Saturday, 8 April 2017 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings we see seemingly very contrasting pictures painted by what we heard from the first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, which spoke of the coming of the Lord’s glorious kingdom of glory, where He would succour and rescue all of His people suffering and scattered around the world, and the Gospel passage, in which we heard the Pharisees and the chief priests who worked together to arrest Jesus and persecute Him to death.

As we approach the beginning of the week of the Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus, the Holy Week, holiest among the weeks of our Liturgical Year, it is important that we see these two readings as related to each other, in terms that, the Lord will fulfil the promise which He had made to His people, to gather them together once again and bless them again with the fullness of His love, and to bring all of His beloved ones into a life of bliss, happiness and glory, but all these would not come about without the suffering and Passion which our Lord Jesus was to suffer during what we are celebrating in this upcoming Holy Week.

Jesus had to endure rejection, opposition and stubbornness from the people to whom He had been sent to. God had showed His love to His people by sending them none other than His own Son, the Son of David and Son of God, to be the Heir to all the kingdom of David and as Lord and rightful King over all of God’s people, and yet, the very leaders, the chief priests, elders and the Pharisees who were leaders of the people, rejected Him.

The Pharisees and the elders, the chief priests and the high priest himself, Caiaphas, all of them surely were very aware of what Jesus and His disciples had been doing all that time, healing and preaching in many villages and towns throughout Galilee and Judea, and performing even miracles in Jerusalem and its surroundings, even raising Lazarus from the dead near the Holy City. His deeds were well known and could be attested by many who witnessed all of them.

And yet, they refused to believe in Him and rejected Him because, they were much more concerned about themselves, about their status and privileges, about their position in the society, as revered and highly respected members of the elite, upon whom the whole community revolved around. They were concerned that the teachings and works of Jesus would jeopardise their own position and prestige among the people, and a threat because that would probably have caused the Romans to remove the privileges they have granted them.

As such, human pride, ambition and desire for power, prestige and influence have resulted in the obstruction towards the good works of God. The same thing had caused the fall of many among the people of Israel, as well as many other among us mankind. It is all of these wickedness, all of these sins which our Lord Jesus Himself shouldered as He brought His cross on the way from Jerusalem to Calvary, bearing insults and rejection from His beloved people.

And yet, if we remember what Jesus did during His time of Passion and suffering, He forgave His enemies and all those who have persecuted Him. From the cross, He forgave those who have surrendered Him to the Romans and called out for His death, and indeed, He also suffered and died for these people. It is a reminder to all of us that, whenever we sin, God is willing to forgive us, and He has died for those sins that we have committed.

If we have a sense of shame inside us, then surely we would have realised that all the sins we have committed are wrong and are things that we must rectify. It is a time for us to reflect on our lives, even as we enter into the Holy Week. All the more we have to link our actions and deeds in life with the works and the actions of Jesus, Who have taken upon Himself all of our life’s sins and faults on Himself. He has loved each and every one of us who are sinners unto death, death on the cross.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn away from our rebellious ways, from all the things we have committed, all the sins and wrongs we have done in our lives thus far. Let us turn away from the way of the Pharisees and the elders, who have placed themselves and their selfish desires ahead of their responsibility to lead the people of God to their Lord.

Let us all devote ourselves to do what is right and just, by loving and caring for each other, for our neighbours, even for strangers and for our enemies. Let us all forgive one another of the hurt that we have caused each other much as Jesus Himself had forgiven His enemies, all those who have caused Him harm and condemned Him to death.

Let us all die to our pride, to our ego, to our selfishness and all the wickedness in us, and come to live again in glory with God, as we remember together His Passion, death and resurrection in the upcoming Holy Week. May God bless us all. Amen.

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