Saturday, 26 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Word of God in the Scriptures telling us all about the importance of humility and obedience to God, as we heard firstly of how the woman Ruth met Boaz, who would then become the grandparents of the famous king of Israel, David. And then we heard in the Gospel, how Jesus our Lord rebuked the Pharisees and their proud attitude, and their lack of genuine faith to God.

In the first reading today, continuing from what we have heard in the Scriptures, we heard how the woman Ruth, a foreigner, who decided to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi to the land of Israel, met up with Boaz, with whom she would eventually be married to, and had a son. Ruth and her mother-in-law were faithful to God, and they placed their trust in Him, despite the difficulties and the challenges they had to encounter.

They had no possessions of their own, Naomi and her husband having left behind the land of Israel, and when her husband and two sons died in the land of Moab, Naomi was left with just Ruth and her other daughter-in-law whom she told to return to her homeland. Ruth refused to leave, but instead vowed to follow Naomi wherever she went, and took the Lord, the God of Naomi and her people, as her own God and Master.

In this manner, even though they were without family and possessions, but they had great favour in the sight of God, Who saw their faith and were glad at their dedication. That was why He blessed Ruth and Naomi, and Ruth became one of the members of the history of salvation, as through her and Boaz came the king David, and eventually through David, to Jesus Christ, Who was born into the house of David.

Then linking it to the Gospel passage we heard today, the Lord Jesus spoke about the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were often seen in the public places showing their piety through their prayer bands and shawls, their long prayers and public show of faith, their public fasting and observances of the Law. He rebuked them for all of these because, despite all that they had done, they did not do those things for God but instead for themselves and for their own selfish desires.

God did not have a place in their hearts, as their hearts were full of ego and pride, with their worldly desires and greed. They have not been humble before God but instead thinking that their way is the best and the right way. In that same spirit therefore they have conducted their lives, acting with arrogance and pride, and looking down on all those whom they deemed to be inferior to themselves. But they did not realise that God despised their selfishness and arrogance.

In today’s readings, God reminded us all His followers that as Christians all of us are called to be humble and to be open to His will. We are called to listen to Him and to allow His works to be fulfilled through us. But this is something that is not easily done, and challenges will surely be in our path as we walk in God’s path. There will be those times when we will be tempted to succumb to the allures of the pleasures of the flesh, and tempted to satisfy our greed and our ego.

However, if we do not actively resist these temptations, we may end up becoming like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, whose faith has been found wanting, and whose love and commitment to the Lord was found to be lacking. Is this what we want from ourselves? Is this what the Lord had taught us to do? As Christians, in fact, all of us should seek to listen to the Lord Who told us in the Gospel today, that we must be humble in all things, and the greater we are, the humbler we should be.

At the centre of all these is the fact that as Christians we must be men for others, and we should not put ourselves and our own wants and desires ahead of the need of others. We must be selfless and ever be ready to think of others first, and be concerned with them. This is what all of us Christians must do, and which many of us may not have done in our faith life. Let us all therefore have that commitment to live faithfully in accordance with God’s will, knowing that it is He alone Who can guide us to the right path.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to walk in the path shown to us by the Lord, by doing what He has commanded us to do, by not succumbing to our ego and desires, and by cultivating in us the spirit of love and compassion for our fellow men. Let us all be faithful to God and be humble in all things we say and do. Let God enter into our hearts and do not close our hearts to Him because of our ego and arrogance, our greed and our desires.

May the Lord bless us all, just as He has blessed those who are faithful to Him, and all those who walk humbly in His presence. May He empower us all so that we will always be ever faithful to Him. Amen.

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