Saturday, 24 February 2018 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the passages from the Scripture, speaking to us about obeying the laws and commandments set by God and which He has revealed to us, His beloved people. God has set those laws and commandments that we may walk in the right paths and do what is pleasing to Him, and as we have been made God’s own people, and adopted as His own children, we must do what God, Our Lord and Our Father, has done and taught us.

But what does it mean for us to obey God’s laws and commandments? What is it like for us to be truly faithful to Him? Is it that we have to follow the rules and regulations as set by the Church and all of the teachings passed down unto us through the bishops and the priests? Is it that we have to attend and participate in the Mass every Sundays and also on the days of obligation as set by the Church?

If we have done all of these and nothing else, then I am afraid that we may not have gotten the essence of what it truly means to be Christians. It does not mean that we should not have done what we have done. In fact, it is absolutely necessary that we fulfil our obligations to the rules and the requirements that the Church has clearly stated for us. However, have we done our duty as Christians and fulfilled our obligations with the right purpose and intention in mind?

If we did not do all our actions with the right purpose and intention, even if we obey the Lord’s laws and commandments, it is likely that we will end up getting no better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, those whom the Lord Jesus rebuked and condemned for their hypocrisy and lack fo faith, as they obeyed the laws and commandments, and in fact, strictly enforced a rigid and excessive obedience to the laws as taught by Moses and preserved by the elders of Israel.

But they have not done these for the greater glory of God, or because they truly love God or His people. They did not have God or His people in their minds, and they even misused their authority to gain more prestige, power and approval for themselves. Whatever they have done, have not been considered to be righteous in the sight of God, but instead wicked and sinful, as God is not at the forefront of their minds.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that we need to do, with our lives, that we may be faithful to the Lord in all the things that we do? We have to realise that the Law of God is not mere formality or empty without meaning. Instead, God gave us the Law and the commandments, because He wants each and every one of us to know about love, that is first and foremost, the love which He has for each and every one of us, His beloved children.

The Law of God is not about all the rules and regulations which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often enforced on the people, without understanding, realising and appreciating the true meaning and purpose of those laws. The Law of God is about love, loving God, the One Who created us and loved us, with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and indeed our entire being and effort. That is the essence of the first three commandments of the Ten Commandments.

And then, after having loved God sincerely and tenderly, then we should also show the same love to our brothers and sisters, to those who we encounter in our lives, our friends and neighbours, our relatives and family members. But the Lord in the Gospel passage today challenged us even further, calling on us to also love those who have wronged us and considered us as enemies. He called on us to forgive those who have wronged us and trespassed against us, and show them love, mercy and compassion.

That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the true essence of discipleship, that is Christian discipleship, following the Lord with all of our strength, and doing our best to love our brethren, in the same way, with all of our hearts, and pray for the sake of and forgive our enemies, in the footsteps of Our Lord Himself, Who forgave all of those who have condemned Him to death on the cross, and prayed for the sake of those who cried out for His death.

Let us all strive, that in this blessed season of Lent, a season of forgiveness and realisation of God’s most abundant mercy, we may come ever closer to the Lord, and reexamine our life’s actions, so that in everything we do, in everything we say and act, we may come ever closer to God’s ways and be ever more worthy of Him, day after day, as we turn away from our sinful past, and embrace God’s love ever more, and share that love with one another.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live ever more faithfully and appreciate the love with which Our God has shown us every day and every moment of our lives. May we be able to find our way to Him and to His redemption, that all of us as Christians may be worthy of His saving grace, at the end of time. Amen.

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