Sunday, 13 May 2018 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Social Communications Sunday and Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter. Therefore, in just one week’s time we will come to the celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost, and mark the end of this holy season of Easter. I hope that for all of us Christians, each and every one of us have made good use of this particularly blessed season to deepen our faith in God.

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Church also commemorate the occasion of the World Communications Sunday. On this occasion, we remember the important command that the Lord gave to all of us, His disciples and followers, that we are to go forth to the peoples of all the nations, testifying our faith and belief in the Lord, Who has come upon this world to save us, by His death on the cross and by His resurrection.

And in order to be able to do that, of course, each one of us as Christians must know how to communicate. Then, many of us surely wonder, ‘Ah, but I know how to talk well!’ or ‘Ah, it is not a problem for me at all, for I am a good speaker and I can persuade people very well!’. Yet, do we actually know what communication is truly about, brothers and sisters in Christ? Is it all about talking and how well we can speak and talk to others?

No, that is not all, brothers and sisters. Good communicators are also good listeners, just as they are good speakers. And they are also usually good thinkers and contemplators. One cannot communicate properly, if one just speak right off from his or her mouth, without first thinking about it or contemplating what he or she is about to say. Otherwise, very easily the person could have gotten into trouble for what he or she had said, as those words had not been carefully thought of.

And if someone is quick to talk, and yet also refuse to listen, then he or she is also not a good communicator. That is because we will then find ourselves in a situation where we will end up misunderstand the intentions of each other. We will also not be able to communicate well, as if each side of the people in communication insist that they be heard first, and refuse to listen to the other person’s opinion, very quickly it will end up in a struggle and even conflict.

Unfortunately, that is who we often are, and that is how we also often act, and that was how wars have been started, conflicts and destruction of human lives, just because we failed to communicate well. People misunderstood each other’s intentions from time to time, and unless we make the effort to learn from our past mistakes, the same problems and mistakes are likely to arise again and again.

Then, brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise that there are many ways we can communicate, more than just by words? Verbal speeches and words are just one way through which we are able to communicate with another person. There are many other ways through which we can convey what we want another person to know, that is through gestures and actions. Unfortunately, the same can also be said of our actions that are in fact contrary to what we are saying.

What do I mean by saying that, brethren? It means that as Christians, just as I have mentioned earlier that we are all called by God to be His witnesses to all the nations, to all the peoples, we cannot just depend on our words alone. It is often that actions carry much greater weight than words, and it is such that words that are not backed by concrete actions are often considered empty and meaningless.

And unfortunately, in our actions and in how we carry out our lives, we often did not do as what our faith said that we should do in our lives. Just as St. John in his Epistle, our second reading today said to the faithful, we are all called to love God and love one another, with all of our hearts, and with all of our efforts. And yet, how many of us actually truly love God with all of our hearts? How many of us actually prioritises God over all the other things we have in life?

The reality is that for many of us Christians, we tend to put God aside in our lives, as we are often too busy and too caught up in our worldly dealings and matters, to the point that we forget about God, and we only remember Him, if we even remember Him, in times when we are in need of His help. And when things start to go better once again for us, we forget to thank Him and we continue in our usual busy lifestyle and push Him aside once again.

And how about our love for our fellow men? Many of us Christians profess to be members of God’s Church, and yet, in our actions and interactions with one another, many of us do things that are anything but showing love for each other. How many of us, in our respective parishes and communities, often fall into the tendency and the bad habit of gossiping against each other, against fellow laity, and even against the priests? And even amongst the priests, sometimes we also see division and unpleasantness between each other.

Now, let me ask you all a question, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we want to communicate to those whom we intend to preach the message of the Good News of God, how can we then, in our own respective lives and actions, do things that are contrary to what we preach and what we believe? How can people believe in us, if we ourselves do not do as we say, and if we do not show that we truly believe in our faith, through action?

If we have done all these, then we are no better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. They were hypocrites, just as we are. The Lord Jesus Himself said to the people, ‘Listen to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but do not imitate them in what they were doing’. Through this, the Lord rebuked those who claim to believe, and yet, their actions show completely different fact altogether.

And why did all these things happen to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because we are not a good communicator, and we need to learn to be good communicators. We are often people who are easy to talk and give words out of our mouths, but we find it hard to act in the same manner, because we do not truly mean what we say, and we often do not think and discern before we say something.

This is where, we need to reflect on what we have just heard in our Gospel passage today, which is the prayer which Our Lord Jesus made, and addressed to His Father in heaven, for the sake of all of His disciples. He prayed for them to His Father, that He would keep them safe and protect them, and guide them, and make them to remain united as one people, as one body together, which St. John in his Epistle also elaborated further, that the love of God has dwelled in us, through His Holy Spirit.

But many of us often do not realise this, as we are often too distracted by the many things and concerns we have in this world. We do not spend enough time in prayer, and prayer is a very important part of our Christian life. The Lord Jesus often spent time in quiet places to pray to His Father, and we saw it in many occasions throughout the Gospels. He maintained a close and loving relationship with His Father, listening to Him and obeying His will.

And by that action, He has also shown us all as Christians, how we ought to devote ourselves to God through prayer. It is also important that we know how to pray in the right manner. Many of us think that our prayers have to follow a certain formula or that by saying longer and more concise prayers, our prayers will then be answered, or we can gain more from what we have prayed for.

However, it is too often that many of us are again not good communicators in this case, as we end up spending all the time talking and making our demands and desires known to the Lord, without allowing ourselves to hear the will of God, and we shut ourselves off from the word of God, speaking softly in the depths of our hearts and within our minds. We end up speaking all the time and not allowing God to speak to us. In this manner, we have failed in our communication to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to realise that each and every one of our prayers are actually meant to be communication between us and God. And as in any proper communication, it should be two-way in nature, allowing both parties involved to speak and to listen at the appropriate time. The problem is, as mentioned, we do not listen enough, and we demand that God listen to our demands, when we do not even open our hearts and minds to listen to His will.

May the Lord therefore, allow our hearts and minds, our senses to be open to God. If we have often been distracted and swayed from the path that God has shown us, then perhaps it is time now for us to turn wholeheartedly and completely towards God, with all of our hearts and with all of our minds. Let us all develop a good and working spiritual relationship with God, that we may come to know His will for us, and He may draw us ever closer to Him, with each and every passing day.

May we grow to be good communicators, that is, with the wisdom which the Holy Spirit has given us, we may be good listeners just as we are good speakers, and through the same wisdom, may we all discern and think carefully through all the things that we want to convey and say to others, that we may say them with grace, truth and charity. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

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