Saturday, 10 September 2022 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the communion of the faithful together with the Lord and with one another. The communion of the faithful refers to the union that every Christian believers have through the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, the Lord has united us all to Himself, and through that unity, He made us all part of His one Body and one Church. Through this tangible and spiritual union, we are all brought together as one people, sharing in the same gift of the Spirit, and the same assurance of eternal life and salvation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, we heard of how St. Paul elaborated to them on the matter of the partaking of the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Communion of the faithful, and how each and every Christians should take it seriously as they should not partake the offerings that had been offered in the pagan ceremonies and worship, as was common at that time in the Greco-Roman state paganism. There were likely moments when Christians still partake in the goods and items that had been offered to the pagan idols and deities.

Not only that, but it was likely that there were also those who actively participated in the pagan ceremonies and other events that might scandalise the faithful and others in the community. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because while there might be various reasons why the members of the Christian community partook in the pagan offerings and ceremonies, be it on their own volition or due to coercion or force, but if other members of the community were to witness these, that would then jeopardise the Communion within the Church, that visible and tangible unity between the members of the Church with one another, as well as with their Lord and Saviour.

Essentially doing so would also count towards the violation of the First Commandment in the Ten Commandments, namely, ‘You shall not have any other gods before Me, and you shall not have or make any graven images…’ which essentially highlighted that our practices and way of life as members of the Church and as one the Christian faithful cannot be contradictory between our obedience and faith in God, and our apparent obeisance and worship of the pagan and false gods and idols as what the Church members and the faithful in Corinth had done, which led to St. Paul exhorting them not to do so.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and to the people with a parable, highlighting how no good tree can produce bad fruit and vice versa, and how all of us will be good or bad, righteous or wicked depending on what our hearts, minds and interior disposition are like. And He also then used another parable immediately afterwards, describing those who have truly obeyed the Lord and loved Him, as those who had built their houses upon the firm foundation of stone, while those who have not truly had faith in Him, listened to Him but did not act on what He had taught them to do as those who had built their houses without any foundations, and therefore, they would fall in no time.

What do all these mean for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Lord essentially called on all of us to put ourselves in His path, dedicating and committing ourselves to His cause, and remaining steady in our faith in Him, and not merely just paying lip service, professing to believe in Him and yet, we offer ourselves to serve the pagan idols and gods, and the many other idols and other distractions that can be found aplenty all around us. And we also must realise that these idols and distractions are not merely those pagan idols and statues which the faithful in Corinth once dabbled with, and which caused a scandal among the faithful and the Church.

Instead, just as St. Paul mentioned in another occasion in his Epistle to the Colossians, the idols that are present all around us, and even to this day, is the idol of our own human pride and ego, our greed and ambition, our worldly desires and all the many other things that often become serious obstacles and barriers in the path of our journey towards God, His salvation and grace. And if we continue to indulge in these idols and temptations all around us, then we may end up being dragged deeper and deeper into the path towards sin and wickedness, towards our downfall and destruction. We are reminded today that we should not allow those idols from ruining our lives and misleading us down the wrong paths.

Instead, we should endeavour and strive our best to resist the temptations to sin, and to keep ourselves in good faith and in obedience to God, His Law and commandments. As Christians, each and every one of us, while also called to be good and law-abiding citizens of this world, we are expected to put the Lord and our faith in Him first and foremost above all else. It means that we have to be genuine in our faith and dedication to God, and we cannot be lukewarm in our faith, and neither can we be hypocrites who profess to believe in God and yet being two-faced in our way of life and actions, which can bring about scandal to our faith. We have to stand up for our beliefs and remain true to the Lord despite the many trials and challenges present in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore renew our commitment to the Lord, dedicating our time and effort to glorify Him by our lives. Let us all turn towards Him with all of our strength and might, and endeavour to be good role models and examples, through which we can be good inspiration for many others that they too may come to believe in God through us and our many good, righteous and wonderful examples in life. May God bless us all in all our good efforts, our works and efforts, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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