Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through the season of Lent and draw closer to the time of Holy Week, we focus our attention today on the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which had been foretold by the Lord Himself, as He repeatedly mentioned before His disciples how He would be betrayed and handed over to His enemies, Who would then persecute Him and condemn Him to death, a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross.
And this is echoing what we have heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading today, in which we heard the anguish of Jeremiah before God, as he spoke of those who plotted against him and sought to destroy him by various means, all his enemies who disliked him and his works and messages of God’s truth. These people were trying hard to silence the prophet Jeremiah and even almost managed, on occasions, to kill him.
But by God’s grace and the help of those whom God had sent, Jeremiah remained safe and alive, although he did have to endure quite a fair bit of suffering and persecution throughout his many years serving the Lord and the people of God in Judah. He was imprisoned in a dried cistern for a number of years upon the orders of the king and the help of a friend who wanted to hide him from the attacks of those who sought after his life.
Through all of these we can see how God’s servants and all those who obey His will are often suffering all these persecutions and rejections from the world, for the simple reason and fact that the truth of God and the message which they brought to us, is more often than not, something that disturb us, make us feel terrible and bad, and many of us does not want to admit our mistakes and faults, or that we have been wrong, for we do not want to lose face and reputation before others. This is caused by our attachments to our pride and greed within us.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard yet another example of this attitude of worldliness from the two disciples of the Lord, St. James and St. John themselves, who were counted among the Twelve Apostles. They and their mother came before the Lord asking for special positions and favours beyond the other disciples, to gain favour with the Lord by means of persuasion. Both St. James and St. John, together with St. Peter often accompanied the Lord on important occasions when He was accompanied only by the three of them.
This was likely the reason why these two Apostles at that time might have seen themselves as being favoured and as the favourites of the Lord, Whom they believed at the time as the Messiah Who would restore the Kingdom of Israel. As a result, as was common at that time, they wanted to gain position, honour, prestige and glory by having even closer association with the Lord Jesus. Yet, they failed to realise that following the Lord is not the same as following any other worldly rulers and paths.
The Lord Himself told them that following Him did not bring earthly glory and satisfaction as they might have thought that they could gain. Instead, following Him meant that they would have to drink the cup of suffering that Christ Himself was to drink, the suffering of rejection, humiliation, persecution and even death that the Son of Man had to suffer. And this is the same kind of suffering and persecution that the prophet Jeremiah had to endure for being faithful to his calling and mission.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, we are all reminded that following Jesus Our Lord is not going to be something that is easy and pleasurable, filled with all happiness and joy. Instead, for us to be truly faithful as Christians, often we may have to endure persecution and suffering, rejections and trials, even from those who are close to us and are known to us. This is what each and every one of us have to realise in our own journeys of faith and life.
During this season of Lent, all of us are called to remember the sufferings of Christ, which He had suffered for all of us, that by His suffering and death on the Cross all of us may be saved and receive from Him the assurance of eternal life and glory. But there is going to be a lot of suffering for us in various ways going forward if we are to follow Him faithfully. Some of us may suffer more while others suffer less, but nonetheless, we will likely encounter moments in our lives when we will have to choose between serving the Lord and to conform to the ways of the world.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make a good use of the time given to us this Lent that we may re-centre our lives on God and make Him the focus of our attention and lives from now on. Let us pray that the Lord may guide us along this journey of faith in our lives and strive that we may do ever better in getting closer and closer to God’s grace and love, by our Lenten observances, through our deepening of spiritual life and prayers, by our increase in generosity and charitable works among others. May God bless us all and our many good works for His greater glory. Amen.