Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are presented with the reminder for us to be genuine Christians in our lives, and not to be hypocrites and lukewarm in living as Christians. The Lord has called all of us to be fully committed and be filled with love for Him and our fellow men, in each and every moments of our lives.
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard the Apostle reminding the faithful in that city to keep their Christian faith and dedicate themselves to the Lord and His path, that they should always put God before anything else, and strive to follow the Lord’s path in their livelihood and actions.
St. Paul reminded the people there to keep themselves away from all sorts of impurities and sins, all wickedness and evils, all negative thoughts and actions that lead to sin. He told them to be exemplary in all of their actions, be it in small or significant things that they truly became faithful and genuine witnesses of their Christian faith before everyone else. Otherwise, they were no better than hypocrites.
In our Gospel today, we heard about the confrontation between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees, who saw the Lord healing a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, a very long time indeed. And the Lord healed her even though it was plainly in the sight of all and on the day of the Sabbath. We may think that there is no issue with this at all, as after all the Lord was doing great things for God’s glory.
However, to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, mentioned as the rulers of the Synagogues, at that time, what the Lord has done was an aberration and travesty, tantamount to blasphemy and committing evil deeds, as they believed that the Sabbath day is a day when no activity of all sorts were allowed, regardless of the type of action and the circumstances and intentions behind them.
They rigidly interpreted and enforced the Law, that even as the Lord showed love and mercy to the suffering woman, they grumbled and were unhappy seeing what He has done before them and the people. They would rather that the woman suffered longer than to be flexible in their enforcement and application of the Law. Their insistence in enforcing strictly the laws of Moses showed how they failed to understand and appreciate their faith properly.
The Law of God, as the Lord made it very clear, is not meant to oppress or make the people to suffer. The Law of God is meant for the people to rediscover their love and devotion to God, to remind them of the necessary things for them to do, in order to direct their effort and attention on God. Through the Law, including the Law regulating the Sabbath, God wants us all to keep and devote some time, reminding us that He is the chief priority of our lives.
That is why, the Sabbath was meant for keeping a sacred and special time for the people that they might spend it with God and keep themselves from all the distractions and the temptations that the world usually brought to them. Instead, the people ended up focusing on the wrong things, focusing excessively on the minute details, on how each observances of the Sabbath could be done, rather than focusing on the intention of the Law.
Through His healing of the woman suffering for such a long time, the Lord in fact wanted to show them His wonderful love. He wanted us to recognise this love and learn to love Him more and more. And how do we do this, brothers and sisters? It is by living righteously and virtuously in accordance to His Law, dedicating ourselves, our time, attention and effort on Him.
May the Lord help each and every one of us to remain more faithful to Him, and may He bless each and every one of us in our every good endeavours from now on. May God bless us all at all times, and guide us in the journey of life. May God be with us, now and always. Amen.