Sunday, 27 February 2022 : Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we gather together and listen to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded how all of us have to be true to our faith in God, to be righteous and good in all things just as He has commanded and taught us to do in our lives. We have to be active in living our faith and not just paying lip service to the Lord only. We cannot be idle and ignorant of what the Lord had told us to do, through all the guidance He has shown us through His Church.

In our first reading today, we heard from the book of the prophet Sirach in which the Lord spoke to His people regarding how a person can be seen and witnessed from his or her actions and deeds, from their words and all their interactions, just as a tree’s qualities can be seen from its fruits among other examples. It was also mentioned how a potter usually tests his wares and products by testing them with fire, and all the hidden flaws will be revealed that way. Nothing can be hidden away and all can and may be revealed.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we cannot fake our faith, or think that we can deceive others by our appearances if deep inside we do not truly have faith in the Lord. That was why, sadly, many people found it difficult to believe in God because many among us Christians do not even practice our faith and behave in the manner appropriate to our identity as those who believe in the Lord. That is exactly why many were scandalised by what they had seen in the attitudes of Christians, who behaved not according to what the Christian truth is all about.

This same sentiment is echoed by the Lord Himself as we heard it in our Gospel passage today, in which we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the matter how people should be truly faithful to God and be willing to reflect on their own attitudes first before they judge others or condemn others for being less faithful or worthy than they were, which was unfortunately a rather common situation among the people of Israel at the time, particularly among the members of the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests.

They were the ones who always thought highly of themselves and conversely looked down on others, condemning others they deemed to be unworthy of God and His salvation like that of the tax collectors and prostitutes, or those who were possessed or were suffering from diseases and other afflictions. They thought of themselves as worthy and justified in their actions, in their exclusivity and refusal to engage in genuine dialogue with the Lord and His disciples, and instead preferring to hinder Him and putting obstacles in all the occasions and the places wherever He went to.

That was the example of what the Lord said as the blind leading the blind, and a man with a plank in his eye who chose to point out the speck in another’s eye, while ignoring the plank in his very own eye. Unfortunately, this was a common attitude not only just among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but also among us Christians as well. Many of us often think of ourselves as being better than others and are easily prejudiced and biased against those whom we perceived to be less than worthy of the Lord and His saving grace as well as love.

That is exactly how we fell to this same trap of self-righteousness, selfishness, self-aggrandisement and other traps that have often trapped many of us since the beginning of time. Ever since man first fell into sin, we have always struggled against the allures of worldly desires, of personal desires for pleasure and satisfaction, for self-fulfilment and happiness, often even at the cost of others around us. That was how mankind often brought about suffering to others around them, all because they thought first and foremost of themselves first, ignoring others and their needs.

And as long as our internal predisposition and orientation are not set right as we should have, then we will likely fall again and again into this path of sin, wickedness and evil, this path of selfishness and jealousy, of self-preservation and the desire for personal glory, satisfaction and attainment. This is why today, on this Sunday all of us are reminded by the words of the Lord Himself, that we have to begin making the efforts to nurture within us all, a true heart, mind and soul that are all attuned towards the Lord, filled with genuine faith and love for Him.

In our second reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle and letter to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, speaking about the matter of sin and death. He spoke of how sin is the sting of death, for through sin brought about by their disobedience and by succumbing to their desires, man had brought upon themselves the suffering and punishment of death. Sin is the weeds that the devil has sowed in our hearts, as we heard in one of the parables of the Lord, when the enemy came to sow the seeds of weeds among the seeds of good wheat.

Then St. Paul also spoke of how the Lord has triumphed over sin and death, and through Him, He has shown us this path of victory against sin and evil, against death and all the tyranny and bondage that they had over us all these while. Yet, it is us mankind who have often fell back again and again into sin, because we do not have that strong and genuine faith in the Lord, and we still have too many and too strong attachments to sin, to the many temptations and desires found in this world, to all the things that often distracted us in our journey towards the Lord.

First of all, as mentioned earlier, it is important that as Christians we have to realise that we must always be vigilant against our ego and pride, our desires and all the temptations present all around us. We have to be humble and to rid of ourselves all the excesses of our pride and ego, which often were the sources of our downfall. If we allow those things to mislead us and distract us from the path of God, then very easily we will end up following the wrong path in life, and falling ever deeper into the traps of sin, and eventually to eternal death and suffering.

If we do not want this to happen, then first of all we have to reorientate our lives from one that is centred on ourselves, our ego and desires, into new lives that are centred on God, on His truth and love. This is what the Lord wants from us, and this is what this Sunday’s Scripture readings had been intended to, in order to wake us up from our slumber in this world, and so that we may stir and do our best to seek the Lord with a renewed conviction, zeal and passion in our respective lives.

We have to realise that we are weak and imperfect, and we often need help in our journey through life. We cannot just solely depend on ourselves and our power alone, but instead we have to cooperate and work with God, allowing Him to lead us down the right path. And in order to do that, often we have to be in touch with Him and ourselves, knowing how sinful and flawed we have been. Otherwise, if we allow pride and ego to fill our minds and hearts, then in our self-righteousness, we will end up shutting the Lord out, and consequently, we will only end up getting more and more distant from one another.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, instead of us comparing who amongst us are better, more worthy, more righteous, more pious or holy, let us all realise that we are all sinners in need of God’s healing and mercy. And the Lord is the only One Who can provide us our true happiness in life, and in Him we can put our full trust always. He has called us all to follow Him, and all that remains is for us to follow Him and trust Him wholeheartedly from now on. And as Christians, we should help and inspire one another in this journey of faith, supporting and strengthening one another instead of trying to outdo or compete with each other, nurturing in ourselves a heart filled with love for God and faith and trust in Him.

May the Lord, our most loving God, continue to bless us and guide us, and may He continue to watch over us, and help us to remain humble and committed to Him, that we may resist all the temptations of our ego and pride, our desires and the attachments we have to our worldly temptations and concerns. May God bless all of our good endeavours, works and efforts, in all things, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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