Friday, 29 October 2021 : 30th 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 Scriptures, we are all presented with the reality of what being a Christian is all about. To be a Christian means that we have to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and do what He has commanded us to do. We must seek the Lord and focus ourselves on Him alone, and our whole existence and our ways must reflect the fact that we belong to God, and God alone.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome as he spoke out regarding the experiences he had as a Jewish convert to the Christian faith himself, in his ministry and works among the Jews and Gentiles all across the Mediterranean. St. Paul encountered difficulties and challenges, when there were those who refused to believe in Him and rejecting him, as well as happy and fruitful moments when the people were willing to listen to him and embrace God’s truth, from among the Jews and Gentiles alike.

What he mentioned in today’s first readings was comparing just how much more saddened and afraid he would be if he were to invoke God’s wrath and to be separated from Him as compared to how anguished he had been of having been treated badly by his own fellow Jewish countryman, many of whom treated him badly and accused him of wrongdoings in opposition to his courageous and sincere work in their midst, especially from those who were members of the Pharisees and all those who were sympathetic to their views and ideas.

Through what we have heard in St. Paul’s expression, it was clear that St. Paul wanted his own people, the Jews, or the descendants of the Israelites, God’s chosen people, to be saved and redeemed, and to follow the right path as shown by the Lord, but which was still resisted by many among them. And much of this resistance came about because of their stubborn attitude in adopting a strict interpretation of the Law, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, how the Pharisees took issue with the Lord performing His miracles and works on the Sabbath.

Many of the Pharisees held the view that the Lord Jesus was a false Messiah because He and His disciples disregarded the Law of the Sabbath or were breaking the Law, which they considered to be improper, and some among them even considered it downright blasphemous. As a result, they often opposed the Lord and tried to accuse Him of wrongdoing in various opportunities, and after His death and resurrection, since the Apostles and the other disciples continued these works, thus, the attention of the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities naturally turned towards them.

St. Paul himself was a former Pharisee who was called by the Lord, from a great persecutor of Christians turned to be one of its greatest champions and defender of the faith. That was likely why he was also saddened at the attitude of his former fellow Pharisees who continued to resist the truth of God and the works of those whom the Lord had entrusted His Church to, for their stubborn refusal to abandon or compromise their very strict interpretation of the Law, as well as their feeling of superiority against those whom they deemed to be less worthy than they were.

The Lord Himself in our Gospel passage today pointed out the folly of their arguments, as He showed that mankind cannot blindly follow the Law or interpret it in their own way without truly understanding the meaning and the purpose of the Law. God had intended the Law to be the guide and help for man to find their way to Himself, and yet, His people had instead become too fixated and focused on the applications and the practices of the Law which led to many of them obeying the Law for the sake of obeying it, or even making use of it to benefit themselves out of pride, ambition and desire.

This is why, today, through all that we have heard and discussed, we are all reminded that as Christians we have to do our best to keep ourselves away from the many temptations to follow our desires and the pleasures of worldliness, to be righteous and just, as the Lord our Master, our Father and Creator has been righteous and just. We are all called to put our trust and faith in Him, and persevere against the trials and challenges of worldly desires and the temptations of the devil and his fellow wicked forces. May God bless us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to follow Him with all of our might and strength. Amen.

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