Sunday, 25 October 2020 : Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are reminded by God through the words of the Scripture of what it means for us to be Christians in loving and obeying God’s will and His laws and commandments. As we all have heard, primarily, the Law and commandments of God are about love, the love of God first and foremost before all else, and the love of our fellow neighbours, our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord.

This is why as Christians we cannot be ignorant of this Law and our need to obey the Lord with true and sincere devotion. We have to recognise that through the love of God each and every one of us have been immensely blessed, favoured and are truly fortunate. It was because of this love which God showed us that the whole world could have been saved. For it was our fate that we ought to have been condemned and destroyed for our sins, but God’s enduring love for us did not allow that to happen.

That was what the Lord Himself had mentioned in the Book of Exodus on the instructions He gave the people of Israel that He had led out of the land of Egypt regarding matters such as how they ought to treat one another, behave as His people and His followers. The Lord told them that they ought to do good to others, and not to oppress them, just as they themselves had been rescued from oppression and slavery in Egypt. They should take good care of those who were vulnerable like widows and orphans, and they were also not to take advantage and make profits over others.

Essentially, the Lord wants each and every one of us to follow His examples in love, to show genuine love and compassion to each other, and not hatred, anger, or to be jealous or egoistic in our actions and interactions with one another. The Lord wants us to be truly faithful to Him and obey His Law with understanding of His intentions of why He has given us His laws. And it is that He wants us to turn to Him and find our way to Him, to rediscover the love which we ought to have for Him, and centre our lives once again on Him.

Unfortunately, as the Lord gave His people the Law and made His Covenant with them, they refused to obey Him and often went against Him and betrayed Him for other gods and by their wicked deeds. As soon as God made a Covenant with them, and not long after He liberated them from Egypt and led them out of slavery, with mighty deeds and showing His love to them before their own eyes, they chose to erect for themselves a golden calf to be worshipped as a false god and idol.

And over many times throughout the Exodus and their journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites had repeatedly doubted the Lord, complained and groaned against Him, complaining that they did not have enough or they had it much better even in slavery in Egypt, when the Lord had obviously shown great care and love for them, giving them provisions of the heavenly bread manna each day, as well as flocks of birds in the evening and good water to drink throughout their long journey in the lifeless and empty desert.

That was why God gave Moses series of instructions and rules, which eventually became the Law of Moses as codified in the Torah. God wanted His people to follow those rules and obey them in the context of that time, when they were constantly disobeying Him and therefore were in great danger of falling into damnation and destruction. For those who continued to sin and refused to turn towards the Lord would be judged by their own sins, by their own conscious choice to refuse the love and mercy of God.

Therefore, even in all these, we can see what God’s true intention was when He gave His Law to His people. It was out of His love for them, His desire to be reconciled with them and to keep them away from destruction that would surely happen to them if they disobeyed Him and continued to live in sin. The Law was meant to be a guide and inspiration for them all to follow and obey that they might discipline themselves and keep their wicked desires and all the temptations of the world in check.

Unfortunately, all of these were misunderstood and the true meaning and purpose of the Law ended up being forgotten as time passed on. The people ended up seeing the Law as merely a formality and even for some, a burden to be fulfilled lest they incurred the wrath of God. The people misunderstood God’s intentions and became fearful of Him. And this became worse as over the centuries, modifications and extensions of the Law, its interpretation by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law ended up misleading the faithful and the people.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were very strict in their observance of the Law, and it was such that they caused great difficulty for the people in their enforcement of the standards of the rules and regulations, that many of the people were unable to keep up with its standards. Unfortunately, in truth, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves were unable to observe all of those laws according to their own standards.

That was likely why the Pharisees asked the Lord, what is the most important commandment in the Law, partly to test the Lord and also partly out of their own desire to know that out of all those rules, regulations and commandments, which one was the most important one. And out of all these, in their busy preoccupations and being distracted by their obsession in obeying the Law according to their own flawed and incomplete understanding and interpretation.

The Lord therefore wants us all to realise that first of all God loves each and every one of us without exception. And through the Law that God has granted and revealed to us, the Lord wanted to show us the path leading us to Himself, through love. As the Lord plainly and clearly explained to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, that the whole Law, in its entirety, can be summarised into two main laws, that is in itself is all about love.

Just as the Lord has loved us all so much, that He has cared for us and given us His Law to guide us down the right path, to prevent us from falling into sin, then each and every one of us should indeed love Him first and foremost, in the same manner as He has loved us from the very beginning. That is why our lives must be Christ-centric, revolving around God and His teachings and ways. We should focus our time, effort and attention on the Lord and do whatever we can to serve Him and glorify Him.

And in order to do so, we have to love our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and fellow men too. We cannot truly love God if we have not loved our fellow brethren in the same way that we love ourselves. After all, if we truly love God, then shouldn’t we also love those whom God has loved? If God loves each and every one of us equally without any exception, and shows mercy and compassion even to the greatest of sinners, then why can’t we do the same as well?

Many of us may think that being faithful Christians just means for us to fulfil our obligations such as going to the Holy Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligations, fast and abstain during the times stipulated by the Church and others. But these laws and rules established by the Church ultimately came from the Law of God, as revealed and fleshed out by the Lord Himself through His Apostles. And we have clearly heard how the Lord intended for us to love Him. In the same way, all those laws of the Church are meant to lead us towards God.

That is why, we cannot be lukewarm in living our faith. Many of us grumbled and complained even in fulfilling the basic obligations of our faith, and were not fully attentive and participative at the Holy Mass. We cannot wait until we can resume our daily routines and other worldly things in our minds, and we even consider all of that a waste of our precious time. Aren’t we ashamed of our lack of faith and our inappropriate conduct, brothers and sisters in Christ?

We must not forget that the Holy Mass is a constant reminder of the loving sacrifice that the Lord Himself had done for our sake from the Cross. He willingly bore our sins and all of their consequences, all the punishments due for us, on His own shoulders, bearing the wounds and hurts, all the sufferings for our sake. He poured His own Precious Blood to mark and seal a new Covenant with each and every one of us, the New and Eternal Covenant of Love, as a tangible and true revelation and evidence of His enduring love.

The Lord Himself had shown the perfect example of love to each and every one of us, by loving all of us, His brothers and sisters, and also obeying His heavenly Father’s will, bringing the Law in its fullness and showing us that it is indeed possible to be truly obedient to the Law. What matters then is, are we willing to follow the Lord’s examples and love Him, and love one another just in the manner that He has shown us? Or are we too busy with ourselves, to selfish, too distracted by temptations and desires to be able to do this?

As Christians, let our actions be filled with love, and not just any kind of love, but selfless and genuine love, especially towards all those who need this love. We should reach out to those who are unloved, rejected by others, and as the Lord Himself said, that we should love even all of our enemies, all those who have hurt us, forgiving them and asking for forgiveness ourselves, for any of the faults and hurts that we may have intentionally or unintentionally inflicted on them.

In our world today, there has been a lot of hatred, anger, injustice and many other things caused by the selfishness of mankind. And because of this, our calling as Christians is to be the difference, to show love where there has been anger and hatred, to show forgiveness, compassion and mercy where there has been conflict, divisions and disputes, to show the selfless love of God when we are frequently tempted to put ourselves and our selfish desires above the needs of others.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be true Christians in our daily living is not going to be easy. If we find it easy to be Christians, that is likely because we have not done what we should have done as Christians, as those whom the Lord had called and chosen to be His people. It is by our deeds and by our humble faith and obedience to God’s will that all will know of God’s love through us, and they will come to know that we truly are God’s people, and more and more will come to believe in Him as well.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive to be more faithful from now on, in how we live our lives and in how we act in each and every moments of our lives, to be the bearers of God’s love, dedicating ourselves to love God and to love all of God’s people, reaching out to those who are unloved and less fortunate than us, and sharing whatever blessings God had given to us, that all of us may truly be blessed together in love. May the Lord, our loving God and Father, continue to love each and every one of us, bless us and take good care of us, as He has done all these while. Amen.