Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are presented with the important reminder that each and every one of us as Christians have to be really mindful of our actions and we have to be careful lest our way of life bring about scandal and disrepute to our Christian faith. That is why we have to reflect upon our way of life and actions so that we do not end up causing others to be scandalised by what we are doing, and by our lack of faith in God. The Lord has taught us and shown us what we are to do with our lives and how we should walk in the path He has set before us, but it is up to us to listen to Him and embrace His ways and path. If we do not do so and continue to walk our own path of disobedience and sin, then how can we truly call ourselves as Christians?
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Titus, we heard the Apostle communicating with his protege, St. Titus, one of the chief supporters of the Apostles, who would become one of the earliest bishops of the Church. St. Paul told St. Titus to help him assist in maintaining the Church in Crete in how to appoint faithful, good and responsible elders of the Church, who were without defect or scandal, and those considered for the position ought to be free of worldly attachments, corruption of sin and other things that can become serious barriers and things that invalidate their selection as the overseers or elders of the Christian community and Church. This is in fact how the Church was governed and managed in its very earliest days.
At that time, when the Apostles and the other missionaries were going all around preaching the Good News, baptising many people who became believers and all, they began establishing the foundations of the local Church and the communities of the faithful. Back then, there was no hierarchy or solid leadership among the whole Church yet unlike what exists today. However, the whole Church was united by their union in faith and Communion with each other, and with the Apostles as the pillars and the foundations that held the entire Church together. St. Peter led all the Apostles, the disciples and hence the whole entire Church, as the first Vicar of Christ and the first Pope, as appointed by the Lord Himself, to be the leader over all of the whole flock of His faithful.
Then for the various Church communities spread throughout the regions visited by the Apostles and the missionaries, the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord appointed shepherds to guide and look after the Lord’s flock, called overseers or elders in the earliest days, as the precursors of the bishops of the Church. St. Paul therefore highlighted to St. Titus the criteria and the expectations that were made of the candidates for the leaders of the faithful, as even as early as back then, divisions had begun to affect the early Church communities, firstly because of the lack of leaders, and the communities of the faithful ended up bickering on the background of their past allegiances or beliefs, like between the Jews and Gentiles, and between different supporters of various missionaries. All these were hurting the unity of the Church and its missions.
Not only that, but some of the faithful had been drawn to false teachings and ideas by those who sought to subvert the Church teachings for their own gain and to support their own personal beliefs. Some of those leaders of the faithful had not been truly faithful to God, were scandal filled and tainted in their ways, and hence, it caused further divisions within the Church, and led many to heretical teachings and ways. Hence, St. Paul wanted to remind all of the faithful to elect only those candidates who were truly worthy to be the elders and leaders of the people. That was important as only good and faithful leaders could have guided the Church through its difficult early days, and not fall into the temptations of sin and selfishness, of wanting personal glory and ambition instead of the well-being of the people of God.
Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples about exactly the same thing as well. The Lord told His disciples that they had to be vigilant and not become a source of scandal for all the other faithful, and that they should not cause others among the faithful to fall into sin as well, or else, they would be held accountable for whatever wrongdoings and failures that they had committed. The actions of those who have been entrusted with the care of the faithful are very important, and they must not take it lightly that God had entrusted them with the very crucial task of evangelising to those who have not yet known God and His truth. Unfortunately, we also have to realise that our own actions and way of life are also part of that evangelisation and missionary efforts.
After all, if we do not truly believe in the Lord and our actions contradict what we believe, then who will end up believing in us? And if our own faith is shaky and unsteady, will that not lead others who are under our care and responsibility astray even further away from God? That is why, it is important that each one of us as Christians have to have that genuine and strong faith in God, and not only that, but each and every one of us must truly embody our faith in our every actions, works and deeds. We must put the sincere and genuine effort to cultivate our faith, as highlighted by the Lord in His answer to the Apostles who asked Him to increase their faith. He told them that if they had even faith of the size of a mustard seed, everything is possible as long as they nurture their faith.
This ought to be linked to another parable that the Lord mentioned on the kingdom of God, in which He also used the mustard seeds as comparison with the kingdom of God. The mustard seed may be a very small seed, and yet, once grown into a fully grown plant, it is actually a rather large tree with wide branches and enough shelter for many animals to make their house upon its branches. In this same analogy therefore, although our faith in the beginning may seem to be rather small and insignificant, but in time, as we nurture that faith continuously and with devotion to God, I can guarantee that we will soon realise how that faith can become so strong and powerful, capable of inspiring many others and calling on many more people to become believers in Our Lord and Saviour as well.
Let us hence keep this in mind today as we reflect further upon our way of life and whether we have been truly faithful to God in all of our ways, or whether we have allowed the many temptations present in this world to distract us and to keep us away from God and His salvation. Let us discern carefully whether our way of life, our actions, words and deeds have been in accordance to what the Lord has shown and taught us to do, or whether they had been wayward thus far. Each and every one of us as Christians have important parts to play in the mission of the Church, and all of us should be source of inspiration for each other in faith, and also for those who have not yet known or believed in God yet. We must not be the source of scandal or falsehoods for others, and we have this important responsibility that we must remember and uphold always.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord continue to guide us in our journey of faith henceforth, that our lives may be transformed to be the ones that proclaim the truth and love of God by every single words, actions and deeds we do. May the Lord continue to be with us and strengthen us each day that our lives may ever be more bountiful and filled with God’s most amazing love. May God bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours. Amen.