Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the love that God has for each and every one of us and yet also reminding us of the unfortunate truth of those who refuse to embrace that generous and compassionate love that God has given to us, as shown in our first reading today in what happened between St. Paul and St. Barnabas and many of the Jews who lived in the places they visited.
St. Paul and St. Barnabas preached the truth of God, His love and all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people, His providence and companionship for them all throughout their lives and history. God has done everything to care for them and to protect them, to guide them to the right path, sending prophets after prophets, messengers and servants one after another, to call on them to follow Him and not to fall into the path of sin.
Yet, just as what many of the Jews who refused to listen to St. Paul and St. Barnabas had done, their predecessors persecuted and rejected the message of the prophets, preferring to believe in their own ways and their own pride, and therefore, closing their hearts and minds to God’s truth. And the Lord was not able to have much progress with them, just as the Apostles themselves have experienced.
We heard how the two Apostles were forced to leave the place and abandon their mission, by the way their enemies incited the people to reject them out. And this is a reminder for us all that we should not be blinded with ego and pride, with haughtiness and arrogance, with all sorts of things that prevents us from being able to welcome God’s love and presence into ourselves.
Instead, all of us should take heed of the Lord’s very own examples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, where the Lord Jesus proclaimed before His disciples how He obeyed His Father’s will completely and came not of His own motive and will, but all united to the Father’s will and desire, to love and to save all of us, His beloved ones. It was through Christ’s perfect obedience that we have all been saved.
After all, had the Lord Jesus not been so obedient to the will of His Father, and had He not loved His Father and all of us so perfectly and compassionately, we would not have been saved, as it was exactly that obedience and love which allowed Him to endure the bitter suffering and torture, the pain of the nails and the whip, the burden of the Cross and the death He endured on Calvary.
The Apostles and the prophets of the past followed this same example that the Lord Himself set, in the enduring love and commitment to serve God’s greater glory and for the love of us mankind, all of God’s own people, that they have given themselves wholeheartedly, humbly and with lots of dedication to make sure that all of us may come to believe in the Lord and therefore may also be saved.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect then on our own lives. Have we been truly faithful and obedient to God, and have we loved Him as we should have? Or have we been selfish and prideful all these while, like many of the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia who rejected the message of the Apostles and persecuted them? Today, we also mark the feast of one of the Holy Popes, Pope St. John I, who died a martyr defending his faith and the faith of his flock against heavy oppression. And through his faith and dedication, many have been inspired to do the same, and we too, should do the same.
Let us all throw away all pride from our hearts and minds, and grow stronger instead in our humility and love for God and for our fellow men. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all to be able to live courageously with faith, and to love Him all the days of our lives. Amen.