Liturgical Colour : Green
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings from the Holy Scriptures today all had a single and most important meaning as well as purpose, that is to remind us that, in all things and in all that happen in our lives, they are not within our control, and in everything, we should defer to the will of God, that is what God wanted for us to do in this life.
Brethren, God always means well for us, even when often it does not seem as such. That was exactly why the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading we heard today, while he grumbled for the difficulties, challenges and persecutions he faced, he eventually acknowledged that the Lord and His will had him in the best interest, and that God continued to help and support him amidst all the challenges, and thus Jeremiah continued on to preach the word of God to the people of Judah.
And St. Paul in the second reading, in his letter addressed to the Church in Rome, the great Apostle urged the people there to listen to and heed the will of God, understanding what the Lord wanted from them rather than following the ways and the norms of the world, which were filled with wickedness and injustice unworthy of God’s chosen peoples in the Church. And he also urged the people to live and bound themselves to God’s great mercy, making themselves a favourable sacrifice in heart and prayer to Him.
And lastly we heard how Jesus rebuked Satan, who entered Peter’s heart, to remind both St. Peter and all of us, by our listening and understanding of the message of that encounter, of the need and importance for us to follow and obey the will of God in all things. St. Peter commented on how Jesus should not have said that He would suffer persecution and rejection in Jerusalem by the Pharisees and the chief priests, because he was afraid and fear filled his heart.
And the same applied to us all, brethren, because we all also often feel fear and are afraid of many things. We are easily concern about many aspects of our own well-being, as we mankind are by our nature selfish. And the many things in this world served to fuel our insecurities further, often leading us to carry out deeds and works that often benefit ourselves but disadvantage and even hurt others. Often, this means that we are also frequently disadvantaged by others when others acted in self-preservation out of the same fear.
Some fears that we have, be it we are rich or poor, weak or strong, young or old are the fear of death, the fear of suffering and pain, the fear of loss of properties and material goods, and many others. We are insecure over these, and it is easy for us to think that when times are difficult, when things do not go our way, and when someone who loved are lost through various means, be it old age or even unexpected events such as accidents, we often feel such despair and anger in us over the loss that we often think and even say, where is God in all these?
Yes, brethren, it is very easy for us to blame God and put the fault at Him for such apparent ‘neglect’ of His beloved creations. However, this is because many of us did not understand the nature of God and the nature of our relationship with the Lord. If we look into our lives, we can often see that we frequently overlook the presence of God in our lives, and we often only turn to Him whenever we are in dire strait and in trouble. And many of us misunderstood our relationship with our Lord, thinking and expecting that the Lord will ‘listen’ to our petitions, prayers or even whining and demands.
That is because for many of us, prayer to God is nothing more than a litany of requests and even demands, which we bombard the Lord with, with the familiar, constant and ubiquitous phrases of ‘Lord I want that…’, ‘Lord I wish for…’, ‘Lord, please do something…’, ‘Lord, give me…’ and other similar phrases, without giving a chance for the Lord to speak to us in our hearts.
Yes, as we all should know, the essence of prayer is not for us to bombard the Lord with all these. We did these exactly because we feel insecure and fearful, and we think that God is someone who can just fulfill and admit all of our wishes. But He is not our slave nor our servant, in the sense that we can just order Him around for anything. On the other hand, we are the ones who actually should live according to what God wants from us, and yet many of us failed to do so.
We have to realise that we live in this world not just for ourselves, and we have to live with one another in faith, peace and love. We have to learn that the true meaning of prayer is for us to open our hearts and all sorts of our senses to the Lord, who will then converse with us in the silence of our hearts, in the deepest part of our selves, which we have often overlooked and forgot, in the midst of all the things we are so concerned about in life.
God is always there for us, and He always watches over us. He wants to speak to us all the time, and yet we always find our excuse or pretend to be ignorant, refusing to listen to His words. We always think that God does not listen to us, or that He does not care for or love us, and we even think that He had abandoned us to the forces arrayed against us, but we often never stop to think that the Lord is always with us and around us, and it is we who have often shut ourselves from. His care and love.
We are surely familiar with the story of someone who walked in the beach, on the seashore, where he walked with God. There were two sets of footsteps, one that belonged to the man and one that belonged to the Lord. Then the man encountered great difficulties in life and he suffered from it. He looked at the footsteps and realised that there was only one footstep there. The man complained and protested against God, alleging that God had abandoned him and did not care for him.
When the Lord asked him what he thought, he presented the evidence of the one set of footsteps to accuse the Lord of leaving him back there alone during his time of troubles. But the Lord patiently and lovingly told the man, that when the man was in his most difficult moments, the Lord carried the man on His own shoulders, and thus the footsteps that the man saw, actually belonged to the Lord who carried and guided the man in his difficulty, even without him knowing it.
Thus, brothers and sisters, learning from the Scriptures which we have heard today, and what we have reflected and pondered on this day, we have to keep always in our hearts. First, we mankind cannot presume what is in God’s mind, and we have to learn to trust in the Lord, as whatever He has for us in His will and mind, it is the best of the best for us. Second, we have to always trust in His providence and love for us, as God is always with us and He will never leave us even for a moment, and in fact it is men who left Him first.
And lastly, we all have to know that to follow the Lord means that challenges, difficulties and persecutions from the world and all in it will be part and parcel of our lives. What we need to do is to carry our cross and follow the Lord, as Jesus Himself said. If Christ had suffered and was rejected by the world, we who are part of Christ as His disciples and servants are bound to suffer in the same way as well.
Jesus told us to get rid of from our hearts all desires of self-preservation, selfishness itself and seek to be upright and righteous in all things. If we do so, we will save our souls, as the Lord who sees all and who knows all will reward us for our hard works. And we ought to do this by showing love, care and concern for our fellow men.
Those who are so concerned for themselves, fearing the loss of their properties, their other concerns in life will be paralysed by that fear, or act in ways that hurt or disadvantage others, and the Lord who sees this, will cast them out of His presence into eternal damnation, and hence, saving the world and their glory in the world but losing their soul for eternity.
We can do our part, brethren, by changing our lives if we have not done so, or do even better if we have indeed done as the Lord had taught us. Be courageous to defend the weak and the oppressed, and be courageous to defend our faith as well. Live our faith consciously and actively by loving acts and dedications to our brethren around us, especially those who are in need. And lastly, keep a good, vibrant and healthy prayer life, spending time with God whenever we are able to. And in our prayers, keeping silent and focused on the Lord, so that He may speak in our heart and that we may then know His will for us.
May Almighty God bless us, protect us and be with us always as He had always been all this time. May His light shine upon us that we may find our way to Him and may all souls in this world be saved, by following the only God and Saviour Lord, Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind. Let us all also bear our crosses of suffering in this life together, that in the end, the Lord may transformed those crosses into the crosses of His glory and power. Amen.