Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard firstly from the Book of Lamentations of the sorrows of Israel, the people of God, whom God had rejected because they had disobeyed Him and persistently refused to walk in His ways, preferring the company and worship of the pagan idols and gods. God had given them up to the hands of their enemies, and they looked for Him without avail, for they had been left behind.
But God Who loved all of His people would not abandon them forever. He extended His mercy and love to them, and called them back to Him. But their salvation and liberation required their repentance and their genuine faith, that is the genuine desire to seek Him and to change their ways wholeheartedly so that in all that they do, they would no longer do what displeased God but instead be faithful to Him from then on.
Yet, there were many obstacles for that path, as the people of God, as men are, are very susceptible for their desires and greed, and they were also renowned for their pride. It is not easy for sinners to come to terms with their sins and regret them, as their pride often came in the way. Pride caused men to refuse God’s mercy, love and forgiveness, and it made them to persevere and continue in their sinfulness.
And this is where Jesus came in with His experience with the captain of the guard, which we heard in our Gospel today. The captain of the guard had a servant who was ill with paralysis and suffered from it terribly, and he wanted Jesus to heal his servant that he might be whole once again and be freed from his sufferings. Here it may be just seen as another of Jesus’ healing miracles where He touched the person and that person was healed, but yet, there is something very important there which all of us should take note of.
And that is regarding what the captain had said to Jesus as He went on His way to the house. The captain said politely that he was not worthy to receive Jesus under his roof, for he was a sinner. And for us to be able to understand the meaning of these words fully, we have to understand the context and the situation facing that captain and then we will be able to know more what we ourselves are to do in our own lives.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the captain of the guard was not specified in the Gospel whether he was a Jew or a Roman, but firstly, if he was a Roman, then at that time, the custom of the Jews was that for a non-Jew like a Roman, and after all, a pagan, it was a taboo for a Jew to come and visit the house of a Gentile. And even if he was a Jew, being a soldier, his lifestyle and work which dealt with killing people and violence must have made him felt uneasy to welcome such a great Master to his place.
But he threw away all of his pride and fear, and he also overcame all of his anxieties and uncertainties, and came humbly begging for Jesus with complete faith in Him, that He would be able to heal his servant. And he bared it before all the people who followed Jesus, that he was unworthy, sinner, unclean and his conscience told him that he should not let the Lord to be besmirched by his unworthiness.
What does this tell us brethren? The captain of the guard showed us all how we should act as Christians before the Lord our God. God saw his great faith and praised him, and He listened to his petitions and fulfilled them. He healed the servant and showed the example of his faith to those who followed Him. That captain was an example of how we should live our lives faithfully before God, and most importantly that we must seek our God with great humility, owning up all of our sins and asking Him for forgiveness.
We may think that this is something trivial and easy to be done, but in fact, it is not. All of us must have experienced and knew how difficult it is for us to own up our mistakes, and we tend to hide them or to conceal them with lies and sweet words, so as not to ask for forgiveness and destroy our ego. But this is where our downfall comes from, and if we do not act, then I am afraid that it may drag us deeper into the darkness and from there into eternal damnation.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on today’s Scripture readings, and let us all commit ourselves anew to God, promising to live our lives more faithfully from now on, and no longer be afraid to seek Him and to confess our sins before Him. If we have not gone to confession for a while, then it may be the time right now for us to do so. Remember, we must not wait until it is too late, as we do not know when the time is up for us.
May God strengthen our faith in us, and may He empower us to live our lives faithfully and devote ourselves ever more strongly to Him. May He forgive us our sins and help us to walk more faithfully in His presence, that we may find our way to Him and receive the grace of salvation and eternal life. God bless us all. Amen.