Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the judgment of God for all of us mankind, and how those who are good, and those who have done good in patience, waiting patiently for the coming of the Lord, shall be rewarded with the blessings and the grace of God, and be welcomed into the eternal life which God has promised all of His faithful ones.
St. James rebuked those who were fighting amongst themselves and said that the kingdom and the glory of God belong to those who are patient, kind, good and obedient, just as the servant of God Job had done before many millennia before today, where he patiently endured persecutions and troubles, all the challenges and the obstacles that he encountered, all the trials and tribulations placed before him by the devil to test him.
And in the Gospel today, we heard about one of the teachers of the Law speaking and arguing with Jesus about divorce, and what the people ought to do in accordance with the Law of God. And the teacher of the Law argued that because the laws according to Moses had allowed for the cases of divorce, thus it was rightful for a person to divorce his wife, or to divorce her husband vice versa, as long as the necessary documents were completed.
But Jesus rebuked him, saying that such laws and rules were in place only because the people of God were obstinate and unruly, and were unable to follow precisely what God had told them to do. And such allowances were meant only to accommodate the demands and wishes of the rebellious people of God, but those were not meant to cover up their sins.
Jesus made it very clear on many occasions, that sin is sin, and the sin of adultery is truly grave indeed. It is because marriage is a holy Sacrament of God, one of the Seven holy Sacraments of the Church, which God had instituted Himself and passed down to His Apostles and thus to the Church. And through marriage, as what God had mentioned to mankind in the Book of Genesis, He had made man and woman into one body, uniting them in a holy bond of matrimony which He Himself had blessed.
Therefore, it is not right for anyone to break this holy bond which God had blessed as long as it had been lawfully made. No man should dissolve the holy bonds and desecrate the holy union which God had blessed unless if they want to commit a grave sin for themselves, and made worse if that desecration was caused by unfaithfulness and by betrayal of the love and trust made at the holy union between man and woman.
Why does that sin happen, brothers and sisters in Christ? The sin of adultery is caused by our own lack of patience, our tendency to be tempted and swayed by the offer of worldly pleasures, the pleasures of the flesh, the sins of corruption and perversion, and many other forms of distractions that keep us away from finding our way to righteousness, and from upholding the integrity and the holiness of God’s holy union.
Mankind were often not satisfied with chastity and with temperance, and instead looking forward to the opportunities to overcome the limitations and the rules imposed on the holy married life, and thus committed adultery, often with another more desirable and more pleasurable to the eyes and to the flesh, all these while they were still in the holy union legally and rightly blessed by God.
As such, we must not heed those in our world today, even those who are within the Church who espoused and pushed forth for the effort to ignore the sins of those who have committed adultery and divorce. We have to understand that the reality is such that, there were those who argued, just as the teacher of the Law had argued with Jesus at that time, that those who committed adultery by desecrating the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony should be welcomed and pardoned unconditionally through God’s mercy.
Yet, these people had conveniently or even purposely forgotten the fact that, while God is merciful and loving towards all of us, but at the same time, He also abhors all forms of sin and wickedness which all of us had performed in our lives. Thus, without clear and genuine repentance from sin, and without turning away from sinfulness, there can be no way forward for us mankind.
And in living our lives worthily before God, we can heed the examples shown by St. Bernardine of Siena whose feast we celebrate today. St. Bernardine of Siena was a priest of the Lord, a Franciscan missionary from Italy, who was a great and devoted preacher who taught the people of God against the sins and wickedness that had corrupted many of the people at the time.
He actively went from places to places, from towns to towns, villages to villages, and from communities to communities, calling the people of God to purify themselves and their faith, and remove from themselves all the sins and the unworthy things which had made themselves unworthy of God’s grace and blessings. He called for many of the people to cast away their sinful actions and remove from themselves all the vanities and the things that have led themselves to sin, such as unnecessary excesses and luxuries.
The words and the works of St. Bernardine of Siena are calling us to reexamine our own lives. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord? And have we been patient in enduring challenges after challenges, obstacles upon obstacles that would come our way when we remain faithful to the Lord and obey His laws? Or have we instead been impatient, and tried to circumvent God’s laws to serve our own unsatisfiable desires?
Let us all reflect on all these, and let us have a new resolve to devote ourselves to a holy life in God, upholding the sanctity of life and holy matrimony at all times. Let us not be deceived into allowing sin to enter into our hearts, especially by trying to show false mercy to those who have committed adultery and yet refused to repent from their sins and continue to live in sin. May God help us on our way to Him and bless us all our days. Amen.