51:1-12 or 119:9-16
by Rt. Rev. Shourabh Pholia, Deputy Moderator and Bishop of Barishal Diocese, Church of Bangladesh
NOTES ON THE READINGS
Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
In the OT reading, we see that God has chosen the Israelites as Her/His children. No doubt it was a privilege for the Israelites. They knew it but they failed to live as children of God because they disobeyed God. They failed like Adam and Eve, who disobeyed to fulfil their desire. Disobeying God’s Word was the beginning of sin. The Israelites also sinned by not listening to Her/Him.
But God is great always. God is the God of love, forgiveness and mercy. Therefore, S/He always kind to all forgives all. S/He is always ready to forgive when Her/His children repent and turn back to Her/Him. When there is repentance, there is God’s love, kindness, forgiveness and mercies. When there is God’s forgiveness there is reconciliation and there is a new beginning. Reconciliation with God is a new beginning. In the New Testament, we hear, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2Cor.5:17).
We all are the chosen ones and new Israel and therefore, we must take this opportunity and live according to God’s will. We should not disobey our God who loves us and allows us to be Her/His children. We can realise God’s expectation from the parable of Loving Father/ Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
Psalm (51:1-12 or 119:9-16)
In Psalm reading, we find that King David realised the sins which he has done against God. He realised, repented, prayed and asked forgiveness. (Psalm 51).
Many times we have sinned by not listening to God. Like David we realise it but unless we repent and ask forgiveness with a broken heart like him, we are not forgiven. God’s mercy is there for us always but we need to obey God and do Her/His will.
In many ways, we have not listened to Her/Him. One thing we have neglected is God’s command regarding caring for the creation. We have failed to follow the Word of God and have not heard what S/He expected from us regarding serving the creation. We have abused it and exploited it.
In Genesis 1:26-27, we see God created male and female in God’s image and then S/He blessed them and said to them, “ Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Here God expected us the human being to be good stewards and to serve God’s creation. But we have explained it selfishly and exploited the whole creation. Now the whole creation is groaning and waiting for God’s grace and mercy to be liberated. In Romans 8: 19, it is written – “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. “ Also in Romans 8:22 says – “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Therefore, until we feel guilty we cannot repent. Due to our selfish nature, we are now facing a crisis like global warming, sea-level rise, loss of many species, climate change etc. We need to turn back and ask forgiveness for our deeds. We need to start a new and obey God’s command – “To care the creation the way God cares it and loves it.”
Epistle (Hebrews 5:5-10)
From the epistle reading we learn that Jesus is our model who showed how to obey God the Father. He obeyed God and sacrificed His life for us. It is He who has opened the door for reconciliation with God and has given us a new life, a new beginning. He has restored the broken relationship which took place due to our selfish motives and desires. Jesus called us to reconcile, heal and restore. We all need to follow His steps of love, care and sacrifice for reconciliation and restoration. We must ready to sacrifice as Jesus showed us.
It is right and our duty to repent and to be reconciled with God. Reconciling with God also needs reconciliation with His/Her creation. Therefore, we need to confess our sins, negligence and we must acknowledge that we did and doing harm to God’s creation and committing sin by not being good stewards of what God expected from us. It is high time for us to stop and turn back to care and serve the creation and to heal the wounds which we have done toward the creation.
Gospel (John 12:20-33)
In the Gospel reading, we see that Jesus showed the way to serve and reconcile. We must follow His example to sacrifice. We have ruined and harmed the creation to live our selfish lives. But we need to hear the voice of God so that we may live and also our generation may have a healthy and blessed life. We need to sacrifice and live the life God expects. Jesus sacrificed His life and therefore, we have received life. The same way He asked us to follow Him. Therefore, we must love, care and serve the whole creation so that it can grow and bring fruits for us and our next generations. Amen.
by Bishop Shourabh Pholia, Church of Bangladesh (Barishal Diocese)