Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we are called to reflect on the important role that each and every one of us have to play as part of God’s Church, and how we can contribute, in our own unique ways, to the fulfilment of the many wonderful works of the Lord through His Church. These have been made clear to us through the readings of the Scripture that we heard today. We are all part of Christ’s one and only Church, and we all have important roles to play.
St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians, part of which is our second reading passage for this Sunday spoke about the nature of the Church, as the very one and only Body of Christ, consisting of all of us, the faithful people of God, as its organs and parts, all of which are inseparable from each other, united in purpose and function, and missing even one part can cause the whole part and the whole body to falter and suffer.
In the same Epistle, St. Paul also wrote about how each different parts of the Body of Christ, the Church, were made to be different, some with greater honour and some with less, some with more prominence while others with less, not because they were to be prejudiced against one another, but rather, because the Lord intended for each part to work together, and to learn to take care of one another, as ultimately, as just mentioned earlier, everyone is part of the same Church, and missing even one part can have grave consequences.
In the first reading today, we heard of the prophet and priest Ezra proclaiming the Law of God before the whole community of the Israelites who had just returned from the exile in Babylon. It was at the time when the community of Israel had just enjoyed a newfound freedom and a new hope for a new life back in their homeland. The Law of God being proclaimed by Ezra was a reminder for all of them that God was always in their midst, and at the centre of their lives and existence.
This means that the Church is an agglomeration of peoples of various backgrounds and talents, of diverse abilities and natures, like a beutiful And through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour and God, we heard the fulfilment of the promises of salvation which He had made for His people, the fulfilment and the revelation of the true meaning and significance of the Law He has given His people, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The Lord proclaimed in His own hometown of Nazareth in Galilee, the fulfilment of God’s prophecies and promises, in the coming of the Messiah Who would save all of the people. And He was referring to Himself.
This is the mission that the Lord has entrusted to His Church, the Body of Christ, that is to proclaim the Good News of salvation, as Ezra the priest had proclaimed it before the people, and as the Lord Jesus Himself proclaimed before His own hometown assembly in Nazareth. The primary mission of the Church is indeed the salvation of all mankind, by its faithful witness of the Lord’s truth and the proclamation of the Good News.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us are called to do the same with our own lives. By virtue of our common baptism, each and every one of us have received and shared in the priestly, kingly and prophetic ministry of Our Lord. And by the same baptism, we have also been made parts of the one Body of Christ, God’s Church. As such, our lives are meant for the glorification of God and for the proclamation of His truth, to bring the love of God into the midst of this world, into our respective communities.
But as St. Paul compared the works and the functioning of the Church with a human body, each one of us as members of the Church cannot function and work independently of one another just as much as the organs of the body cannot work independently of one another. For example, heart is the most important part of the body as it pumps the blood to the various organs and parts of the body. If the heart stops working, then the person will also stop living, and yet, the heart cannot work on its own. Its activity is controlled by the brain, and without the lungs to support its function by absorbing oxygen from the air, the heart is useless.
Therefore, each one of us as members of the Church do not exist on our own, and neither do we act only selfishly for the sake of our own salvation. It is in fact selfishness that is the root of our own downfall, as when selfishness, greed and pride, ego and stubbornness come into our midst, to the centre of our Church, that we end up causing the downfall of each and every one of us. And this has indeed happened many times throughout the history of the Church and the world.
How is it so? It is exactly because of our selfishness and pride, that we see members of the Church causing scandal and showing unbecoming attitudes as Christians by their behaviours such as gossiping against other members of the Church, by slandering against those whom we do not like, by even direct insult and power-plays that caused much grief and hurt in the community of the faithful, and more often than not, causing the tearing apart of the fabrics of the Church’s unity and existence.
We often see how the laity are divided against themselves, and also priests being divided against their brother priests, scandals and conflicts within the religious orders and communities, as well as the divisions, anger and lots of misunderstandings between the priests and the laity, between the bishops and their flocks, among many others. All of these are in fact, if we realise, the tools of the devil in trying to undermine and destroy the unity of the Church, in order to snatch as many souls as possible into damnation.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to put an end to all of these. We are called to be more resilient in resisting the many temptations of life, the temptations of power, influence, money and many other worldly temptations present out there. These are the things which often come in the way of us realising our role and part to play as members of the Church, and the greatest obstacles that cause divisions and sufferings within the Church.
And some of us may feel uncertain, lost, unworthy or reluctant to do what we are supposed to do as members of the Church. But again, as mentioned, God made us all to be parts of this Church with all of our imperfections and weaknesses, and also our strengths. God did not make any one to be perfect, and no one can claim to be able to do everything for the Church, no matter how good or talented we are, as we are not perfect and have our own limitations.
After all, God Himself chose imperfect men to be His Apostles, and many sinners, including tax collectors, rebels, prostitutes, and others to be His disciples and followers. Many among them were uneducated and foolish, but God gave them the strength and the gift of faith to be able to perform all the things that He had entrusted to them. And we saw how all these came to be, all the wonderful deeds that the Apostles and the countless other holy men and women of God had done throughout history.
That is why it is important that we learn how to work with one another, making use of our respective strengths and abilities, to serve the Lord and perform the works which He has entrusted to us all in His Church. God has called us all to help one another and to make best use of the abilities and talents that we have been given for the greater glory of His Name and for the good of each and every one of us, and all of mankind.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore, let us all renew our commitment to live our lives filled with faith, in all of our actions, words and deeds, so that in each and every single things that we do, we will work together as the members of God’s one universal Church, caring for the needs of one another, and loving our fellow brethren as much as we are able to do so. May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our works, always. Amen.