Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles in the first reading the exhortation that St. Paul the Apostle gave to the faithful community in Ephesus as he said his farewells to them as he was about to embark to Jerusalem for his last mission, which is then compared to the words that the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples just before He was about to embark on His Passion, His suffering and death as we heard in our Gospel passage today.
St. Paul reminded all the faithful, the elders and the other members of the community to remain true to their faith and to be strong despite the challenges and trials that they might encounter in their lives and in their community. He shared with them the story of his own faith and actions, and how God had been with him even through the most challenging and difficult moments. He reminded the faithful that while there would indeed be trials to come, but the Lord’s promised inheritance and true happiness would be well worth all the sufferings.
That is the same as what the Lord Jesus has revealed to His disciples that night before He was to embark on the last and most important part of His ministry, as He told them that there would be hatred laid against them by the world and there would be trials that they would have to face as they remain faithful to Him. But all those things were not things that the disciples had to worry about as the Lord prayed over them that they would be consecrated in the truth, strengthened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, that they would later on receive, to be courageous and strong in their commitment and defence of their faith.
The Lord sent His disciples forth out to the nations, to proclaim His truth and to call on all to be His followers and to believe in the truth He has revealed, that through this, more and more may be saved and freed from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of evil. And He encouraged, strengthened and guided them all through the long journey, helping them to persevere through the challenges and trials that they might encounter along the way. It was this strength that allowed them to remain firm in their conviction and faith.
That was how St. Paul was able to dedicate himself so thoroughly to his mission, despite having encountered so much opposition and persecutions, not only from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the Pharisees, but also from the pagans and their priests, from the Roman authorities and other local authorities who made it difficult for him and his compatriots in faith to do their mission, and the various other obstacles that they had to endure throughout. Many had been imprisoned and made to suffer in various ways, all those who have been martyred, all these had endured great sufferings for the sake of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember this well as we ourselves are embarking on this journey of faith of our own. We are never alone and we should never easily give up just because we encounter any difficulties in life. Instead, we have to trust in the Lord and encourage one another, especially those who are in doubt and are lagging behind in their faith life. Just as the Lord has always been with us, and just as He has always ever been faithful to us, we too have to show this solidarity towards our fellow brothers and sisters, and show it through prayer and actions.
This year, as it has also been for the past year, we have so many challenges and obstacles in life, and many are struggling daily to make ends meet, and while others are persecuted for their beliefs and faith, and yet still there others also who are suffering from conflicts and wars, from various uncertainties and problems. It is exactly at this moment that we should show solidarity and care, compassion and love for our fellow men, as much as we are able to do so, instead of selfishness and hatred.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we encounter in life. Let us show compassion and love for those who need these, those who are lonely and unloved, those who have been left behind and are suffering and sorrowful. This world already has enough sorrow and bitterness, suffering and pain this past year due to the pandemic, conflicts and all other troubles we ourselves may have encountered thus far. It is up to us to restore the happiness, joy and smile to others.
Let us therefore be life-giving in all of our actions, bring hope and encouragement, positivity and enthusiasm through our interactions with one another. May the Lord be our inspiration and strength, and may He give us all the courage to reach out with love to our fellow men, at all time, and at every opportunities available to us. May God bless us all in our every endeavours, now and always. Amen.