Sunday, 28 January 2018 : Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday as we gather together to celebrate the Holy Mass, let us all spend some time to reflect on what we have just heard in the Scripture passages today, beginning with the Book of Deuteronomy, our first reading, in which we heard Moses, the leader of the people of Israel during the time of the Exodus, spoke of a prophecy concerning the coming of a great prophet from among the people.

In fact, that prophecy was a premonition for the coming of the Messiah or Saviour promised by God to Israel, and to all of mankind, as the One in Whom God Himself would speak through, in Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Saviour of the world and Son of God. But Jesus, as we all know, is also the Son of Man, as the One born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the legal descendant and heir of David, rightful King of Israel.

And He came into the world, and fulfilled God’s promise of salvation to His people, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, when a man filled with evil spirits was at a synagogue where Jesus was teaching to the people. He taught with great authority and truth, unlike the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were hypocrites and did not practice what they have preached. Jesus showed with true sincerity what it meant to become a disciple of God.

He had mercy on the man who was enslaved by the demons, and with authority He cast those demons out of the man, and the man was therefore healed from his sickness. The people who saw the miraculous occasion were astonished and they praised God and believed in Jesus, as they saw in Him a new hope and light amidst the darkness of the world. This had been foretold by Moses and the prophets, particularly the prophet Isaiah.

Unfortunately and ironically, those who were entrusted to safeguard the teachings and the messages of the prophets, and those who were educated and equipped with the knowledge of the coming of God’s salvation, did not enthusiastically welcome the Lord Who came into the world to save His people. Instead, they ridiculed Him and doubted Him, and even challenged His authority, failing to perceive that what Jesus taught the people was the truth.

And in fact, the evil spirits themselves recognised Jesus as Who He was, and they rightly feared Him. Why is that so? That is because even though they had power over men and that they were able to threaten us mankind and cause harm to us, just as their master Satan is able to, but they ultimately are also God’s creations, the once beautiful and just Angels who have since fallen from grace, as they followed in Satan’s rebellion, and therefore became evil spirits and demons.

It is sad to see how mankind have often refused to listen to God, and instead preferring to walk in their own path, following their own flawed judgments and desires. Right from the beginning of time, from the time of Adam and Eve, our ancestors, to the people of Israel, as recorded in the Books of the Old Testament, and also as mentioned earlier, the opposition faced by Jesus as told in the Gospels, all of these highlight the rebellious nature of man.

Yet, God has been so kind to us, so as to give us one opportunity after another, and having been patient with us, to the point of giving us the best of all gifts, by giving Himself to us mankind, that through Him, and eventually by His ultimate loving sacrifice on the cross, we may have hope through Him, and that we may be saved and forgiven from our sins. It was through Jesus that each and every one of us Christians have been saved.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, how should we then proceed from now on? How should we then live our lives so that we can be good followers of Our Lord? Then we should heed what St. Paul had mentioned in our second reading today, in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth. He asked all of the faithful to live a righteous life, dedicated and committed, centred upon God, and not upon themselves.

If we are to read the message of the excerpt taken from his Epistle today, we may find it weird that St. Paul was actually discouraging the people from having marital relationships. But we have to understand what he said in the context of what the faithful believed at that time. At that time, the common consensus among many of the faithful, including among the Apostles and the disciples was that the Lord Jesus would soon come again into the world, within their lifetime. Therefore, that was why, St. Paul made such an advice to the people.

Nonetheless, what St. Paul said to the people is true, and indeed is a fact, except for his suggestion on married life. In order for us to be true disciples of the Lord, we have to centre our focus and attention on God, and He must be the focal point of our lives and our actions. St. Paul’s concern that those who have husband or wife might be distracted because they were divided between satisfying the needs of their husband or wife, and satisfying their obligations to the Lord, is also therefore justified.

In our lives today, many of us have known the Lord, thanks to the hard work of all those who devoted their lives, generation after generation, passing down the faith and the truth as preserved in the Church, and we keep alive this faith this very day, as all those who call ourselves as Christians, as those who accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah as Our Lord and Saviour.

However, many of us are often indifferent to Him, or even ignorant of Him. Many of us fulfil our obligations to go to the Sunday Mass and other celebrations of our faith, but for the sake of fulfilling our obligations or even fearing of retribution and punishment. Many of us even find it a chore to spend time with the Lord, and how many of us can relate with the experience of those who keep on looking at their watches, being impatient waiting for the time when the Mass ends and then we can continue doing our daily activities?

Brothers and sisters, if we have done all of these in the past, then we should be ashamed if we remember what happened in the past, as told by the Scriptures to us. If the evil spirits themselves feared God and bowed low before Him, then why do we not also do the same? And if God has spared nothing less than to give the very best to us, giving to us the ultimate gift of love in Jesus Christ, His Son, Who laid down His life for us all on the cross, that we may be saved, then should we not do the same as well?

There have been so many instances when we mankind have not put God as the priority and main focus in our lives. There have been so many occasions when mankind set God aside and treat Him as nobody, and even nuisance. Many of us only remember Him when we need His help, and when we did not need Him, we left Him behind and forgot about Him.

Brethren, all of us gathered here should spend some time to reflect, to think and to internalise all these things which I have just mentioned. Let us ask ourselves, how are we better able to show our gratitude to God, through our commitment and dedication, and not just empty faith. Let us all seek to change our way of life, that we should no longer be distracted by the many temptations and pressures which the devil and all of his allies had given us in order to pull us away from God’s salvation.

May the Lord be with us always, so that through Him we may strive to live ever more faithfully in His ways. May He empower all of us, that we may persevere through whatever temptations, persuasions and challenges we may face along the way. May the Lord be with all of our efforts and endeavours, and bless all of us in everything we do. Let us all live our lives worthily in the Lord from now on, always. Amen.

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