Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us that as Christians, all of us are called to love one another, and all of us must have a living faith that bears fruit, the fruits of our faith and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise our faith is empty, dead and meaningless. We have to then look at the Gospel passage today in order to understand this better.
In the Gospel, we heard of how the Lord Jesus and His disciples travelled and encountered a fig tree, that was found to be without any fruits at all. The Lord cursed the barren and fruitless tree, and went on His way. Eventually, when they all returned to the same place a few days later and saw the fig tree, it had withered and died, the entire tree, showing us what will happen to us should we be found empty and fruitless in our faith.
What does it mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that if our faith is limited to just a formality or merely a religious certificate, and even if we attend the Sunday Masses but merely to fulfil the Sunday obligations without appreciating, understanding and embracing the importance of the Holy Mass, then I am afraid that our faith is still mostly empty, meaningless and dead.
St. James said in his Epistle that faith without good works is dead. This is exactly what I meant by saying that we should not have an empty, fruitless and meaningless faith. Faith that exists just by itself, and not made alive and real through concrete actions and devotions, especially love, is useless and empty. And this is an important matter that all of us as Christians must realise, or otherwise, we will end up leading an empty and fruitless Christian life.
Perhaps, we should follow the examples of St. Justin the Martyr, whose memory we commemorate today. St. Justin the Martyr was a shining example of Christian discipleship and he showed all of us what it truly means to be fruitful in our faith. He was a brilliant man who lived in the era of the pagan Roman Empire, and was a renowned and intellectual pagan philosopher, who was searching for the true meaning of life and wisdom.
However, it ended up that no matter how much knowledge and wisdom he gained, he was unable to satisfy his desire and the emptiness he felt in his mind and heart. Instead, that led him to encounter the Lord through the Christian faith, and after having discussed and debated about the faith, he ended up being persuaded of the truth and the wisdom of the Christian faith, found only in the Lord’s teachings, and became a convert.
Henceforth, St. Justin ministered to many of the faithful, through his great intellect, wisdom and knowledge, spreading the faith to many parts of the Empire. Many souls were saved because of his works and teachings, and he tirelessly spent his effort trying to bring the truth to more and more people. However, he encountered many challenges and difficulties, to the point of being arrested after one of the pagan philosophers who debated with him reported him to the authorities because of his Christian faith.
Despite all efforts spent on trying to make him to abandon his faith in the Lord, and even when his intellect impressed many of his torturers and jailers, including even the Roman Emperor, St. Justin remained strongly and firmly attached to his faith, and remained dedicated fully to the Lord, choosing martyrdom over abandoning his Lord and Master. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the kind of faith and dedication that each and every one of us must have, a fruitful and living faith.
Let us all therefore, devote ourselves anew to the Lord, not just through exterior observances of the faith, but also through our love and care for one another, showing true Christian charity, even to those who are suffering around us. It is through this that all of us lead a genuine Christian life, and by loving one another we also love the Lord our God. He Himself showed us a vision of the Last Judgment and said, that whatever we have done to the least of our brethren, we are doing it for the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with all of our hearts, and focus our attention on Him from now on. Let us all make the Lord as the centre and heart of our lives. May the Lord be with us all in this journey of life, and may He continue to empower us to live faithfully day after day. Amen.