Friday, 3 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, speaking to us about the difficulties which the prophet Jeremiah encountered during his ministry among the people in the kingdom of Judah. He spoke to all of them about the coming of the time of trials and challenges for the people of God, of when the city of God, Jerusalem and its Temple would be razed to the ground and destroyed by the Babylonians.

Jeremiah spoke with the power and authority from God, and yet, the people refused to believe in him. They labelled him as a naysayer and a prophet of doom, dismissing his words as false and insulting to their ears. Some of them, especially those among the powerful ones in the society even condemned him as a blasphemer for having spoken such harsh words against God’s city, Temple and its people.

They claimed to speak for the Lord and for His people, but yet, all the priests, the elites of the society and all those who opposed Jeremiah, all of them failed to reflect on their own fallen and wicked state of life, and they overlook their own sins and disobedience against God before they cast judgment against Jeremiah. This was the same judgmental and self-righteous attitude shown against the Lord Jesus, as we have heard in our Gospel passage today.

At that time, the Lord Jesus went to His home village of Nazareth in Galilee, speaking to the people in the local synagogue, proclaiming the word of God in the Scriptures and the fulfilment of the prophecies of the prophet Isaiah regarding Himself. And He said so not just with words, but His actions and deeds have preceded Himself, in all the miraculous deeds and powers He had performed throughout the region of Galilee.

But the people chose to ignore this fact, and instead, they were being judgmental by comparing Him with what they thought they knew about His background and upbringing, as the apparent Son of a poor family of the carpenter, St. Joseph, His foster-father. They assumed that because He was merely the Son of a carpenter, that He could not have performed all of the wonders that others had claimed that He had done.

In doing so they have done exactly the same as their ancestors had done towards the prophet Jeremiah. They doubted the Lord’s good works and intention for His people, and they hardened their hearts and minds, closing their ears and the doors of their hearts from the Lord Who had tried very hard to reach out to them. And the very reason for these unfortunate and unbecoming attitudes is none other than the pride that is within each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have pride in our hearts and minds, and this pride and ego cause us to fall into temptation, the temptation of worldly power, prestige and the desire for what is great in the world. And we end up being self-centred and egoistic, thinking that we are better than others. It is why many of us have this tendency to be judgmental upon others and to look down on them.

Yet, is this what we should be doing as Christians? No, certainly not. The Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God Himself has been prejudiced against, betrayed and struck upon, rejected and humiliated. How can we act in the same manner as those who have persecuted and rejected Him and His prophets? Instead, all of us should imitate the examples of Christ Himself, in how He reached out to all with love, with humility and without prejudice.

First of all, the Lord reached out to the most destitute and despicable ones in the society, as He sought the sinners and the most unworthy among all of God’s children, the prostitutes and tax collectors, and many others who had sinned against God. He was not prejudiced against them, and instead, showed them all the same love which He has given to each and every one of us, the sons and daughters of man.

And then, He called them to repent from their sins, and to be open to God’s love and mercy working their effects in their hearts, minds and existence. That is why all of us are also called to be role models in our respective lives, that through our following of the examples of Christ, each and every one of us may be brought to a renewed existence in God’s grace and love. Let us all be humble as Christ was, and in how much He has loved His people, even though His own had rejected Him.

May the Lord be with us in this journey of life, and may He strengthen the faith in our hearts, that each and every one of us will grow ever more faithful, day after day, and that we will be able to give our best to serve Him and to love Him ever more, from now onwards. May God bless us all and our every endeavours. Amen.

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