20th May 2021.
BY OUR LIVES WE SHOULD TESTIFY THE TRUTH OF GOD
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today's first reading, Paul through the guidance of the Holy Spirit is in Jerusalem. He was accused and attacked by the Jewish leaders from both the members of the Pharisees party and from the Sadducees party. These two groups were very influential and powerful groups of people during the time of Jesus and the early Church. Both parties opposed Paul in his missionary efforts but they were at the same time bitterly divided against each other.
The Pharisees were the spiritual leaders in the community, those with intellectual knowledge and wisdom, knowledge of the Law and the teachings of the prophets, yet because of their pride and their refusal to admit that someone else could have a greater and more complete truth than them, they failed to recognise the Lord Jesus as the Saviour and the One Whom God had sent into the world, and of Whom the prophets and the Scriptures were all speaking about. They were blinded by their own vanity and their pride, hence, they opposed and persecuted Paul for his faith. Paul himself was a Pharisee before he converted to the Christian faith.
The Sadducees were the secular leaders and powerful members of the community whose beliefs were opposite that of the Pharisees. These people did not believe in matters spiritual, in Angels and spirits, or in the Resurrection unlike the Pharisees who believed in the Resurrection of the dead. Sadducees represent the materialistic and worldly segments of the society. They opposed Paul and the Lord Jesus by denying the truth about the Resurrection, which the Lord Himself had gone through, as this was against their own fundamental beliefs.
As such, while both parties opposed Paul and wanted to arrest and punish him, they were not united at all in their purpose and intentions. Their different beliefs divided them. In proclaiming that he was on trial because of his hope in the Resurrection, Paul was not only giving the testimony of truth but also using a clever tactic to turn the Sadducees and Pharisees against each other. The truth about the Resurrection is at the heart of our faith.
That is why the Lord appeared to Paul and declared " keep up your courage! Just as you have given testimony to me here in Jerusalem, so as you do in Rome ". This testimony has shaped our faith about the truth of Resurrection.
In our Gospel passage today, Jesus is praying for his disciples that they may be one. This was on the night before He was to be arrested and put to death. He prayed over His disciples, asking His Heavenly Father to guide, strengthen and keep them in the perfection of unity and truth, just as He and His Father are One, with the Holy Spirit. God intended that we may be united with one another through love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called today to embrace the truth of God wholeheartedly. We should not be stubborn like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who clung to their thoughts and way of life so much that they refused to listen to the Lord and His truth even when He Himself patiently explained and revealed all these to them throughout His ministry.
We should allow the Lord to knock on the doors of our hearts and minds, that we may understand His truth and know Him more so that we may love Him all the more.
Let us all therefore be committed Christians both in words and deeds to glorify the Lord by our lives.
I wish you all a blessed day.