Sunday, 11 August 2019 : Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday our attention is brought to the need for us all to be faithful, to be prepared and to be committed to God, at all times throughout our lives so that we may truly be ready and be worthy of Him. Through the passages we have heard, we received the assurance from God that all those who have been faithful to Him shall not be disappointed, because He has loved them all very well and blessed them.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Wisdom, we heard of an assurance for the people of God, relating to them the memory of their ancestors, the Israelites during their time of slavery in Egypt. By linking the experience to the well-known story of how God saved His entire people and liberated them from slavery, God wanted His people to know and to remember that even in their darkest moments, God always remembers those whom He loves.

The reference to the Passover in that passage is a reference to how the Passover is passed on year after year, from generation to generation, as a reminder of the moment of salvation for God’s people, when God intervened personally to save His people, holding them by hand out of the land of Egypt, foiling the plots their slavemasters and enemies had on them, and saved them by the gift of His love.

And then in the second reading today, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author who wrote to the audience who were likely the Jewish converts to Christianity, spoke of even more examples of how God rewarded His faithful servants and how He remained true to the promises which He has made to His beloved ones. The examples of Abraham and Sarah were given in that passage, detailing how Abraham followed God faithfully and constantly, despite of the journey and challenges he had to face.

God made a great Covenant with Abraham because of his faith, promising that his descendants will be great and numerous, countless like the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. And God remained true to that Covenant, being with Abraham and his descendants, with the people who have come from among his descendants, right to this very day, caring for all of us and protecting us, providing for us and loving us dearly.

Sarah was also mentioned, as having a son that she and Abraham had waited for a long, long time. She remained faithful to God in the end, although during the many years of waiting, according to the Book of Genesis, she faltered a few times, in her attempt to get a son through her slave Hagar, in how she doubted initially when the Lord came to Abraham and her telling them that she would have a son within the year, even in her very old age.

We see in that occasion, of how God is so generous and ever-loving, ever-patient, in caring for His beloved people, even giving chances to those who have faltered, as Sarah had done, and as later on, the Israelites themselves had done. In the rest of the Books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, we can see how the Israelites often rebelled and disobeyed against God, and how God punished them many times. But in the end, He continued to care for them and loved them.

Now, having heard so much about how God loved His people, and if we read on through the rest of the Scriptures, we can see even more examples of such love and faithfulness from God to His people, to the Covenant He has made with them. And God gave us the perfect proof of His love by giving us the ultimate gift in Christ, His own Beloved and Begotten Son, to be Our Saviour and Our Liberator.

And through Christ, God has once again brought His people to freedom, and this time, not just the people of Israel, but the whole race of man, for through Christ, Who is the Divine Word Incarnate, God made Himself incarnate in the flesh of Man, fully Man and fully Divine, all of us have come to share in the humanity of Christ and therefore become God’s adopted children, and as the children of Abraham by faith, for Christ is also born of the race of Abraham.

God fulfilled the promises He made to His servants, establishing the descendants of Abraham, that is all of us who have been faithful to Him, and granting us the promise of eternal glory and inheritance He has kept and prepared for us. He has blessed His people and made us great once again, rescuing us from the fated destruction and promised us that at the end of time He will come to gather all of us to Himself.

And that is what we are reminded of through the Gospel passage today, when the Lord Jesus Himself used a parable to remind all of His disciples and followers to be ever faithful and to be ever vigilant in faith so that they would not be taken by surprise if the Lord comes once again, in fulfilment of the promise which He has made, and which He had adequately forewarned to all of us, that is the timing of the Last Judgment and the end times.

As we have heard and discussed earlier, God is ever patient, ever forgiving and ever loving, giving us many opportunities, again and again, one after another, just because He truly loves us all that much. But we must not take His love ever for granted, as the time will come for us to have to reckon for our decisions and commitments in life, whether we follow God or refuse to walk in His path.

The Lord has always been faithful to His words, He is ever true and ever just, and therefore, if He has promised of His second coming in glory, to judge all of us according to our deeds and to our faith, then it will eventually happen, at a time not of our choosing but at a time we will not expect at all. God alone knows when the exact time of this moment of reckoning will happen, and what each and every one of us should do is that we must be prepared for Him.

In the parable that the Lord used to teach His disciples, He spoke of two types of servants and stewards, one are those who are faithful to the commands of the master, obeying his will and doing whatever they can to fulfil the works of the master, being diligent and hardworking, ever prepared and ever ready, while the other stewards are those who delayed and were being complacent and lazy in their work, thinking that their master would not come back so soon.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us are those stewards whom the master has entrusted with his household, that is this world, entrusted by God, Our Lord and Master, to be our responsibility. The Lord has also given us all the free will to choose between obedience and disobedience, between faith and impiety, between the path He has shown and the path of temptations and sin showed to us by Satan.

Are we then able to commit ourselves to a wise choice, thinking carefully and discerning well on what we are to embrace in our lives from now on? Should we choose the Lord Who has been faithful to us all these while, ever loving and ever forgiving, ever compassionate and generous in everything? Or should we choose the way of this world, all the false offerings and temptations of the devil?

Beware, brethren, for the lure of the devil is very powerful indeed, and unless we have genuine and true faith and love for God, we will be easily trapped by the devil’s lures, and end up falling into disobedience and sin, and therefore into damnation and eternal suffering. Are we able to commit ourselves to the path that Christ our Lord has shown us? This requires us to be persistent and resilient, to persevere through the temptations and challenges we may face through this journey in our lives.

Today, all of us are called to be dutiful and good stewards, to be always exemplary in our lives and be ever prepared and ready for the Lord. And this means that we should be faithful just as Abraham, Sarah and all other faithful servants of God have been faithful. And we should not be afraid of failures or being distracted in our journey of faith, as no one in this world is perfect, and because of that, it is perfectly normal for us to falter or to encounter obstacles from time to time.

However, the most important thing here is for us to pick ourselves up and remain strong despite the challenges we encounter, despite the failures we have encountered and all the downfalls we have experienced. Remember that God always loves us, and He has always given us chances after chances, and He is always willing to help us up through those challenges. If He has not given up on us, then all the more we should not give up on ourselves. We must persist and remain strong in our journey, so as to draw ever closer to God and to be worthy of Him when He comes again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray asking God for the courage and the strength to go through these respective journeys of our lives, that we may bear the crosses and trials of our lives with faith, with courage and with determination and passion, burning love for God. May God continue to guide us throughout this journey and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence from now on. God bless us all. Amen.

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