Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are presented with what we are expected to do as Christians, that is to be genuine in our faith and way of life, and to dedicate ourselves to the Lord with sincere heart and devotion, not because we want to be praised or adored for our actions. We are all called today to reexamine our path in life, and consider carefully what each and every one of us can do as those who believe in Christ and as those who walk in His path.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples with regards to the matter of prayer and fasting, and how they ought to be doing it and how they should not follow the way that the Pharisees were doing their prayers and fasting. The contrast was drawn between the way that the Pharisees conducted their prayers and other deeds in public so that everyone could see them and praise them, and how true believers ought to avoid doing that. This is because praying, fasting and any other actions of faith we do, should all be done with the intention of glorifying God and focusing ourselves on God rather than anything else.
That is why it is important that when we fast, we do it for the right purpose. Fasting is not so that people praise us for our piety, righteousness or holiness, but fasting is rather meant for us to restrain ourselves and our desires, to resist against the many temptations that are attempting to pull against us and drag us into disobedience and therefore sin against God. If we treat fasting as a show of faith, then does it not actually defeat the purpose of fasting? That is because we end up indulging in the desires and our pride instead of regretting our sins and wickedness in life, as we should.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is also the same with prayer as well. Prayer is not just for show or for entertaining our human desires for praise and honour, acknowledgement or glory. And we should also stop entertaining our ego and pride in doing so. Prayer is not about ourselves and indeed, is much less about what we want or what our desires are. Many of us may not have realised that we have been praying the wrong way, when we spend our prayers praising ourselves or in launching a litany of wants and desires, in asking God to fulfil what we wanted.
That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is the wrong way of praying, just as fasting for appearances and praise is also the wrong way for fasting. Prayer is an intimate way of communication between us and God, and therefore, we should make sure that we make our prayer as one that is filled with our love for the Lord and with our sincere desire to communicate with Him, to know His will and to deepen our relationship with Him. If we are able to do this, then we have prayed in the right manner, and if we know how to do so, we should also know how to do the other acts of faith in the right way.
And as Christians it is important that we ‘walk the talk’, that is we have to be good role models for our fellow brothers and sisters, in each and every one of our dealings, in our actions and interactions with one another, so that we may inspire each other and help one another to remain faithful to the Lord, as well as in building a genuine and healthy relationship with the Lord. This is why our Christian faith must not be just for show, or just a mere front to satisfy our personal ego and desires, but rather, we have to seek the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our might.
We should remember well what St. Paul the Apostle wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth, in our first reading today, that all those who sow meagrely shall also reap meagrely, while those who labour hard and do their best, in being faithful, then they shall all be rewarded for their great faith, not because they sought for the reward, but rather because through that genuine effort and faith, they enter blissfully into God’s grace and are bestowed blessings and wonders by God, Who is ever faithful to His people and beloved ones.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all reaffirm our faith in the Lord and let us all commit ourselves anew to Him, so that in all things, we may always glorify Him through our actions, words and deeds, and that we may grow ever closer to Him, in each and every days of our lives. May all of us have the courage and the strong, sincere desire to love the Lord, to be with Him and to communicate with Him regularly, that we will truly be attuned to Him and may be faithful in walking down the path that He has shown us. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.