Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, as we draw closer to the time of the Holy Week, the readings begin to speak about the coming of the time of the Passion of the Lord, as was evident in the theme of today’s readings on the suffering of God’s servants, as shown in our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom highlighting the thoughts of the wicked people who rejected the message of God’s truth and persecuted the prophets and messengers sent to remind them. And then later in the Gospel we heard of the opposition against Jesus and the efforts His enemies made to try to harm Him.
In our first reading today we heard of the plots which the enemies of the faithful had planned against God’s Servant, just as they had done for the many prophets sent to them. In fact, if we carefully go through what has been written in this particular passage in the Book of Wisdom, we will realise that it is a prophecy that refers to the coming of the Messiah or Saviour of God, Who is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God Whom the Father sent into the world to save it. All the prophecy spoke of the treatment which Jesus would eventually receive at the hands of those who persecuted Him and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified.
Jesus had faced rejection and opposition from those who refuse to believe in Him and in the truth that He has brought into this world. He has been opposed at almost every opportunities, and many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law made His ministry difficult, as He was forced even to hide from time to time, and to avoid cities and towns as the authorities were seeking to arrest Him and destroy Him. This is what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as the tension between the Lord and His followers with the Jewish authorities rapidly reached a flashpoint.
The Lord made one of the most revealing statement yet in His words at the Temple before everyone who were gathered, not long before the beginning of Our Lord’s Passion. He stood firmly against all those who had doubted Him, rejected Him and persecuted Him, saying how those who refused to believe in Him and His truth were blinded by their pride and arrogance, their unwillingness to listen, and their lack of knowledge and faith about the Lord. As stated in our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom, this is the reason for their actions against the Lord Jesus. Their malice and worldly concerns and desires trumped their faith and obedience in God.
Now, we have to take heed of what today’s Psalm told us, that God’s anger and wrath are reserved for those who have acted unjustly and have persecuted His faithful ones, those who acted with malice and evil, those who made others to suffer, which is exactly the retribution that is to come for all those who refused to believe in Christ and in His message. This is a reminder that God will not forget about His faithful ones, and those who have acted with injustice and evil will have to answer for their misdeeds, unless they repent from those sins.
And the root of all these evil and malice is none other than pride, the pride, arrogance, hubris and ambition in our hearts, the ego and the selfishness that we have within us. Those who persecuted the prophets in the ancient days did so because they refused to admit that they had been wrong or wayward in their lives, and they thought that they knew better how they ought to live their lives, treating those whom God had sent into their midst to remind them as nuisance or even as threats to their livelihood and way of life.
Similarly, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council acted with such injustice and wickedness against the Lord Jesus and His followers, simply because they saw Jesus as a great threat to their position and influence within the Jewish communities at that time. They perceived Him as a rival and as One that had to be removed or else they would lose all their privileges and honour, resulting in them plotting and making plans to try to arrest and destroy Jesus.
They refused to admit that there could actually be a greater and more authentic source of truth and wisdom beyond what they have zealously guarded for many years. They refused to admit that their way of observing the Law of God could have been wrong or incomplete, and they took pride in the fact that they were greatly honoured by the people and treasured as people with great intellectual capacity and wisdom. All these led them to harden their hearts and minds against God. God could not make much progress on them, but nonetheless, He still tried.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded today that we should avoid pride and ego from dictating how we live our lives, and we are reminded that if we indulge in our ego, and allow hubris, ambition and selfishness to cloud our judgment and affect our actions, then it is likely that we may end up like those who have rejected God and chose to dwell in their own human ambition, trusting in their own power and intellect rather than to trust in God. And that will end up leading us down the path of sin and disobedience, as we may likely act to preserve ourselves more than we obey God’s will.
Let us all strive to sharpen the edge of our humility and deepen our faith and trust in God during this season of Lent, a wonderful time and opportunity that God had given to us to help us rediscover our path in life. Let us all also remove from our hearts and minds, the corruption of pride and hubris, ego and ambition, all that are obstacles in our path in serving the Lord. May the Lord help us and guide us in our journey, that we may be ever more faithful each and every moments of our lives from now on. Amen.