Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the words we have heard reminding us to be faithful to God and to love Him as the same way as children are loving their parents, because we are God’s beloved children through baptism, by which all of us have been made sharers in God’s inheritance and received God’s grace and blessings, His love and providence.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Rome about the matter of following God and His ways, that all Christians as God’s own beloved sons and daughters ought to be truly faithful to Him and the commandments and laws which He has shown and given to them through the Church and its Apostles. They have been freed from the slavery of sin by God, and correspondingly should no longer subject themselves to the power and corruption of sin, and hence, they ought to live a life that is worthy of God.
St. Paul wrote this to the faithful in Rome with the context that there and elsewhere across the Mediterranean, in other communities of the faithful, quite a few of the Christian populations who were newly converted to the faith continued to practice pagan rituals and beliefs, and worse still, continue to live in a state of sin, full of debauchery and wickedness. Those behaviours and way of life were incompatible with the Christian faith, and in fact bring scandal upon the Church and the sanctity of our solemn faith and profession.
That is why, St. Paul reminded all of the people, and then, which includes all of us, that everyone who believe in God ought to be thoroughly converted to the path of God’s truth and righteousness. We must never allow our worldly desires and the many temptations to sin to bring and lead us to our downfall. If we are not careful, we may end up falling into those temptations and ended up sinning again, unless we make the conscious effort to reject Satan and his temptations for us to sin against God. We must realise just how blessed we are to have been beloved by God, and we should treasure how we have been saved by Him.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord and His healing of the woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, who had been suffering and tormented by her afflictions. And it was an evil spirit that forced her into that state. No one had been able to heal her, until that moment when she came before the Lord, and the Lord noticing her, had pity on her and showed her His most generous mercy, healed her by likely casting out the evil spirit that had tormented and troubled her. He made her whole again and liberated her.
Yet, the officials of the synagogue and the members of the Pharisees who were present there criticised the Lord for having done the healing on the day of the Sabbath, which to them was against their very strict interpretation of the Law of God. The Lord immediately rebuked them and pointed out the folly and illogical nature of their argument and their rigid attitude, as double standard quickly appeared when comparing how the people untied their donkey and oxen even on the Sabbath to provide for their needs, while the suffering woman had to wait to be healed, if the Lord had acted in the manner desired by the Pharisees and the synagogue officials.
Instead, the Lord through His action showed us that we are all truly precious for Him, as His lost sheep that He has gathered again from among the nations, from all those scattered and spread far and wide, and we are all His beloved ones that He would do nothing less than give His own life in exchange for our salvation. Through His Cross, Christ has suffered and died a most terrible, humiliating and painful death, all for our sake, that we may have new life through Him, and share in His glorious Resurrection and the eternal life promised to us.
Having been beloved in such a way, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we still willing to allow ourselves to be commanded and misguided by our desires, and by the temptations to sin? Having been rescued and redeemed from our sins, are we still insisting on following a path of sin and evil, in disobedience against God? Are we still stubborn in our refusal to open our hearts and minds, in order to welcome Him into them, that He may dwell in us and we may be made wholesome like that suffering woman? Let us all carefully consider our path in life from now on, that we will walk in the presence and grace of God.
Let us all inspire and strengthen one another to live ever more faithfully in God’s path, and let us be exemplary in our every actions and interactions in life, so that all who see us, hear us and witness our works, will come to know the Lord and will know that we are truly His beloved children, and come to believe in Him as well. May God, our loving Father and Creator, continue to bless us and our good efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.