Monday, 19 July 2021 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to have faith in the Lord, to believe in Him and to trust in Him, that each and every one of us may grow in our faith in Him and not to be easily swayed by doubt and fear, or by worldly temptations and pressures among other things. The readings of the Scripture that we have heard today from the Book of Exodus on the moment of Israel’s liberation from the Egyptians, and the Lord’s words to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law ought to serve as good examples of this.

In our first reading today we heard of the time when the Israelites were already journeying away from the land of Egypt to the shores of the Red Sea, when the Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelites go free, and sent his forces, his army and chariot to go after all of them. The people became afraid and panicked after they saw the Egyptians and their chariots coming for them, trapping them between the chariots and the Sea. They were desperate and began to blame Moses and the Lord for having brought them out of Egypt.

This was the example of how we let our fears and insecurities to rule over us and cloud our judgments, leading us to lose our faith in the Lord, just as we did not have strong faith in Him from the very beginning. We placed our trust more in our own strength and capabilities, and when these failed us, we gave in to despair and desperate actions, that actually brought us even further away from God and fell deeper into sin and into the clutches of the evil ones. Too often we worry and are concerned excessively because we have no trust and faith in the Lord.

And therefore, just as on that day on the shores of the Red Sea, when the armies and the chariots of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh were bearing down on the Israelites, many among the people of God lost heart and grumbled against the Lord instead of entrusting themselves to Him, despite having seen for themselves how God had intervened on their behalf, in sending ten great plagues that struck Egypt, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh so hard that these all forced the latter to agree to let the people of Israel to go free. They had seen so much, and yet, failed to believe, because they had not allowed the Lord to enter into their hearts yet.

This is therefore can be compared to the attitudes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who in our Gospel passage today were mentioned as asking the Lord to give then signs so that they might believe in Him. They had in fact seen so many of the Lord’s miracles and wonders as they relentlessly pursued the Lord and hounded Him throughout His ministry, as they followed Him from place to place, seeking to find evidence against Him. They had seen all these, and yet still refused to believe in the Lord, and even dared to ask Him for more signs.

Why did the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did these things, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because they had hardened their hearts and minds, and closed them against the Lord, Who had ceaselessly and patiently knocked against the doors of their hearts and minds. They fell to the temptations of their worldly desires, of their pride and ego, their ambition and also want for power and influence, for fame and worldly glory, all of which led to their downfall, as they continued to resist the Lord’s good works and disobeyed Him, again and again.

No amount of miracles and signs would be enough to sway them all as long as they allowed themselves to be bought over by worldly desires and temptations. They saw the Lord as great rival of their own power, prestige and influence, and thus, that was why they worked so hard against Him, to the consternation of the Lord and His disciples. But the Lord remained patient and loving even towards them, and revealed how He would give them the ultimate Sign, as He was to be laid on the Altar of the Cross, to suffer death and then to rise again from the dead into glory on the third day, while alluding to the story of the prophet Jonah.

Through that, the Lord wanted to remind them and also all of us, that when we encounter challenges and trials, difficulties and hardships, we must not lose faith in Him. On the contrary, in fact we have to redouble our faith and commitment to Him, seeking Him with ever greater sincerity and zeal. This is what each and every one of us are supposed to do, and what all of us are called to do as Christians, to be those people who trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and might, and dedicate ourselves each and every moment of our lives to glorify the Lord.

May the Lord be with us and may He strengthen us, reminding us of how He has rescued His people by the shores of the Red Sea, opening the sea before them, leading them through and crushing the armies and the chariots of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, showing them and all of us, that in the end, if we stay faithful to the Lord, we shall triumph and if we remain in His grace, we shall gain eternal life and true joy, through Him. May God bless us and our good endeavours and efforts, now and always. Amen.

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