Friday, 24 March 2023 : 4th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the challenges and hardships often faced by those who are faithful to the Lord and obey His commandments. Those who remain firm in their faith in God often faced obstacles and pressures, rejection and even condemnation by the world because the path of the world often does not correlate or match with that of the Lord’s path. But we are then reminded that we have to remain strong and firm in our faith so that we will not falter in our journey back towards the Lord, and in seeking His mercy and forgiveness. Through God alone we can gain justification and grace, and by His forgiveness and mercy that we can be reconciled with Him, finding our path to the eternal life and true joy that we can only find in God alone.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of the hardships, plotting and difficulties faced by the prophets and messengers of God as highlighted in the Book of Wisdom. That account from the Book of Wisdom showed the challenges and trials that God’s servants faced when they went up against a people that were stubborn and wicked in their ways, and we heard the author of the Book of Wisdom writing from the perspective of those wicked and stubborn people, who opposed the Lord and His servants. This then, can also be interpreted as the prophecy and the prediction of what would happen to the Lord’s Saviour, the Messiah, as the phrases from this passage from the Book of Wisdom shows us clear indication of an understanding and revelation of the coming of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The inner thoughts and conversations mentioned in the Book of Wisdom clearly highlighted what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have in their hearts and minds as they went up against the Lord Jesus and His disciples, although the book was likely written and compiled a century or more before the coming of the Lord. The writers of the Book of Wisdom must have been inspired by God and His Holy Spirit to write a revelation of the truth and the events that would come, not only to prepare the people of God of what they would witness and experience, but also highlighting the folly of the people of God who resisted the Lord’s effort in loving them and caring for them, even when He has sent His own beloved Son into their midst to be their Saviour. Their hardness of heart and attachments to worldly matters and desires became great obstacles in the path of them coming towards God’s grace and forgiveness.

That is the same sentiment shown in the Gospel passage today, as the Jewish people, used then to denote those who supported the extreme and very rigid ideas and ways of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, questioned and opposed the Lord, Who was at that time already in Jerusalem and was proclaiming His teachings and truth to the people. There were those who wanted to arrest and kill Him, namely the more hardliners among the Pharisees themselves, and there were those who were genuinely intrigue and were actually interested in whatever the Lord was teaching and delivering to them. Hence there was quite a confusion at that time, with some siding with the Lord and there were quite a few of those who stubbornly continued to resist and reject the Lord despite having heard all of His words of wisdom and having witnessed His many miracles.

Why were they all so stubborn, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of human pride and ego, jealousy and other forms of negativities inside them which blocked their hearts and minds from receiving God’s words, Wisdom and truth. Like those who have persecuted the prophets and rejected their truth and message before, the people living in the Lord’s time also had the same issue, as especially those in positions of influence and power had accumulated a lot of worldly glory, fame and power, and hence, to them, the Lord and the changes and truth He was bringing to the people of God were seen as a great threat and challenge to their own power structure and influences, and hence, this led to jealousy as the Lord drew a lot of people to Him, particularly those who were marginalised and have been ostracised and rejected by many among the people of God because they were seen as sinners and unworthy of God.

As the Lord Himself often mentioned, it was those who were despised and rejected by others who were actually fastest in the path towards redemption, as they were misunderstood and they also had the same capacity and desire for redemption and forgiveness. This was also particularly because they understood and were aware of their many sins and failures, their faults and wickedness. Thus, that was why many of the tax collectors, prostitutes, those who had diseases and those who were afflicted by evil spirits, all came in droves to the Lord, seeking for His forgiveness, healing, mercy and compassion. They were healed in body and spirit, and God helped them on their way and path towards the true joy and eternal life which He offered us all and revealed to us, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the same One Who was persecuted by the Jewish authorities and people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all these are reminders for us that especially during this season and time of Lent, all of us should spend some time to reflect on our own state of life at the moment. If we have not been obedient to God and His Law and commandments, and if we have allowed sin to reign over our lives and dominate our existence, then it is really up to us to make the effort to resist the temptations to sin, as well as rectifying our faults and mistakes, and by the grace and guidance of God, to come to the Lord to be healed and forgiven from those sins and evils. All of us are reminded that we should no longer our pride and ego to be serious obstacles and barriers in the path of our redemption and reconciliation with God. That is why, all of us really should contemplate to live our lives from now on in the manner worthy and acceptable to the Lord our God.

May the Lord therefore continue to strengthen us and give us the courage to persevere and remain firm in faith despite the many challenges, temptations and pressures we may face in life, in the efforts that the devil and all those forces seeking our destruction, had put into place in order to lead us astray and to tempt us away from the path towards salvation and eternal life. May God be with us always and may He empower each and every one of us to be courageous followers and disciples of His, and May He give us the courage and strength, the inspiration and the power to become true beacons of His light and truth in our respective communities and groups, that we may become good role models and sources of inspiration for others to follow as well. May God bless our every works and good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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