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Bishop Banda’s Homily,Saturday, 1st Week of Lent

In our first reading Moses reminds the people of Israel to observe their “agreement” with
God: “To walk in His ways and observe His statutes, His commandments and His
decrees”. At the same time the Moses guarantees the Lord’s support on the people of
Israel namely: “To be His treasured people, as He promised you…to set you high above
all nations that He has made…for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as He
promised”.

The people of Israel were not only to hear but to listen and hearken to the dictates of the
Lord. That is to receive and act on the message they received. When Yahweh called
their forefather Abraham, the promise given to him was: “I will make you a great nation,
and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing and in
you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3).

Ultimately, the purpose of choosing the people of Israel was to make them a blessing to
the whole world and to fulfill the promise of the Messiah. From the Jews would come
Jesus, the Saviour of the world – and as it said “Salvation comes through the Jews”.

The Israelites remembered and took pride in the first part of that promise and
conveniently forgot the last part of it. They were happy to be a great nation, and to
receive all the blessings and honour and respect from other nations. However, they did
not care to be a blessing to others and indeed all the families of the earth.

Self-centeredness is opposed to the vision and mission of God who is all loving and all
welcoming. They failed God right from the beginning. It is in this context that Jesus
reiterates the purpose and function of the divine laws. In the kingdom of God there are
no enemies but “all are brothers and sisters” all are children of the same heavenly
father, who does not practice partiality.

That is the more reason Jesus asks “For if you love those who love you, what recompense
will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers
and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?”
Partiality and vengefulness are signs of imperfection. So be perfect, just as your
heavenly Father is perfect namely – to be all loving and welcoming.

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