Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us as Christians to live our lives faithfully at all times, in the path that the Lord has set before us, and in doing what He has commanded all of us to do. The Lord has called on us to do His will, to proclaim His Good News among the people of all the nations, and He has taught us what we should do as His disciples. Each one of us are now therefore called and expected to be dedicated as children of God, in living our lives most worthily as those who have been made God’s own people.
In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, the Apostle reminded all the faithful there of the calling for all of them to live their lives worthily of God, to be committed and true to their faith, to do the will of God as they have been expected to, and to proclaim His Good News by their lives and actions. All the Christians have been given the vocations as God’s own beloved disciples and people, to walk in the path He has shown them, in loving Him with all of their hearts and might, and in showing that same love to their fellow brothers and sisters, unconditionally just as He has loved them all unconditionally as well.
As I have mentioned in my earlier discourses this past week, the Church community in Ephesus and in many other early Christian communities back then were often divided between the Jewish converts and the converts among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people made up of various peoples like Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Syrians, Anatolians and many other people, all of whom had welcomed the Lord and accepted Him as their Lord and Master. But some of those from the Jewish community kept their past prejudices against those who belonged to the non-Jewish community. This is because they considered themselves being superior as they were directly descended from the Israelites of the past, and upheld the strict practices and customs of the Jewish people.
Some of those same Jewish converts, many of whom were likely members of the Pharisees and the scribes, even attempted to impose their excessive version of the Jewish Law and customs on all the faithful, including that of the Gentiles. As such, this would have made it very difficult for the converts from among the Gentiles to follow the Christian faith as contextually we must understand that some of the practices and customs of the Jewish people were seen by many of the Gentiles and pagans of the time as being aberration and strange, or even downright repulsive and undesirable.
Hence, St. Paul wanted the whole Church and all the faithful to realise that they should not be divided one against another by those bias and prejudices, or by any other differences that they might have between them. All of them are reminded to remain united as a whole united Body of Christ, the Church of God, with every members showing love and care for each other. There should be no more division or prejudices among them, whether they saw themselves as Jew or Greek, or any other Gentiles, or whether they were free people or slaves, or whether they were rich or poor, or whether they were males or females. All are equal before the same Lord Who loves us all.
In our Gospel passage today, the Lord told all of His people and disciples that there were signs that they had seen, and they should henceforth act upon what they had seen. He was in fact referring to the signs and wonders which He Himself had done before all of the people, and yet many of them still doubted Him and refused to believe in Him. They would rather remain in their disbelief and in believing their own ways rather than to trust in the Lord, or to open their hearts and minds. They had all seen and heard whatever that the Lord had done, in all of His teachings and miracles, and yet they had failed to believe, and some even opposed the Lord and His disciples openly.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as what the Apostle St. Paul spoke to the faithful in Ephesus of, what we heard today in the Gospel passage reminds us all of just how we mankind have often allowed our own selfish nature and pride to undermine us in our path and progress towards God and His salvation. And all of that had prevented us from finding the Lord, keeping us trapped within our own prideful ways and habits. As long as we continue to resist the Lord, and not following Him in the way that we should have done, then we are not truly devout and committed Christians, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves and others otherwise.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, let us all realise that each and every one of us are expected and have been called to love God and also our fellow brothers and sisters with all of our strength and ability, and not only that, but we are also expected to love others without being biased or prejudiced against anyone. All of us should love one another equally regardless of our background, origin, racial status, wealth, possessions, societal status, gender or whatever other worldly divisions and prejudices we often placed ourselves in. We have to rid ourselves of these, and endeavour to keep the Church and all the faithful united together.
May the Lord continue to be with us and guide us, and may He empower each and every one of us so that we may truly be good examples of our Christian faith to all the people, so that we may always proclaim the Lord, His truth and love by our every actions, words and deeds. May God be with us always and may He bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.