Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard from the Scriptures, a reminder that following Christ, His truth and salvation is not as easy as it may seem to be. There will likely be challenges and trials, and often we may have to endure opposition and difficulties along the way. But we must not lose faith or hope because as long as we remain firm in our faith and trust in the Lord, then we will always be taken care of and provided for by the Lord. There will be hardships and as history has shown us, some if not many of us even may have to endure persecutions and martyrdom for our faith, but in the end, we all will be triumphant together with God.
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful people of God in Ephesus, we heard the Apostle telling the people there about what he desired of them to do, and as he prayed for their sake to the Lord, asking on God to bless them and to provide for them, with strength and wisdom, with guidance and encouragement, St. Paul also reminded all the faithful to believe wholeheartedly in the Lord, to trust in the truth and faith which they had received from the Lord and His Apostles and missionaries, and he also prayed for them that they all would be blessed in all things, and that God would be glorified through their words, actions and deeds.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard through the Lord Jesus Himself, Who came to tell all of His followers that His coming did not mean that those who follow Him and believe in Him will immediately be free and spared from all hardships, trials and challenges. We must understand the context that back then, many of the people kind of expected that the Messiah or the Saviour to come to them and deliver them immediately out of their troubles, freeing them from their enemies and from the dominion of foreign rulers, and reestablish the kingdom of Israel. Hence, many of them had hoped that by following Christ, they would be free from hardships and troubles.
On the contrary, as the Lord Himself presented it to them, His coming and His truth would cause divisions even among the believers and between the believers and those who were close to them. There would be challenges and hardships that they would have to encounter, as there would definitely be those who refused to listen to the truth of God and preferred to follow their own paths, and throughout the history of the Church this had happened again and again, as the faithful especially in the early days of the Church had to contend with opposition from their own family members, relatives and friends, and many were oppressed and martyred because of that.
That is why the prayers of St. Paul for the Church and the faithful in Ephesus became even more significant as it reminds us all of those challenges and trials that we as Christians may and will have to face in our journey of faith, as we embark on this mission in life to proclaim the truth of God through our lives and works. St. Paul prayed that God would strengthen and encourage the faithful so that they all will be filled with grace and perseverance, with the wisdom and the ability to comprehend the truth of God. He prayed over them that they would not easily fall prey to temptations to bring them apart from the Lord and His Church.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of what we have heard in our Scripture readings today? It reminds us all that we have to continue to be faithful to God despite the obstacles, trials and challenges that we may face as Christians in our journey of faith, and we also need the guidance, strength, wisdom and providence from God to help us in this struggle and journey. We cannot do this alone, or else we will very soon realise that the challenges facing us are greater than what we can solve and handle on our own. God and His Church are with us in this, and we have to always remember this fact, and not give up the faith, as our predecessors had done.
This also means that all of us are reminded to give our best to serve the Lord by living our lives to the fullest as devout Christians, in loving God and in living our lives according to His Law and precepts, and also by helping and inspiring one another to remain faithful to the Lord in all things. We must remain strong in the Lord, in our conviction and desire to serve Him and to love Him, and dedicate our time and effort to remain true to our faith so that whatever happen, we may encourage each other to stay in our path of faith towards God and His salvation, and not be tempted to abandon the Lord for the other paths towards our downfall.
Let us all strive to be good and faithful, worthy and committed disciples of the Lord and be good examples and inspirations for one another. May the Lord continue to bless us all in all things and help us in our journey of faith through life. May God strengthen us and empower us to remain resilient despite the challenges, trials and struggles we may have to face in our Christian journey through life. Amen.