Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for us to be humble as Christians, to humble ourselves before the Lord and to put Him first and foremost above anything else. We must not allow pride, ego, ambition and hubris to be stumbling blocks in our path towards God, as those were often the greatest obstacles in the path many had walked in their journey of faith.
In our Gospel reading, we heard of the Lord using a parable when He came to visit the house of a leading Pharisee for dinner, where He was very carefully watched and observed presumably by the other Pharisees and teachers of the Law who were there. He made this reference as a mild rebuke to them all, related to another occasion when the Lord also spoke about how the Pharisees and those so called intellectual elites of the community always sought to get the most important places in gatherings and events.
Through the simple parable, the Lord used the example of a wedding party celebration where guests who come to the party should not seek to get the best places for themselves, or else, they would likely be embarrassed and humiliated when the host and organiser of the event told them that someone else more important even than them would come to that place and take the place which they had occupied earlier on. In the community at the time, as it is still now, ‘face’ is something that is very important, and many put a lot of emphasis on their appearances and status in comparison with others.
That is why, the Lord was in fact mildly rebuking the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law through the parable, especially criticising their self-righteous, prideful and often self-serving attitudes in their role as the guardians of the Law and the leaders and elders of the people, their guides in the matter of the faith. They sought for their own personal glory and achievement first before all else, seeking praises and adulations from others for their piety and observance of the Law.
And they were often being elitist in their faith, in how they lived their lives and in how they observed the Law. They looked down on those like prostitutes and tax collectors, all those whom they deemed to be unworthy of God, as sinners and as those who have committed sinful deeds, while thinking highly of themselves, that they were great in faith and were examples and paragons for others to follow and obey. Yet, the Lord pointed out to them that their attitude and way of thinking were flawed.
Through the parable, the Lord reminded all of them who were high on their pedestals, thinking that they were great and wonderful, that they must not continue their wretched attitudes and behaviours. This is because there were those who had come, and surpassed them in their faith, all those whom the Pharisees and teachers of the Law dismissed as unworthy and wicked, who had come much closer to God and His salvation than them, all because they were sincere in following God, in recognising their sinfulness and in their desire to abandon their past sins and embrace God’s love fully.
This refers to all those prostitutes, tax collectors, people with infirmities, possessed by evil spirits and all sorts of people whom the society tended to lump together as undesirables. Yet, from among these people, God had called many saints, and many of the saints whom we glorify and venerate today, had once been great sinners. But all of them turned around, and went through conversion of hearts and minds.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scriptures reminds us that we cannot allow pride and ego to mislead us down the wrong path, and we should not look down on others whom we may think to be less worthy than ourselves before God. Do not allow pride to make us think that we deserve God’s grace more than others. God loves each and every one of us equally, and each and every one of us are equally important to Him.
Ultimately, only God alone knows what are in the hearts and minds of mankind, in each and every one of us. As it was said, even those who were righteous would be crushed and condemned should they commit sin and refused to abandon all sorts of sin they had committed, and worse still, being proud of those acts. Similarly, those who were wicked and sinful, they would be pardoned and forgiven should they sincerely seek God’s forgiveness and pardon through genuine repentance.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all discern all of these and think of what we can do from now on, that we may turn away from sins and from all the obstacles that prevented us from reaching out to God. Let us all turn towards God, and dedicate ourselves anew to Him, with humility and love, without pride and ego. Let us all therefore seek the Lord with all of our hearts and minds, and also help one another in our journey of faith. May the Lord be with us, and bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.