Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard firstly from the Book of the prophet Nehemiah, in which we heard of the moment when the Law of God was read to assembly of the faithful of Israel by Ezra the priest and prophet. The people wept because they heard the Law, which showed them just how sinful and wayward they had become. They wept because they were aware that they were sinners before God, and the consequences for sins were very severe.
But Ezra calmed the people down and reminded of the love and mercy of God to them. That day was a day dedicated for joyous celebration in the Lord, for God had gathered back His scattered people and allowed them to return to the land of their ancestors. A new hope had dawned on Israel at that time, a hope once hidden beneath the suffering and humiliation of having to endure exile from their homeland, the destruction of their Holy City and Temple.
God was once again with His people and dwelled among them. This is the hope which Ezra placed on the people, even as the Law became a constant reminder of what would happen to those who had become wayward in their lives. And this is what the Gospel today also reminded each and everyone of us Christians. In the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus sent forth His disciples on their way to preach the truth and the faith which He had brought into this world.
He reminded them that such a task would not be an easy one. There will be challenges and persecutions awaiting them. There would be many of those who sought to undermine the good works they have done. There are those who have refused to listen to the truth, and they also refused to listen to the Word of God preached to them. Those who showed no repentance and desire to be forgiven therefore received also a rejection from God.
While those who wanted to listen to the word of God and turn back from their sins, received from God the forgiveness and mercy He had promised to them. And God’s peace and harmony was theirs. Just as the Israelites were forgiven by their sincere repentance, the sorrow they showed for their sins, the regrets they exhibited as we saw in the first reading today, therefore God will forgive all those who sincerely seek His forgiveness.
Therefore, how do all these then have their relevance for us? First of all, as Christians, all of us have received the truth of God, understood His ways and teachings, and accepted the Lord Jesus as our God and Saviour. But at the same time, we are also still sinners, who constantly get tempted in life, and fall again from time to time into sin. If we do not listen to the word of God and refused to turn away from our sins, then God will still reject us.
Then secondly, all of us as Christians also receive the same mission as what the disciples of the Lord had been given by the Lord. They were sent to preach the Good News to the people of God, reaching out to all those who have not yet been touched by God’s truth. And in this world today, there are still many people out there who have lapsed in their faith, and are in need of guidance from us.
Therefore, all of us Christians must be truly faithful in our lives, committed wholeheartedly to God’s ways, in our every actions, words and deeds. We must show our brethren the way forward to God through our examples. We cannot reach into the hearts of others, if we ourselves have not done what the Lord asked of us, or worse still, doing what is contrary to what our faith is about.
Let us all devote our effort from now on henceforth, trying our best to live righteously in the presence of God, becoming witnesses of the Lord through our deeds. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours, and may He empower us to do in our lives even more faithful devotion and actions done with courage and commitment to God. Amen.