Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent, the fifth of the five Sundays we celebrate during this Lent. On this day we are presented with what God has done for our sake. He has established with us all a new and everlasting covenant or pact, which binds both us and Himself, and sealed with none other than the worthy Blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, that is Jesus Christ our Lord.
While the first covenant of God with men was broken because of our ancestors’ disobedience, when Adam and Eve first disobeyed the Lord by eating the forbidden fruit, mankind had been cast out from the benefits of the covenant which God had forged with them. We were never meant to suffer the consequences of sin and suffering death, as the Lord created us so that He may love us and bless us abundantly, and we were to be loved by Him all the days of our life, living in perfect bliss and harmony in heaven.
But yet, we chose to disobey and in our greed and selfishness, we abandoned the goodness which we were to receive and keep, and instead, for a taste of knowledge, we have chosen to place our lot with the devil who was cast down, cursed and condemned. And so, death becomes a part of our lives, and we become subject to it, mortal and as people rejected by the Lord.
Despite all of this, however, God still loves us all greatly, and by no means that He had abandoned us to death. And that is why, even though He had wiped out most of mankind at the time of Noah because of their wickedness, He had called Noah and his family and saved them through the Ark. Noah and his family were righteous and upright, and therefore they did not deserve death. Those who died in the Flood died because they deserved it.
God made a covenant with Noah, and Noah offered sacrifices on the Mount Ararat where he came out of the Ark after the Flood ended. God placed His bow on the sky, which we now know as the rainbow, as the proof of His covenant and faithfulness to His promise. Have God reneged from His promise since then? No, certainly not. He never used water or flood to destroy mankind once again. And we are reminded of this every time the rain ends and the rainbow appears in the skies above us.
It was us mankind who once again disobeyed Him and rebelled against Him, preferring to follow our own path, succumbing to our desires and our greed. And that was shown at the tower of Babel, where men aspired to be like God and to build a tower surpassing all others and reaching up to heaven. God punished them by confusing their languages and they were not able to satisfy their greed and hubris, and they were all scattered around the world.
But God yet wanted to give them a chance, and He saw in one person, a faith in Him which surpassed all others. And that man was Abram, whom God chose and called from the country of his ancestors, to travel to the land which He intended to give to him if he remained faithful. And indeed, he was faithful, and he followed everything that God had commanded him, and even up to sacrificing and offering his own son, Isaac.
Abram was rewarded for his faith, and not only that God did not take Isaac, as He was only testing his faith, but he was made to be the father of many peoples and many nations. And for even those who are not counted among his descendants, he was made to be their father in faith, for he was counted among those who were the first to show righteousness and faith to God.
God made His covenant with Abram, whom He renamed Abraham as part of that covenant, and Abraham again offered sacrifices of animals as the seal for that covenant, the binding agreement that bound both God and Abraham as well as all of his descendants. But again, his descendants were not faithful to that covenant and agreement. They preferred to go their own path and committed all sorts of wickedness, despite the various and repeated reminders sent to them through the many prophets and servants of God.
Some remained faithful to the Lord, but many did not. And the few who were faithful were often harassed and persecuted by those who did not keep their faith. They were forced and persuaded to abandon their faith for the ways of the world, often even at the threat of death. But many persevered and resisted the pull of the world and the temptations of Satan.
And while we continued to rebel against His will and stay in our waywardness, God remains faithful, and He sends to us the One who was to create that new covenant which will be the final and perfect covenant that will last for all time. Christ is that Mediator of the New Covenant, the everlasting promise which God has promised to us, that to all of us He has promised eternal joy and eternal life, the freedom and liberation from death.
It is sin, our disobedience and rebelliousness which have bound us to death, for death is the consequence of sin. For in God is life, and it is He who holds the reins of life and death. If we do not hold fast to our faith in the Lord, then we will likely lose our hold on Him, and if we have no part in Him, then we would have no life, for death is the only thing that we can look forward to.
But our Lord had shown us that there is life beyond death, that is the life with our Lord, which we also know as the life in the world to come, as we always mention as we took our Creed at the Sunday Masses. And we have to look at the story of how Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead. He brought back Lazarus from the dead, so that He can show how death does not have the final say over us.
Many of us fear death, and indeed it can be said that everyone is afraid of dying, but we are afraid because we are not sure what is to happen with us after that, and we are afraid because we think that when we die, we will lose all the things we have in this world. We cannot let go of the things we have, be it possessions, money, wealth, the fame we have accumulated, the prestige and position of honour which we have attained in the society.
And if we do not trust in the Lord, that is why we also fear death, because we see it as the end to our good life in this world. That is why we also fear when we age, because we see ageing as being drown closer and closer to death. And this is where the very problem lays. Ever since the beginning, we mankind are always selfish and concerned only about ourselves. That is why our ancestor sinned, why they grumbled and complained against the Lord whenever things do not go their way, because they think only of how to please themselves and to satisfy their desires.
In this holy season of Lent, the time of preparation for the Holy Week and Easter, we all should really find the time and opportunity to withdraw from our hectic schedules and works, and to think through our priorities in this life. Have we truly placed our complete and full trust in the Lord? Have we been truly faithful to the covenant which He had established with all of us? He had sealed it with none other than with His own Precious Blood.
Only the Blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is worthy to absolve all of our sins, the accumulative burden of our sins, of all mankind past, present and future, that when we have been freed from the shackles of sin, then we too shall be freed from the bonds of death. Our mortal bodies may be subjected to death, but our soul is eternal, and the Lord who is Lord over life and death will raise up all of His faithful ones to life, body and soul, to be with Him, and to receive the eternal bliss and happiness initially intended for us when He first created us.
It is the time for us all to make a clear decision, on whether we prefer to continue with our usual way of life, giving in to the pull and to the temptations of the good things in life, or whether we prefer to take the more difficult path, of allowing God to enter into our lives, knowing that by following Him we will face difficulties and even rejection from the world, or by giving in to our desires, where we shall have life as we wanted it, but we greatly risk if not assured of the rejection by our Lord and therefore eternal damnation.
Jesus Himself had shown us all the way to go. He is our High Priest who offered for the sake of us all, the perfect sacrifice of Himself, laying down His life and baring down Himself, stretched on the cross. It was not by His great might, power or strength that He had won a victory and pardon for us, but rather through His humility and obedience to the will of His Father, our Lord in heaven. And through that, He gathered all of us scattered in the world, and make us to be one people through His Church, that is His Body.
The same therefore will apply to us. If we are faithful to Him, and walk in His path, God will bless us and lift up from us the punishment for our sins, that is eternal death. He will give us a new life, and the promise of everlasting life, united with Him and all the other righteous ones in heavenly glory. If we decide to follow the path of our unfaithful and rebellious ancestors, then we have to be ready to suffer the consequences.
Let us all today renew the faith which we have in the Lord, and let us also take this opportunity to renew our commitment to do good in our lives, be it in terms of building up our relationship with God, or in loving one another genuinely and caring for them, rather than to keep to ourselves and rather than trying to satisfy our endless desires and wants.
Let us seek genuine conversion to our Lord and be renewed greatly in our faith and devotion to Him. Seek not what is temporary in the world, but seek what is everlasting in heaven. It is better for us to suffer in this world for a while rather than to suffer for eternity in the world that is to come. May Almighty God bless us all always, forgive us all our sins and bring us to His promise of everlasting life. Amen.