Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we are reminded of our obligation and calling as Christians to be righteous and to obey the Lord, following His Law, commandments and ways. Otherwise, we shall face the retribution and the consequence justly meted for our sins. In the end, we must realise that while God is loving and merciful, as long as we distance ourselves from Him and refused to be reconciled to Him, even though He offered us generously His kindness and compassionate mercy, we shall still be suffering the consequences of our sins, that is the possibility of eternal damnation in hell, should we continue to be stubborn and refusing God’s love and mercy.
As mentioned in our first reading passage today from the Book of Kings, we heard of the account of the downfall and destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel, as the Assyrians and their king brought their full force and bringing destruction upon Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom. That destruction was presented as the culmination of the many years, decades and centuries of the stubbornness of the Israelites in refusing the love and mercy of God, and in them rejecting the prophets and all those who had been sent their way, like the prophets Elijah, Elisha and many others, to call them to be reconciled with God, returning to the true faith.
Their wickedness and evil led then to the punishment justly deserved by those who actively and consistently refused to listen to the Lord and His mercy. For their constant transgressions and refusals to believe in God, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel faced the just retribution and consequence, of being scattered all around the world, cast aside and humiliated for having lost their homeland and forced to wander off in the foreign and distant lands. They had refused God’s ever generous mercy and kindness, handed to them and given to them freely, through the ministry of the prophets and messengers that God had sent to them, again and again over the centuries, only for the people to reject them and persecute.
But the Lord still loved His people nonetheless and continued to send His servants to call on them and to remind them to return to Him. He did so even though the people kept on stubbornly refusing His outreach and compassionate love. He kept on giving them chances, one after another, until the time of reckoning and judgment, when the sins of the people finally caught up with them. The fate of the Israelites, their capital in Samaria and what happened to the northern kingdom ought to be a lesson and reminder for us to heed the calling of the Lord, as He calls on us to be His followers and disciples.
In our Gospel passage today, all of us are presented with the Lord speaking to His disciples with regards to the matter of judgment and of what His followers ought to do with regards to reminding one another about our respective obligations and way of life. He told us all not to be judgmental towards others and to be righteous in our deeds. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by the temptations to be self-righteous and self-aggrandising in our attitudes, and that was what we heard in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord told the disciples not to be hypocrites in their faith, and to be genuine Christians in all opportunities.
The Lord told His disciples not to judge others not because He does not want us to judge or criticise others at all. On the contrary, what He actually meant was that each and every one of us must not judge with the wrong intention and spirit, and we must not judge others thinking that we are in any way better or superior compared to others around us. The problem is that, just as what many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done, they often considered themselves as superior to others, especially to those whom they disagreed with and were biased against, such as those they deemed as sinners and unrepentant. They deemed themselves as the moral compass of the people and refused to listen to reason, thinking that they could have done no wrong, and that those who disagreed with them were walking in the wrong path.
That kind of attitude was what prevented them from listening to God and His reminders, much as their ancestors and predecessors had done. Just as the Israelites of old had continuously disobeyed the Lord and refused to listen to His prophets, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law also continued to show disobedience and lack of willingness to listen to God and His truth, as He had delivered into our midst through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. And what the Lord wanted to highlight to us is the fact that, all the things that led those people into sin, was all their pride and arrogance. Such was indeed the dangers of pride, one of the greatest of the sins that afflicted us mankind. It was pride that brought down Satan in the past, and it was pride that brought down innumerable other children of God throughout history.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all henceforth be willing to listen to the Lord and open our hearts and minds to reason, be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and our fellow men, and realising that each one of us are sinners in need of God’s healing and mercy. WIthout the Lord and His mercy, we will not be able to get out of our predicament, the tyranny of sin and darkness surrounding us in the world today. That is why, each and every one of us are reminded today to stop hardening our hearts and minds, and turn once again towards the Lord with renewed faith and zeal, so that by all that we may be inspiration to one another in leading a new life of virtue, as well as a life that is filled with care and concern for our fellow brethren in faith.
Let us all help one another on our way towards the Lord, and may the Lord continue to help us in our journey as well, in our perseverance to resist the temptations of sin, especially that of pride, and help remind one another to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy, turning away from the path of sin and evil, darkness and destruction, remembering the lessons of the Israelites and that of the prideful Pharisees and teachers of the Law, so that we will not end up walking down the same path that they had walked. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.