Saturday, 1 April 2023 : 5th Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures, preparing us and reminding us of what we are about to celebrate in the upcoming Holy Week and Easter Triduum starting tomorrow on Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. We are about to enter into the most solemn and important moments in the story of the salvation of the whole world and all of mankind. Therefore, that is why we are reminded again and again these days of what we are about to commemorate and celebrate, in this holiest and most important moments of our whole liturgical year, and we should understand it all that we may truly benefit from the celebration and commemoration of Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection. We should prepare ourselves well, physically, mentally and spiritually for these that we may grow deeper in faith and appreciation of our Christian faith.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard the reassuring words that the Lord has spoken to His people through Ezekiel, that He would give them the fullness of His grace and blessings once again. He would gather them back from their scattered places among the nations and restore them once again to glory and joy, as how it was during the days of King David and King Solomon. The Lord has promised His people Israel that He will always be faithful to them and to the Covenant that He has made with them and their ancestors, and He will never break the promises He had made even when the people had frequently disobeyed Him and disregarded the many reminders that He has given them through His messengers and prophets. God still cared for all of them and loved all of them nonetheless, and sent Ezekiel to them for the purpose of reminding them of this love.

Ezekiel was sent to the people of Israel in exile in the distant lands of Babylon, where many of them had been exiled after the destruction of their homeland in Israel, in the northern kingdom of Israel and in the southern kingdom of Judah alike. They had been bereft of their homeland, their identity and their honour, cast our from their ancestral lands and cities, forced to wander off in distant places, humiliated and crushed, all because of their sins and disobedience against God. They had abandoned and rejected Him for pagan idols and false gods, and scandalised themselves and their faith by following the ways of their neighbours instead of remaining faithful to the path that the Lord has taught and shown them, persecuting His prophets and messengers, all the servants of God that had been sent to them to remind them of their calling as God’s people.

Ezekiel reminded them of the Lord’s promise that He will establish the rule of the House of David forever, and this rejuvenates the hope in the hearts of the people who were downtrodden and in despair, because God reminded His beloved ones that His salvation will come, and everything will be good again. All of these would indeed come true in Christ, the Lord Jesus and His coming into this world. For He was born as the Son and Heir of David, becoming the great King to sit on the Throne that has remained empty for many centuries since the destruction of the kingdom of the people of God, restoring the union that God has with His people, acting as the Mediator between us and God, our Heavenly Father, the One through Whom God would renew His Covenant, into a new and everlasting Covenant, through which He shall gather all of His faithful ones to be His flock and His one people once again.

In our Gospel passage today, we are reminded then of how the Lord would do all of these which He had planned from the very beginning, as we heard how the Jewish authorities, the Jewish High Council or the Sanhedrin, headed by the chief priests led by Caiaphas, the High Priest then, plotted against the Lord Jesus. They wanted to arrest Him and accuse Him falsely of faults and crimes that would make Him a scapegoat for the Jewish people, with the excuse that what the Lord had done would eventually lead to the Romans ending whatever privileges and autonomy that they had granted the Jews back then. As we can see here, those people were mainly concerned about protecting their own privileges and status, their special grants and property, among other things, rather than to listen to reason and to the truth that God Himself had brought before their very own eyes.

As He Himself said and predicted, the Lord had to suffer grievously at the hands of His enemies and those who opposed Him, much as how His own prophets and messengers had been treated previously. He would be rejected and condemned to death, and yet, He would then become the great Cornerstone, the One through Whom the salvation of the world would come through. He would become the Source of the world’s Hope, the Light of the world and the Saviour of all. By His wounds and by His suffering, we are to be healed and strengthened and made whole once again. Through Christ’s Passion and death, by His willing and most selfless embracing of each and every one of us, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and true joy and hope, by the most generous show of love that God Himself has made evident and tangible through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour.

That is what we are going to commemorate in this upcoming Holy Week and through the Easter Triduum, as we enter into this most solemn and holy occasion. Are we all ready to enter into this celebration and commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death, remembering everything that He had done for each and every one of us? Have we made good use of the time and the preparation that we have been expected to do during this season of Lent, so that we may draw closer to the Lord and come to better realisation of what God had done for each and every one of us? Have we done what we can so that we may help one another in our journey of faith and to help inspire each other to persevere against the challenges and trials that we have to face as faithful and devout servants and followers of God? As the Lord Jesus had said, that if we are to be His true disciples and followers, we have to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Can we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord and let us all do our best to walk faithfully in God’s Presence, dedicating more of our time and attention, our efforts and commitments to do the will of God and to glorify Him by our lives and actions in our respective communities. Let us all be great beacons of faith and God’s Light amidst the darkness of this world, and inspire more and more people to break free from the chains of sin. May the Lord continue to bless us all and guide us in our journey through life, that we may ever be strong and courageous to resist the temptations to sin and disobey Him, that we may not falter like how the people of God had done in the past. May God be with us always and may He empower us all in each and every moments, and may all of us have a great and blessed Holy Week ahead. Amen.

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