Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be faithful to the Lord, to embrace Lord with all of our strength because we are truly God’s chosen ones, and we have been brought out from the darkness into the light. We are reminded that we are no longer bound by the power of sin, through the saving power of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, in our first reading today alluded to this as the comparison between the two sons of Abraham, the one born earlier to the slave Hagar, namely Ishmael, and the one born of his wife, Sarah, the promised son, Isaac, born as promised by God. While the first one was conceived by lack of faith and by worldly counsel, the true son of Abraham, Isaac had been conceived through God’s providence.
This highlights the contrast between the two states and existences of our lives, namely our past, sinful and worldly selves, and our renewed and reborn selves, reborn and rejuvenated through our Christian baptism and initiation, as we enter into the grace of God through Christ and by the loving sacrifice on the Cross, in which He has liberated us from the tyranny of sin.
Unfortunately, as highlighted in our Gospel passage today, despite this, there are still so many lacking in real and genuine faith. In that occasion mentioned in the Gospel, the Lord referred to the people’s lack of faith and their constant asking for signs and miracles, especially by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often criticised Him and shadowed Him all throughout His ministry, refusing to believe in Him despite everything they had witnessed and heard.
That was why the Lord compared them to the people of Nineveh in the case of their repentance and humility, their faith and belief in God when the prophet Jonah came to them and declared that the city of Nineveh would be destroyed and annihilated. They believed in the words of Jonah and humbled themselves even when they had not seen any miracles or deeds of the Lord.
And this is all the more remarkable because Nineveh was the capital of the great Assyrian Empire, which was pagan and worshipped pagan idols and false gods. Yet, the whole city, the king and its people, all humbled themselves before God and repented from their sinful ways, begging for God to forgive them. And all these happened even though they did not even see a single miraculous deeds of God. In this, their faith and ways were better than those at the time of the Lord Jesus, who saw, witnessed and heard every wonders of the Lord, and did not believe or repent.
This is where we are all reminded of the dangers of sin and its temptations in our hearts. Pride in particular is the most dangerous of all, and can bring many to their downfall. Pride was what brought down Satan through his pride and vanity, in rebelling against God and in desiring to claim the throne of God. And through pride, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who thought that their intellectual superiority, understanding of the Law and piousness in obeying the Law could not be challenged by anyone.
That was why they looked down on the Lord, doubted Him and His works, and continued to make His ministry difficult and opposed Him in many opportunities along the way. In this way, they were those whom the Lord said to be those who were further away from God even from the people of Nineveh and from the Queen of the South, who came all the way to Jerusalem just to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Those people had faith in the Lord and believed in Him, even when they were once pagans and unbelievers.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a reminder for us all not to be overcome or swallowed by pride, and we must not allow those to mislead us down the wrong path. We must remain firm in our faith, be humble and recognise just how we have sinned against God and just how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God. Let us commit ourselves therefore to a new way of life, one that is aligned with God, centred on God and be truly dedicated to our Christian faith, in deeds and actions, living up to what we believe with all of our strength.
May God bless us all, and may He guide us always in our journey of faith, that we will draw ever closer to the Lord and help to inspire even more people to walk faithfully in His way. Let us embrace our Christian calling at baptism fully, and be firm in our resolution not to give in to sin and also to pride and other temptations by which many had fallen again and again into sin. Amen.