Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that even at the worst and most difficult moments of our lives, we must never lose hope and faith in the Lord for our hope and life lie in His hands alone. We must put our complete trust and faith in Him and follow Him. In our Scripture passages today we heard how the Lord was with His Church, and how He, as our Good Shepherd is always by our side and caring for us.
We heard in our first reading today from the Acts of Apostles how persecutions and oppressions happened to the Church and the faithful beginning with the persecution and martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first of the many martyrs of the Church, and many more then would suffer because of the actions taken by the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, as well as through the actions of some of the zealous enemies of the Christian faith, especially that of Saul, the young, misguided Pharisee, who would later on be known as St. Paul the Apostle after his conversion.
But at that time, Saul was still a vigorous and even violent enemy of the early Christians, arresting many of the followers of Christ across Judea and Jerusalem, making many of them suffer persecution and prison, for his misguided agenda in trying to eradicate the Christian faith and stop the teachings and truth of Christ from spreading further. Many of them had to flee to the surrounding regions and countries to avoid the persecutions, but even during these difficult and challenging moments, the Apostles and various missionaries still ventured forth to bring the Good News to many people.
From the same passage in the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the Apostles and servants of God enthusiastically went around many cities and towns throughout the Mediterranean region preaching the Good News and gaining more converts in those places. There were of course plenty of rejection and also plenty of sufferings and troubles during their missionary journey, but as with their troubles and challenges in Judea and Jerusalem, these did not stop them or discourage them from doing the mission entrusted to them.
Instead, as the Lord was with them and guided them along their journey, they became even more enthusiastic and willing to commit themselves to the works of the Lord. They believe in the Lord, their Master and their Good Shepherd, Who has promised as He Himself mentioned in our Gospel passage today, that He will lead them all, all those who believe in Him, into eternal life and glory with Him in heaven. And those who put their trust and faith in Him will not be lost, and will have sure anchor in the Lord.
That is why despite the challenges that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, it is even more encouraging for them that the Lord was by their side and with them even through their most difficult moments, having received the assurance that their Good Shepherd and Lord was with them, suffering with them and walking with them as they courageously went from place to place proclaiming God’s truth and salvation to all the peoples of all nations.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are therefore today reminded that we are all also part of this one and same Church, with the same mission that has been revealed and entrusted to the Apostles and the disciples, that Great Commission, when the Lord Jesus commanded all of us to go forth to all the nations and gather all the people from every nations and make them all His disciples, and baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through us, our Lord and Good Shepherd is gathering all of His scattered flock into one flock once again.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to realise that we all have a part to play and to contribute as members and parts of God’s one Church, and we have to follow the good examples set by our Good Shepherd, and subsequently, what His Apostles and disciples had done, as they themselves walked in the path set before them as shepherds entrusted with the care and guardianship of the people and flock of God. We are all also part of this journey of faith together, and we must take part in it wholeheartedly.
Are we able to dedicate ourselves and commit ourselves to the Lord as how our many holy predecessors had done? Let us do our best in whatever it is that God has called us to do, and contribute our efforts as best as we can from now on. May all of us by our actions and by our exemplary life and dedication to the Lord, our Good Shepherd be inspiration and guide to our fellow brethren that more and more souls may come to the Lord and be reconciled with Him.
May God bless us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live faithfully and to give ourselves in the service of God. May the Lord guide us all, as He has promised us, to the land of eternal joy and true glory with Him, our loving Good Shepherd, Master and Creator. Amen.