Wednesday, 18 January 2023 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are called to heed the love that God has given to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Who is His most beloved and only begotten Son. Not only that, but we are reminded today that Christ is also our one and only True and Eternal High Priest, as the One Who interceded, made amends and reconnected us to the Lord, our most loving God and Father. By His coming into this world, He has bridged the once vast and immense gap that existed between God and us mankind, all because of our disobedience and sins against Him. And thanks to that, all of us now can look with great hope, to the Light of our Lord’s salvation and the promise of eternal life, which He has made to us and which He will fulfil, if we remain firm in our faith in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews in which the author of this Epistle spoke of the High Priesthood of Melchizedek, a rather mysterious figure mentioned in the Book of Genesis during the occasion when Abraham, the father of nations and the Israelites, offered a tenth of his materials to God. High Priest Melchizedek was described as the High Priest of the Most High God, or even as the High Priest and King of Salem, with some Biblical scholars relating this Salem with the historical Jerusalem. And as mentioned by the author of the Epistle of the Hebrews, who was not really discreet in making the connections between Melchizedek and Jesus Christ, Melchizedek was mentioned as One Who was without a father, mother or any genealogy, and the author also mentioned how Melchizedek was the figure of the Son of God.

Regardless of who Melchizedek really was, and what his nature and origin was, as truly many things were beyond even the knowledge and understanding of the prophets and the messengers of God, the writers of the Scriptures and even the Church fathers, what matters is that Melchizedek truly indeed was a prefigurement of the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, in what He would do for the sake of each and every one of us, in bringing the salvation of God into our midst. As the High Priest of God, Melchizedek interceded on behalf of Abraham and offered his offerings to the Lord, and in the same way, the Lord Jesus as our one and true Eternal High Priest also offered on our behalf a most perfect and worthy offering to the Lord, His Heavenly Father, the offering and sacrifice of His own Body and Blood, as the slain and sacrificed Paschal Lamb of God.

And that was exactly how the Lord Jesus had become the Mediator of the New Covenant which God has created and established with us mankind, that Christ has become our link and the means for us to be reconciled with God, by reaching out to us and being present in our midst, showing us God’s love manifested in His Person, and by showing us all that God truly wants us all to return to Him and find comfort, liberation and true joy through Him. We heard of how the Lord healed a man who had a paralysed hand, allowing him to make use of his hand again. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were present there frowned upon the actions of the Lord as it happened on the Sabbath, a day that was meant to be a day of rest according to God’s Law. On that day, people rested from work and should not be doing any work, and spend the time to be with God.

Back then, we must understand that the Pharisee and the teachers of the Law were those who were very particular about the way how the Law of God was obeyed and lived, that they paid a lot of attention on the details and rituals involved. They have also enforced a very strict interpretation of the Law on the people, especially on the matter of the Sabbath laws and customs. No one was supposed to do any work or action, even for doing what is good and right, according to the beliefs and rules imposed by those considered as elders and guides of the people. That was where the Lord rebuked them and showed them His anger and indignation at those who showed no compassion and love for their fellow brethren, and those who had made it difficult for many to be good and faithful disciples and followers of God, all because of the excessive burdens they had imposed on the observance of the Law.

The Lord wants us all to know that what the Sabbath was all about, was meant to help the people to return their focus and attention once again on the Lord, and away from the many temptations present all around us, all of which could distract us from our relationship with God. That was why the Sabbath was instituted at the first instance, and that is for God’s people to dedicate at least one day for the Lord and to focus their attention and efforts on Him, on that Sabbath day, and not to spend all of their time and attention on their many worldly desires, preoccupations, works and other distractions in life. All of these were the reason why the Lord gave the Sabbath to His people so that they might learn to appreciate all that He has given them, and grow ever closer in faith and love in Him, as they spent more time with Him on that sacred day.

Instead, what happened was that the day became a source of misery for some, and prevented good deeds from being carried out. Like in other occasions when the Lord performed His healing and miracles, the Lord criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their rigid and proud attitude, refusing to listen to the truth that God has delivered into their midst through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. They preferred to remain in their stubborn attitude and hence failed miserably in their duties and responsibilities as the custodians of the Law and of the faithful people of God. Contrast this stubbornness and disobedience, pride and ego with the humility and obedience of Christ the Son, the Son of God Who willingly obeyed His Father’s will and allowed Himself to be stripped of all glory and honour, to be condemned to death like a criminal and put to death in a most painful and humiliating way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are henceforth reminded to first of all be appreciative and thankful of everything that the Lord had done for our sake, in Him loving us most generously and patiently despite our repeated disobedience and constantly stubborn attitudes. Then, let us also be thankful for our High Priest, our Lord and Saviour Who has offered Himself as the perfect and worthy offering for the absolution of our innumerable sins. He did all of these so that we may not perish but live, and that we may be truly reconciled with God. Can we therefore commit ourselves from now on to follow the Lord and His ways, just as He Himself has shown us in His perfect obedience? Can we show our true and living faith by doing what God has taught and commanded us to do, through His Church and His servants?

May the Lord, our Saviour and High Priest continue to strengthen and guide us in our journey of faith throughout life. May He empower each and every one of us so that we may indeed live our lives ever more worthily with each and every passing moments. May He continue to bless us in our efforts and endeavours each day and at every moments, all for His greater glory. Amen.

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