Monday, 22 March 2021 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the dangers of sin and the need for us to resist the temptations to sin and to indulge in various human desires. We need to learn from what we have heard in our Scripture readings today so that we may become truly better Christians in all things, in words and deeds, as well as in our everyday living, becoming good examples for one another in faith.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Daniel, the prophet of Israel in exile in Babylon who witnessed the unjust persecution and false accusation by two elders against Susanna, a faithful and righteous woman who was wrongly accused of adultery and sin against God when it was actually the two elders themselves who disobeyed the Lord and sinned because of their lust and their inability to hold that lust in check, leading to their downfall.

The two elders tried to abuse their position and power, the prestige and respect they had in the society of the Israelite exiles at the time to give them strong leverage over Susanna, who however refused to give in to their demands. It was quite obvious from what we have heard that the two men were quite set in following their desires and lust, and not only that they planned everything well, but from their threat to Susanna, they were in fact proud and filled with ego, thinking that they could not be persecuted for what they were about to do.

Not only that, but when they failed to get Susanna to bend to their will and do what they wanted, they were then dead set in trying to get her condemned to death, again using their position wrongly to gain for their own self-benefits. They almost succeeded in doing so if not for the Lord intervening through Daniel, as God awakened the Spirit in Daniel and gave him the wisdom and guidance to do what was right, and prevent the suffering and death of the innocent.

Through all of that, Daniel wisely managed to get the two elders to confess their own sins before the assembled public by making everyone to hear from their own mouths, their incoherent and inconsistent testimony, which meant that Susanna was saying the truth, and was innocent, while it was the two elders themselves who were at fault and should have been punished with whatever they had intended to punish Susanna with.

In the Gospel passage today, we then heard of the well-known story of the Lord Jesus forgiving the woman caught in the act of adultery, in which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law wanted to test and see the Lord’s response to how they accused the woman caught in the act of adultery, hoping to catch Him off-guard and fumbling, and thus giving them the ground and evidence to either discredit Him or to persecute Him.

Had the Lord said that the woman should have been stoned to death as per the Jewish law, then the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law could have just benefitted by saying that the Lord was no different from them, or that He was just merely agreeing to what they themselves had taught, therefore discrediting Him in the eyes of others. On the other hand, had the Lord told them to release the woman, they could then charge Him on the accusation of siding with sinners and disobeying the Law.

Instead, as we know, the Lord wisely and carefully avoid all of those by simply saying that those who were without sin ought to cast the first stone, which had an almost immediate effect on the assembled people, making them aware of their own sins and disobedience against God, as was evident how the people began to leave one by one, starting from the eldest ones, as those were the ones who have lived the longest and were likely to have committed the most sins in their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, and we are reminded therefore that first of all, we are all sinners before God, and we are people who are easily tempted by the temptations to sin, in which today we had the emphasis on the sin of lust as showed by the two elders and also by the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. In comparing these two cases, the Lord wanted us to see that sin is truly dangerous and is something that can indeed bring us to our downfall if we are not careful.

Yes, as we heard, the desire to sin and our vulnerability to it, and if we succumb to those temptations, we will end up falling further and further into the trap of sin, as the two elders story had shown us. They committed more sins to protect themselves and doubled down on their mistakes just so that their earlier sins would not be discovered. Sin is something that we must be very careful with, and we cannot allow ourselves to be overcome by it.

But at the same time, through our Gospel, we are also reminded of the powerful healing from God, Who alone can heal us from our sins. And most importantly, because He loves each one of us dearly, He is truly willing to forgive all of us our sins, and be reconciled with us. He does not want to condemn us, and He does not desire our destruction, unless it is we ourselves who desire it, by continuing to live in sin and rejecting His most generous offers of mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all turn towards the Lord today with a renewed faith and love for Him, and let us all listen to the Lord when He said that, ‘Go and sin no more’, that we may lead a virtuous life from now on, free from sin and evil, exemplary in our lives, our actions, words and deeds, in obedience to God from now on. May God be with us always throughout our journey of faith and life, and may He strengthen us with the courage to live ever more faithfully in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

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