Monday, 29 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about the story in which David and his loyal retainers and followers went away from the city of Jerusalem, the royal capital of the kingdom of Israel, because of a great rebellion and civil war that raged at that time, led by Absalom, the eldest son of king David, and therefore, the natural heir to the throne.

The rebellion of Absalom was supported by many people, and according to historical research, he was supported by many of the disenchanted nobles and local rulers who were against the reforms carried out by David, to strengthen his royal authority and in his strong adherence to the laws of God. Those rebels supported Absalom who had an ambition of his own.

And what is that ambition? The ambition of gaining worldly power and wealth, authority and prestige. He was to be his father’s successor, only if he waited for the right time, and following the normal order of succession, meaning that he would be king upon his father’s death. But it was likely that Absalom was impatient and he seized upon the opportunity presented to him to rebel against his father David.

Then we heard how Shimei, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, cursed David and his family, and he cursed him due to the possible feud between David and some of the Benjaminites, from whom Saul, David’s predecessor as king, hailed from. He could have done that in earlier time period, in the many years since David replaced Saul and his son as king over Israel. However, he must have taken the opportunity presented by Absalom’s rebellion, and thinking that David was about to meet his downfall, Shimei used the chance to ridicule David and curse him.

After having heard and discussed all that happened during that time of civil war in David’s kingdom, let us all remember what we heard in the Gospel passage today. In that passage, we heard about Jesus’ encounter with a man possessed by evil spirits in the area called the Gerasenes, in the wilderness. No one dared to come close to him because of his affliction. No one could control him because of the demons, and he was enslaved by those evil spirits.

And the Lord cast the demons and evil spirits out of the possessed man, freeing him from his predicament. All those evil spirits feared the Lord, because they knew Who He was, and they still had to obey Him even though they had rebelled against Him. He was after all, their Lord, Master and Creator. He freed the man from the slavery to Satan, to all those who have chained him to unjust treatments.

This is related to what we have witnessed throughout the history of God’s people, in the example of David and Absalom’s bitter feud, the civil war which engulfed his kingdom. While they might not have been afflicted in the manner the possessed man had been, but many of the people were obsessed with worldly temptations of power, wealth, influence and many more, which I am sure are quite familiar to all of us.

In the history of mankind, there had been many occasions in which people would go to a great extent, even to cause suffering to others, even death, just so that they can get what they wanted. That has been the cause of many conflicts and troubles in our world, all because of the greed and the desires of man, enslaved by their attachment to the world, and therefore, easily swayed by the devil to follow the wrong path towards their downfall.

I am sure that even many among us Christians have experienced this, and indeed, have been doing these for a while. Are we able to resist that temptation to follow the devil’s ways and resist that pull for us to sin? Are we able to try to say no to his temptations and persuasions? Are we able to call on the Lord and ask Him for mercy, to be freed from the chains that bound us, just as the Lord Jesus healed the man at Gerasenes?

Let us all put our trust in God, no longer trusting in our own human abilities. Let us all overcome the temptations of the flesh, the temptations of power and human ambitions, the temptation for glory and worldly prestige. Instead, let us all look towards the Lord and see in Him, the true hope of our life. Let us be liberated from all of our past attachments and let us be truly free from all bondage to sin, and instead be worthy of the kingdom of God, as those whom God has chosen from among this world. May God be with us always. Amen.

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