Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded through the readings of the Scripture, of the need for each and every one of us to overcome the temptations of pride and greed, and to avoid jealousy and hatred in our lives and within our Christian communities and our larger society in general. For as we heard from the Scriptures, it is very easy for us to be divided against each other because of the various conflicting desires that can lead us astray in our journey of faith.
In our first reading today, we heard about the divisions that existed in the early Christian communities, particularly in what St. Paul addressed in his Epistles to the Corinthians. He spoke of how some among the people were proclaiming themselves as the supporters of St. Paul, while yet others disagreed and proclaimed that they were the followers of Apollos. For the context, Apollos was a very charismatic and influential Jewish preacher mentioned several times across the Acts of the Apostles for his missionary efforts.
As written in the Scriptures, Apollos was a believer in Christ, although at first he did not yet know fully of the Christian faith and teachings, and preached to the people of the teachings and the baptism of St. John the Baptist. And it was also mentioned how the differences and the incomplete nature of the truth and teachings that Apollos propagated led to some Christian disciples to pass on to him the truth of Christ.
Regardless, Apollos’ great charism and influential nature brought him many followers, that considering the slight differences in the teachings and styles, led to divisions among the Christian communities, as some sided with Apollos, while others sided with St. Paul, the other great missionary who spread the message of the Gospel to the many communities of the Mediterranean region and beyond, both to the Jews and the Gentiles alike.
And all of those divisions were caused by human greed and ambition, pride and ego, as well as their failure to look beyond worldly matters. That was exactly why St. Paul chastised them and reminded them that ultimately, St. Paul, Apollos and other Christian leaders and missionaries were merely instruments and servants of God, doing the will of God, and working for the greater glory of God, not for their own glory or for their followers’ glory.
And St. Paul also reminded the Christian faithful that it was because of God that everything had been possible, and all the successes that were achieved by St. Paul, Apollos and other evangelisers and missionaries were because of the grace of God and His guidance. Therefore, all of us as Christians must be vigilant not to be tempted by the devil trying to sow divisions between us by making us focus on our differences, as well as on our own personal and worldly agenda rather than focusing on God as we should have.
In our Gospel passage today, we also heard of the healing of the mother-in-law of St. Peter, who had been very sick, and the Lord made her healthy again. And we were told how the people brought many of their sick to the Lord immediately after hearing about the miracle. But then curiously, after a short while, the Lord said that He would go to another place, to the surprise of His followers and disciples.
He said that there were still many others who were in need of Him, His teachings and to hear the truth and receive the healing that He was bringing into this world. And also most importantly, He showed His disciples that all the work that He has done, was ultimately for the greater glory of God, to serve the will of His Father and not to dwell in adulation and human praise. For it was indeed very easy for us to be tempted with pride and hubris, with ego and greed, in human praise and adoration, in fame and influence.
That was why, the Lord Jesus chose to move on from place to place, that His disciples would learn more about humility and refocus themselves on their purpose of serving God rather than serving their own selfish desires. And at the same time, it did fulfil the Lord’s purpose of reaching out to more people, instead of just staying in the same location and serving the people there while getting the praise and reputation for doing so.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings remind us all as Christians to be Christ-centric in our lives and in how we live out our faith, and we should not allow ourselves to be easily tempted by the temptations of worldly ambitions and desires. St. Paul has reminded us to be careful of these temptations and not to be divided amongst ourselves because of all these matters. Instead, we should remain united in God, and we should remain focused on Him, and not on ourselves and our desires.
Let us all help and remind each other to be faithful at all times, and dedicate ourselves as best as possible, to serve the Lord at all times, and do what we can in order to be good and dutiful Christians, doing everything for the greater glory of God, and not for ourselves. Let us all be God’s most wonderful instruments in bringing His light and truth into our world. May the Lord bless us always, in our every good endeavours. Amen.