Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are presented with the importance for us to realise that as Christians, we are called to follow the Lord with sincerity and commitment, and that we will likely encounter challenges and difficulties, trials and opposition along our way and journey towards the Lord.
In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah detailing how there were many of those who sought to bring Jeremiah down, plotting against him and seeking to kill him. This was a reflection of the true state of things during that time, when the kingdom of Judah was at its ending and the prophet Jeremiah ministered there, calling on the people to turn away from their sins and return to God.
But the people were stubborn and refused to listen to the Lord and His prophet Jeremiah. They preferred to listen to the lies and the falsehoods spread by those false prophets and leaders who claimed to know the will of God and pretended to speak on His behalf, further leading the people to their downfall. Jeremiah was resented and shunned for daring to speak the truth of God.
That was why Jeremiah was persecuted and opposed, what he earned and suffered from remaining true to his faith and calling. This is what the reality of being a follower of the Lord is, not to expect good and pleasant life in this world just as what some Christians ended up believing, but instead, to expect struggle and challenges that may be part of our life and journey as we move forward in life.
In our Gospel passage today, that was highlighted yet again by the Lord as He spoke to the two of His disciples, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee, whose mother came to Him asking for special favours for her children, that they be granted special positions of power by the Lord’s side, to be favoured over all the other disciples and followers. This highlighted the fact that many of those who followed the Lord, ultimately still considered worldly desires and ambitions.
At that time, the Lord Jesus was seen as the Messiah and Saviour of the people of Israel, and in the minds of the people, as well as in the popular belief, the Messiah was seen as someone who would liberate the people of Israel from their enemies and overlords, who would free them from the bondage and rule by the Romans, and ultimately would restore the kingdom of Israel and rebuild the Temple of God in Jerusalem.
Therefore, when St. James and St. John together with their mother came to the Lord seeking and asking for such special favour, it was made with this in mind, that they expected the Lord would reign as King, and when He reigns, they would want to have a position of trust and honour by His side, especially considering that both of them, together with St. Peter, were often brought by the Lord on many important occasions.
But the Lord revealed to them that to be His followers did not mean that they would earn worldly glory, power, honour and any sorts of influence or prestige. Rather, to be His followers would mean that they may have to suffer just as He would suffer, to be rejected and oppressed just as He Himself would be rejected and oppressed. The Lord reminded the two disciples of this stark reality, of the ‘cup of suffering’ that they would share with Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these readings from the Scripture we are therefore reminded that first of all as Christians we have been called to follow the Lord and to dedicate our lives to Him. But we also must realise that if we are to remain true to Him and keep our faith in Him, sometimes we may find ourselves troubled, in dilemma and being challenged by the society among all the other difficulties that we may face. Of course this does not mean that there is no joy in life to be gained from following the Lord, but if we are expecting a blissful and free of trouble life then we must realise the reality of what it means to be Christians.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore this Lent make a difference in our lives and in the way we live our lives from now on. Let us no longer be driven by worldly desire and by the temptations of worldly glory and power, of wealth and fame, but instead, anchoring ourselves on the Lord and renew our faith and devotion to Him, now and always, forevermore. May God bless us all in our good endeavours. Amen.