Sunday, 17 February 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord through the Scripture passages reminding us all of the need for each and every one of us to trust in the teachings and the ways that the Lord has shown us all, and not in our own human abilities and power, and neither in the matters of the world. All of us heard that we are called to turn towards God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. God will bless us all greatly and wonderfully if we have done so.

In our first reading today, we heard the sayings of the prophet Jeremiah, in which the prophet cursed all those who trusted in their worldly power and in their own human glory, on how those people would never find true happiness in life as long as they continued to trust in the powers of the world. Instead, all those who trusted in God and in His power would be blessed and would receive all goodness in due time, as God has promised. They would receive true joy and happiness from God Himself.

Then, in the second reading today, we heard from St. Paul in the Epistle he wrote to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, where he spoke of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the proof of the faith that all of the faithful had believed, that they had not believed in vain in the Lord, Who had overcome even death itself, our greatest enemy of all. Death is the result and consequence of sin, just as sin is caused by our disobedience against the will of God.

This is the proof that it is the faith and trust in God alone that will overcome all sorts of difficulties and challenges. There is no other foundation or any thing in this universe capable of replacing the Lord as the centre, focus and hope of our lives. Any other foundation and trust in other things beyond the Lord is superficial and illusory in nature, and we will not be able to gain true joy, assurance and satisfaction because we will never find true peace unless if we go through God.

Why is that so? Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should look upon the history of our humanity’s past, at all the various actions and things that we mankind had done and which we had experienced throughout time. We see how mankind always tried to do their best, to attain the best for themselves, to gain the most joy, pleasure, happiness, glory, fame, power, and all sorts of good things for themselves, and yet, they were never truly happy and secure in their lives.

On the other hand, instead of experiencing true joy, peace and happiness, our predecessors experienced much sorrow, agony, pain, suffering, despair and lack of peace in their lives, all because of them putting their trust and their focus on the wrong things, as they placed their trust on worldly assurances of money, of human glory, prestige, of pleasure of the body and the temptation of greatness and hubris, ambition and pride.

Everyone suffered, when those who had power, greatness, wealth, prestige and the means of worldliness oppressed those who have less, little or none, in their pursuit to gain more of those worldly desires and temptations for themselves. But they did not gain more happiness, joy and satisfaction among themselves, because by our nature, greed will only lead to even more greed and desire, and when we have something, we naturally desire even more.

That is why, we can never be satisfied by anything of this world, no matter how hard we try it. And we must not forget, just as the Lord Himself said in another parable He taught His disciples, showing the futility of those who sought to enrich themselves with many worldly things, that a rich man who tore down his many barns in order to accommodate even more goods in them, but was told by the Lord of his foolishness, as his own life would be taken away from him that very night, and none of his amassed wealth and glory would be his any longer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why as I have mentioned earlier, death is our greatest enemy, for death marks the moment when our earthly life and existence ended. And that is why, throughout history and time, men had tried again and again, futilely, in order to try to overcome and cheat death. Many spent much money and resources, efforts and trying various methods in order to attain for themselves eternal life and youth. Many tried to keep themselves alive and appearing good, without success.

People had been spending a lot on beauty products and those things that were claimed to have life-lengthening and rejuvenating effects on the body. But in the end, no one can extend one’s life even by a millionth of a second, for everything is according to God’s will, and when God calls us back, and to give an account of our respective lives, we have no way to refuse this call. And none of our earthly glories and power will follow us through.

That is why, today’s Gospel passage, in which the Lord went through with His disciples and followers a series of blessings and curses for certain groups of people, which we know better as the Sermon on the Mount or the Eight Beatitudes, we heard exactly what we have just been discussing on our search for happiness, our often futile efforts to preserve ourselves from death, by searching and desiring for more worldly things, and allowing ourselves to be tempted by the devil.

In the Beatitudes, the Lord reminded all of us His people, that unless we learn and try to let go of all these wicked desires, and restrain all those thoughts of pride, ambition, and not allowing our ego and pride to overcome us, we will end up falling into sin, deeper and deeper, and eventually, as mentioned, sin leads to death, and not just any death, but eternal death and damnation. For those who sin and does not repent, they have no part in the Covenant that God had made with all those who are faithful to Him.

Those who are proud and ambitious, those who oppress and persecute others just so that they can earn for themselves more worldly glory, power, wealth, riches, majesty, fame and all other things we often desire, all of us who choose to put our trust in all these worldly things, will find ourselves disappointed because even though now we may enjoy what we have, and indulge in the pleasures they provided us, but these things will not last forever.

The time will come when the reckoning of our lives will be upon us, and unless we have done what the Lord has commanded us to do, then we may end up falling into eternal damnation, and has no share in the Covenant, the salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Saviour has brought upon us by His sacrifice on the cross. Only those who are humble, those who are poor in spirit, meaning those who look at themselves not with pride but instead with humility before God, will receive the fullness of God’s glory.

And through the Beatitudes, God is calling us all to follow this path that He had set before us all. He is calling us to be faithful, in all things and in all of our dealings and actions, that we place God as the very core and centre of our lives and existences. We are called to be peacemakers, to be those who bring the love of God to one another, sharing the love and blessings which He has so generously given us, so that each and every one of us may enjoy the fruits of God’s wonderful love.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, from now on, if we have not done so, let us all grow in faith in God, and devote ourselves to love God and to turn ourselves away from the path of sin and wickedness. Let us all strive to overcome our attachment to worldly temptations and goods, and instead, make the effort to put our complete trust in God. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our strength, and let us all grow ever closer to Him, from now on, through the lessons of the Beatitudes, and bear the fruits of the Beatitudes of Christ in our daily living. Amen.

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