Monday, 4 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Isidore, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded of God’s kindness and love, His mercy and compassion, and at the same time we are also being reminded of the dangers of sin, and how those sins can lead us down the path of ruin as proven by our predecessors, and from what we have heard earlier today in our first reading taken from the Book of Daniel. Now that we are almost at the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, we are all invited to come ever closer to the Lord and to His throne of mercy and love.

In our first reading today, as mentioned, we heard from the Book of Daniel of the story that happened with Susanna, the daughter of a renowned Israelite exile in Babylon, who was beautiful in appearance and tempted two of the elders of the people who saw her and were mesmerised by her beauty. They were tempted with desire and lust, and gave in to their temptations, plotting to impose their will on her and lay on her. Despite being the elders and therefore supposedly as the role models for the entire community, they allowed themselves to be easily swayed by those temptations and fell into sin.

And not only that, after having attempted to do the wicked deed and failed, as Susanna refused to be forced or coaxed into the sinful act against God, they tried to destroy her and have her sentenced to death in order to silence her and remove her as a living testament to their own failures and wickedness. They acted in self-preservation, selfishly trying to protect themselves and for their own personal gains over their duties and responsibilities as the custodians and elders of the people of God, as those who should have shown good examples for the rest of the people.

They almost managed to get the entire assembly to condemn Susanna to death by making use of their position, respect that they had within the community and other leverages that prevented Susanna from even defending herself, as no one would have believed her over the two elders, given the vile plots that those elders had against Susanna in making false accusations against her. But God protected her and provided for her in the time of her greatest need, by sending His Spirit into Daniel, who was still a young man then, and through the Wisdom that God imparted to him through His Spirit, Daniel managed to overturn the judgment of the two elders.

Indeed, he did not only cause Susanna to be spared from the false accusations and death, but he also revealed the wickedness of the two elders’ actions, showing the inconsistencies of their false accusations and words, eventually revealing by their own words, their vile intentions and their sins. And thus, God helped those who have been faithful to Him, while those who have failed to resist the temptations to sin and even indulge in it, would be punished accordingly. They would be judged according to the sins and faults they had made, and through the vile intentions they had against the righteous.

We heard something similar in our Gospel passage today as well, in what we have also heard in our Sunday Gospel passage just yesterday, on the well-known story of the Lord Jesus and how He forgave the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had made use of her to be an example and also as a trap for the Lord, asking Him on what to be done with her. We have to understand that the Lord often worked among the marginalised, sinners and all those who have been considered as unworthy and corrupted by others.

Therefore, if the Lord had directly said to the woman that He forgave her, then the Pharisees could have persecuted or even arrested the Lord there and then under the charge of disobeying the Law of God or even in blaspheming by claiming to be able to forgive sin, or at least they could severely undermine and discredit the Lord by saying that He was a sinner Himself for siding with sinners against God’s Law and commandments. On the other hand, if the Lord were to say that she ought to be stoned to death, then the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law could have also discredited the Lord by saying that He was merely a copycat, following the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Thus, what was truly wicked is the intention that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had in bringing the adulterous woman before the Lord, in not only wanting to persecute her, but even in making use of her for their own self-advantage and benefits, in trying to destroy the Lord, which was not much different from what happened between Susanna and the two elders from the time of Daniel. But the Lord through His great Wisdom told them firmly that should anyone in the assembly then had no sin, then he or she was the one who had the right to cast the first stone at the woman.

And since everyone knew that they were sinners, without being able to admit or pretend that they did not have any sin, hence, they left the Lord and the woman alone. We have to take note that as the Son of Man, the Lord Himself was without sin, and He as the Lord also at the same time have the power and authority to judge the woman for her actions, to condemn her according to the Law. Yet, He gave her the opportunity to change herself, allowing her to turn away from the path of sin, and giving her a new lease of life. He told her to sin no longer and embrace His righteousness and truth from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard from these readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the dangers of sin and our own desires and all the things that often mislead us into the path of sin, as the example of the elders, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law have shown us. We must not let those things from undermining our progress towards God and His saving path. But it will not be an easy path for us to follow, as challenges, temptations and obstacles will be in our path going forward in life.

That is why we should follow the good examples of St. Isidore, the saint whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Isidore, also known as St. Isidore of Seville, was a renowned scholar, philosopher and theologian who was also the longtime Archbishop of Seville. His many works in defending the faith and in spreading the Gospels had been very inspirational to the many people both in his lifetime and afterwards. His dedication to the reform of the Church practices and eradication of heresies and false teachings are also crucial not only to his local Church but also to the wider Christendom.

His dedication and commitment to the Lord should be source of inspiration for all of us to follow, that we may also strive to purify ourselves from the temptations to sin, and reject the false ways of the devil and all the forces of evil, which are all arrayed against us, in trying to prevent us from finding our way to God and His salvation. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Isidore and the many other holy predecessors, our brothers and sisters who had devoted their lives to God and lead exemplary and good Christian lives so that we may ourselves be good inspiration for one another in faith.

May God bless us all in our every efforts and good deeds, and do our best to walk in the path that He has shown us. Let us commit ourselves anew to Him, and be faithful as we should, to the Lord, at all times, sinning no more and striving to lead a better and holier way of life, from now on and always. Amen.

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