Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the continuation of St. Paul’s testimony before the Jewish community in a synagogue, which was recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. In that testimony of faith, St. Paul mentioned how God had continued to show His love and mercy to His people, sending help after help to them through time, culminating in the coming of the Messiah, Who was promised to them.
But many of the people refused to acknowledge Him or to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Indeed, there were many of those who plotted to have Him destroyed and viewed Him as a threat to their own position and authority within the society. These included the Pharisees and many among the priests and the elders of the people. In the end, not only that they refused to believe in the Lord, but they arrested Him, levied false charges against Him and crucified Him.
Yet, having known all that would have happened to Him, the Lord Jesus continued on regardless with His mission, and He faced the challenges and oppositions courageously, knowing that by His obedience and by His commitment, He would save the people of God, and rescue them from their sins. That He would also do, even to all those who have wronged Him and rejected Him.
That was why, if we remember, the Lord Jesus, as He laid crucified on the cross at Calvary, prayed even for His very enemies and persecutors, asking His heavenly Father not to take into account what they had done on that day, for ‘they did not know what they were doing’. He forgave them, even after all that they had done, fulfilling what He Himself had taught His disciples, to forgive their enemies and to pray for those who have persecuted them.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of these things to ourselves? How can these be relevant to us? Indeed, it is important that in order to appreciate and fully understand what we have heard today, that we reflect on our own lives and actions thus far. And let us all ask ourselves this question, how have we lived our lives as Christians all these while? Have we truly believed in the Lord as we should have?
The reality is that, for many of us, we have not been living a true Christian lifestyle, as we often put our own worldly desires and concerns ahead of our obligations and responsibilities as Christians. We often forget about God and we only remember Him whenever we are in need of something, a favour from Him, and once we get what we wanted, we often quickly turn away from God and forget Him yet again.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why many of us are at the moment, merely Christians by formality only, as we do not truly embody our Christian faith in our actions and in our dealing with one another. Rather, we are like the Pharisees and the elders who rejected the Lord, doubting Him and turning their hearts from Him. We spurned His love because we love ourselves too much, and we are too engrossed in our own concerns that we forget how much God has loved us.
How often do we pray to the Lord? And how many of us always think that we do not have the time for Him? That is because God did not occupy a place of greatest honour in our hearts, as we all really should have done. When we are so self-centred and thinking only about ourselves, then it is easy for Satan to enter into our hearts and tempt us with all sorts of things that will prevent us from realising God’s presence and love in our lives.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the way that we must be taking in our lives. No, definitely it cannot be the path we walk through. Let us all remember that God must be the centre and the focus of our lives, as without God, truly we are nothing, and our existence mean nothing. Remember, that we have initially been doomed to an eternity of suffering and annihilation because of our sins, but God chose to allow us to escape that fate, because He loves us all.
Let us all from now on, devote ourselves anew to our God, remembering just how much He loved us all, to the point of accepting death, death on the cross, for our sake. And just as He has risen into glory, He wants us all to share in His glory as well, through our faith in Him, and by the virtue of our baptism and by our genuine and honest Christian life, that we may be saved.
May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our faith within us, that we will grow ever more devout and more committed as Christians, day after day. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.