Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Scripture urging us all to stay strong and steady even amidst the torrents of difficulties, challenges, oppositions and all that will come our way when we devote ourselves to the Lord our God. The Scriptures had pointed out, that when the world hates our Lord and had rejected Him, then they will also reject us out and hates us.
But did Jesus shy away from all those challenges? Did He become afraid or reluctant to face those challenges? No, in fact He went on to meet all those challenges head on. He did not fear suffering or dying for our sake. We who are sinners have been marked for death and destruction, and yet, He came between us and death, and through the shedding of His Body and Blood, He purified us and made us worthy of life once again.
The world hated Jesus and His disciples, and all who followed Him, because they did not understand the Lord and His ways. The world is the dominion of the evil one, the fallen Satan, who ruled the world by his corruptions and sinfulness. Naturally, the devil and all of his allies, all the wickedness in the world will plot together as one, in order to stop the salvation and good works of Christ, that they may bring more and more people to fall into corruption.
This is the great challenge that Jesus was facing at that time, all the rebelliousness of mankind, their wickedness and all the unworthy things which they had committed and which they also plan to commit even more. This is the cup of suffering and bitterness that God had to drink through Jesus, who was greatly tormented and troubled by such a prospect of having to endure the great weight of the sins of the world.
It is this cup of suffering which Jesus mentioned to James and John, His Apostles and to their mother. They indeed would also drink from the same cup of suffering that Christ had drunk, because as they followed Him and did His works, the world also would persecute them and caused them great suffering. Yet at that time, when the mother of James and John pleaded for Jesus to grant her sons the incomparable favour of sitting at the side of God, they did not understand what all those mean.
It is very common for us mankind to think in terms of the world, and in terms of worldly benefits and powers. Power, wealth, possessions, privileges, all of these are high in the minds of those who live in the world and therefore are bound to it. Many people work and labour for the sole purpose of self-aggrandisment, self-satisfaction, that is to satisfy one’s own desires, either for power, for wealth, for recognition, or for all of them.
But Jesus showed His disciples, that all these mean nothing, and to be true disciples of the Lord, we have to forgo all of our desires and wants. Yes, precisely what the mother of James and John had asked. By asking for such a special privilege, in her heart, she was trying to edge out all the other Apostles and gained special position and power for her children. But she failed to see that, such position are not granted by power but rather through faithful deeds and through humility.
Jesus did not boast in His power and majesty, even though He is the Almighty God, all powerful and mighty. He is a Leader not by showcasing or abusing His power and authority, but through genuine and real application of His leadership, and acting as what a Leader should be, that is by example and by leading others will genuine concern and love.
Jesus was troubled and His humanity greatly feared the huge burden of sin which God had made Him to bear, so that we may be saved. He led by example, and He drank that cup of suffering and bore all of our sins, out of love for us all. He was not a Leader who cowered in fear while His people were suffering from the effects of sin. Instead, He was in front of them, leading and guiding them, protecting them from harm’s way.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, also known as St. Casimir Jagiellon, who was the Crown Prince of the kingdoms of Poland and Lithuania. St. Casimir’s youth days were filled frequently with jostling for power and worldly matters, as is common with the nobles and those with power on those days. His father had great ambition for him and for his brothers, aiming to gather more power and glory for his family and dynasty, by claiming the thrones of the kingdoms around them.
Yet, gradually, St. Casimir came to understand that true power does not lie in the aggrandisement of wealth and power, and neither does it involve the use of fear and authority to abuse all those under his rule. He found that it is by listening to God and by doing His will that he can best use the power and authority which God had granted unto him, and his position gave him the privilege to do more for the sake of God’s people.
St. Casimir refused his father’s approaches with worldly power as well as the plans that he had crafted for him. He pursued great charitable acts with the poor and the less fortunate, helping them and serving them wherever possible. His health however, was failing and he was dying even as his piety grew to be more well-known and widespread. Nevertheless, what he lost in the world, he gained even much greater in heaven.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to be courageous in our faith. Do not let fear besiege us any longer or cause us to hesitate in our actions. Whenever we are in the position to help others who are in need, we must be ready to render our help and our love. True disciples of Christ and true leaders show by example, that is by loving one another and passing on the love of God to those who need it most.
We can no longer be ignorant or passive in how we live our faith. May God our Lord guide us always, and give us strength and courage so that in all the actions we do, we may do them for the glory of God, and for the benefit of all mankind. God bless us all. Amen.