Wednesday, 23 March 2022 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the obligation and duty we have in fulfilling God’s Law and commandments, as Christians who profess to believe in Him and who proclaim ourselves as His beloved children and people, as those whom He had called to be His own, walking down the path that He has shown each and every one of us. This is what He wants to remind us today, and to help us to be faithful always to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy of the words that Moses, the leader of the Israelites had spoken before all the whole assembly of the Israelites, at the time when he was already old and advanced in age, and it was then towards the end of the long sojourn of the Israelites in the desert, a period that lasted a total of forty years. We have to understand how it happened in the first place, that due to the disobedience of the people and their refusal to obey the Law and their stubbornness in not putting their faith in God led to them having to endure that forty years of journey.

Moses thus reminded those who have endured the sufferings and the long journey, those who have not perished because of their disobedience and sins, that based on what they themselves had endured and experienced, they should know better than to disobey the Lord again. They should not wander off again to the wrong paths and to the wicked ways of their predecessors, who have chosen to follow the idols and foreign gods and ways instead of listening to God and His servant, Moses. Those who have done so had already received their just punishments, while those who have kept their faith in God would be rewarded for their patience.

Yes, those who have persevered in faith would be led into the promised land, the land that God Himself had promised to them and their ancestors, the land overflowing with milk and honey, with great bounty and produce, which their predecessors foolishly refused to enter out of fear and lacking in faith in God. Despite God’s guidance and assurance, those people had preferred to walk their own path and as a result, they ended up with nothing but destruction and annihilation. This was what Moses reminded the people of as he exhorted them to remain true to God and His Law.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples as He spoke to them with regards to the matter of the Law and what He came to do in this world. And likely as a response to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who must have criticised Him again and again with regards to the Law, accusing Him without end of trying to destroy and replace the Law of God, the Lord Jesus simply said that He came to fulfil the Law and everything that God had revealed to His people through the Law would be fulfilled through Him. He did not come to destroy or replace the Law but instead to reveal it in its truth and entirety.

For until that time, God’s Law had been re-read, reinterpreted and reorganised many times across the different generations, and as in the past there was no organised writing of the Law into a proper codex or statutes of the Law, but instead depending a lot on oral tradition and word of mouth, the Law of God as revealed and passed down through Moses, which earlier on we just discussed how he exhorted the Israelites to keep faithfully through them and their descendants, all these had been corrupted and misinterpreted by the descendants of the people of God.

And worse still, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had made their interpretation of the Law rather excessive and oppressive. Many of them also used the Law as means to advance their own position, power and interests, while outwardly appearing zealous and obedient to God. Yet, in their hearts and minds, they were divided with serving their own self-interests. Hence, the Lord was reminding not only the people but also those same Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that He came into this world to restore the Law to its true form and to call everyone to return to the truth of God, and not the misguided ways as promoted by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through all these readings from the Scriptures all of us are therefore also reminded that we have to keep the Law of God as well. The Lord has come into our midst and revealed the truth about Himself and perfected the understanding of the Law He has given us, and which He has entrusted to us through His Church. And this is why we need to obey the Lord through His Church, through all the rules, ordinances and all the things that He has laid down and passed to us, through His Apostles and their successors, our bishops and all the priests assisting them.

Today all of us are called to look upon the good examples of our predecessors, especially one St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, a faithful and committed servant of God who has dedicated his life to the mission of evangelisation and in caring for the needs of his flock, the reform of the Church administration and the purification of its members, especially that of the clergy from the worldly corruptions and wickedness. He was appointed as the Archbishop of Lima in Peru in the New World despite his initial refusal to do so. Very soon he dedicated his life to minister to all the people entrusted in his care.

St. Turibius worked very hard and it was told that during all his years of mission, he baptised and confirmed no less than a million and a half if not more people and touched the hearts and minds of many. He was also instrumental in the great reforms of his diocese, in its administration and clergy as mentioned. His efforts encountered opposition from those priests and others who themselves were sources of these corruptions, but all those did not stop or discourage St. Turibius from continuing to do his best for the greater glory of God and for the good and benefits of His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be inspired by the faithful and good examples of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo to show the same faith and commitment in our lives as well. We should dedicate more of our time, effort and works to the Lord and do whatever we can to be righteous, good and faithful in all things, following and obeying God’s Law and commandments at all possible opportunities. Let us be ever more dedicated to the Lord and commit ourselves to His cause with ever greater zeal and faith from now on. May this Lent be a great season and time of renewal for us, for us to renew our faith and be ever stronger in our love for our Lord. Amen.

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