Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to remember our many sins, faults, mistakes, and all those failures we have in living our lives in the way that the Lord has told and commanded us to do. This is especially appropriate during this season and time of Lent, during which time each one of us are called to turn away from those sins and wickedness, and return to the Lord once again with love and devotion towards Him. We should remember the failures and mistakes that our predecessors had made, and which we ourselves have committed so that we may rectify them and change our ways before it is too late for us. God has always been rich in His love and mercy towards us, but it is truly up to us whether we want to embrace His love, kindness and compassion.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Exodus in which the story of what happened during the time when the Israelites were gathering at Mount Sinai was told to us. Back then, the Israelites were just led out from the land of Egypt in a great Exodus led by God, through His servant Moses, and guided to the Mountain of God in Sinai. It was there that God made and renewed the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and established a new promise and reassurance of His love, and then gave them all His Law and commandments through Moses, whom He called up the mountain, to receive the Ten Commandments and the whole precepts and the teachings fo the Law. Moses spent a whole period of forty days atop the mountain, and in that meantime, the Israelites down below rebelled against God.
Despite having seen the greatness and the love of God in person, with all the great miracles and powers that the Lord had displayed, in the ten great plagues that struck Egypt and forced the Egyptians and their Pharaoh to let them go free, and despite having been freed from the force of the Egyptian armies and chariots that chased them right to the Red Sea, the people of Israel still doubted the Lord their God and did not have faith in Him. The Lord has shown and proven His might and faithfulness to them, never abandoning them in their hour and time of need, and provided for them during the whole duration of their journey in the desert towards the Promised Land of Canaan, with the provision of manna, bread from heaven itself, with flocks of birds and also ample supply of water from the rocks, that God has given them all. Despite all these, they still failed to believe and put their trust in Him.
Instead, they built for themselves a golden calf idol, likely imitating what the Egyptians had for their idol, as one of the Egyptian gods was portrayed as a bull or calf, and then worshipped that idol as their god, claiming that it was this idol which had saved them from the land of Egypt. This was what made the Lord totally furious at His people, as He told Moses of the wicked actions of those people whom He had just saved and cared for, and then they betrayed Him for a pagan idol they built with their own hands. God wanted to destroy the whole people of Israel and spared just Moses, and promised to make him to be a great nation, but Moses interceded on their behalf and begged God to reconsider and not destroy the people for their sins. God listened to Moses and spared the people of Israel, who nonetheless had to suffer the consequences of their rebellion.
In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the words that the Lord Jesus said to the Jewish people, with the Jewish people here likely referring to those people who subscribed to the ways and interpretations of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and hence, often opposed the Lord and refused to believe in Him, as they saw Him and His teachings and truth as aberrations of the Law that they practiced and kept, the same Law and commandments that God had given to Moses. They even associated the Lord’s works to demonic influences and collusions, and accused the Lord Jesus of blasphemy against God, for having claimed to be able to forgive sins and for calling God as His Father. That was why they kept on hardening their hearts and minds, refusing to listen to God and His words of truth, and continuing to believe that their way and interpretation of the Law were the correct ones.
It was the pride and hubris, the arrogance and the stubbornness of those people which prevented them from coming to the salvation in God, and from believing in His truth, just the same way how their ancestors at Mount Sinai had rebelled against God and disobeyed Him. That is because they allowed their human pride, greed and worldly desires and attachments to tempt and sway them, such that they ended up falling into the path of evil and sin, and getting further and further away from God and His path. It will be our fate as well if we continue to allow ourselves to be distracted by the worldly temptations and attachments all around us, and if we let the worldly idols in our lives to lead us astray, that is the idols of fame, glory, wealth, pleasures and many others. These are the idols of our modern day world, those idols that will distract us from the focus that we should all have in the Lord.
That is why during this time of Lent, all of us are reminded to refocus our lives and our attention on the Lord. We should not allow the many distractions all around us from pulling us away from the path of the Lord. We should therefore also follow the good examples set by one of our holy predecessors, whose feast we are celebrating today, with the hope that we all may be inspired by his life and good examples. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was a Spanish priest that eventually became a missionary and appointed as Archbishop of Lima in the then New World, what is today Peru. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was truly a humble and committed servant of God, whose personal piety and obedience to God, love for Him and love for his fellow men inspired many who followed in his footsteps and examples. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo spent a lot of time reaching to his flock, teaching them about the faith and catechising them, and according to history and records, baptised no less than half a million of them, including the saints St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres.
St. Turibius de Mogrovejo was also very staunch in his dedication to the reforms of the Church, and launched a campaign of reform and reorganisation of his Archdiocese, to ensure that the clergy and the members of the faithful lived their lives in accordance to what the Lord has taught them, to the Church teachings and Apostolic traditions. He spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection, and dedicated himself to the betterment and help for his flock, to his fellow brothers and sisters, especially to those who were less fortunate and who were suffering. The dedication of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, his faith and love both for God and for his fellow men should inspire us all that we may also live our lives well and in righteous manner, that we may truly be found worthy and good by the Lord our God, and worthy indeed to inherit the great things that God has prepared for us.
May the Lord hence guide and help us in our journey of faith through life, particularly during this blessed season and time of Lent. May He empower each and every one of us so that we may always adhere faithfully to His Law and commandments. May He inspire us to follow in the footsteps of His saints, like that of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo and many others, such that we may ourselves be sources of inspiration and strength for our fellow men, and be the beacons of God’s light, truth and love. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.