Monday, 6 September 2021 : 23rd 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 all reminded to follow the Lord and be faithful to Him, and to play our part as members of God’s Church. God has told us to follow Him sincerely and wants us to understand His path and His commandments well. The Lord has shown us what we have to do, and what we should be doing is to trust in Him and to commit ourselves to this path that the Lord has revealed to us.

However, this is easier said than done, as many of us often preferred to trust in our own judgments and strength, and in our own way of thinking and ideas, not willing to listen to the Lord and trust ourselves in His infinite wisdom. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself was confronted by the Pharisees who wanted to test Him and see if He would violate the law of the Sabbath that they held to be sacrosanct. They were often opposed to Him and His teachings, and particularly found offence in the Lord’s activities on the Sabbath.

This was where the Lord strongly rebuked those self-righteous Pharisees and teachers of the Law, by revealing how it is ridiculous for the Law of God to be used to prevent someone from performing something that is good, right and just, and He told them that the Law was not meant to arbitrarily restrict the faithful from doing anything on the holy day of the Lord. Instead, the true purpose and intention of the Law of the Sabbath was to remind the people of God to spend more time in their relationship with God.

And that was why, they were told not to do work or conduct their usual daily business, not because they could not do so or prohibited like as if those things were grave sins. Rather, out of the seven days of the week, if everyone were to do their work on every single day, then there would be no space for God in their hearts and minds. Hence, the Lord instituted the Sabbath and its laws to help the faithful to redirect their attentions and their focus on the Lord, away from the usual busy schedules and activities of their worldly lives.

Yet, this does not mean that the Lord wanted to exclude all of them from doing what they should and could be doing on that day, in doing good things and in showing their faith in the Lord. On the contrary, if one were to purposely ignore the plight of others and the needy during the day of the Sabbath, then they would have committed the sin of omission, in failing to do what they could do, when they were in the right place and opportunity to do so, to show God’s love and compassion to our fellow men.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, this was what the Lord highlighted in His rebuke of the attitude of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. He wanted them to know that obeying the Law is and should not just be a mere formality and a ritual to be done with and to be followed blindly without understanding. Otherwise, it might end up like the Pharisees themselves, who practiced their version and interpretation of the Law, including the rules regarding the Sabbath, and yet, did so with little understanding of its true intentions.

God chose to heal the man without hesitation, and healed the paralytic man, restoring him to full health, to the anger of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who became even more determined to oppose Him and to arrest Him. Yet, through these actions, the Lord wants each and every one of us to know that His love is always all-encompassing, and He is always ready to reach out to us, and loving us once again, in His willingness to love us and in the great patience which He has shown us.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? As we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we have all been invited to reflect on our way of life, on whether we have truly been faithful to the Lord in all of our lives and whether we have truly understood His Law and commandments, or whether we have been spending all these time merely paying Him lip service and treating our Christian life as a mere formality? Have we been living our lives as Christians in the wrong way all these while?

Let us all therefore spend some time to discern carefully what we are going to do from now on, in walking down the path that the Lord has shown us. Let us commit ourselves to Him anew and be ever more genuine and sincere in loving Him, and in loving one another according to His teachings. May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us all through life, to be ever more faithful Christians, now and always. Amen.

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