Thursday, 8 November 2018 : 31st 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 reminding us of our mission as Christians, as those who have been called and have responded to the truth which the Lord revealed to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to be missionaries to reach out to those who have not yet seen the light of Christ and therefore, still lost to Him.

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, we listened to the Apostle speaking about the matter of circumcision and true circumcision in Christ. This must be understood in the context of the historical practices of the time, when circumcision was something that became a distinctive mark of being a member of the people of Israel.

Ever since the time of the Covenant established between God and Israel through Moses, all of the Israelites’ males have to be circumcised, all the newborn males ever since then had to be circumcised on the eighth day after they were born, as the sign of the Covenant which they make with God. If someone was not circumcised, that person was considered to be not an Israelite, and therefore a pagan and unbeliever.

The Covenant of God was considered as something that was exclusive, and no other people could be saved outside the Covenant, meaning if someone was not circumcised and did not believe in YHVH, the God of Israel, they were condemned and doomed, as those who have no part in the salvation which was thought to belong to the Israelites alone. But this is what St. Paul wanted to overturn, by saying that salvation belongs to all the children of God.

St. Paul was bringing with him the New Covenant which Christ has made with His people, with all mankind, through the loving sacrifice that He made on the cross. This New Covenant supersedes the old Covenant, and the Lord Himself revealed what being His followers and His disciples mean, and that is no longer the exclusive attitude and mentality of the old faith, but the new and inclusive nature of the new Covenant.

This meant that the old physical circumcision no longer serves its purpose as a sign to the nation of those who have been chosen by God. Instead, as St. Paul mentioned, the nobler and better spiritual circumcision of our heart and mind, is what the Lord expects from each and every one of us. And this means that as Christians, we cannot live in ways that are not in accordance to what the Lord wants us to do with our lives.

First of all, to be Christians, we must love, and love generously and tenderly. We cannot act in ways that are egoistic, individualistic, selfish and filled with jealousy and hatred, with exclusivist attitudes. Instead, we should reflect on the parables that the Lord Jesus taught to the people in our Gospel passage today. Through those parables, the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin, the Lord wants us to know that we must reach out to those who are lost, who are in still darkness and those who have not yet received the truth of God and His salvation.

The Lord mentioned how a shepherd who had a hundred sheep lost one of his sheep, which wandered off into the wilderness. And the shepherd went forth in search of the lost sheep until he found it and rejoiced with the discovery of the lost one. The same went with the lost coin, and the owner of the coin rejoiced greatly when the lost coin was discovered. That is exactly the attitude that all of us Christians must have.

In our society today, we must be filled with love, and all of our actions must stem forth from our love, care and concern for those who in our society, are the most needy, the weakest, and the most ignorant of God’s truth. And we all need to reach out to them, to help them and to nourish them, in the case of those who are poor and suffering, materially, and for those who have not known God or refused to believe in His truth, spiritually.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards God and commit ourselves anew to Him, and serve Him with ever greater commitment, day after day, by loving our fellow men, and by reaching out to those who still live in the darkness of ignorance of the faith and salvation in God, through our own actions, showing what being a Christian is, through our direct witnessing, in our actions and deeds.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey, day after day, that we may be ever more faithful to Him, and be ever more devoted, be truly and spiritually circumcised and dedicated to Him in our hearts, minds and in our whole being. May God bless us all and may He bless all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.

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