Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this Sunday, the holy day of the Lord, all of us are called by God to be holy. Indeed, we have all been called to be holy just as the Lord Himself is holy, and this means that our every words, actions and deeds must reflect that holiness and sanctity that must be present inside each one of us. This is what the Lord wants from us, brothers and sisters in Christ.
To be holy however, does not mean for us to boast about our piety and our devotion to God. That is the way of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, which our Lord Jesus Himself had denounced and rebuked before His disciples and the people. Being holy does not equate us saying prayers aloud in public, or reciting prayers after prayers, or by carrying with us holy relics and items to be seen by others. All these are external signs of faith and without genuine holiness inside us, they mean nothing for us.
Indeed, what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done were not real and true holiness, as they did so in order to advance their own worldly achievements, fame and glory, rather than being truly holy in the sight of God and men. Instead, as we read through the Scripture passages we have heard today, we can understand better how we ought to be holy and devout to God.
While the Pharisees and the elders, the teachers of the Law shunned the poor, the sinners like prostitutes and the tax collectors, and while they heaped burdens upon burdens on others, rejecting those who they deemed to be unworthy of them, the Lord said that all of us must embrace our brethren in need, our neighbours and all those who have not been loved and abandoned by the society.
This is true holiness, that we show our holiness through action, where we show our understanding of what it truly means to be holy and good in the sight of God. True holiness is love, mercy and compassion, to show compassion and love even on our enemies and those who despise and hate us. To be holy is to be able to forgive others their trespasses against us, and to have compassion on those who are suffering and those who have been sundered from the love of God through sin.
This is the essence of what Jesus our Lord told His disciples and also all of us in the Gospel today, that as Christians called to a holy life, we all ought to love tenderly and sincerely, showing unconditional love to all the people, without the need and want for return and reciprocation. That kind of love which requires reciprocation and returns is not true love, but a transaction of a worldly type, like that of money.
We do business and transactions expecting that each party would honour each other’s pledge to give according to what had been agreed. But love cannot be given in this manner, as if we put condition to our love, the love which we give, then it is no longer genuine love, but instead twisted and changed by our desires and human greed. This is not true love, and it will not lead us into true holiness.
Rather, let us all look at the examples of the holy saints and servants of God, all of whom had practiced the actions of true holiness in their own lives. Throngs of saints showed mercy, compassion and care for the poor and the needy, both those who were materially poor, and even more importantly, to those who were spiritually poor and in need of help.
Many of the holy saints of God worked hard to bring the Word of God to those who have been led astray by the temptations of the devil and this world. Some went forth to faraway lands such as St. Francis Xavier and the many other brave and courageous missionaries who went to spread the word of God’s salvation to many people who are still living in the darkness and ignorance of the Lord. And many followed them not because they were outwardly holy and pious, but rather because they showed through their dedication and through their actions, that they were servants of God, and His holiness shone through them.
And we know of those holy men who by their actions and work among the people had inspired many others to follow in their footsteps, the likes of St. John Mary Vianney and St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Many other holy saints like them showed true holiness to others and are venerated by many through the ages, until even this very day as many of us well know just how popular these saints are, because of their humility, and because of their total submission to the will of God.
This is what we, as the people of God, as Christians who believe in the Lord, should be like, that we follow in the footsteps of the saints who had been deemed holy and worthy by the Church, by the virtues of their life, their faith and dedication, that they are worthy of becoming the source of inspiration and light to brighten the path we ourselves are to take on our way to the Lord, that we may find our path to the Lord.
Why is this so important? That is because as St. Paul pointed out in the second reading we have today, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, we are all the Temples of the Holy Presence of God, as God Himself had made us all to be His dwellings on earth. Not only just that He had come into this world, as one among us, through Jesus Christ, but through that act also, He had given us His own real Flesh and Blood to eat, and all of us who have shared in this ultimate gifts of our Lord, have received Him in our very own beings.
And therefore, it is only appropriate that if the Lord Himself resides within us, and really present in us, then we should make ourselves as holy and pure as possible, distancing ourselves from all sorts of sins and wicked actions and deeds. If we do our best to make our places of worships, our churches and cathedrals to be immaculate and worthy, then why should we not do the same with our own bodies, our own hearts, minds, and indeed our whole beings? For we are also the Temple and House of God’s residence.
I like to compare ourselves as windows and mirrors, and a good mirror ought to let the light to pass through and show the beauty of that light. In our churches and cathedrals, we often have stained glass decorations on the walls, with images of the saints and other biblical figures, and indeed, that is what saints are truly like. They are like stained glasses that are beautifully decorated, and when light shines through them, they showed their great beauty because of that light.
It means that the light of God is reflected in the life and works of the saints of God, all of whose obedience, humility and all the myriads of forms of their devotion to God had become examples for us to follow. They are like beautiful stained glass untainted by dust, dirt, grease or grime. Then how about ourselves, brethren? Are we like them, or are we more like stained glass that have long been left without maintenance, filled with dirt and all other things that have made us ugly and hideous in the sight of others?
That is the nature of our sin, brothers and sisters in Christ. Sin has made us to be twisted, corrupted and bereft of the true beauty of our beings, that is holiness in God. We must reject our past ways of sin and wickedness, and follow in the footsteps of the holy saints and all those who have been faithful in their life. Let us all begin by showing love for those who are around us, to those whom we meet along the way. Let us show mercy and forgiveness for those who have hurt us, and let us from now on lead a righteous and faithful life without sin.
May the Lord help us all to be holy in all of our deeds, that eventually we will be great and glorious like the holy saints and all those whom God had called and made worthy. May He bless us all and show His light, that our lives may be filled with His light, and through us, the light of God will lead many others to salvation and grace. God bless us all and be with us all always. Amen.