Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings urge us to put aside all sorts of uncertainties, doubts, and undue attachments to worldly goods and pleasurable things in life, all of which are holding us back against being saved and receiving the eternal life and glory as promised by the Lord our God.
The first reading today is an account of the servant of God and prophet Nehemiah, who was a steward and servant in the house of the Emperor of Persia, living in the great and unimaginable luxury of the Imperial Palace of the vast and mighty Persian Empire. At the heart of the Empire, therefore, Nehemiah must have enjoyed such a wonderful and enjoyable life, even as a steward and servant to the Emperor.
However, God called on him to help the reconstruction and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple, and for him to travel there to oversee the works involved in the restoration of the people of God and the land they dwelled in. If we look at it, certainly what God asked of him was something very difficult and demanding, and it required Nehemiah to leave behind all the good things that he had enjoyed in life, and venture to the uncertainty of the land of Judah.
Ever after the kingdom of Israel and Judah had been destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, the land which was once very prosperous and renowned under the kings David and Solomon was no longer an important place to be, and it was rather a backwater by the time of Nehemiah, and going to such a land for an extended period of time must surely be a difficult thing to do for Nehemiah, and yet, he begged the Emperor to be allowed to go, for the Lord had made him the tool to help the rebuilding of the land and to bring the people of God back to the glorious days they had missed.
In the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, and to leave behind all the things they had, all the joys of the world, all their possessions, and even their relatives and their own families. He told them not to worry about many things and attachments to this world if they are willing to follow Him. This is meant to let us mankind know, that we who are often too busy worrying abut ourselves, that we can really put our trust in the Lord our God.
Many of us are too concerned about ourselves so that we are not able to truly focus on the Lord. Remember that in another parable Jesus had said about how the wicked servant used trickery to gain advantage of the situation and to safeguard himself after he was fired by his master because of his corrupt ways? That is because we cannot be master to both God and money, and thus we cannot follow both the Lord and our own desires.
If we want to be true disciples of the Lord, then we have to learn to let go of our wants, our desires, and stop our ego and pride from growing in our hearts. Let our minds not be filled with the corrupt notions of desire and greed, and let us be filled instead with the selfless love which our Lord had shown us through Jesus Christ. And Jesus had told us all, that if we want to follow Him, then we ought to take up our cross and follow Him.
What Jesus said to His disciples also did not mean that we have to literally leave our families, our possessions and everything behind as we go forth to follow Him. What He meant for us is that we all have to learn to detach ourselves from our too-easily attached attachments to things such as business, possessions, relationships that may not bring about and may not lead us to the righteousness required for God’s salvation to be ours.
It is essential that all of us take heed of what Jesus had told His disciples, which we heard today, so that we may grow less and less worried and attached to our desires and then we will be better able to follow the Lord our God with all of our heart’s strength and with all of our might. If we follow the Lord, then we all ought to be true to His words, and walk faithfully along His path.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, a great saint and Doctor of the Church, whose examples that I hope all of us can follow. St. Jerome was once a wayward man in his youth, who gave himself to debauchery and wicked was of the world, much as his contemporary, another great saint, St. Augustine of Hippo who was once also a great sinner.
St. Jerome eventually repented and left behind his life of sin, and he was truly very repentant and sorry for all the wicked things he had done, and which he atoned by many good deeds, helping to build up the foundation of the Church and spreading the Good News of the Gospel, most notably by his most renowned achievement, that is of the writing of the Latin version of the Bible, a translation from the original Greek version called the Septuagint. The Latin Bible written by St. Jerome is also known today as the Vulgate Bible.
Thus, we see how St. Jerome also left his past sinfulness and wickedness behind when he decided to dedicate himself and commit himself to the Lord. And we saw what a transformation that was, and how that transformation benefitted countless people through many generations. And we too can do the same with our own lives. If we can leave behind sin and wickedness in our lives, and resolve to never again commit sin and vile things in our words and actions, then the path forward for us is clear.
May Almighty God be with us all, guide us on our path, and help us in our transformation from a people living in darkness, into the children of the Light, whose lights are reflection of the Light of the Lord our Father, and through our light, may more and more people come closer to God’s salvation. Amen.