Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the key message and the gist of today’s Scripture readings is really very simple, and yet it is at the same time, something very important for us all to take note of, as disciples and followers of our Lord. And that is the value and virtue of humility, and of rejecting pride and hubris, understanding that we mankind are not greater than God and His authority.
In order to understand fully the meaning and nuances behind what transpired between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, we have to appreciate and be able to understand the history of how it came to be as what it was like at the time of Jesus. By that time, the Jewish people, the descendants of Israel had had the Law revealed to them for over a thousand years, with many generations of peoples passing down the Law of God from mouth to mouth.
God made it clear in the beginning that He created mankind because of His love for all that He had created, and the greatest of which He reserved for us, the most perfect and beloved of all His creations, created in His very own Image. And because of that love, He has endeavoured to forgive them and rescue them from their own downfall, that is sin. Sin has entered into the hearts of men because of disobedience, and the reward for sin is death.
But God did not want such a fate for those whom He had intended to give His love to, and for the ones whom He had cared for, certainly He did not desire for them to perish, but to live and to rejoice together with Him. That was why He sent His messengers and servants among His people, to call them to repentance and to turn themselves to the loving and caring hands of the Lord, that He might take them up and bless them once more.
To that extent also, therefore, God sent Moses to rescue His people from their suffering and tribulation in the land of Egypt. They went out with the guidance from God’s own mighty Hand, and He showed His might before them. And in order to seal the promise He had made with them, He sealed it with the Covenant which He established through the Law that He passed down to Moses His servant, that His people would observe them forever.
These laws and commandments are love, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we read through the Ten Commandments, love the Lord your God and have no idols or false gods before Him, honouring His holy Name and the day of the Lord, all these speak of how we ought to have that love and dedication for God, just in the same manner as God has loved us first.
And the other commandments, exhorting us not to kill, not to steal, honouring one’s mother and father, all are speaking about how we ought then to show the same love we have shown to the Lord, in how we also love our brethren, our neighbours around us. This is what the Lord wanted from us all mankind, His beloved people, that we have love in us, His love, that we may love Him just as much as we have been loved by Him.
Yet, unfortunately, due to the obstinance and the rebelliousness of the people, they disagreed and doubted many times about the Lord, so much so that in order to keep them in check and to help ensure that they are able to restrain their negative desires and traits, God helped them by giving them rules and regulations to help them to manage themselves, that after having disciplined themselves, then they would be better able to find themselves on the right track towards the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, over time, the people of God forgot the intention of God why He established those rules and regulations in the first place. And as the Law was often transmitted from mouth to ear, and then from one to another again, over time, there were many misunderstandings and things that they had added into the laws, which then the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law zealously defended and imposed on the people.
These people saw themselves as superior to others, and they revelled in their pride knowing about their esteemed position and supposed greater piety and honour in the society, something which St. Paul clearly warned against in today’s First Reading, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth. He warned them about human pride and hubris, greed and desire for power which could easily takeover us mankind, and make us not faithful servants of the Lord, but instead as wayward people.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians we should learn to be more like king David, whom Jesus mentioned in His words in the Gospel today. When his men were hungry, the king David cared for them and found food for them in the Temple of God, that they might be sustained and not suffer from hunger. That is the kind of love which our Lord also expects from each and every one of us, that we do not overlook the sufferings of others, or worse, by imposing our views and opinions on others.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were fixated on the wrong things. They were so blinded by their blind obedience to the laws of Moses, which was serious misunderstanding of the true intention of the Law of God, that is love. Instead of bringing mankind to love God more, they were making those people to fear Him, as the excessive obligations and rules ended up burdening the people, especially all those seeking to repent and to turn over a new leaf.
Rather, we should learn to be true disciples of our Lord, by not just having empty faith, but also through active participation and commitment of our loving works and deeds, that we show love in all that we do, in all that we say, and after all these, in not claiming the credit for ourselves, or be proud of our achievements and deeds, for all these we have done, all for the sake of the greater glory of our God.
Today we also commemorate the feast of the great and renowned Pope, Pope St. Gregory the Great, who was well known for his great devotion to God, in his efforts to live a truly Christian life. Even though he had been elected to such an important role and position in the Christian world, but he remained humble and was very dedicated to the mission which he had been entrusted with by the Lord.
Pope St. Gregory the Great helped to reform the Church and the lives of the faithful, bringing greater discipline to the Church and to help the people of God to learn how to live as a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord. He helped the poor and the weak in his areas of jurisdiction, improving the livelihood of those who once lived in squalor and filth, showing genuine Christian love to everyone who saw him.
And he also sent many missions to convert many Pagans and all those who still lived in the ignorance of the salvation of God, that through these courageous missionaries, the word of God, that is the love I have mentioned earlier, the desire of the Lord to have all of His beloved children to return to Him, may reach all the ends of the earth, and as many souls as possible could be saved.
In his short earthly life, we can already see how he embodied what we Christians have to do, and how we ought to do it. Can we all devote ourselves to God and to our fellow brethren in the same way that Pope St. Gregory the Great and many of the other holy saints had done, brethren? Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord fully and wholly without being distracted by the temptations of worldliness, power and all others?
Let us all pray now, brethren, that we may be given the gift to discern carefully how we are to do our actions in life, that wherever we are, we will always be ready to show love where it is needed, to care for the life and wellbeing of others when they were under threat, and to stand up for our needy and poor fellow men who were unjustly oppressed. May God help us in these endeavours, and may He keep us all always in His everlasting grace. Amen.