Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard first of all the Lord’s calling to us, His people, to repent and turn away from our sins. This is in particular appropriate and relevant during this season of Lent, as a time of renewal and spiritual rediscovery for us, as we come to the presence of God with sincere regret and sorrow over our sins and wickedness.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a warning to those who sinned and disobeyed God, as represented by his reference to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities that God destroyed because of their wickedness and sinful lifestyle. Yet, at the same time it was also a message of tremendous mercy and unprecedented love, as the prophet continued on by calling on the sinners to repent from their sins and turn away from all of their wicked ways.
‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow.’ This was what God had told His people, which at that time had lived through various sins and disobediences, refusing to obey the commandments of God and following the worship of pagan idols and even slaughtering the prophets and messengers sent to them to remind them to turn away from their waywardness.
This means that God was perfectly capable of turning even the worst of sinners back to His path, and no one was truly beyond God’s saving grace. God after all is omnipotent, and whatever we may think is impossible for us to do, is possible for God. No one should be discouraged and think that they are beyond God’s saving power, for if someone believe that they are beyond God’s salvation and mercy, that is most likely because they themselves refused to accept God’s forgiveness and loving compassion.
And as we listened to the Gospel passage today, we would have noticed how the Lord criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, because of the way they carried themselves and acted before the people, by showcasing their faith externally for the purpose of self-gratification and self-praise, seeking to be honoured and adored for their show of piety and obedience to God. In reality, in their hearts, there was no place for God, as their ego and pride filled all places of honour.
That is exactly how we also refused to listen to God and to accept His forgiveness and mercy, because we are too proud to admit that we are sinners and that we have been wrong in our ways. We hardened our hearts and continued to live in sin, thinking for what is best for ourselves, and aiming to satisfy our own needs and desires before thinking of others, less still, thinking of our obligations to God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through this season of Lent, we are all called to throw far, far away this wicked mentality and our predisposition to pride which had become a great obstacle in our journey towards salvation and reconciliation with our loving God and Father. Let us heed what the Lord Jesus told His disciples in the Gospel today, ‘let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For those whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.’
Many of our holy predecessors, saints and martyrs were once great sinners as well. They lived lives of debauchery and sin, which some would have thought as being hopelessly far away from God’s grace and salvation. Yet, in the end, it was their commitment and resolution to turn away from their sins that allowed them to open their hearts to God, and allowing Him to enter into their hearts and minds, they experienced a total conversion.
And thus the same can happen to us, if we humble ourselves and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Lord, by our renewed commitment to live faithfully in accordance with God’s ways, shunning all the sinful past we had, and embracing a new life and existence with God. And let us do that in this season of Lent, by our renewed faith and by our fasting and abstinence, through which we try to deepen our relationship with God while resisting the temptations of our flesh and our ego and desire.
May the Lord be with us throughout this Lenten journey, that we may be filled with a renewed faith and be ever closer to Him. May we make use of this opportunity presented to us, to repent and turn away from our sins, and be once again worthy to be called the beloved children of God. Amen.