Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scriptures a reminder for us of the need for us to be active in our faith, in the way we live our lives. All of us have been called to contribute whatever we can to the efforts and works of the Church. That is what is meant for us to walk faithfully in life and following in the path of God, and what being true Christians is all about. We have to be doing our best in our every day moments through life, even in the smallest things that we do and say.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James the words of the Apostle regarding the matter of faith and good works related to that faith. This is a continuation of what St. James the Apostle had spoken in these past few days of readings this week, regarding the matter of faith and works, which in essence cannot be separated from each other. Without faith, works are meaningless, and at the same time, without works, and indeed, good works rooted in that faith, then our faith is dead and meaningless too.
St. James and his Epistle is well known for this stance, as it is a reminder that Christians and faithful people of God, we cannot be idle and think that once we have received baptism, then we are already fine and have no need for any effort, just needing to wait for God to grant us the salvation and eternal life He has promised us. That is not what the Lord intended for us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Most importantly, we must also realise that the Lord has always told us to do good, to obey His Law and commandments and to be righteous in all things, and all these cannot be done with idleness and ignorance.
In one occasion we heard the words of the prophet Ezekiel that even the righteous who commits sin shall have to answer for those sins that were committed and shall have to suffer the consequences and perish should those sins remain unrepented and unforgiven, and conversely, sinners who sought to be forgiven and were forgiven their sins shall be saved. This goes on to show just how our faith in the Lord does not guarantee us salvation without us living that faith in life with genuine desire to love God and without the effort to seek the Lord at all times.
Having faith in God does not prevent us from sinning, and even after baptism, we can still commit sin against God. Indeed, many of the great sins committed in our world past and present were sins committed by baptised Christians. Temptations and the pressures to commit sin will still be present in our midst, and unless we keep our guard on and remain vigilant in resisting those temptations, we may find ourselves falling again and again into sin. That is why our faith must be active and full of daily contributions and efforts. Baptism is not the end of the journey but rather the beginning of a new life in God.
In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke of something similar as we listened to Him telling His disciples and followers that unless they pick up and carry their crosses in life, then they were not truly His disciples and followers. If they want to follow Him, then they have to take up their crosses in life and bear them, altogether with Him. The Lord therefore reminds us of the same words that St. James had said, that faith without good works is as good as dead. There can be no genuine faith without dedication and there can be no salvation unless our faith is genuine and true.
That is why today, as we heard today’s Scripture passages, we are all challenged to be better Christians, and to be more faithful to God, more than just in name or formality only. As Christians all of us have the obligation to follow the Lord, to be faithful to Him and to dedicate our every living moments to glorify Him and His Name. Today, let us all discern carefully how we are going to proceed further in life, thinking of how we should act in ways that are worthy of us as God’s own beloved people, as those whom He has considered to be His own children.
Let us all therefore help one another to do our best in living our lives with the fullness of desire to do the will of God, to put Him and His truth above all else, dedicating ourselves and our every living moments to glorify Him and to bring forth the salvation in our Lord to many more people. For it is through us and our own exemplary lives, actions and deeds that we can do what God had told us to do, in making use of our talents and gifts, in order to bring God and His light ever to each one of us, His beloved ones.
May the Lord be with us all as we continue to walk through this journey in life so that we may be found worthy at the end of it all. May the Lord continue to watch over us, strengthening us with the resolve and courage to resist the temptations to sin, and at the same time, granting us the courage and strength to live virtuously from now on, if we have not yet done so. May God bless us all and our every good works and endeavours, full of faith in Him, now and always. Amen.