Saturday, 29 July 2017 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martha (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of St. Martha, one of the close friends and followers of Jesus, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, the man whom the Lord raised from the dead. St. Martha and her siblings followed Jesus and His disciples, and provided for them along their journey. We can witness some of their exploits in several parts of the Gospels.

In one of the accounts, which we heard in the Gospel today, Lazarus the brother of St. Martha was very ill and eventually died while the Lord delayed to come to heal him. St. Martha and her sister Mary were overwhelmed with grief at the loss of their beloved brother. That is just like how many of us are often filled with grief and sorrow because of the death and passing of our beloved ones, be it a member of our families, our relatives or our friends.

And indeed, if we read on beyond the content of today's Gospel passage, we will find the part where Jesus was moved deeply by the love He had for Lazarus, and at how the people, including St. Martha and her sister grieved over the death of Lazarus. And we were told that Jesus wept at the occasion, a proof of just how much God, through Jesus, loves us all mankind.

And it was love which had made everything possible. It was love that had created us, for God is love, and because He wanted to share that love with us, He created us, each and every one of us, and showed us His love. And He intended for us to live with Him in perfect harmony and love. But then, you must be wondering, why is it then that we suffer in this world? Why is it that we have to endure the sorrow of death and separation from those whom we loved?

All of these, brethren, is because of our own disobedience and lack of faith in God. We place our trust in the devil and in his false and empty promises more than we trust the love and providence of God. That is why we end up in such a state of existence, as a consequence for our sins and for our mistakes. But this does not mean that God does not love us, as indeed on the contrary, God has been giving us opportunities after opportunities, chances after chances for us to turn ourselves back to Him and to repent from all of our sins.

If God wanted our destruction, He could easily just annihilate us with the mere slightest effort of His thought and will. Yet, He did not do this. Why? It is simple, because He loves each and every one of us, and although He hates our sins and disobedience, He wants all of us to turn away from those sins and repent from all of our mistakes, therefore going towards God's salvation and grace. And this love God has shown us through none other than, and nothing less than the loving sacrifice which our Lord Jesus suffered on the cross as He died for us.

Through Him, God is willing to make us all His disciples and chosen people, that as we turn away from our sins and as we are absolved from our wickedness, we become worthy of His love, and we may find our peace with Him. He has shown us the perfect and ultimate love, so that we too, who are His disciples, may walk in the same path of love, and show the same love to each other.

How do we love one another, brothers and sisters in Christ? We often think that it is easy to love or show love to another person. However, in reality it is not that simple. We need to show love, care and compassion not just to those who are kind to us and who we know that they can love us back. It is often that in this manner of love, we are expecting to be love back and therefore, we are expecting a return for the love that we give. Our love in this case is a conditional love.

But God did not love us all conditionally. Had He implemented the same standard in showing His love, by expecting all of us to love Him back, He would not have loved us at all, or even gave us any chances. The fact that He was willing to forgive us, and even to lay down His life for us, when we are still sinners and rebels who constantly disobeyed His commands and laws, is proof enough of His unconditional and true love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to love unconditionally as Christ Himself had shown us. Let us not be prejudiced in love, but instead show everyone our love, even to those who have not loved us back or hated us instead. This is something that is easier said and done, and it is often that we will want to hate instead of showing love, especially to those who have caused us much pain and suffering.

Yet, that is exactly what all of us as Christians must do, as all of us are called to give ourselves out of love for others. We must not think that this is difficult to be done, as we should indeed begin from ourselves and start from simple and yet important little acts of love and compassion. If we see anyone around us who are in need of love and care, those who have no one to care for them, those who are ostracised and hated, should we not extend our love to help them?

And should our enemies and those who hate us come to hate us and attack us, should we not tamper their hatred and counter it with love and prayer? The Lord asked us to love our enemies and to pray for those who hate us. And now it is the time for us to do as what the Lord had taught us to do. Let us then be faithful as St. Martha and our holy predecessors had done, and let us emulate the love of God in our own daily lives, through our actions and deeds in life. May God bless us all. Amen.

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