Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God from the Scriptures, in which we heard from our Gospel passage today, of the moment when the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples to go before Him to the many towns and villages He Himself was about to go, in order to prepare His way before His coming, by preaching to the people about the truth of His salvation.
He told them all not to bring with them any spare money, provisions, or even tunic and clothings. Literally He told them to go forth into their missionary journey with the bare minimum of what they had on them, their own bodies and the least of all conveniences available to them. And why did He do so? That is because He wanted them all not to depend on all of their earthly goods and assistances.
The disciples should not put their trust in their own strength, or in their worldly resources and abilities. Instead, they should trust wholeheartedly in God, putting themselves and entrusting themselves in His care and love. They must draw upon the strength and the grace of God, which He has given to each and every one of us in our own way. In that manner then, they will truly be able to do their work and calling with the right intention in mind.
Otherwise, if they depended on their own strength and abilities, their own resources and their own efforts, then they will have vested interests in the conduct of their daily missionary works. They will then be biased in their works, depending on whether what they invested in the work give positive returns in the end. That means, our human instinct of desiring reward and affirmation will kick in, and should what we have given does not give us the return we want, then we will not be willing to give more.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why the Lord sent them out with the barest minimum in everything so that they may put their complete trust in God in everything, from everything good or bad that might have happened to them, in everything they encountered in life, and throughout their mission, that God alone is the centre, the focus, the purpose and the destination of their whole effort, their works and their ministry.
And thus, God has laid for us the expectation which He made for all of us as parts and members of His Church, to be God-centric and full of faith in Him as we go about doing our works and contributions as His servants and witnesses in faith. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us have not been true to this expectation which the Lord has given us, especially because of our attachments to the world and all of its temptations.
That is why, all of us in the Church, especially in the different Church ministries and segments ended up being embroiled in politicking and internal rivalries, because we have forgotten what it means for us to serve the Lord through His Church and as members of His Church. We make use of the Church and its ministries as springboard to our own success and self-serving goals, to be more affluent and gain more influence in the community.
But that is not what we should be doing as servants and followers of God. Instead, we should resist the temptations of our pride and human desires, for all sorts of worldly satisfaction of power, of wealth, of glory and fame. We should realise that our sole and main objective is not our personal satisfaction or achievement, but rather, the glorification of God and the advancement of His work of salvation among us.
And in doing so, we must realise that the journey will not be all smooth and good for us, as there is bound to be rejection and challenges we will encounter along the way. What the Lord said to His disciples at that time was a premonition of what they would encounter, in the various persecutions that they would endure for the sake of the Lord and His people. Many martyrs of the faith were made when the world struck back against the good and faithful workers of the Lord.
Today, we celebrate the feast of two holy martyrs, St. Cosmas and St. Damian. St. Cosmas and St. Damian were renowned physicians who took care of the maladies and sicknesses of both the flesh and the spirit, through their expertise in medicine and in the matter of the faith. Many people came to them seeking for help, and many of these were cured when the two saints touched them and worked on them.
But they had to endure horrible persecution of the faithful and the Church by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They were arrested and tortured, and yet they remained faithful despite the offers to free and reward them should they willingly want to abandon their faith. St. Cosmas and St. Damian remained faithful unto death in martyrdom, and by their examples in faith and charity, they have become our inspiration in faith.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to the Lord as St. Cosmas and St. Damian, as well as the many other holy men and women had done before us. May the Lord guide us in our journey of life, that we will be ever more faithful to Him, and draw ever closer to Him, each and every days of our life, enduring whatever persecution and challenges that may come our way. Amen.