Thursday, 30 March 2023 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord contained in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the Covenant that God has established with each and every one of us, the Covenant that He has always kept and renewed with all of our predecessors and ancestors. God never broke His promises and Covenants, and He has always ever been faithful to whatever He has told and revealed to us. It was always us mankind who have disobeyed Him, betrayed and abandoned Him for many worldly temptations and attachments, all sorts of things that kept us away from truly being united with Him. God loves us all nonetheless and He has ever always patiently reached out to us, calling on us to repent from our sinful ways and to return to Him once again with sincere love and devotion.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of Genesis of the story of the moment when God made His Covenant with Abram, His servant, whom He had called from the land of his forefathers. Abram obeyed God and followed Him to wherever He had led him to, leaving those comforts he knew and went to a future that was unknown to him. Yet, he trusted the Lord wholeheartedly and let Him to guide him in all things, and hence, God, Who knows everyone’s hearts and knew of Abraham’s great and enduring faith in Him, chose him to be the one with whom He would make His Covenant with. Through Abram, whom God named Abraham as a mark of the Covenant that they had made between them, God made a great people that He had chosen to be His first called people, the Israelites. There were also many other nations that sprang forth from among the descendants of Abraham, and hence, he was known as the ‘father of nations’.

All of those things were in fact proof that God was indeed truthful to His Covenant, and had kept His words and promises. The Lord has promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, so many people that they will number more than the grains of sand in the shores and more than the stars in the universe. That was made at the time when Abraham was still yet childless and his wife Sarah was barren, and after many years, there had not been any child born from them yet. God would fulfil the promises He made, as Abraham had the promised child and son, and from his bloodline, came forth many people of many nations. Not only that but He still cared and kept His Covenant with all of those descendants, to the people whom He had called and chosen to be His own. He still cared for them and loved them even after they had frequently rebelled against Him and disobeyed Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the continuation of the confrontation between the Lord Jesus and the Jewish people in Jerusalem. The Jewish people assembled were angry against the Lord because of what He had done and taught, and revealed before them, especially as He referred to God as His own heavenly Father, which was indeed the truth. They refused to accept the fact that this Man before them, the Son of a mere carpenter from the backwater village of Nazareth, in Galilee at the periphery of the Jewish world could be anyone special, less a Prophet, and even less so as the Son of God, the Messiah and Saviour of the whole world. They took offence at the Lord when He said that He had known Abraham and existed before Abraham ever was. That was the truth, and the Lord has patiently revealed and explained it all to them, but in their pride and arrogance, those people closed their hearts and minds to Him.

Back then, those Jewish people were those who were especially particular about the Law of God and His commandments, as those who kept strictly the various rules, precepts, rites and various customs of their ancestors. They took great pride in their inheritance and the efforts they placed in their piety and observance of the Law of God. That was why they were unhappy and angered by the Lord Jesus and His teachings, His revelation and words which challenged their traditional understanding of the world and way of life, and threatened the influence that the elites among them, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law held. That was why they hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to listen to the truth and wisdom that God had revealed to all of them through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are reminded today of all these things by the Lord, we are all called to remind ourselves of the Covenant that He has made and renewed with us, and which He had renewed for once and for all, for eternity through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour by His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross. It was by His selfless and willing sacrifice on our behalf, in caring for us and loving us that God has extended His ever generous love and grace towards us, in embracing us like a most loving and caring Father. He is always faithful to His Covenant and He remembers all the promises that He had made with us, and wants only our well-being and reconciliation with Him. For without God and separated from Him, there can be no life and true joy within us. We shall have no hope at all without the Lord by our side.

That is why, as we are soon about to enter into the most solemn and important moments of our whole entire liturgical year, the upcoming Holy Week and Easter Triduum, all of us should spend the time well to reflect on our way of life and our actions. We should think of whether our lives and actions have been reflecting well on our Christian faith and identity, and whether we have listened to the Lord and Him calling upon us all to follow Him. Have we placed the Lord as the centre and focus of our lives and existence? If our answer is no then the question is, ‘Why have we not done so yet?’ And if we allow ourselves to be swayed by the temptations of worldly glory, fame, attachment to worldly pleasures and desires like how those Jewish people at the time of the Lord’s ministry and what their leaders had done, then I am afraid that we may find it difficult to be truly faithful to God.

Let us all therefore embark on a journey of rediscovering our faith in God and our love for Him, filling our hearts and minds with God’s ever wonderful presence and grace. Let us all be like our father in faith, Abraham, the most faithful servant of God, in how he devoted his life to the Lord and followed Him with great trust in everything that He has promised him. May the Lord continue to bless us in our every efforts and journey, and guide us that we may be strengthened and encouraged amidst the many trials and challenges that we may have to face in our path forward as Christians. May God be with us always and be our Hope, Strength and Inspiration as we continue to follow Him in our lives, walking in the footsteps of Abraham, our father in faith, and our many other holy predecessors. Let us all prepare ourselves well especially for the upcoming Holy Week and Easter Triduum, and strive to be ever closer to the Lord, our most loving God and Father. Amen.

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