Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the limitations of our worldly existence, our human glory and all that we have in this world. We are all reminded that each one of us are mortals who will suffer and go through death at the end of our life in this world. No one can live forever, and sooner or later, our earthly existence shall come to an end. But we are also then reminded that death is not the end of it all, for through what the Lord Himself has revealed to us, we know that death is merely the beginning of a new stage in life, and we have the choice whether we will end up in an eternity of joy with God or in an eternity of suffering and regret away from Him.
In our first reading today taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we heard the author speaking about the meaninglessness and the vanity of the many things present in life, and how everything are truly impermanent and temporary in nature. There is truly nothing which is based on this world which will last forever, and even the many things in this world like the Sun, Moon, stars and others, all the nations and all the various other worldly matters will not last for all eternity. There is nothing that is permanent save for the Lord our God, His eternal kingdom and kingship, His dominion and His glory.
That means if we put our trust in the things of this world, then we will end up being disappointed, in all the time we spent in gathering them and seeking them, especially things like money, wealth, possessions, properties, fame, glory, human praise, status among many other things. There is none among those that will be ours forever, and as we should be aware of, we will not bring any of those with us to the world after our death. There is life and existence beyond death, and our immortal soul will either experience an eternity of happiness and bliss with God, or an eternity of suffering and regret in hell, but again, none of our worldly things will be carried over with us. Naked we have come from our mother’s womb, and hence, naked we shall return to the Lord of life and death.
As we heard in our Gospel passage today, king Herod of Galilee was astonished to listen to the works of the Lord Jesus, and thought that St. John the Baptist, God’s servant, had returned back into life. Contextually, St. John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod on the instigation of his wife Herodias, and therefore Herod must have been haunted by that decision, and thought that somehow St. John the Baptist had returned to life. Actually it kind of served as a poignant and timely reminder for the king, who had lived a debauched and excessive lifestyle, of the limitations of his worldly power and glory.
It is a reminder that his earthly kingdom and power will not last forever, and he has to account for his sins and wickedness, all that he had failed to do as the leader and guide for his people, and all that he had been responsible for, in slaughtering the man of God, regardless whether it was directly because of his action or because it was actually his wife’s work. But God’s works and power will remain forever, just as the Lord Himself continued what St. John the Baptist had done, in walking down the path of righteousness and in revealing the truth of God’s love and salvation.
Today as we listened to these Scripture readings, let us all therefore spend some time to discern carefully about our own lives. Have we thought about how we should prioritise God over all of our many worldly attachments and preoccupations? Have we considered just how much time we have often spent on trying to gain for ourselves more material goods, wealth, glory, fame and more of the things of this world that we crave for? Have we thought of all the time and opportunities that we spent in selfishly trying to enrich ourselves and to gain for ourselves pleasures, satisfactions and rewards, even at the cost to others and their sufferings?
Let us all ponder on our priorities in life, and think carefully on how we ought to proceed forward in life. As Christians, each and every one of us should always remain centred and focused on God in our lives, and we should not allow the temptations of our ego, pride and desires from distracting us down the wrong path. We are all called to be more selfless and humble, more willing to reach out to those who are needy and less fortunate, and we should spend more time in seeking things that bring us true happiness rather than spending hours upon hours seeking things that do not last, like that of wealth, possessions, fame, glory and other things.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember that while people may not remember what our glory and greatness are, and while our money and possessions will not be ours when we pass on from this world, but our memories and our remembrance in the minds of others and those whose lives we have touched remain, and these can be either positive or negative ones. Do we want to be remembered for our good and worthy deeds, or do we prefer rather to be remembered for our evils and wickedness? The choice is ours, brothers and sisters, and we have to realise that every actions do matter and count.
Let us all therefore refocus our lives and attention back towards the Lord. Let us no longer allow the many distractions, allures and temptations of this world from preventing us in finding our way towards God and to be reconciled with Him. Let us all strive to do our best in living our lives ever more worthily so that in all things we will be good examples for one another. May our lives be filled with faith and obedience to God, and may our every actions and interactions be ever more worthy of God, so that we may be exemplary and bring inspiration to others. May God bless us always, in everything and all of our good efforts for His greater glory, and for the good of our fellow brothers and sisters, now and forevermore. Amen.