Sunday, 9 July 2017 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bible Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we are reminded through the readings from the Sacred Scriptures of the great love which our God has for us, that He gave us the means to our salvation, that is none other than through our Lord Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, through Whom He had brought salvation upon all of us mankind.

By His own will He has willingly sent us His own Son, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have received the perfect revelation of God’s truth and teachings, calling us to turn ourselves completely, body, heart, mind and soul towards Him and turning our back from the burdens and chains of our old selves, which had been enslaved to sin and wickedness, to disobedience and aberrations from the path of God. He wants to free us from our current state of suffering and sin.

In the second reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome mentioned how all of the faithful ought to leave behind their existence in the flesh and embrace their new existence in the spirit. This is what all of us Christians are called to do, that is for us to abandon our past sinfulness and all the temptations and obstacles that had prevented us from truly being able to commit ourselves to God.

But what is the existence in the flesh? What does it mean and what is its significance for us? Existence of the flesh means that we mankind live in accordance to the desires of our flesh, succumbing to the demands of our human desires and wishes, by listening to the temptations of Satan instead of listening to the word of God calling us to righteousness.

It means that we succumb to the desires to sin, to covet what others have but we do not have, satisfying our greed for worldly goods and material wealth. To lust for others and to have improper sexual conduct outside of marriage, among many other things. It also means that we strive to gain the satisfaction of the flesh, amassing for ourselves the treasures of this world, often at the expense of our own souls.

We often bicker and become angry with one another, when we are engulfed and overcome by greed, and thus hatred become part of us. This is how many of our unfortunate human conflicts have sprung up in this world. We are never satisfied because what we seek are merely temporary happiness that can only satisfy us for a while, but then after that, cause us to be even more hungry and desiring for what we want.

This is the existence in the flesh, which all of us mankind are surely quite familiar with, as that is what we all grew up with. And this has become our burden, the burden which bears down upon us, the burden of sin. Yet, this is where the Lord comes, offering to us a different existence, that is existence in the Spirit, where we no longer obey the desires of our flesh and of worldly demands, but instead, we obey only the Lord, Who leads us and guides us to the true path.

That is what the Lord offered to us, a new path that leads not to ruin but instead to salvation and liberation, eternal joy and happiness, where all of us will be reconciled with God and receive forever the grace of His love. This is the new path that God pointed to us and showed us through Jesus, Who taught us of this truth. Yet, many of us mankind still refused to follow Him and obey Him, and many of us still closed our hearts against Him.

Why is that so? That is because we often prefer the easier path, and one that appears easier to us, is the path that is not the path shown by the Lord. It is the status quo, our existence in the flesh, which brings us temporary happiness, a ‘quick fix’ for us, a fleeting moment of joy and pleasure, but one which unfortunately do not last. Satan is always at work out there, trying to keep us in this state, tempting us to sin against God, offering us his false promises and showering us with worldly pleasures.

That is not, however, what the Lord told us. He clearly told His disciples, and therefore all of us, that His way is the true way, the way that leads to true joy and happiness. He said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Indeed, this is the truth that Satan wants to keep away from us, by tempting us without ceasing and persecuting us, that we end up turning away from God and fall into sin.

Through this, all of us Christians must know that if we follow the Lord, walk in His path and obey Him, we will indeed not have an instant gratification and eternal joy right away, for there is indeed a burden which He imposed on us, none other than the burden of our crosses in life. All of us, Christians, who believe in the Lord Jesus and His salvation, are called to carry our crosses with us in our lives, and to follow the Lord with faith and obedience.

What is this cross we have, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the cross of love, the challenge for us all to love one another, and to show generosity and mercy to our fellow brethren, even towards all those who hate us and all who have brought upon us ridicule, persecution and suffering. It is easy for us to hate those who have hated us, but it is far more difficult for us to love those who hate us and persecute us. Yet, that is what the Lord called us to do and wanted us to do in our lives.

And we will indeed be rejected and ridiculed by others because of how we lived our lives in accordance with the will of God. For instance, while others desire to serve their own needs first and be selfish, all of us Christians are called to be selfless and to show our love to our brethren as much as we love ourselves. We are called to this way of life, this existence in the Spirit, just as the Lord had shown us how to do so.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to devote ourselves to the Lord in this manner? Are we all able to walk in the path which He had shown us? Let us all no longer doubt or be hesitant, but instead, let us all seek the Lord with joy, just as the prophet Zechariah in our first reading urged the people to rejoice and to be filled with jubilation, at the coming of the Lord, Who will save His people and bring glory to His Name.

Let us all henceforth, from now on, put our complete trust in the Lord, and become His true disciples and followers. Let us all exorcise and cast away from ourselves all that is wicked, impure and unworthy of God. We do not have to do great things in order to do this, but we can begin from ourselves, from every small and little deeds we do in our daily lives, one at a time.

Let us all show love and compassion to each other, caring for those who are in need, showing forgiveness and tenderness to those who have wronged us, and praying for all those who hate us and who have persecuted us and caused us pain. Let us all be like the Lord, Who have shown us all how to love, and how to be more like Him, so that in the end, we may be found worthy of the Lord, and He will grant us His eternal rest, that we will be forever joyful in His presence.

May God bless us all, remain with us and strengthen our faith in us always. May all of us grow ever stronger in our devotion to Him, and grow ever more generous with our love and compassion. Amen.

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