Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that following the Lord as Christians is something that will require from us a commitment and the willingness to face hardships and challenges, trials and more for the sake of the Lord. Following God requires us all to be active and be filled with dedication to the Covenant that He has established with each one of us. The Lord has also dedicated Himself to the same Covenant, and lest we think that He has not suffered or made His effort, then we must remind ourselves how He sent to us His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who came into our midst and was persecuted for our sake. We must remember how the Lord Himself went through the worst of it all just so that all of us might be saved, by laying down His own life on the Cross.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach, which exhorted the people of God to live their lives worthily and well, in accordance with the Law and commandments of God, to be selfless and caring towards others, just as the Lord has taught us all how we should be living our lives as Christians in this world. The prophet said how everyone ought to be kind and just towards each other, and shun all kinds of evils and wickedness, and to be truly faithful in all things, and not just merely paying lip service in the faith. He also highlighted how the Lord knows everything in our minds and hearts, and we should not come to the Lord with an empty hand, but with offering. If we read this literally, we may think that the prophet Sirach referred to the sacrificial offerings that were commonly offered at the Temple like the burnt offerings and others. However, in truth, if we understand the context of what he had said in this whole segment, then it went really much deeper than that.
The prophet Sirach wanted all the faithful people of God to live wholeheartedly in the presence of God, full of genuine love for Him and for everyone, ever faithful and ever dedicated to Him, in all things, and not just outwardly only. This is of course not easy to be done, as more often than not, we will be tempted to put ourselves and our desires first than that of others. In this world, we tend to live inherently selfish lifestyle, and often we are taught and shown that we ought to put ourselves first before that of others. However, that is against what the Lord Himself has told us to do, and hence, as Christians, we often have to go on this path that may not necessarily be aligned with the path that is common and understandable by the world and many of the people around us.
That is why all of us are reminded that as Christians, all of us are called to a new way of life and existence, which sometimes require sacrifices and commitment from us, and some amongst us are called to make more sacrifices and to endure more hardships, depending on our vocation and calling in life. Like the Apostles as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, and as St. Peter asked the Lord, mentioning how they have given up on a lot of things to follow Him, which was indeed the case. They had to leave behind their families, loved ones and past lives, their works, careers and other things because they dedicated themselves wholly to the Lord, to do the works of the Lord at all times, and to be His missionaries and evangelisers among the various peoples that they had been sent to.
The Lord again reassured them all, and all of us, just as what we have heard from the prophet Sirach, that He truly knew everything, and that all of us who have given up a lot for Him, dedicating ourselves to Him and spent the time to carry out His will, shall not be disappointed as He knew all that we have done for Him, and He will bless us and keep us all in His grace and love. This is a reassurance and reminder that we should continue to live our lives faithfully in God and we should not allow the temptations of this world and the fear of sufferings and persecutions, hardships or trials to sway us from our path and from the way of righteousness. If we allow ourselves to be swayed as such, we will end up quickly losing our path in life, and will likely fall deeper and deeper into the path of sin and evil.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore as we continue to carry on living our lives in this world today, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to Him, to our loving God and Saviour. In all the things we say and do, let us all be genuine in living our lives in a most Christian manner, in loving God and loving one another wholeheartedly. This is our Christian mission and calling, brethren, and one that we should heed as we continue living our lives with faith and commitment to God. But are we able to do this? Are we willing and able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly as we should, trusting in Him and believing that even if we have to endure hardships for Him, that it is all worth the efforts? And not just that, but all of us are also part of the Church has the obligation and calling to be active in its works and mission, to reach out to more and more people all around us.
Therefore, let us all commit ourselves, our time and efforts from now on, especially if we have not done so, to be missionary and evangelising in our lives, and we can do so not by grand actions or mere words, but by every single actions and deeds, words and interactions we make, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant ones. All of them are part of our contribution to our Christian faith and living, and it is by truly living up to our Christian faith that we are all expected to do in our lives, that we can proclaim the Good News of God most efficiently and most worthily to many more people around us. How can we expect others to believe in the Lord if we have not truly believed in Him ourselves and if we have not acted or lived our lives in the manner that we are all expected to? Let us all ponder and reflect on these things as we continue carrying out our mission as Christians.
May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us, and help us to live our lives as Christians, as His disciples and followers with zeal and commitment, in each and every moments of our lives, from now on and always. May He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, in all things. Amen.