Wednesday, 23 January 2019 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord which remind us of His love for each and every one of us as our loving High Priest, in His ministry and work among us, as shown in the Gospel passage today, by the healing of the man with the paralytic hand. At that time, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law argued that the Lord Jesus had disobeyed the Law by healing someone on the Sabbath day. But the Lord rebuked them as they failed to understand the true meaning and purpose of the Law of God.

The Lord was angry at them, and at the same time also sad, as mentioned in the Gospel, because He saw such stubbornness and injustice being present among His own people. He saw how the people were being very selfish and arrogant, thinking that they were righteous and great, mighty and powerful, and others were less deserving of God’s grace and love than the rest. The Lord gave His people His laws and commandments with the intention to bring them closer to Him, and unfortunately, those had been misused and misunderstood.

Instead of becoming a pathway for the people of God to come closer to Him, those laws and commandments have become great obstacles and barriers, imposed by those in power and influential positions on those who were weaker, less fortunate and less intellectual. The laws of God became a great burden for the people to bear, who followed and obeyed them not out of true love for God, but out of fear of being punished and damned into hell.

And worse still, many among the Pharisees and the chief priests who claimed to obey the laws and fulfil the commandments the most, those people did so not out of love for God, but for their own personal benefits and convenience, that is to satisfy their own personal greed and worldly desires, the desire for power, for influence, for prestige and for their own ambitions, that they imposed such a difficult situation for the rest of the people of God.

That is why the Lord was so angered by what He had seen, all the hypocrisy and the lack of faith among those to whom the guardianship and the leadership of the people and flock of God had been entrusted to. The Lord rebuked them directly before the people, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been adamant in their constant opposition to His works, especially on the matter of His miracles and healing on the Sabbath.

He reminded the people that the law of the Sabbath did not mean that the people of God could not do anything, even things that are good and done in obedience to God. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were understanding the Law in the literal manner, without understanding the true purpose and intention of those rules and commandments. As a result, they caused others to also interpret the Law in the wrong way, and walk down the wrong path in practicing their faith.

And the Lord Himself showed the example by His own commitment and obedience to the true intention and meaning of the Law. As He Himself mentioned, the whole Law and commandments of God can be summarised into two main parts, that is first of all, the love for God, our Lord and Creator, and then, the same love which we must have for our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow men, be it our family members, our friends, or even strangers and those who do not love us, or even hated us.

He, Our Lord and High Priest, as mentioned in our first reading passage today, the one and true Eternal High Priest of us all, in the line of the High Priest Melchizedek, offered Himself for the atonement of our sins, and therefore for our salvation. He showed us what it truly means for us to have faith in God, not in empty and meaningless show of obedience as the hypocrites had shown in the past, but through real love and commitment for God, and for the love which He had for each one of us, that He willingly bore the burden of the cross for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now each and every one of us are called to love God and to serve Him much in the same way as He has shown us, by His loving sacrifice on the cross. We are called and challenged to follow His examples, in truly devoting ourselves to Him and in giving of ourselves to the greater glory of God. Let us all therefore turn towards Him wholeheartedly, and do our very best to live up to our faith from now on. Amen.