Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us again of the moment when St. Paul said his farewell to the elders of the Church in Ephesus, during his journey towards Jerusalem, which would see him embarking on his last mission in his life. He would later on travel to the city of Rome to be judged by the Emperor, and as part of the persecution of Christians in that city, he was martyred by beheading in the year 64 AD.
But despite this fate awaiting him, St. Paul remained positive in his outlook on life, and rather than getting himself scared or worried, he reassured not just himself but also those who were with him, with words of consolation and hope, telling them that God would always be with them and protecting them, as long as they place their trust in Him. However, they must also beware of the challengers and difficulties they would face because they were faithful.
St. Paul reminded the elders to be watchful over their flock, entrusted to them the work and the guardianship over the people of God. They were warned of the challenges and dangers facing the faithful, which included that of false shepherds and guides who would seek to subvert the truth and turn the faithful against God and His truth. Indeed, in times to come, there were many false teachers and heretics attempting to snatch the faithful away from God and His Church.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus also gave His disciples the same warning, that the world would hate them all just as they had hated Him first. That was what the Lord Jesus mentioned in His prayer to His Father, our Gospel passage today. But the Lord reassured us that He would always be with us, and He will never abandon all those who have placed their trust in Him.
Now, what each and every one of us as Christians need to understand is that, all of us are called to a life of holiness, dedicated and committed to God. But carrying out such a life and living such a faith is not going to be an easy task for us. There will be plenty of challenges along the way, and often we will also be tempted to give in to the temptations of this world. There will be pressure and persuasions, even from those who are close and dear to us, to give in to the demands of this world.
This is where we all need to remember St. Paul and all that he had done throughout his ministry among the people of mostly non-Jewish origin, calling them all to repentance and to be converted to the one and only true faith in God. He encountered many opposition and troubles along the way, and even those who were close and dear to him abandoned him at times. But St. Paul remained strong in his faith and dedication to the Lord.
Now, what many of us lack, is faith, faith that is genuine and strong in us. We are often unable to resist temptation and pressure, and as a result, we tend to conform to the desires and ways of this world, rather than to stand up for our faith and rather than obeying God’s will. We often find ourselves giving in to these temptations and pressures because we easily fall prey to fear, worrying and being afraid of this and that. As such, we end up falling away from the path that God had set before us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, our challenge is for us to learn to put our trust in God, and to live our lives more worthily of our God. How do we do this? It is through our commitment to charity in all of our actions and deeds. We ought to follow the example of the saints and the holy servants of God who have preceded us, that we may live our lives with ever more faith, with ever more trust in God, day after day.
Let us all draw ever closer to God, with each and every action we take. May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us. May He bless us all and our every endeavours, that through what we have done, we will bring ever more souls closer towards God. Amen.