Saturday, 14 January 2023 : 1st 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 Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the love that God has shown to each and every one of us, by which He has brought us ever closer to Him and His love, touching us all with His compassionate mercy, care and love, so that by His power and grace, He may strengthen us and heal us from our troubles and from our sickness and predicaments due to our sins. Sin has long dominated us and made us all to cower in fear, subjugated by its power and allure, and because of sin we have been sundered from God, from His grace and love, and cast away from His Holy Presence to wander off in this world in atonement for our sins.

But the Lord never forget about us, and He has always loved us still, despite our sins and disobedience against Him. He has always thought about us and wanted us all to be reconciled to Him, that we all may find our way back to Him. He has given us all His most wonderful and perfect gift, the perfect manifestation of His own love and compassion towards us, in the Word of God made flesh, Incarnate and tangible before us. And all these happened through Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate and Son of God, through Whom the salvation that God has long promised us all His people, has come to fruition at last. The Lord Jesus came forth bearing the fulfilment of God’s promise and the proof of God’s ever enduring love into our very midst.

As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our first reading today highlighted to us, the coming to the Son of God, the Divine Word in the flesh, was intended for our salvation, in Him redeeming us and leading us out of the darkness and into the eternal glory and true joy promised to all of us who are faithful to Him, and who have embraced and accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour. In Jesus Christ lies the only Hope and the only Light path out of the darkness of our sinful and wicked existence, and by His love and grace, His kindness and mercy, all of us have witnessed and experienced God’s love made manifest, and through Him, healing and rejuvenation had come into our midst. All of us have been made sharers of His grace, kindness and love, that by all those, we may be saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the story of the Lord Who went to call a tax collector named Levi, who immediately decided to leave everything behind, his work and career, his place and all of his properties to follow the Lord as one of His disciples. The Lord also went to Levi’s house to meet and have dinner with Levi’s fellow tax collectors, and this action was immediately met with quite a harsh disapproval and disgust by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were there following the Lord and observing His actions. Those people contended that the tax collectors were sinners who were unworthy of the Lord and His love, and probably they also thought that those tax collectors were beyond any hope or redemption.

At the same time, many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law held rather elitist view of themselves and their community, as they were the intellectual elites who were most knowledgeable about the Law and the teachings of the prophets. Hence, to them, they were the ones who were most worthy of the Lord’s grace and salvation. They saw many others, especially tax collectors, prostitutes and those afflicted with diseases as those who were less worthy and even undeserving of God’s grace and salvation. As such, in their attitudes and works, they tend to keep people away from the Lord and shun all those for whom in fact salvation and grace of God were needed the most, that is those who have committed great sins before God and mankind alike.

Not only that, but they have also then forgotten that they themselves were also sinners in need of forgiveness and healing, and the more they indulged in their self-righteous attitudes, the further they actually went away from God and His salvation. As long as they kept themselves stubbornly in rejecting God and His truth, then they remained far from God and His salvation, while the tax collectors, the prostitutes and all those whom they looked down upon, were actually drawing much nearer to God and His salvation, through their desire to repent and turn away from their sins, and through their commitment to love the Lord once again with all of their hearts and minds, instead of focusing so much on their pride and ego like those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

Levi for example would go on to become a great Apostle of the Lord, and also one of the Four Evangelists as St. Matthew. He would go on to do great things and deeds, and would be instrumental in helping to establish the foundations and the structures of the Church in many places, calling upon many more people to return to the Lord in the manner that he himself had been called. His examples showed us all that no sinner is too great beyond God’s redemption and forgiveness, and our Church is truly a hospital for sinners, where sinners like us are transformed by God’s grace into His great and faithful followers, from being the followers of darkness into the children of the Light. God’s grace and love has been generously shown to us through His Son, and everything that He has done for our salvation.

Now, the question for us is, are we willing and able to follow the examples of St. Matthew, who as Levi the tax collector, chose to follow the Lord and turn his back against sin? Are we willing and able to follow the footsteps of St. Matthew and many other of our holy predecessors in embracing God and all the love that He has shown us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Or do we rather live like many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who often refused to see the truth or to believe because they trusted more in their own flawed judgment and intellect, as well as refusing to listen to the wisdom of God due to their pride? Are we going to follow their examples, brothers and sisters? The choice is ours to make, for us to make the right decision in continuing this journey we have in life.

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord once again, embracing the light of His hope and His love, and do our best to open ourselves and welcome Him as He comes into our midst, healing us and strengthening us with His blessings and love. And let us also sin no more, and commit ourselves to a new life and existence in God that is truly worthy of our identity as Christians, that is as God’s own beloved people and children. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, so that in everything we say and do, we will always be ever faithful to Him, and that we will always strive to glorify Him in each and every moments by our lives, always. Amen.

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