Friday, 24 September 2021 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures of the great works by which the Lord had done in guiding us through our life’s journey, and all that He has done for our sake, and how He will restore all of us and redeem us. He has always stayed by our side, and He is ever present in our lives, even if we have not realised it. God wants us to know that He shares our sufferings with us, and through this same sharing, we shall share in His eternal glory at the end.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Haggai, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, as the Exilarch of the Israelites being descended from the House of David, as well as to Joshua the then High Priest. The Lord told them that they must not be hesitant to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem, the Temple that was there in the Holy City, but which had been destroyed many decades earlier by the Babylonians who also destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the people of Israel for many years.

Contextually, at that time, the descendants of Israel had just returned to the land of their ancestors after the long exile, and they were allowed to return with the permission from King Cyrus of Persia who had emancipated them and specifically mentioned that the House of God in Jerusalem ought to be rebuilt again. Yet, after a number of years, by the reign of King Darius of Persia, the Temple of God had not yet been rebuilt and through the prophet Haggai, God spoke to the leaders of the people telling them to trust in Him and to rebuild the Temple as they ought to.

The Lord reassured them that He would always be with them, and His Spirit would dwell in their midst. He told them that they have nothing to worry of be afraid of since He will glorify Himself before all, and all who trust in Him shall be glorified together with Him, and share in the inheritance and true joy that they had been promised. And this would come to fulfilment eventually in Christ, the Saviour of all mankind, Who came to the midst of His people, as God’s Holy Presence in the flesh, no longer hidden but fully manifested, His love fully revealed before all.

And all of that happened because of what Christ would do for our sake, as He Himself foretold it before His disciples and the people, how He would be made to suffer and to endure rejection and ridicule from the people, and from the elders and the chief priests no less, from those most powerful and influential in the community who rejected Him and His truth, and persecuting His followers. But it was there then that the Lord would glorify Himself as the Living Temple of God, as the very Presence of God in the world, even as He laid down His life on the Cross and died.

That is because He rose triumphantly from the dead, overcoming the power of sin and death itself, and winning for all of us mankind the price of our freedom. And He established in this world the Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the visible symbol of His Presence and the unity that we share with Him. God reassured us through His Church that He is always with us and He will never abandon us, as He will always be with us and His Church, that in His own words, ‘will stand even against the gates of hell’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, reflecting on what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures today, we are all called to put our trust in the Lord even as we have been called out of our exile from the world of sin, just as the Israelites had been brought out of their exile back to their ancestral homeland. And God is now calling us all to do whatever we can and to contribute to the works of His Church, just as He had called on the leaders of Judah to contribute to the rebuilding of the House of God in Jerusalem.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to this cause and effort, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to trust in the Lord and to contribute our works and our labours, even in the smallest things to work for the greater glory of God through His Church? We are all called to be the shining examples and role models of our faith, and we should do whatever we can, at all times, to be inspiration for our fellow brothers and sisters, to be good and faithful followers of God by doing His will and obeying His Law and commandments.

Let us all strive to work together as members of this same Church of God, to establish God’s kingdom in this world, and to gather together all the faithful in one united effort to serve our Lord to the best of our abilities, not to be afraid anymore to stand up for our faith and to speak and to show the truth of God in our respective communities. May the Lord continue to guide us and watch over us, and may He bless us in our every endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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