Saturday, 10 March 2018 : 3rd Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture speaking to us about the importance for us to be humble in seeking for God’s forgiveness, as we listened to the Lord speaking in the first reading today through His prophet Hosea, calling us all to return to Him by way of repentance as God is ever forgiving, even though He also punishes us because of our sins and disobedience.

At that time, the prophet Hosea lived at a time of turmoil and chaos, when the people of God and the kingdom of Israel was beset by many enemies and tribulations. All those were caused by their refusal to obey the commandments of the Lord, as they chose to walk in their own path, worshipping pagan idols and gods, and committing all sorts of inappropriate and wicked behaviour before God.

As a result, they lost God’s grace and favour, and their enemies came upon them and subjugated them. They were humbled and disgraced, and they were even crushed and humiliated, by losing the Temple in which God’s presence and Covenant has been housed, when the Babylonians ransacked and destroyed Jerusalem, and when they and the Assyrians forced many of the people of God into exile in Assyria and Babylon.

Yet, God still loved His people and cared for them. After all, He created them because they loved them, or else He would not have created them in the first place. But we and our ancestors have allowed ourselves to be swayed by sin and disobedience, and because of those sins, we have been sundered and separated from God, and we have fallen off the path in our way towards justification in God.

But God did not give up on us. Instead, He provided us opportunities after opportunities, and raised up prophets and messengers, one after another, to remind His people to repent from their sins and be found righteous in Him. Unfortunately, as we heard in our Gospel passage, one important factor often stands in the path for us to achieve salvation and justification in God, and that factor is our pride, our ego.

The Lord Jesus related to His disciples the parable about a Pharisee in the Temple who prayed with pride, boasting about his good deeds and achievements, while looking down upon a tax collector, who on the contrary, showed great remorse and humility for his sins before God. Both of them were equally sinners before God, with their shortcomings and failures, however, only one of them readily admitted the sins committed, while the other one was blind to his own sins and faults.

The people living at the time of the prophet Hosea were also proud people, who refused to listen to the prophets who chided them and rebuked them for their sinfulness. They thought of themselves as superior, and that they could not have been wrong or mistaken in the path they have chosen. But that pride and ego, and their stubbornness led right to their downfall.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this season of Lent, let us all realise that each and every one of us, have been a sinner, and are indeed filled with sin, be it small or great, be it of high significance or of less significance. And sin is a great and dangerous enemy, as it can corrupt our souls, our minds, our hearts, our bodies and indeed our entire beings. If we do not do anything to resist the temptation to sin and to turn away from our sins, I fear that we may end up falling into eternal damnation.

That is why it is important that we should follow the example of the tax collector, who recognised how terrible a sinner he was, and how he was in need of God’s healing grace and mercy. And because of his genuine repentance and desire to be forgiven, he was forgiven from his faults, and God reconciled him to Himself. Is that not what we want with ourselves too, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Therefore, let us all during this season of Lent, deepen our relationship with God, through an ever vibrant and living prayer life. Let us all devote more of our time, effort and attention, to show love, care and compassion for the poor, for the needy, for those who are unloved, and for our brothers and sisters, especially those who have hurt us and cause us pain and suffering. Let us forgive one another our faults and trespasses, that this Lenten season be a time of renewal and exceeding grace for us. May God be with us always. Amen.

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