Thursday, 9 February 2023 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scripture passages, we are reminded always again and again of God’s love and kindness, which He has lavished on each and every one of us since the very beginning of time. God has created us all out of His love for us, and He has provided us with everything we need, ever caring, kind and compassionate towards us, and He has always reached out to us, even after we have fallen away from His path of righteousness and grace. God has never abandoned or forgotten about us, and He has always loved us all the same. Yet, we mankind were still often stubborn and refused to follow God’s path, or accept His love, compassion and mercy, as we allow ourselves to be swayed and tempted by sin.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis in which the story of how God created our first ancestors, blessed them and provided for them in the Gardens of Eden, was told to us. Back then, man was supposed to live in perfect bliss, happiness and harmony, to be with God in the state of fullness of grace, and having no need to worry or any suffering at all. God made everything to be good and perfect, all wonderful and amazing, all creation to be entrusted to us as their caretakers and guardians, as stewards and as the Lord’s servants, His representatives and workers, in caring for everything that God Himself had made. The Lord entrusted all of those to us, expecting us to be good and faithful stewards to His creation, to be filled with righteousness and obedience to His will.

Unfortunately, we have instead lapsed into sin, and allowed the devil to have his way with us, as we embraced his lies and sweet words over that of obeying God and His commandments. We chose to entertain Satan who tempted us all with the temptations of worldly glory and desires, of greed and ambition, to seek to know more and to become even like God, just as Satan said to Adam and Eve, our ancestors. They allowed themselves to be swayed and convinced by the falsehoods of Satan, and chose to disobey God, and hence, became corrupted by sin. Thus that was how original sin came to afflict each and every one of us. Sin corrupted us and tore us away from the Lord, sundering us from His love and grace, and it all came from our inability to resist the temptations to sin.

Yet, God never gave up on us, and while we have to suffer the consequences of our sins, forced to wander off in this world and away from the perfect bliss of Eden that was intended for us, the Lord continued to watch over us and provide for us the means by which we may find our way back to Him. He has always patiently cared for us and provided for all of our needs, even when we still refused to budge and were stubborn in our rebellion against Him. Not only that, He even promised that He will liberate us all from the tyranny of sin, evil and death, and will gather us back to Himself, which He has done through the sending of His own Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, into our midst, to be the source of our Hope and to lead us all as our Good Shepherd into the right path, that all of us may be reconciled to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the account of the encounter and exchanges between the Lord Jesus Himself and a Syro-Phoenician woman. Back then, the Jewish people were often prejudiced against the non-Jewish people, and the Syro-Phoenician woman was one of the people inhabiting regions neighbouring the Jewish areas in Judea and Galilee, and the Jews, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law among them, often considered their neighbours to be inferior and unfit for God’s grace and love, because they deemed themselves as God’s chosen people, and hence the only ones who were deserving of God’s love and salvation. Not only that, but they took great pride in that, and they scorned those who did not share their thoughts and ideas, and all the pagan peoples.

At the first glance, it might seem that the Lord Jesus was being very rude and dismissive towards the Syro-Phoenician woman. However, the Lord did not do that with the intention to ridicule or being truly prejudiced against the woman. Instead, the Lord actually wanted to make a point before all the people assembled and all of the disciples, that it is indeed folly and unbecoming of God’s people to have such an elitist and biased attitude which they had been keeping up to that point. The Lord used that example by showing to everyone just how persistent and committed the woman was, and what a strong belief and faith that she had in the Lord, that despite everything that the Lord had said to her, she still insisted to seek the Lord and to ask and beg Him to heal her daughter who was very sick. She continued to trust and to be faithful to the Lord, and this faith is a great example to all of the disciples, as well as to all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best to resist the evils and the temptations of sin all around us. Let us all recall that every one of us have been created all good and perfect by the Lord, and are expected to lead a life that is truly attuned to God’s will, believing in Him and having faith and trust in Him much as how the Syro-Phoenician woman had lived hers, and in her persistence to follow the Lord despite all that she had to face and endure. Each and every one of us are reminded that if we do not do our part, and do not resist the temptations of sin, all around us, it will be harder and harder for us to resist the pull of sin and we may end up falling deeper and deeper into the wrong paths, as we can easily lose focus on our true focus and attention, that is the Lord, our God and Saviour.

May all of us continue to grow ever more in faith, and may we all grow ever stronger in our devotion and love for God, and may all of us do all that we can in order to glorify Him by our lives, our actions, words and every deeds. Let us all turn towards the Lord with renewed faith and zeal, and let us all be good examples and inspirations to one another, so that we may encourage each other to keep our faith and to turn away the falsehoods and lies of Satan. May God be with us always, and may He guide us to Himself, and help us to walk ever more faithfully in His Presence, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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