Thursday, 3 March 2022 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures speaking to us regarding the matter of following God and His commandments, to obedient to Him, His Law and all that He has given and revealed to us through His Church. All of us as Christians are called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, to devote ourselves, our lives and actions to adhere to His path. And as we begin this season of Lent, it is indeed most timely for us to consider this carefully.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy in which the Lord spoke to His people, the Israelites, through Moses, the leader whom God had appointed and sent to free the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt, bringing them all out through the power of God as they journeyed towards the Promised Land of Canaan. The Lord placed His Law and commandments to them all, passing them His Law and precepts to be followed and obeyed, that they might remain on the right path in life.

Unfortunately, as we all likely have known, no sooner that God revealed His Law, His Covenant and love for the people, that the same people disobeyed Him, refused to follow Him and fell back into their sinful path, as they forced Aaron to build a golden calf idol to be their god and master, just so soon after the Lord had liberated them from the slavery in Egypt and from the hands and forces of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. Even though they had seen the love and the might of God, they still betrayed Him and abandoned Him for a pagan idol.

Thus, that was why Moses spoke to the Israelites, in that occasion, just as he was already getting old and having led the Israelites on their forty years of detour and journey in the desert due to the infidelity and the lack of faith that the Israelites had shown. He reminded the whole people of Israel how fortunate they were for having been chosen as God’s own people and how He has favoured them and guided them all the way. God has presented His Law, commandments and ways, and the choice was therefore the people’s, on whether they would want to follow Him or not.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard how the Lord told His disciples very plainly that He was to suffer rejection and even death at the hands of His enemies and opponents, the ones who despised Him and would make it difficult for Him to perform His works and missions, namely many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the many members of the Sanhedrin, the chief priests and elders, the Sadducees and all those who opposed the truth and the wonders that the Lord had brought unto this world.

All those things happened because of the stubbornness of mankind, their attachments to worldly glory, power and fame, all that led to the people mentioned opposing the Lord and His good works, because they feared losing their influence and power in the society, the status and privileges that they had experienced and gained from the world. They saw the Lord as a rival and threat to all these, and that was why, despite being the ones who were the most knowledgeable about the Law, ironically they were the ones who rejected the Lord with the greatest fervour.

Just like the people of Israel of old, their ancestors, it was their desire for worldly things and their attachments that led them to disobey the Lord, and therefore fell deeper and deeper into the path of sin. Thus, the Lord reminded His disciples and all of us truly require that commitment and the genuine desire to follow Him wholeheartedly. We cannot truly call ourselves Christians and God’s disciples unless we are willing to carry our crosses together with the Lord, knowing fully that in following Him, sooner or later, we would face rejection and condemnation from the world, just as the Lord Himself had experienced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this season of Lent, all of us are called to renew this commitment we have in the Lord, to purify our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, our whole entire beings, in following God from now on with greater fervour and dedication. All of us are called to make that conscious choice to stand with the Lord, willing and ready to carry our crosses in life, devoting our effort, time and attention to serve the Lord by being exemplary as Christians in life. We are all called to follow the path that God has shown us and definitively reject sin and all of Satan’s many temptations and efforts to turn us away from God.

May the Lord continue to be with us and bless us in our respective journeys of faith. May He continue to watch over us and grant us the strength to persevere through the challenges and trials of our faith and life, and help us that we may draw ever closer to Him and His salvation, from now on and always, that we may help and inspire one another to become ever closer to God and be better Christians, through this wonderful time and season of Lent. Amen.

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