Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are reminded that as Christians, we have all believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Each one of us have been called to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and we have been called to follow His path and entrust ourselves to His Wisdom and truth. Otherwise how can we call ourselves as genuine Christians, as those whom the Lord had called and chosen to be His own beloved people, to be His beloved children? All of us may have to stand up and defend our faith even in the face of persecution, and are we ready for that?
In our first reading today, we heard of the reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus. In that passage, we heard of the Apostle speaking to the faithful there of the faith that each and every one of them shared as members of the same Church of Christ, the Body of Christ, the union of all the faithful people of God. And St. Paul reminded all of them what it truly meant to be Christians, to be good and true disciples and followers of the Lord. St. Paul encouraged them and strengthened them, reminding them that all of them were not alone in their struggle and journey of faith.
Back then, the Church everywhere including in Ephesus were struggling with challenges and difficulties, with divisions from within and challenges from external sources such as persecutions from both the Jewish authorities and the Roman state. There were many of the faithful who probably were facing hardships and persecutions, arrested and tortured, and even martyred for their faith. It was a truly difficult time to be Christians, and yet, many of the faithful remained firm in their faith and obedience to God, and they did not allow fear or uncertainty from persuading them to abandon their faith.
That was why St. Paul encouraged and affirmed the faithful in Ephesus for their faith in the Lord, for all that they had done, in sacrificing their time, effort and even well-being to remain faithful and true to God. He told then to trust in the Lord and how everything will be subjected to the dominion and power of the triumphant Christ. No matter how they might be rejected and condemned by the world, the Lord will always win in the end, and all those who remain firm in their faith will be saved in the end, and will receive the fullness of God’s promises of love and grace. None of those who have entrusted themselves to God will be lost from Him.
Then, in our Gospel passage today we heard of the words of the Lord highlighting to the people and to His disciples how that there would be persecution and hardships that they all would have to face, just as He Himself, the Son of Man, would have to suffer most grievously for the sake of all mankind. The Lord Himself took up the massive and most certainly unimaginable burden of the Cross so that by such an action of pure and most selfless love for us, He might offer on all of our behalf, the worthy offering for the atonement and forgiveness of all the multitudes of our sins.
And the Lord highlighted the fact that just as the world itself had persecuted Him, therefore the disciples and followers of the Lord might have to suffer as well. The long history of the Church itself showed us just how many and even innumerable, the saints and martyrs who had suffered and died before us. And all of that serve as a reminder to us all that we should not and cannot afford to be complacent or idle in living our faith, as there will likely be a lot of temptation, pressure, and even coercions and forces trying to lead us down the wrong path, all around us. If we are not vigilant and careful, we may likely end up in the wrong path. That is why we should be inspired by the lives and examples of all the saints.
Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the great saints and Doctors of the Church, namely St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as St. Teresa of Avila, whose life may indeed be good source of inspirations and hope, strength and encouragement for all of us in how each and every one of us ought to be living up our lives. All of us are reminded that we are all called to follow the good examples of the saints, like that of St. Teresa of Jesus, who was the founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Together with St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Jesus was credited with the very important reform within the Carmelite Order, seeking to lead a more committed and virtuous religious life and observance, as compared to the then increasingly lax standards of the Carmelites.
St. Teresa of Jesus sought to reform the Carmelite order, and was also involved in the arbitration of certain other issues facing both her order and the wider Christian communities around her convent. St. Teresa of Jesus together with her companion, St. John of the Cross, continued to labour hard and well for the sake of the glory of God and the salvation and well-being of God’s people. They faced a lot of opposition from both within the Carmelite Order itself and from the community, but they pressed on with the reforms, and their hard works and efforts eventually bore fruit, for the benefit of both the religious order and the general Christian community.
St. Teresa also wrote very extensively on many articles on the faith, and all those writings and publications, books and works were what eventually led to her canonisation, and also the declaration that she was to be made one of the Doctors of the Church. Her many contributions and good works should serve as source of inspiration for all of us, in how each and every one of us should behave in our lives, and in what we should do as Christians, in doing the will of God and in putting our efforts in every moments of our lives to glorify God by our actions, words and deeds. This is what we have been called to do, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let us all therefore remain committed to the Lord and renew our faith in Him, not being shaken or worried, or tempted or coerced by whatever persecutions, hardships, difficulties or temptations that may surround any one of us. Let us all seek to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and fervour, and dedicate ourselves to the path that God has shown us and led us into, now and always. Amen.