Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that those who are prideful and mighty are nothing before the Lord, and should they remain in their pride, they shall be destroyed by that same pride. They would be cast down and overcome much as how the Lord overpowered those who rose up against Him and His people in the past. And for all of us to follow the Lord, we are all called to entrust ourselves in Him and live our lives wholeheartedly according to His ways. We have no need to fear or to be worried about anything, for God Himself will provide for us.
In our first reading today, which was taken from the Book of the prophet Amos, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people of Israel, about their wickedness and sins against Him, and how wicked they had been in their behaviour, in their mistreatment of one another especially for the poor and the weak, and God reminded them how He Himself had rescued them when they were struck down and oppressed by the same prideful and wicked people, like the Egyptians who enslaved their ancestors, the Amorites and the Amalekites, the Midianites and many other people who opposed them and oppressed them.
The prophet Amos came from the land of Judah, but he ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the message of the Lord that we heard today, was directed squarely at them. At that time, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel had veered so far off the path of the Lord, with all their wicked deeds and stubborn refusal to embrace God and His forgiveness, that they had also persecuted the prophets that God sent to remind them and to guide them to the right path. Even Amos himself was told off by the king of Israel to go back to his own land and not to give any more trouble by preaching in the land of Israel.
The prophet Amos reminded the people of God that if they continued to walk in the path of sin and continued to disobey God, then they shall face the wrath of God, and although God is truly loving and merciful, but at the same time, He is also good and just, and will not tolerate sin in His presence. If they continue to persist in sin, then God will exact His justice on them, and by their own refusal to follow the Lord and to embrace His love then they would be judged and condemned. This prophecy would eventually come true with the destruction of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and the destruction of that same kingdom by the Assyrians, who exiled and scattered the people to far-off and distant lands.
The Lord told His people that He is always welcoming for them, always calling them all to return to Him, but at the same time, they all have to be receptive to what He has offered them. Often times for us all to follow the Lord, it requires us to have a fundamental change in our way of life and habits, that we embrace the love of God in our whole lives, the truth and the righteousness of God in our every actions, words and deeds. We cannot be complacent anymore in not following what God had commanded us to do, to be good and holy just as He is all good and holy. We are all His disciples and His people, and rightfully, we have to follow what the Lord had told us to do.
In today’s Gospel reading, we also heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the matter of following Him and being His servants and in walking down the path that He had set before them. The Lord told them frankly how following Him does not mean having good and pleasant lives, and they may have to endure difficulties and challenges in their path and in being faithful disciples and role models for one another. The Lord did not mince His words and He told them the truth, so that they know that to be Christians, to be His followers and disciples, much are expected of us all.
However, we must not be afraid because as long as we entrust ourselves to the Lord, we will always have Him by our side, and He will always provide for us, especially in our time and hour of need, and we should be assured that God will protect us against those who seek to harm us. Like the prophet Amos and many other prophets who had devoted themselves to God, we too have to have faith in Him, and not to worry, but entrust ourselves ever in His providence and care. The Lord has called us all to be His disciples, and it is up to us to follow Him and to commit our lives to Him, distancing ourselves from the path of vice and sin, and striving to do our best for righteousness.
Today we can also model ourselves based on the examples set by St. Cyril of Alexandria, a great saint and Church father, who was a great defender of the faith and also a great shepherd of his flock, who faced a lot of opposition and hardships for his staunch defence of the true Christian faith. He did not give up the struggle and fight, despite having to endure exile and persecution due to the then Roman Imperial nobles and government support for those who championed the heretical ways of Nestorius, the heresy of Nestorianism, which was supported by some of the most powerful figures of the Empire.
St. Cyril stood up for his faith, committing himself to resist the heretical teachings of the false teachers and prophets, and dedicated his life to his flock, to those whom God had entrusted to his care much as the prophet Amos and many other prophets and saints had done before and after him, and his examples should also serve as inspiration for all of us that we may be good disciples and inspiration ourselves in our own way of life. Each and every one of us should be role model for one another, and be committed disciples of the Lord, in every moments and opportunities of our lives.
May God be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us in faith, so that we may walk ever more closely in His path and in His grace. May His love continue to watch over us and inspire us that we may ever be His better disciples and Christians, now and always, to be His witnesses and messengers to our world and communities today. Amen.