Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings told us about the merits of keeping up faith in the Lord, and the importance of keeping hope in Him Who cares for us and Who blesses us all daily with life and all its goodness. It is a reminder that we do not live alone or suffer in this life alone in this world, but rather we have our Lord Who is constantly with us, guiding us and protecting us.
God never failed His people and He had never, and will never ever break the promises He had made. He had promised to bring us all mankind into His salvation, and that is precisely what He will do. He always fulfil whatever He had promised, and He will always love us all, no matter how sinful and wicked we were. Yet, it was always us mankind who have disappointed Him, rejecting the love which He had shown us, and spurning His care and compassion for us.
Let us just ask ourselves, to look into our own lives and how we have acted in this life. How often is it that we put God aside and forget about Him in the pursuit of our own selfish goals and desires? It is in our nature to be focused only on ourselves and ignore all other things. And we do not remember God until the time when we actually ‘need’ Him.
Yes, do we remember God in our good times? Maybe sometimes we do, but do we give Him thanks for every blessings He had granted us? Or did we just take all of His kindness for granted? This is the tendency that all of us have, that we tend to gloat and be proud of our own achievements, and glorify ourselves in front of others, praising our deeds and greatness, but not giving due thanks to God for all the things which He had blessed us with.
First of all, are we thankful of this life which God had granted us? Have we shown gratitude for every breath we take, the allowance we have been given by the Lord to live in this world and to enjoy all the good things we have and possess? All the graces and blessings of this world have been made available to us, and yet, many of us were not thankful, and instead we demand more, and we even become angry at God for not listening to our wants and wishes.
This is why it is important for us to understand in this season of Advent, the importance of rediscovering our true focus in the Lord. It is important for us to prepare ourselves thoroughly to be able to welcome our Lord’s coming properly and with piety, as we go on to celebrate Christmas in the coming few weeks’ time. Otherwise, our Christmas celebration will become empty and meaningless, and our joy will become illusory and merely satisfying the desires of our flesh rather than truly bringing us true joy in Christ our Lord.
Let us in all this, heed the examples and the life of St. John Damascene, or St. John of Damascus, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. John Damascene was a devoted monk and priest of the Lord in what is now Syria, hailing from Damascus, which would become his appellation in the years to come. He was committed to the Lord and showed his great faith by commissioning numerous writings and works that helped to prevent the faithful from following erroneous teachings and heresies.
St. John of Damascus also stood up for his faith against heretics and all those seeking to destroy the Church, including the infidels which by that time had conquered the lands where St. John lived. More and more persecutions and harsh treatment against the faithful ensued, but St. John Damascene remained as a bright light amidst all the darkness, and his works became an inspiration to many of the faithful, both those who were around him and those further beyond, including us all living today.
Through St. John of Damascus, God showed us that to become one of His disciples and faithful ones, we cannot just live in accordance to our wishes and satisfying our own desires. There will be times when we will be challenged to stand up for our faith and to defend it before others who seek to destroy the Faith and persecute the faithful.
In that case, will we be able to put forth our strength and our commitment to the Lord as St. John Damascene had done? St. John had put his trust in the Lord, and even though he often encountered difficult times, but the strength which he drew from the Lord allowed him to persevere on and to keep on trying to help the cause of the Lord, and show God’s love and truth to more and more people.
Therefore, now the challenge comes to us, as the present day disciples of our Lord. Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord and to recognise all the good things that God had done for us, His people? God had protected St. John of Damascus, and all of His other faithful ones, and blessed them in various ways. Even though they were in trouble and in difficulties, but God did not leave them alone.
God will bless us and strengthen us at all times, and when challenges come our way, He will help us and protect us. Now we must understand His love and seek to be able to show our gratitude to Him Who had given so much for us. Let us all draw closer to our God, and as we go on through this season of Advent, let us all prepare ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically so that all of our beings may be able to celebrate with true joy the celebration of Christmas. God bless us all. Amen.