Monday, 18 February 2019 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story from the Scriptures beginning with the tale of Cain and Abel, the firstborn children of men, of the first family, Adam and Eve. We heard how Cain and Abel grew up in this world, tilling its earth and shepherding the animals of the field. And as they grew up, we heard of the sad and unfortunate tale of how Abel killed his own brother, of his own flesh and blood, because of jealousy and anger.

We see in this unfortunate occasion, the greed and desire, the ego, pride and ambition that are present within us, that when we do not restrain ourselves, it can cause us to do things that can lead us into sin, as what Cain’s actions had shown us. Cain desired acceptance, acknowledgement and honour, and when his offerings to God were not accepted while his younger brother’s offering was accepted, he became angry and jealous at his brother.

And such feelings of anger and jealousy became source of temptation for Cain, and Satan made use of the opportunity to pull the strings at his desire and his ego, and as a result, without thinking further of the grave consequences, he killed Abel, his own younger brother, just so that he might be able to satisfy his jealousy and justify his anger and ego. In that action, he has committed a great sin of murder, and worse still, as he murdered his own brother.

In the Gospel reading today, we heard of another story, in which the people asking the Lord Jesus to perform signs and miracles before them. And especially, it was the Pharisees who asked the Lord to perform those miracles with the malicious intent of hoping to embarrass Him, despite themselves having seen how the Lord Jesus could perform all those wonders and powers which no one, except those sent by God, could have performed.

Yet they still asked the Lord to perform the miracles, with the intention to harm His reputation and to embarrass Him. This came about because of the jealousy that they had against the Lord Jesus, as they saw Him as a rival to their own teaching authority, power and prestige within the community of the people of Israel. They saw His courageous and authoritative teachings as threats to their influence and privileges, especially because large crowds always followed the Lord wherever He went.

Just as Cain felt angry and jealous because his ego and pride was seemingly slighted by the acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice over his, the Pharisees were also affected by the same anger and jealousy, when they saw that the people were no longer solely depending on them as the sole source of knowledge and authority, but instead turning towards the truth that Christ has brought into the midst of His people.

This shows each one of us how dangerous our ego and pride can be. History has shown that when we allow pride and ego to guide our way and our thoughts, our choice of actions and decisions in life, we can end up committing even heinous and wicked crimes and deeds, that can cause the sufferings of others, pain and hurt in those whose livelihood may be affected negatively by our own desires and ego.

Cain killed Abel over this matter, and the Pharisees joined all those who sought the death of the Lord Jesus, and condemned Him to die on the cross at the hands of the Romans, all because of their ego and pride. They allowed all these things to become obstacles in their way of faith, and in the end, sin entered into their hearts and minds, corrupting their whole beings. This is what we can also suffer from, unless we realise how dangerous our pride and ego is, and restrain them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should temper our pride and our ego within us. These are things that are always within us, and we will always be tempted to be proud and to be selfish, to be seeking for our own glory and comfort, even at the expense of others. However, as Christians, we have all been called to overcome all of these, and resist the temptation to sin by this manner. Thus, instead of being filled with jealousy and pride, let us instead turn towards God and learn to love Him with all of our hearts.

May the Lord sow within us all the seeds of His love, that we may grow ever stronger in love, and remove from our hearts and minds all pride, egoistic and selfish attitudes, wicked thoughts and desires, and jealousy against others. Let us all love our brothers and sisters from now on, just as much as we love ourselves and love God in the same way as well. Amen.

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