Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard Jesus our Lord speaking to His disciples about the faith which they must have in the Lord, a true and genuine faith that brooks no wickedness or scandals that will not scandalise the Lord, the Church and the faithful. And this is repeated again in the letter and Epistle which St. Paul wrote to St. Titus, with regards to the selection, appointment and candidature for overseers or bishops in the local churches at that time, our first reading today.
And what we have heard in the first reading and the Gospel today, while especially St. Paul referred to the matter of bishops’ selection, but these also apply to each and every one of us as Christians. It is just that the bishops, as the leaders of the local churches in the numerous dioceses and jurisdictions that made up the whole entire Church, are the role models for each of those local churches and the faithful there. When the bishop err and make mistake, the faithful and the Church as a whole may also be affected.
That was why St. Paul espoused and pushed for very strict criteria in the selection of bishops and the leaders of the Church, as it was indeed easy for corruption and evil to influence the Church just as bishops and priests are themselves men as well. But similarly, each of us Christians, priest and laity alike can also make errors in our ways and in our judgment. It does not mean that just because we belong to the laity then we can do whatever things we like, if these contradict the way and the instructions of the Lord.
Anyone who sees us will judge as based on our deeds. Imagine what would others think when they see us and witness how wicked and vile our words, deeds and actions are? The laity, not just the bishops and the priests, are the forefront of the Church, more so especially in this modern age world, where everything that someone has done, are always quick to be scrutinised and examined.
We can see clearly that the priests and the bishops have been held to different standards, both from within and from outside the Church. When they made even the smallest of mistakes, many would be ready to point them out and ridicule them for having failed to meet the ‘perfection’ expected from them. There were indeed unworthy and corrupt bishops and priests in the past, as these fell into the temptations of worldliness, and these brought scandals to the Church. Yet, there were also faithful priests and bishops, who were good and faithful, but suffered because of the pressure, discrimination and expectation against them.
Not less, those who criticise the most are often themselves committing the very same mistakes. And thus, while the priest and the bishops are criticised and ridiculed, those who judge often failed to see their own faults and shortcomings. As a result, we have grown lax in our own observation and fulfilment of what was required from us in the matters of obeying the Lord our God in His ways and laws.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us should seek to do what St. Paul and our Lord Jesus had reminded us all to do. We should be filled with love, be filled with true and genuine faith, committing ourselves to our brethren who need our care and attention, be forgiving and merciful to those who have wronged us and brought us suffering and pain. We should devote ourselves to show true righteousness and justice before God and man alike.
Our faith in God is very powerful, brethren, just as what we can see in the Gospel which we have heard today. The Lord said that even if our faith is small, but true and genuine, it can have tremendous power indeed. Why is this so? If only one of us is bothered to do whatever the Lord wants us to do, then the impact may not be so great. But do not forget that even if just one person endeavoured to do what is right according to the Lord, those who have witnessed what this person had done may also be inspired to do the same as well.
It is what we call the ripple effect, then just as when we throw a small stone onto a water surface, creating ripples, each of the ripple will resonate and cause even more ripples to be formed. In the same manner, when others follow us in what we have done out of obedience to God, there are many others who see what these people had done, and they may also follow in their footsteps. And therefore, at the end of the day, from one person’s actions, many others will follow suit, and thus bring about good works for the Lord’s cause.
Let us all therefore today support one another, particularly our priests and bishops, our leaders and our shepherds, that each and every one of us will always be faithful to God, and be devoted in our ways, and not bring about any scandal or contradiction to our faith. May the Lord help us in these endeavours, and keep us in our faith, filling us with genuine love for Him. Amen.