Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through what we had listened from the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the love that God has generously given to us, provided us and patiently offered to us, all these while, that through His love we have received such great benefits and bounty, through the many examples that He has shown us through our various predecessors, and through the parable that Our Lord has spoken to His disciples, the parable of the unforgiving servant in our Gospel passage today.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Daniel of the story of the persecution of the faithful, the famous story of how the three friends of Daniel, namely Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael. They were all thrown into a great furnace by the orders of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. They refused to obey the king’s orders to all the people to worship the great golden statue and idol in his own image that he had built and erected over the land. The three of them alone refused to bow down and worship the statue of the king, and remained faithful to the Lord.
The king was made even more furious because the three men stood by their faith and spoke up courageously in the defence of their faith in God. They would rather suffer and die instead of betraying and abandoning their Lord and Master. The king ordered the furnace to be made even hotter than usual, and threw the three men into it. We heard in our first reading today, the prayer that Azariah had made, entrusting themselves to God and asking Him to show His mercy and love to them, showing their utter commitment and dedication to Him.
Azariah prayed to the Lord also on behalf of the entire people of God, who were then mostly exiled and brought far away from their homeland. The people of the ten tribes of the northern Israel kingdom had been brought off into exile much earlier on, while by the actions of same king Nebuchadnezzar, the people of the southern kingdom of Judah had also been brought into exile, cast out of their homeland, having their homes and cities destroyed and occupied by strangers and foreigners. All these were caused by their infidelities and their wickedness, the sins that they and their ancestors had committed. God listened to them and protected them from the fire, and made the whole people and king Nebuchadnezzar astonished and amazed at their miraculous survival.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the parable that the Lord told His disciples and the people gathered to listen to Him, regarding the unforgiving servant, who was forgiven his debts by his master and yet refused to forgive the debt owed to him by his fellow servant. The master showed pity on the servant because he was unable to pay off his debts, and forgave him all of his debts which would have seen his properties, loved ones and more seized. But that servant was not really appreciative and thankful of what he had received from his master.
Instead, he persecuted his own fellow servant who owed him much lesser than what he had owned his master earlier on. This incident was a reminder from the Lord how we often treat one another with lack of mercy, love and compassion while the Lord has shown us so much of that mercy and love. The master is a representation of the Lord Himself, while the servants represent all of us. The Lord showed His mercy and compassion, forgiving us our sins, and He expected us all to do the same as well. When the master punished the unforgiving servant for his lack of mercy, that is a reminder for us that unless we love one another and show mercy and love for our brothers and sisters, then no mercy shall be shown to us either.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make good use of this time and season of Lent to be more generous with our love, compassion and mercy to each other, just as the Lord Himself has shown us His great love and mercy. The example of Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael has shown us just how much beloved we are by God, and how He wants to reconcile us to Himself. God has always loved us since the very beginning, and while He could have destroyed us due to our many sins, represented by the debts the servants owed to the master, but He was ever generous and loving, willingly forgiving us our sins.
As we say in the Lord’s Prayer that we are all familiar with, ‘Forgive us our sins just as we forgive those who have sinned against us’. This is the calling made to all of us Christians to show more love and compassion to our fellow brethren, to be more like Christ, Our Lord and our most loving Saviour. Just as He has reached out to us with the outpouring of God’s love and compassion, seeking out the worst of sinners and rebels, we too have to do the same with our own lives. We should do whatever we can to show works of charity, generosity, life and kindness at every possible opportunities and even in the smallest things we do.
May the Lord be with us all and may He empower each and every one of us. May He strengthen us all with the courage and strength to live faithfully in His presence at all times. May all of us draw ever closer to God and help us to be more loving, compassionate and kind to one another, and be willing to walk in the path of repentance as well, accepting God’s generous offer of mercy and love. Amen.