Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded that the Lord remembers all of us and loves each and every one of us without exception, from saints to sinners, and all whether they are rich or poor, powerful or weak, be it whether they belong to that race or having any particular backgrounds. He loves each and every one of us equally, and all of us have a share in His love and grace, provided that we first allow Him to touch our lives and love us.
In our first reading today we heard of the story of the passing of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, our father in faith. Sarah passed away in her old age and was buried in peace by Abraham, who had been blessed with a son, Isaac, the one whom God had promised to him, to be the one to bear his name and to be the father of many descendants who would thereafter call Abraham as their forefather. And God blessed Isaac in the same way that He has blessed Abraham, as we heard how Isaac managed to get a wife from among his own relatives.
We heard how God gave Rebekah to be Isaac’s own wife, to be the one to console Isaac after the loss of his own mother Sarah. Through this, we can see yet again how God had always put each and every one of us foremost in His mind and His care. He sought to console us and help us, whenever He could. He is always concerned about us and wants nothing else but our happiness. Yet, it is often we ourselves who refused Him and distanced ourselves from Him. This is what kept us away from Him and prevented us from being fully reconciled to Him.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord calling on a tax collector, who was later to be known as Matthew. Matthew would become the Lord’s follower and one of His chosen Twelve, a dramatic turn from once being a tax collector into a most faithful and devoted servant of God. Matthew abandoned everything and followed the Lord, and not just that, but as he was about to follow the Lord, he invited the Lord to have dinner with him and his other fellow tax collectors, who were very eager to meet the Lord and listen to Him.
The tax collectors back then were very hated and reviled by most of the community, especially by the elites such as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. They were seen as traitors and sinners simply because of the nature of their work, as the ones who collected the taxes on behalf of the Roman overlords who ruled over the Jewish peoples. They were hated as a group simply because of the hate that many of the Jews had against the Romans, and their hatred on the tax imposed on them. As a result, they were often ostracised and rejected by the general community.
Yet, the Lord showed what was most unconventional and surprising to all who had witnessed His actions, by not only calling one of these tax collectors to be His own disciple, but to even have a meal in the house of the tax collectors, in the company of the other tax collectors. To the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, this was an act of ultimate defilement, as none of them would even want to come near to the tax collectors, deemed as sinners and unclean, less still to have a meal in their house and dwelling place.
Through this occasion, the Lord wants to remind us all yet again that we are all beloved and precious to Him, without exception. Not even those whom others considered to be great sinners could be far away from God and His love. On the contrary, even if we are separated from God, but if we are willing to seek God and His mercy, and are humble enough to admit our sinfulness and wicked lives, and willing to embrace His mercy and love, we shall be blessed and strengthened, and we shall be forgiven from our sins.
May the Lord continue to love each and every one of us as He has always loved us all these while, and may He awaken in us the love which we ourselves should have for Him. May He bring us all ever closer to Him, and encourage us all to live as faithful Christians, now and always, in all occasions. Let us also never be judgmental or be prejudiced against our fellow brethren, and instead, learn to love one another just as the Lord has loved us, and help each other on the path towards God’s grace and salvation. Amen.