Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings from the Scripture we are reminded of the need to have faith in God, and not just any kind of faith, but a living and genuine faith. From today’s Epistle written by St. James the Apostle, we heard of his exhortation to the faithful at that time, regarding the need to believe in God with focus in Him and not to doubt and falter in their faith.
He mentioned that there would indeed be moments when their faith would be tested, and that doubts would come to their minds and hearts. But it is possible to remain true to our faith in God, since the faith that we have must be based and anchored in God, or else we will easily lose our faith. St. James often reiterated in his Epistle the importance of a living and genuine faith, one that is based on actions and good deeds, and not one that is empty and dead.
In the Gospel passage we heard today, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law doubted Jesus and His teachings, and set out to test Him and ask Him to perform signs and miracles among them. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were among the most well-educated people in the community at that time, and they were well-versed in the Scriptures and matters of the Law. Yet, why was it that they opposed the Lord and His good works?
That is because, they put their trust in their own intelligence, understanding and comprehension of the teachings of the Law. They did not allow other forms of interpretation and understanding of the laws and rules, and hence, saw what the Lord Jesus and His disciples had done among the people as serious threats to their own teaching authority and prestige in the society.
As such, they opposed Him and His disciples, and they made it very difficult for Him at every available opportunity, trying to test Him and make any evidence to be against Him, that they might arrest Him and thus remove that dangerous threat to their authority and power. Hence, having closed their hearts and minds to God, no matter what they had seen, all the miracles and signs that the Lord Jesus had performed, they did not believe in Him and refused to believe.
Unfortunately, we mankind are people who are often stubborn and difficult to persuade otherwise, and we tend to follow what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. And the issue here is exactly because we have our pride and our intelligence, thinking that we are better than everyone else. Everything tends to revolve about ‘Me’ or ‘I’ or ‘We’ and not about ‘you’ or ‘they’ or ‘others’.
That is why if we do all these things, we can never be truly faithful to the Lord, just as St. James mentioned in his Epistle today, how people who do not have true faith and doubt because of their own stubbornness and refusal to believe, will always have two minds and will stumble in the end because of their inability to commit wholeheartedly to the Lord and to His cause.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not what all of us as Christians should be doing. We should be thinking less about ourselves and more about others. And in order to see that for ourselves, we do not need to look any further than to see what the Lord Jesus Himself had given to us, a sign and proof beyond any worldly signs or proofs the world could have conjured, far beyond what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law could have expected.
He gave Himself up for us, suffering for us, bearing our own mistakes and sins upon Himself, carrying the cross up towards Calvary, and having born all of our trespasses upon Himself, He laid bare everything, dying for us and in the process, gaining for us the way to eternal life and salvation. He showed us the example of a perfect and undying love, of self-sacrifice and genuine care for others. He forgave His enemies, the same Pharisees and teachers of the Law who cried out for His death.
And we as Christians, should do the same in our own lives. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from now on, be sowers of the seeds of love, peace, harmony, compassion and care, by doing what we can in our own respective lives, to love one another as best as we can, and showing concern for our brethren in need. We must no longer put ourselves at the forefront of every concerns and thoughts, but instead, learn to let go of our greed and pride, and learn to serve others humbly with love, as the Lord, Our God Himself had done.
May the Lord awaken in each and every one of us a strong and courageous spirit to love, to care and to be good Christians in action, word and spirit. May He continue to bless us and all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.