Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the calling of the prophet Elisha, who was called by God through His prophet Elijah, to be the one who would carry on the works of Elijah among the people of Israel. Elisha responded to God’s call, and after he said his farewell to his parents and leaving behind everything he had, he followed the prophet Elijah from then on.
Then in the Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus continued His discourse to His disciples about the Law and how to be truly obedient to the Law and the commandments of God. In today’s passage, He focused on the aspect of making promises and vows before God. What He went through with the disciples and the people was that, one should not take vows or make oaths.
But then, how come is it that the Church practices the making of vows and oaths? At the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, a husband makes a solemn vow to be faithful and true to his wife, and vice versa, that the wife also makes the same vow to her husband. And then, for those who were called to Holy Orders of priesthood or consecrated life as a religious brother or sister, they also make solemn vows to the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must keep in mind what the Lord intended when He said those words to the people. What He was saying must be put in the context that many of the people of Israel, even the priests and the Pharisees, made many grandiose and highly publicised oaths before God and man, and yet, they did not remain true to their faith, either secretly or even openly.
In that manner, whatever oaths or vows they made were meaningless and empty, as they did not mean what they have said. Nobody would believe in those oaths and vows anymore, just as I am reminded of the folktale child story about the young boy who cried wolf. That story, which may be quite familiar to many of us, is about a boy who liked to trick people, many of whom were shepherds, by scaring them with false alarm of wolves coming to hunt their sheep.
The shepherds were angry that the young boy tricked them, and in time to come, no one would believe in him. And when one day, wolves did actually come to the sheep which the boy was guarding, he cried out for help. But all the other shepherds refused to believe in the boy, since he had lied and tricked them many times. Such was the weight of his folly, by making himself untrustworthy.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus did not actually say that we cannot make vows or solemn oaths. Rather, He is reminding all of us, that as Christians, we must be honest, truthful and good in all of our words and dealings. We cannot be dishonest or wicked, and we cannot be untrustworthy with our words, since after all, do we remember that we follow Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life?
And because Christ is the Truth, then we must also be truthful. We are called to be truthful in all things, and again, I would like to emphasise the importance of commitment. In the first reading, we heard how the prophet Elisha left everything behind and committed himself to a life of service to the Lord. Thus, we are also called to be committed, be it as husband or wife to one another, or as priests or religious in our dedication to God.
Are we able to give that kind of dedication and commitment in how we live our lives? Let us reflect on this question as we carry on living our lives in this world. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, day after day. Amen.