Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures an interesting set of readings, which remind us all of who we are, and how we ought to live our lives as Christians. In the first reading, we heard how the pagan Greeks to whom St. Paul and St. Barnabas were preaching the faith, mistook their intentions and teachings, and thought of the two Apostles as their own pagan gods who came to the world in their presence.
The people treated St. Paul and St. Barnabas like as if they were their gods who assumed the flesh of mankind. They brought animal sacrifices to them and offered these sacrifices before them, as they thought of these two as either emissaries of their pagan Greek gods or the gods themselves. But St. Paul and St. Barnabas became very angry when they saw all these happening before them, and in their anguish, they tore their garments and told the people of their mistakes.
Then in the Gospel today, we heard the conversation between Jesus our Lord and His disciples, in which St. Judas Thaddeus asked why Jesus revealed Himself to them and not to the whole world. And Jesus replied them saying, that if they do not listen to the word of God and obey His will, then they will have no part in Him. Those who listen to the word of God and obey God’s will, will do as the Lord had asked of them. And this is what we need to pay attention to, very closely.
What do all these things mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? What are their significance for us? These are in fact reminders for us not to fall into the temptations of worldly power, of worldly influence and human greed, which are all the things that commonly became obstacles on the journey of men towards righteousness and justification in God’s presence.
Let us reflect on our own lives, and on how we mankind have lived our lives in the past, our shared history of humanity. We mankind are easily tempted with power, wealth, fame, human glory and praise, and all other worldly things, and that is exactly what we must be wary of. Imagine if other people were to praise us, adore us, and glorify us right in front of us. Certainly many of us will fall to the temptations and become proud of ourselves. Our ego will take over our rational mind.
That is how we mankind think, the way of the world. But that is not how the Lord wants it to be. His ways are different from the world’s ways, and His norms are completely opposite of what the world’s norms are. That is why when He was hailed and wanted to be made a king by the people who saw His great and miraculous deeds, He actually hid Himself away and retreated away from the people, who have misunderstood and mistook His true intentions.
In the same manner, the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas had also rejected human desires for pride and ego, when the people worshipped them as if they were their Greek gods. They stood firmly by their faith, and even with indignation, they told off the people who had mistaken them for their gods. In this, as the Lord had said in the Gospel today, they had obeyed not the whim of their human desires, but the will of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, that in our own respective lives, have we encountered such a situation, that we have to choose between listening to our human desires or to obey the will of God? We have certainly faced that kind of situation before, and let us remember what we have done. Have we listened to the whim of our desires, to the temptations that Satan had placed in our path? Or have we instead tried to obey the Lord, our God, in His ways, even though that often bring us to difficult situations?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through this season of Easter, let us all renew our faith and commitment to the Lord, and awaken in us the desire to serve Him with all of our heart and with all of our strength. May the Lord give us the strength to persevere faithfully in this life we have on earth. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.