Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of just how merciful God has been to us, how patient He had been with our stubbornness and constant disobedience, our sinful ways and our rebelliousness all these while, as He has continually forgiven us when we seek His forgiveness and mercy. God has always loved us so much even when we have disobeyed Him and did so much evil before Him.
But at the same time, we must also not forget that God still despises our sins and wickedness, and His anger remains against all of our sins and disobedience. He loves us all the sinners but despises our sins, as sin is corruption on us, and no corruption and wickedness may remain in His presence. If we remain in our sinful ways and stubbornly hold on to our wickedness, then we will be judged according to those standards, and we will not be spared on the day of judgment.
Moses pleaded with God as described in our first reading today from the Book of Exodus, as at that time the Israelites rebelled against God in a very terrible manner, because they made for themselves a golden idol, shaped like a calf, as a god and idol for them to worship, while God had just earlier on delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. It was just very recently then that God opened the sea before the people of Israel that they might pass safely on the dry seabed, while destroying all the chariots and armies sent after them.
God made a Covenant with His people and renewed the Covenant and promise which He had made much earlier on with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ancestors of the Israelites. He gave them His laws and commandments, centred on the Ten Commandments that He Himself wrote on two slabs of stone, which He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, the Mountain of God. On that mountain, Moses spent forty days and forty nights with God, receiving the many commandments God had set before His people to help and guide them in their lives.
But the people, probably being impatient and restless, and weak in their faith, chose to take the drastic action of forcing Aaron, the brother of Moses to make for themselves a golden calf idol as god over them, as they thought that Moses had died on the mountain after spending forty days up there away from the people. They committed all sorts of debauchery and terrible sinful deeds with the golden idol, and God was very angry against them as we can clearly heard in our first reading passage today.
God could have destroyed the people, but He listened to Moses who pleaded on their behalf, for Him to show mercy and to forgive them for their lapses and mistakes. God spared the people but some of those worst offenders and the leaders of the rebellion were indeed not spared by the wrath of God, for it was by their instigation that the whole people of Israel ended up disobeying God and sinned against Him. From then on nonetheless, God continued to love His people and was still patient with them despite their infidelity and wickedness from time to time.
In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus in the midst of His rebuke of the people of His time, particularly those who opposed Him stubbornly such as the many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Jesus spoke of St. John the Baptist in that same occasion, pointing out how that messenger of God himself was also rejected and ignored by the people, the same ones who was rejecting and ignoring the message that Christ was bringing to them.
Those people disobeyed the Lord much like their predecessors disobeyed and hardened their hearts by making idol for themselves to be worshipped as their god. While the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law proudly claimed themselves as the sole and crucial guardians of the faith, they ended up idolising their way of observing the laws of Moses to the point that they forgot why they have the Law in the first place and why they need to listen to the Lord and His truth.
The Lord rebuked and reminded the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular that they need to get rid of their pride and the desire to be praised and honoured by others. The Lord said that all these were preventing them from being able to be truly faithful as they were fixated on their pride and ego, their desire to maintain their prestige and honour, which they ended up idolising and caused them to fall into sin. This is why today, all of us are also then reminded through all these past examples that we should be more humble and be careful with the many temptations around us that are keeping us from being faithful to God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make good use of the opportunities we have received in this season of Lent, that we approach the throne of God’s mercy and love, with the desire to be forgiven from our many sins and faults. Let us all be humble before God and strive to repent from our mistakes and sins, knowing that God is always ready to forgive us if we ourselves are willing to accept His mercy, and accepting God’s mercy require us to make that profound change in our way of life, devoting ourselves to God with a renewed faith and commitment.
May God be with us in our journey of faith, and may He continue to guide us in the midst of this current challenging moments, as the world is still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. May God bless all those who have given their lives and their efforts to care for the sick and the dying. Let us pray for all of them, and let us also put our faith in God, knowing that He will provide for us all, no matter what. Amen.