Second Sunday of the Great Fast

Click play to listen the Evangalion (gospel reading) of the day.

Gen 5:19-31; Josh 4:15-24; Rom 6:1-23; Mt 7:15-27

 

Gen 5:14-24 is the story of Enoch. Enoch is presented as a righteous person who walked with God all throughout his life. The expression “to walk with God” or “walk before God” is used in the Bible to designate a special intimate companionship with God and a life of piety. It is a life attitude of true devotion to the Lord, accompanied by correct moral behaviour (Gen 5: 22, 24; 6:9; Gen 17:1; 18:22; 24:40; 48:15; Isa 38:3; Mic 6:8).  The Great Fast is a time to foster this quality of walking with God, which can transform our thoughts, words and deeds. For, if God is our intimate companion, then we will be influenced by Him. 

 

Josh 4:15-24 recounts the story of the crossing of the river Jordan, which is remembered as a manifestation of Yahweh’s saving power and His covenant loyalty to the people of Israel. The crossing of the Jordan is on a par with the crossing of the Red Sea (Exod 14), and is as an important transitional event in the formation of the people of Israel. Crossing the Red Sea gave them conclusive freedom from Egypt; at the same time, it marked the beginning of their journey towards the Promised Land. The crossing of the Jordan, in turn, marked the transition from the desert journey to the Promised Land. The whole episode is guided by the motive of the ever-accompanying presence of Yahweh in the life of the people of Israel. The Great Fast is a time to recollect the saving deeds of God in our lives and to express our gratitude. It is also a time of transition to say good-bye to a sinful past and to start a new life guided by the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

In Rom 6:1-14 St Paul writes about the transformational power of baptism. Through baptism every Christian is liberated from the tyrannizing power of sin over humanity.  Just as Jesus entered into life through death, every Christian dies to sin in baptism in order to lead a new, righteous life by participating in the grace of the Risen Lord. If those who are liberated from the clutches of sin continue to live in their past sinfulness, then they are being illogical and ungrateful.  However, Paul is well aware of the fact that as fragile human beings, baptism will not automatically enable the believers to free themselves from all sinful inclinations. What he suggests is that they ought to strive to conquer the power of sin through the grace of baptism.  One can achieve this goal by the crucifixion of the old self, which is under the siege of the sin. The new self is the person who participates in the fruits of the Resurrection, which is new life in Christ. Rom 1-14 exhorts us to renew our lives through the power of the salvific grace imparted to us at baptism. By being obedient to this power given to us by the Risen Lord, we will be able to transform ourselves into new persons, liberated from the power of the sin.

 

In the concluding section of the Sermon on the Mount, Matt.7:15-27, Jesus gives the principles that should guide our actions in order to enter into eternal life. We should opt for the narrow way which is not the path commonly trod by many (7:13-14); we need to discern the voice of the false prophets to avoid them (7:15-20); our whole life should be guided by an unwavering focus on doing the will of the Father as taught by Jesus.

 

Who is a false prophet? As explained by today’s passage, he is someone whose words and deeds do not correspond with his inner thoughts and plans. He may have the sheath of a gentle lamb, but within he harbours the fierceness of a wolf and causes havoc in the community through his evil intentions and deeds.   As the tree is known by its fruits, so too the prophet is known from his contributions to the building up of the community as well as from the truth he speaks. As it is clearly made clear through the parable of the two builders (7:24-27), the strong foundation of a true disciple is to take seriously the teachings of Jesus and endeavour to pattern one’s life on His words and deeds. Then he/she will be able to withstand the enticing invitations of worldly standards and the fickle winds of changing trends.

 

 

Credits: Father Joy Philip Kakkanattu, CMI <jpkakkanattu 'at' gmail 'dot' com>

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