Saturday, 1 April 2017 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded again that the world itself had rejected Christ and His ways, as shown through the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who debated about the nature of the works which Jesus our Lord had performed as He went about His earthly ministry. They disputed the claim that Jesus was the Messiah and Saviour which God had promised His people, refusing to believe in Him, even though they had seen the multitudes of miracles and great deeds that He had performed before them.

And therefore all of us are reminded to guard ourselves against all those temptations and all the things that have caused man to resist against God, and to harden their hearts against God’s love and mercy. First of all, is the temptation of human greed, which led us to crave for more and more things of this world, such as wealth, fame, renown, knowledge and many other things that we mankind often seek, in order to satisfy that greed we have in us.

Unfortunately, the nature of greed is such that we cannot be satisfied by worldly things we have received. It is in our nature to want for even more after we have received, and when we have something like power, money, possessions and other things, we try to look for even more of these to satisfy our desires and cravings. And when we do not get what we want, we get jealous and are filled with hatred.

That was why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were so adamant and stubborn in their opposition against Jesus. They were the ones who were supposed to be those who would first welcome the Lord, because they were knowledgeable on the matters of the Scriptures, and would have recognised the Messiah of God when He came into the world.

Unfortunately, because they were blinded with jealousy, anger and fear, they were unable to bring themselves to believe in the Lord Jesus, and instead, they acted to preserve their own human and worldly interests. They were those who held great power and influence in the community, and they saw Jesus as a great threat to their power, influence and standing among the Jewish people. As such, they were driven by those to oppose the Lord and His good works.

And then of course, is the temptation of human pride, which is the most dangerous of all forms of sins and temptations. It is the pride of most of the Pharisees and the elders of Israel, that they refused to bend their knee before the Lord Who came before them, and as their ego and pride overtook them, they ended up doing all that they could to thwart the good works of God, even though some among them, including Nicodemus, tried to point out to them the truth of God.

How are all these relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is through understanding that if we do not restrain ourselves, our desires and wants, we will end up like the Pharisees and the scribes, being too busy with their own preoccupations with their power, worldly schemes and plans, to notice the grace of God at work around us.

Many of us Christians call ourselves as such, and yet, if we look more carefully at our actions, we will indeed be ashamed. We call ourselves Christians and yet in our actions and deeds, and also in our words, we do not act in the way that Christians should have done. Instead, we committed things and deeds that are wicked in the sight of God and man alike.

We cause pain and suffering for others, just because we are too greedy in desiring for more money and influence. We treat our fellow men badly because we exploit them and we did not treat them in the manner that we should be treating our fellow brethren in the Lord. We exploit others for our own personal benefit and advantage, and in our selfishness we have caused others to be sorrowful.

This is what we all need to avoid, and if we have done all these things, perhaps it is time indeed during this season of Lent for us to take a step back and reflect on our past actions and deeds. Have we been faithful to the Lord as how He had taught us to be faithful, by loving and showing care and compassion to our fellow brethren? Or have we instead acted out of our human pride, greed and selfishness? Have we treated our fellow men badly simply in order to satisfy our wants and desires?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this wonderful and extraordinary time of mercy, let us all turn towards God and seek His forgiveness. Let us all repent from our past sins and wrongdoings, and let us throw away all of our human pride, greed and all the things that had separated us from God and His love. Let us welcome the Lord and allow Him to come into our hearts, so that He may transform us into those who are worthy to receive His grace and inheritance.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen our faith within us, so that we may persevere through the temptations and challenges of the world. May we all draw closer to Him and to His love, so that in everything we say and do, we will always proclaim the glory of God, now and forevermore. God bless us all. Amen.

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