Saturday, 2 April 2022 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Francis of Paola, Hermit (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we draw ever closer to the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Week which is really just over a week away, we are reminded of the things that the Lord and His faithful ones had gone through in their efforts to bring each and every one of us to the Lord and to help reconcile us with Himself. He has gone through so much opposition and hardships in His efforts to call us back to Himself and to help us to find our way to Him once again. He sent His prophets into our midst to help and assist us, only to have them being rejected and persecuted by those people.

In our first reading today we heard the passage from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah about the persecutions that Jeremiah had faced from the opposition and the enemies he had among the people of Judah. He was sent to the kingdom of Judah with the warnings and reminders of God’s judgment for the people, all that they had committed, the sins and wickedness they had committed, which would lead them to ruin and destruction. The Lord wanted to remind them all that they could still turn back and return to Him.

Unfortunately, the people remained stubborn and refused to believe in the Lord or in His prophet Jeremiah. They persecuted Jeremiah, plotted against Him, accusing him of being a traitor and sought to kill him, and they nearly managed to do so, if not for the help of one of Jeremiah’s few remaining friends who managed to keep him safe, although he had to remain hidden and suffer nonetheless for his dedication and hard works for the greater glory of God. He truly suffered a lot in walking down the path of faith, but he remained fully trusting in the Lord’s providence.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the argument and debate among the members of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council. That council was composed of the most influential and powerful members of the Jewish community, including the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the chief priests and the elders of the community and many other influential members, who were mostly opposed to the Lord Jesus and plotted against Him. They wanted to find ways to arrest Him and even to condemn Him to death.

There were a few of them who were sympathetic to the Lord, His cause and His teachings, namely Nicodemus as well as Joseph of Arimathea among some others. Nicodemus stood up for the Lord and tried to defend Him, by stating to the assembly that the Lord should have been allowed to state His reasons and present His arguments before they just summarily tried to accuse Him without even listening to the other side first. But Nicodemus was easily overcome by the rest who really were not interested to listen to reason.

They were all carried by their desire to persecute the Lord, out of the fear for their loss of influence and power in the community. They saw the Lord as a great threat to their power, and they refused to let all their privileges and power to go away. They tried to do whatever they could to stop the Lord and to destroy Him, and despite everything they had seen and heard in the Lord’s works, the many miracles He had performed, and all the wisdom and truth He has spoken before them, they closed their hearts and minds to Him, hardening their hearts and being unreasonable, finding excuses to try to persecute Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, we are all reminded how pride and ego, worldly desires and temptations can mislead us down the same path as those people who had persecuted the prophets and the Lord Himself. We must never allow all those things again to distract us and to pull us away from the path towards the salvation and eternal life in God. And we have to be vigilant as we must always remind ourselves that the other destination is eternal damnation, an eternity of suffering away from God.

That is why, during this season of Lent, all of us are called to open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord back inside, and to come back to the Lord with contrite hearts, seeking His forgiveness for all the faults and wicked things we have done. Let us all then return to the Lord with renewed faith and love, with the sincere desire to be forgiven and to be reconciled with Him. And may God continue to love us all, and continue to show us patience, for us sinners whenever we stumble and falter again in our journey of faith. May God bless us all in our every actions and deeds, and may all of us draw ever closer to Him and to His salvation. Amen.

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