Thursday, 27 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard from the Book of Exodus in our first reading about how the people of Israel came into the new covenant which God established between Himself and all of them at Mount Sinai. A covenant is a formal act of commitment made between two parties, where each parties solemnly promised to fulfil their part of the covenant to each other.

God had made the covenant with His people, beginning from Abraham, who was called by God to be His servant. Abraham showed a very dedicated and committed faith, through which he lived his life, following the will of God in how He wanted his life to be, and obeyed God in all of His will and commandments. And God Himself was always faithful to His covenant and promises, and thus God fulfilled what He had told Abraham, that his descendants would be a great nation and God would be their God.

Yet, if we read on through the accounts and history of the people of Israel, just right after God established His covenant with Israel, the people of Israel betrayed Him and left Him behind for other, pagan gods. Just because Moses went up the Mount Sinai for an extended stay there with God, Who used that opportunity to relay His laws and commandments to him, then the people rose up against Moses and God, and lifted up a pagan idol over them, a golden calf.

In the Gospel today, we heard about the Lord Jesus and His disciples, at the moment when they asked Him why He was teaching and speaking to them and to the people in parables. A parable is a story which is an approximation and a representation of what actually happened in the real life, which Jesus used for His teachings to deliver the truth to the people in a way that is more understandable and easier to be accepted.

Why is this so? That is because Jesus liked to use parables related to farming practices, such as the parable of the sower, the parable of the fig tree and others, which farmers and those who were working in the agricultural field could appreciate and understand. In addition, Jesus also liked to use parables related to fishing and shepherding, where many of the people also were shepherds and fishermen. Through all these parables, our Lord wanted to enlighten our minds with the truth and help us to comprehend the great mystery of God.

Yet, even though the Lord had shown His people through words, through parables and stories, and through miracles and wonders, many of His people refused to listen to Him or believe in Him. They refused to believe even after having seen how Jesus healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, curing the deaf and the mute and casting out the evil spirits from those who were possessed by those wicked and evil spirits. It was the same with their ancestors, who refused to believe in God and constantly rebelled against Him even though they have frequently witnessed God's power and wonders firsthand.

Their faith was a superficial faith, and the faith did not have strong roots in them. They were easily amazed and attracted by the great wonders and miracles of God, and were awed by what they had seen, but this did not equate to a strong, living and genuine faith inside of them. They were easily tempted by worldly temptations of power, of greed, of desire and all those that the devil had placed as obstacles in their path. They stubbornly hardened their hearts and refused to open themselves to the Lord.

This is a reminder for all of us, that our faith in God cannot be like that of the Israelites. Our faith must be real and living, and we must have sincere devotion and commitment to God. In that way, then we will be able to truly be God's people, and we will be able to follow Him wholeheartedly without any reservations. This is what we need to do, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we need to take real actions and steps to ensure our commitment to the Lord and His ways.

How do we do this, then? We have to begin from ourselves, by looking deep into ourselves and think in what manner that we are able to contribute to the good works of the Church, and how we can be better disciples of the Lord. When we are faithful to the Lord, all that we do and say will give glory to God, and God will reward our faithfulness and commitment with His everlasting love and grace.

Let us all from now on be true disciples of the Lord, so that in all of our lives we may always seek to become closer to God, and strive to obey Him in all of His commandments and laws, that we will have true faith in Him, and not just merely superficial faith that is easily shaken by the worldly temptations and challenges we encounter. May the Lord be with us and may He continue to guide us in our path. Amen.

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