Monday, 22 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Word of God in the Scriptures reminding each and every one of us to be centred on God and to be faithful to Him, and not be distracted by the many temptations and allures of worldly pleasures, wealth, money, happiness, all sorts of conveniences, possessions, fame, influence, and all sorts of other things that are indeed, obstacles in the way of our faith.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the parable told by the Lord Jesus, referring to a rich man who had plenty of possessions and goods, who was not satisfied with what he had received and wanted to gain even more. He had big plans for himself and his riches, wanting to tear down the barns that he had, so that he could build even bigger barns to store even more of the possessions he had.

This means that the man had the desire in his heart for even more, and not being satisfied by what he already possessed. And this is natural to us man, to have this greed inside our hearts and minds, and if we indulge in allowing our greed to overtake us, then eventually we will end up like that rich man, who thought of nothing else either than to gain more for his own desires and wants, for earthly riches and pleasures.

And in doing so, like the rich man, we will end up forgetting that all of these worldly things, items, objects and possessions are merely temporary, illusory and fleeing in nature. None of these, our money, our wealth, our material possessions, branded goods, cars, vehicles, and all things will be retained with us when we are called to give the account of our life before Our Lord and Master.

In what St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, God has given us a far greater and more tremendous gift, that is the gift of His eternal and infinite love. His mercy and love has been given to us freely, and made it evident and tangible to us through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour. There is no greater gift than this, and there is no greater love than what Our Lord and Saviour has shown us, not by mere action, but through what He had borne upon Himself, the suffering of the Cross.

We must realise that our greed and our inability to resist the temptations of the devil have become the source of our failures and our downfall, from the very moment that he caused our ancestors to sin by disobeying God. The devil knows exactly where to strike, and how to strike at us, especially by taking advantage of our predisposition and vulnerability to pride and greed. And by these, he had lured many souls who did not know that they had fallen into the trap of the evil one.

But the Lord did not remain silent and neither did He show any apathy to our fallen state. And that was exactly how He gave us the source of our new life and deliverance through the giving of His Son, by Whose death on the Cross, the Precious Blood that flows down from that Cross, then our faults and sins are washed away and we are cleansed and made anew. This is in truth, the selfless and perfect love that God desired to shoe us.

The Lord Himself was also tempted by the devil as shown in the three temptations Satan made to the Lord in the desert right after He was baptised by St. John the Baptist. We can see here just how persistent the devil is, in trying to prevent us mankind from being saved, and the method by which he did all these, was mentioned clearly in the Gospels, that he played along with our human desires, for power, for glory, for wealth, for satisfaction of the body and the flesh, which includes that of gluttony and many more.

But the Lord Jesus showed us how we should live our lives as Christians, that is the total surrender and giving of oneself to the will of God, Our Lord and loving Father. The Lord Jesus did not allow Himself to be tempted or swayed from His mission, and remained true to the calling which the Lord, His heavenly Father has given Him. He resisted the devil’s efforts to undermine His works and mission.

Indeed, He was tempted, to the very end, and in His humanity, He agonised over the upcoming suffering and pain, at the time when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He persisted on, and by His love and generous will to forgive us our sins, He willingly took up our sins and faults, and bore it upon Himself, as He went on to His crucifixion, suffering and death.

As Christians therefore, we are called to follow the Lord’s example, in how He gave everything for the sake of His love for us, even to the point of laying down His own life for us. His surrender to the will of the Father was so complete and total, that indeed, all of us ought to learn from Him, in how we should also surrender ourselves to the will of God, Our Lord and loving Father.

Today, we all celebrate the feast of a great saint and servant of God, Pope St. John Paul II, whom many of us must have been quite familiar with. He was a very renowned figure in the Church, having reigned as the Supreme Pontiff and Successor of St. Peter the Apostle for twenty-seven years, achieving many significant milestones and important breakthroughs in the history of the Church and the salvation of God’s people.

And Pope St. John Paul II devoted himself totally to the work and the mission which the Lord had called him to, as shown in his motto, “Totus Tuus”, which means, “All is Yours”. This motto embodies exactly what Pope St. John Paul II believed in his life, in how he carried on performing his mission as a devout servant of God. He who has experienced bitter losses of family, friends and others he knew early on in his life due to sickness and war, gave everything he had to God, and entrusted himself completely to the Lord and to the guidance of His Blessed Mother Mary.

Many of us are aware of the many achievements and good works that Pope St. John Paul II had done throughout his life and throughout his reign as the Pope, as leader of the Universal Church. But this is an important lesson and reminder for all of us that each and every one of us can also do the same, if only that we learn to remove from ourselves all the attachments to worldly desires and pleasures, which have become obstacles and chains that kept us away from being able to give our very best effort.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all renew our effort to love the Lord and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly again towards the Lord. Let us all give ourselves and love the Lord with a renewed spirit and zeal, from now on, that we may truly be able to receive the fullness of God’s mercy and love, and be worthy of the eternal life and glory He has promised to all those who are faithful to Him. May the Lord bless us all and our works, now and forevermore. Amen.

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