Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Holy Scriptures which mentioned to us about what is to come in the future. At the end of time, as all of us should be aware of, there will be a Last Judgment of all creation, where there will be one last separation of the good from the bad, the worthy from the unworthy, the faithful ones from the unfaithful ones, and the repentant from the unrepentant.
And the Lord also made it clear and simple for all to understand, what we all need to do in order to be counted among the righteous ones. It is not that difficult, but at the same time, it is also not that easy. What we need to do is simply to be there for those of our brethren around us who need our help and assistance. If we think for only ourselves and disregard the call for help from our brethren, then we are truly, really evil and wicked.
The key to achieve salvation is truly for us to open our hearts to love one another, and to see with our eyes and hear with our ears the plight and suffering of those who need our help. Salvation lies in those who have heard the words and teachings of the Lord, keep them in their hearts, and practiced them in their daily lives. Humans are selfish in nature, and they tend to always care about themselves first before even thinking about others. And it is this mindset and mentality, as well as the habit that we really need to change.
Our faith cannot be expressed merely with words and empty devotions, as I have often mentioned that a faith without action or deed is an empty and dead faith. It is just the same as if we do not have any faith at all. Our faith must be based on real deeds and actions, as works complement faith. Faith and works together made us justified and not just either of them only alone.
There are many people who thought that they are assured of salvation because they are faithful to the Lord, showing external devotions to the Lord and piety towards the people. But, in their hearts there was no God, for in their actions and deeds towards others, they showed not the faith they supposedly have, but instead they showed selfishness, greed, jealousy, hatred and many others that were unbecoming of the children of the Lord.
That was why, those people, whose prime examples were the Pharisees and the Scribes have received their just judgment, that is to be cast among the goats, the ones on the left of Christ, and to receive eternal damnation and punishment, not just for whatever wicked things they had done, but also by whatever things they have failed to do as expected of them by the Lord.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Polycarp, also known as St. Polycarpus, a Roman saint, bishop and martyr of the Church. He was the Bishop of Smyrna in today’s Western Turkey, one of the earliest centres of the Church and the faithful. He served the people of God faithfully and was a convert to the Faith himself. He served the people entrusted under his care with love and devotion, teaching them to be faithful to the Lord and to follow sound doctrine and teachings, so that they may truly be true disciples of Christ in not just words but also in deeds and actions.
St. Polycarp also did not hesitate to labour for and defend his flock, preaching to them and ministering to them whenever and wherever he was available to do so, despite the threat of persecution by the pagan government and officials of the Roman Empire. Eventually, St. Polycarp was captured, tortured, incarcerated before he was put to death for defending his faith bravely and courageously. Fire would not hurt him and thus, he was then martyred by another means, shedding his blood for the Lord and for the faithful.
Therefore, we should all be aware by the example of St. Polycarp and the other saints and martyrs, who had done so much hard work in their own different ways to help the works of God in this world. They did not remain idle or centred only on their own selves, and indeed, as we have seen, they did not even hesitate to lay down their lives and to suffer for the sake of their fellow men, their fellow brethren in faith.
As the Last Judgment story by Jesus should remind us, let us all take concrete steps to be true disciples of the Lord, that is by walking the faith we have, and therefore not just having an empty faith, but a living and real one, justified by our actions and deeds, helping those who have less or none, loving one another and forgiving one another our sins and faults, so that we truly practice what we believe in and which Jesus our Lord had taught us.
Let us never falter but continue to strengthen our faith, that when the time comes, our Lord will find us just, righteous and worthy of the eternal glory He had prepared for all those who have listened to Him and does His will. God be with us all. Amen.