Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us first about the presence of God in our lives, as according to the words of St. Paul the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus. In that Epistle, we heard of the Lord, Who is the source of all power, love, wisdom, glory, that surpasses any human intellect, wisdom, or power. And it is from Him alone that all these things will come towards us, His beloved people.
This is linked to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, even though it may not be immediately evident right at the beginning. In that Gospel passage, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples, using words that would have certainly made them unsettled, as the Lord used words that were seemingly atypical of what He has often taught and preached before the people of God.
Usually the Lord would speak of peace, love, harmony, and the forgiveness of sins and faults, and through all the teachings and the deeds He had performed, it seems quite clear that the Lord Jesus was One Who would bring about a time of peace, love and harmony, the idealistic utopia, which corresponds to what the Jewish people at the time thought, that the Messiah would bring about such an utopian reality.
However, through what He spoke of to the people in today’s passage, the Lord Jesus revealed the truth and the reality of what being His disciples and followers would mean, that tough and difficult times would be theirs to bear, and that His coming into the world, far from bringing about an utopian society and state, would actually bring about plenty of divisions, sufferings, and even persecutions and deaths.
And it is important for us all to realise that none of these were actually because of the Lord’s doing. The divisions, pains, troubles, sufferings and all the other unpleasantness and difficulties came about because of man’s opposition to God’s will, their refusal to allow God to enter into their hearts and their lives, and also, their selfishness and desire to gain more things for themselves, for their benefit. And this is directly contrary to what the Lord had taught us, the essence of what Christianity is all about.
It is these clashes in mindset and the failure of men in resisting the allure of worldly pleasures and greed that caused the divisions and troubles for all those who believe in God. The clashes and persecutions that occurred throughout the history of the Church, particularly those during its earliest days were examples of these, which the Lord foretold to His disciples. Following the Lord would often put one at odds against the societal norms and customs at that time.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, how then, the early Christians persisted against such terrible persecutions, troubles and challenges? It was exactly as what St. Paul wrote as part of our first reading passage today, that they placed their trust in God, from Whom they received strength, power, wisdom and courage. They trusted that God would protect them, and even though they might suffer, but they knew that their ultimate reward, for their faith, is the eternal glory with God in heaven.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Even in our world today there are plenty of opposition that are rising up against us and the Church. There are increasingly more and more threats and problems that are facing us. And unless we put our trust in God, it is very easy for us to lose our way and fall into the temptations and fall therefore into the trap of sin. And surely, if we look carefully at the situation of the world around us, in the present day, we can recognise ever more increasing sources of these distractions, temptations and pressures against us.
Are we then able to put our trust in God just as our predecessors had done before? We are called to do so, and spend our effort in getting closer to Him. There will be occasions when we would be tempted to give up, because of all the pressures and temptations piled up against us. But we should not let that be obstacles in our way towards the Lord. Instead, we should continue to strive and to try to be better in how we live our faith, in wanting to be closer to God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore pray, that each and every one of us will be able to give our very best in living our lives in faith. Let us all also strive, day after day, to seek the Lord in all things, and to be ever better Christians from now on, sharing the love of God with one another, now and forevermore. Amen.