Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us as Christians to put the Lord our God at the centre and as the focus of our lives and existences. Each and every one of us are reminded that pride and ego will lead us nowhere, and we may end up falling into the wrong paths that lead us to damnation and eternity of suffering. The Lord wants us to always be vigilant against the temptations of pride and worldly desires, which can be a great bane and obstacle for us in our path towards Him and His grace and salvation.
In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Philippi regarding his experiences in ministering to the people of God and to many others as he carried out his mission and calling as an Apostle, in proclaiming the Word of God and His truth, and in all the good things and the challenges that he had to encounter as a disciple of the Lord. He encountered many opposition and hardships, and he had to even risk death and martyrdom in quite a few of those occasions, which we can read up more in the Acts of the Apostles. Yet, the Lord remained with St. Paul and protected him, and called him to do more of His missions and will.
The Apostle related to the faithful in Philippi how he truly desired to be with God, and to be with Him, free from the hardships and struggles that he had to endure as he stood up for his faith in Him, and free from the persecutions and all that he had to face, as a disciple of the Lord and as His champion and defender. Yet, he chose to continue to labour faithfully in this world, even knowing that he had to endure even more hardships and sufferings, all because he cared for the needs of those who were still separated from the love of God, and all those who have not yet known Him. He laboured hard and went on forward always, because he wanted that through his works, he might bring the Lord closer to many of them.
Compare this to the attitude of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that the Lord Jesus mentioned in our Gospel passage today. In that occasion, the Lord highlighted how those people often sought the most prestigious and important places at events and banquets, just as they were highly respected and esteemed in the community. They sought for glory and fame, for status and acceptance by the world, and they vied for that influence and greatness, and perhaps not realising that they had gradually been tempted and led astray by those pride and arrogance that had blinded them and kept them away from seeing the truth and love of God.
That was why many among them were often stubborn in their refusal to believe in God, and in their many efforts to undermine the good works of the Lord Jesus and His disciples. St. Paul himself was once a young Pharisee, who was deluded and misguided in his ways, and was overwhelmed with that misdirected zeal and anger towards the followers of the Lord. He eventually came to see the errors of his ways after the Lord called him and revealed to him the truth. He was humbled and brought low, and through his blindness upon the encounter he had with the Lord on the road to Damascus, St. Paul, who was then known as Saul, received a new life and vision through the Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
St. Paul through his dedication, life and work, carried out his mission dutifully and humbly, proclaiming the word of God’s truth, love and salvation to more and more people, in all of his missionary journeys and works. And his examples, along with that of the other Apostles and the many other saints and all the holy men and women of God, all of whom had lived their lives worthily of the Lord, should become our sources of strength and inspiration that we too may follow the Lord in the same manner as they had lived their lives and followed Him in all of their efforts and works. Each and every one of us should be inspired to follow their examples and practice them in our own lives.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect upon these words of the Scriptures, let us all open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord, His wisdom and truth into our hearts, and let us all allow Him to mould us into whatever tools and means by which He may exercise His will and judgment, His works and efforts in our world today. Let us all allow the Lord to guide us in our path and in our journey so that we may ever be inspired to commit our whole lives to His service, and to do whatever it is that is worthy of Him and the glory of His Name. We should do our best, in our respective areas and in whatever opportunities and abilities that God had blessed and endowed us with.
May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us always, and may He give us the courage and the perseverance necessary to resist the trials and challenges of this world, the opposition and oppressions that may come our way in our journey of faith. And may He also give us the gift of true humility, that we may grow ever lesser in our pride and ego, and die to them, so that as we grow ever greater in faith, so does our love for God and our desire to glorify Him, and not ourselves. May God bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Amen.