us all so generously to all of us His people from time to time, and through which He had granted us the grace of salvation by sending none other than His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into this world, so that all who believe in Him may be saved and have eternal life through Him.

In today’s first reading, we heard about the rebelliousness of the people of Israel who grumbled and complained against God and His servant, Moses, complaining that they would suffer to death from hunger and thirst in the desert. They were angry against Moses and God for having brought them out of the land of Egypt, where they had suffered for over four hundred and fifty years in slavery, but in that instance, many of them wondered that if they had stayed in the land of Egypt, then they would at least have food to eat and water to drink.

They doubted God’s love and providence, even after they had seen how God had liberated them with His mighty power, bringing down the proud Pharaoh and the Egyptians, humbling them with His ten plagues over Egypt, and even after He had opened the Red Sea before them, allowing them to walk barefoot through the seabed, and crushed their enemies before them by allowing the sea to go back to its place as the Egyptian chariots passed through.

They doubted His love even after He had taken care of them for very long during their journey through the desert, even after He had fed them daily with the sweet manna, bread from Heaven itself, and also gave them large birds and fowls every evening to eat. He also gave them water even from the rocks, the clearest and finest quality water to drink in the middle of the desert, where nothing should have existed, not even water and food.

But they were not thankful to God, and instead, they grumbled and complained, and even wanted to kill Moses. They also raised even a golden idol, precisely a golden calf to be god over them when they were impatient waiting for Moses who went up the mountain of God at Horeb for forty days and forty nights. These are just among the many things which showed the disobedience of Israel throughout their time in the desert.

They have placed the desires of their flesh ahead of their faith in God. They placed the demands of their stomachs and bodies beyond their obligation and responsibility to worship the Lord and remaining true to Him in all things. They abandoned God just because they were not able to restrain the demands of their flesh, the desire to eat and drink, and of all other worldly things, which had tempted them to sin.

In this time of Lent, all of us are called by God to reevaluate our lives, our priorities and all of our actions. Let us all ask ourselves, what is it that we are living for in this world? Many of us have spent many hours working and indeed, toiling hard worrying about how we are to eat and drink everyday, and what we are going to do with our lives, with our wealth and possessions, worrying about our hard-earned wealth and even desiring more of what we already had.

This is what many of us mankind often do, and we are so preoccupied with our daily living that we are unable to see that in all of our pursuits for these things, we have lost the focus of our lives, and we are looking for the wrong things in life. What do I mean with this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that while we seek to build for ourselves worldly treasures, we often forget that all the things we now possess will not last forever.

Whatever we have now, can be gone in just a flash of a moment. We are concerned with the demands of our flesh and our bodies, much as the Israelites had done in the past, but we forgot that while we worry about this and that, in reality, we do not really need all of these. Many of the things we now enjoy in this world are illusions and diversions that keep us away from finding the true joy that can be found in God alone.

That is because, even though we worry about many things in life, all that we need in life have been taken care of by none other than the Lord our God Himself. He has provided us all that we need, the life we have, which is a gift from Him, and also all the other times that He had blessed us with all the good things in life, but which we did not notice to be the grace given to us from God.

Like the people of Israel, who have been blessed bountifully by God, many of us often do not realise that God had done so much for us. We often take God, His love and grace for us for granted, and when we are in trouble, we often complained that God has not been there for us, which is exactly as what the Israelites had done, and like what we often do as well. How often is it that we feel angry at God for not giving us what we want?

This is where we must realise that what we want is often not God truly willed for us. We have always sought for things of this world, for food, for sustenance, for money, for pleasures of the flesh and the body, for sexual gratification, for recognition among the people, for fame and renown, and for all other things which we often crave and desire for, but which cannot satisfy us.

For we all should know that all of these worldly things bring no lasting satisfaction because when we have a taste of these things, we will desire and crave for even more. Such is the extent of our human greed and desire. And that is why in the Gospel today, when Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman, He pointed out that she had had five husbands, and the current one that she had was not even her husband!

When we mankind are unable to restrain ourselves, and place our trust in the things of this world, in our wealth, in our money, in our appearances and bodily pleasures, that is when we start to slide into the quicksand of sin which pulls us steadily deeper and deeper until we are unable to escape, unless we make the conscious effort to stand up and say no to sin and to our weaknesses.

Jesus said that those who believe in Him will be able to draw living water from Him, for He is the Living Water, the source of all life and satisfaction, which refers also to the time when Israel was in the desert and God gave them all that they need. If only that they placed their complete trust in God, instead of grumbling and complaining because they could not get what they wanted, they would have been perfectly happy living in the grace of God.

Now let us all ask ourselves, is God at the centre of our lives? Is He the reason why we continue to do our work and our action in this life, from day after day? If God is not at the centre of all the things we say and do, we will soon realise that whatever we are doing are meaningless and mundane, and that is when we begin to lose faith in God and in our life. Do we want to be like those who are never able to be satisfied, constantly seeking something better for themselves, or do we rather want to be with God, and enjoy His grace and love?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this blessed time and season of Lent, all of us are called to repent from our sins and turn from our worldliness, from all the things that have kept us away from God and His love. We are called to let go of our human pride, from our desires, from our selfishness, all the things that have become serious obstacles on our path to God’s grace.

Let us reorientate our lives completely, so that Jesus our Lord is at the heart of our very being and existence. Through our penance and repentance, let us humbly seek forgiveness for all the times that we have been angry at Him, thinking that He had ignored us and our pleas. Let us all realise just how much He had loved us all, and through understanding of God’s love, let us show the same love to each other, through our almsgiving and kindness to those who are less fortunate than us.

Let us realise that because God lives in us, and because He is with us, we can do all things in He Who strengthens us, which is the words spoken by St. Paul in praise of God, the source of our life and our strength. May this time of Lent become the time for our redemption and for us to rejuvenate our faith in the Lord, that as we grow ever stronger in our faith, we may draw strength to persevere in this life and be ever righteous to the end. May God, the source of our life, the eternal Spring of Life, be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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