Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard of the story of the destruction of Jerusalem, the downfall of the final kingdom of the Israelites, as the northern kingdom centred in Samaria had been destroyed and conquered by the Assyrians almost a hundred and fifty years earlier on. Then, the city of Jerusalem, its Temple and the southern kingdom of Judah were conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians, most of its population brought into long exile in Babylon and Mesopotamia.
All of these happened because the people and their king consistently and continuously disobeyed God, rejected His mercy and forgiveness, spurned and turned away from His love, worshipping pagan gods and idols, and entrusting themselves in the hands of mortal beings rather than to trust in God. The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, chose to rebel against the Babylonians who at that time was the overlord of Judah, because he counted on the support of allies such as the Egyptians, who in the previous occasions had not intervened in Judah’s sake.
But again and again, the people would not listen to reason and they continued to be stubborn, sinning and sinning, again and again, and all of them have sinned and therefore suffered the consequences of their sins. The whole city of Jerusalem destroyed, the Temple built by king Solomon destroyed and ransacked, its holy vessels used for profane purposes by the Babylonians, and the entire population enslaved and brought into faraway lands. Yet, despite all these, God did not forget about His people.
On the contrary, God has always been patient and He has always remembered the love which He has for His people, and despite their stubborn and persistent disobedience and betrayal, His love for each and every one of them still remained, and that was why, He still yet sent prophets after prophets to remind them, to help them, to guide them and to call them back to Him, and in time, having suffered and realised their mistakes, the people of God were to return to their land once again, and Jerusalem and its Temple were rebuilt by the prophet Ezra and Nehemiah.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the healing of a leper by the Lord, as the leper came to see the Lord and said to Him, ‘Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.’ Through these words, and linking with what we have heard earlier on in our reading from the Old Testament, we can see just how great and wonderful the power of God’s love and forgiveness are for us. Leprosy had always been feared and even hated by the Israelites, as the disease was considered to be dangerous and contagious, and hideous to the appearance.
That was why people who suffered from leprosy were shunned by the rest of the community, and by Law had to spend their lives away from the community, rejected and left to fend for their own in the wilderness. Was this not just like the Israelites who disobeyed God and sinned, and thereafter had to endure their exile and suffer in the foreign lands for quite some time? This was what they had endured, and yet, God rescued them and brought them back to their homeland in the end, just as the leper was healed by the Lord Jesus.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is really important for us to take note here is how we can be forgiven from our sins, and how forgiveness itself works. Forgiveness requires us to make the commitment to change ourselves, to turn back towards God once again with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, just as the leper came to the Lord with faith, and knowing with faith that the Lord could heal him and make him better. This is what all of us must have as well, a strong and genuine faith.
Are we able and willing to dedicate ourselves to God and seek Him with a new faith and desire to follow Him? Let us all go and find the path to forgiveness from all of our sins and wickedness, and let us all be wholly committed to follow God with all sincerity and with the genuine desire to be loved by God and to love Him equally in the same way. For God so loved the whole world that He gave us His own only Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour.
May the Lord continue to help us to walk faithfully in our path in life, and may He guide us that we will not fall again into the temptations to sin and the allure of worldly desires. May the Lord strengthen us and may He bless us in all of our good endeavours. Amen.