Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings we see how, the righteous ones and the ones sent by the Lord, the prophets, and even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, received slander, persecution, and were actively rejected by many in the society, not least by those who indeed should have been closer to God than that of the rest of the society.
These people are the Pharisees, the priests and the experts in the Law of God, passed through Moses, they are also expert in the Torah and the writings of the words of the prophets, that it is why they could say that no prophet is ever said to come from Galilee, because basically they really know the prophets, their sayings, and the Law itself. But yet, they have failed to see God, and failed to see His works, when it was already in fact right in front of their eyes.
The reason for their failure to see the good works of the Lord is that they have been blinded, their eyes had been blocked by the very arrogance and pride that clouds their heart and hardened that heart against the love of God. Jealousy became the order of the day, as these priests, instead of being happy and supportive of Christ’s good works, they slandered Him, accused Him of using the devil to perform miracles, and plotted against Him to kill Him. They would eventually succeeded in capturing Him after the Lord’s Last Supper, put Him on trial, and brought Him to Pilate to be condemned to death, death on the cross.
We should not follow their examples, and we too should lower our pride and our selfishness before God. We must put the Lord ahead of men, and put our attention on the Lord ahead of any personal glorification through majesty, wealth, or even simplification, and publicity. Priests and leaders of the Church must strive to remain humble in their ministry.
But remember, very importantly, never dabble in the false sense of humility through excessive display of humility or simplification, especially and certainly, we must never let the Holy Mass be simplified to the point that it loses the sanctity and meaning, as the Holy Sacrifice where Jesus offers us His Most Precious Body and Blood.
Very often people has misunderstood the noble simplicity as mentioned in the Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, focusing way too much on the simplicity, that it is no longer noble. There is a need for balance, that the liturgy does not become too flagrant a display of excessive wealth and worldliness, but at the same time also there should be proper decorum and avoidance of insertion of non-liturgical elements into the Mass, and also avoidance of stripping the Mass so much that it ceases to be solemn and devout.
Instead, the way is to live a life of prayer and dedication to God, and strive to put the Lord ahead of ourselves, and to make God the centre of our lives. Through the Mass, the centre of our faith, we can make the Lord indeed as the centre of our life, via the solemn and magnificent liturgy and execution of the Mass, that the Lord is glorified at the Mass.
Remember that the Mass is not about self, and it is not to be centred at the priest-celebrant, but to be centred to the Lord Himself. The vestments, the beautiful adornments, and the solemn atmosphere in the Mass is dedicated entirely to God, that we glorify the Lord, and through these external glorification, we bring mankind closer to God, simply by unearthly experience that all of us can experience in the Mass, through a solemn and devout liturgy of the Mass.
We humble ourselves before the Lord, and focus our attention on the glorious cross of Christ, both for us behind the altar, and for the priest, the altar cross, according to the Benedictine Altar arrangement, that all of us will put our full attention in Christ, and not on men. The cross must be the centre of our focus, our attention, and also be the focus of our hearts, that we continue to keep Christ in all things that we do, so that in whatever good that we do, God will be present, and will justify us.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us rediscover our faith, particularly in this Holy Year of Faith, that we can grow much deeper in our understanding of the Mass and its liturgical contents, and learn to place the Lord at the centre of our lives, and grow stronger in our faith and love of God day by day. May we follow in Christ’s footsteps and not be proud, neither be vain, by discarding the darkness and veil of pride that blocks our heart from truly receiving the love and grace of our God. Amen.