Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded to be righteous and good in all of our words, deeds and actions, for if we wander away from this path of righteousness, we will end up venturing into disobedience and eventually sin against God. All of us mankind are ultimately vulnerable to sin, and it is our sins that will be judged by God at the time of reckoning. Our righteousness and our wickedness will be judged by God at the time of His judgment.
In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard about the discourse that no sinner is too far away or too unworthy of God’s forgiveness, for if the sinner is to repent sincerely from his or her sins and turn wholeheartedly back towards the Lord with love and commitment to live a righteous life from then on, then God will forgive that sinner and judge the sinner based on the desire to love Him and to turn away from the sinful past.
Then, we also heard how those who were righteous and yet committed sins will also be judged by those same sins they committed. God will not let those who were righteous and yet willingly fell into sin and do not repent from those sins to be judged as worthy of His glory and inheritance. It is by their disobedience and refusal to obey the Lord that they will be judged despite of their past righteousness.
This is a constant reminder to each one of us that we are always in danger of falling into sin through temptations and through the seductions that Satan and all of his wicked forces are placing before us all the time. Satan is always out and about trying to strike us down by various means, to prevent us from attaining salvation in God, and to drag us down to be condemned with him and all the other fallen angels in hellfire.
And the Lord Jesus in our Gospel passage today added on this by telling His disciples and therefore all of us, that we must be truly genuine in doing our good deeds, so that in everything we say and do, we will truly say them and do them with the intention to be righteous and truly good before God, to glorify God and not to satisfy our own selfish desires and intentions. This is what the Lord said when He pointed out to them the wickedness of the Pharisees, in their piousness and yet, an empty piousness and faith.
Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because although their external actions and works seemed to be pious and good, but many of them did not do these because of the love they had for God, but rather because of the selfish desire for glory, for self-praise and self-glorification, out of hunger and greed for worldly fame and human appraisal, for the satisfaction of the body and the mind. Therefore, although they may seem to be righteous, but through these perversion of faith and righteousness, they have in fact sinned against God.
And many among the Pharisees often looked down on those whom they deemed to be unworthy of God’s love and mercy, such as the tax collectors and the prostitutes, whom they condemned as those who were wicked and hopeless, out of God’s saving grace, when in fact, those were the ones who sought the Lord willingly and with sincere devotion and commitment. The tax collectors and the prostitutes turned towards the Lord, and they were forgiven. Some among them, including Levi, became one of the Twelve Apostles, now a glorious saint of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded through these that none of us are beyond God’s mercy and love. He has always been ever generous with His mercy and compassion, and not even the greatest among us sinners are beyond His mercy. Some of the greatest saints of this world came from the rank of the greatest of sinners. Some of them were murderers, while others lived a debauched and wicked life. But they all turned away from their past sinful life, and dedicated themselves to a new life in God.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to follow the footsteps of the Apostles and the saints, many of whom were once great sinners as well, just like us. But are we able and are we willing to commit ourselves as they themselves had done? Are we able to resist the temptations to sin, and commit ourselves to follow a righteous path in life instead of following the path of vice and evil? Let us all turn towards the Lord with faith anew and dedicate ourselves to live according to His way from now on.
May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He empower us all to live well in accordance to His will, and persevere through the temptations and challenges that may come our way. Let us all pray for courage and strength, especially during this blessed season of Lent, that we will be able to turn our lives into a new one, with God’s grace and strength. Amen.