Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about the love which God has given to us His people, the infinite and boundless mercy and compassion which He has shown to each and every one of us despite of our stubbornness and constant refusal to believe in Him and His love. We have always walked waywardly in sin, but He is ever patient, waiting for us to return to Him.
In our first reading passage today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezra and continuing from the story of the return of the Israelites from their exile in Babylon of this week, we heard how after the rebuilding of Jerusalem and Judah, Ezra had earlier on celebrated the Passover with the people of God and reestablished order and proceedings in the whole land, appointing priests and those in charge of customs and administration.
And what we have then heard in our first reading today is Ezra’s prayer made on behalf of the people, as he humbled himself before God as a penitent and with torn and unkempt clothes. He humbled himself because of the sins which the people of God had committed for all those years when they disobeyed Him and continued to refuse to listen to the prophets and messengers sent into their midst to remind them.
In that prayer, which was divided into two main parts, we heard both Ezra’s supplication on behalf of the people, first of all admitting the sins they have committed, all the wickedness and unworthy deeds they have done, in rejecting God’s love and grace, in their stubbornness and vile ways. But then, Ezra also glorified and gave thanks to God on behalf of the people that despite all of that, when the people genuinely repented of their sins, God extended the same love He has always given them and brought them back to their homeland.
In our Psalm today, we heard then of the song of Tobit, another man of God who have been brought low and suffered greatly because of many persecutions and unfortunate tragedies, being sent into exile by the Assyrians far away from his ancestral lands, and then being accused of helping those who were persecuted, and losing his eyesight in an unfortunate incident. And yet, Tobit remained true to his faith in God.
Tobit eventually received help from God, as He sent His Archangel Raphael to help both Tobit and also another person, Sara, who had also been beset with problems. The Archangel Raphael in disguise together with Tobias, the son of Tobit went on a journey in which at the end, Sara was eventually also freed from the torment of a demon, and the eyesight of Tobit was restored to him. Through all these, God showed how He loves each and every one of His people.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day therefore having been reminded of God’s love for us, we should reflect on our own lives as well. How have we lived our lives thus far? Have we been obedient to God or have we instead walked in the path of sin? Through sin we may have been driven away from God, but we must remember that God is always ready to forgive us our sins if we want to repent from them with sincerity of heart.
Are we able to make the commitment to walk that path of repentance though? In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord sending His disciples out on a mission, and told them of what they ought to be doing during their mission and to expect rejection and challenges along the way. Similarly, if we walk in God’s path, it is likely for us to encounter challenges, difficulties and problems, as well as temptations along our way.
Let us all devote ourselves anew to God and putting our trust in Him wholeheartedly. Let us all turn to Him with a new zeal and heart filled with love from now on. Let us all appreciate the wonderful love and generous mercy with which He has provided for us. May the Lord continue to watch over us and guide us in our journey of faith in this life. May God bless us all and be with us. Amen.