Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the very profound message which St. Paul proclaimed to the faithful during his journeys to many cities across the Eastern Mediterranean region, establishing the foundations of the Church and the Faith in those places, and planting in the believers the seeds of faith in the word of God which he passed on to them.
And this phrase is that “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.” It is a phrase which many of us, especially as we live in this world, often tend to forget and overlook, thinking that trials and tribulations are not part of our lives, if we faithfully walk in the path of the Lord. We mankind are so used to living comfortably in this world, that we often would prefer an easier path than one that is more difficult or challenging to follow.
And that is why the Apostles, as shown by St. Paul and his teachings, reminded the people at first that in order to follow Jesus and His way, mankind would have to sacrifice quite a few things, and they may also be needed to give away certain things, especially those which they have indulged in all these while, and reorientate themselves to the service and obedience to God.
And how is this related to what we heard in the Gospel today? Jesus spoke to His disciples in our Gospel today, during the time when He had the Last Supper with His disciples just before He was to suffer on the cross and die. He gave them a new commandment, the commandment to love one another, just as they ought to love Him. And this commandment was given to them on the day when He also instituted the Eucharist for the Church, establishing the Church and the Faith in which we belong now.
What Jesus had said to His disciples was in fact an exhortation for all of us to act, and not just to remain passive or quiet. God called us all to action, and the action which we must show to one another and to Him is love, pure love that comes from the heart and permeates everything else around us. For the reality is that, while we mankind profess to know love, but in reality, true love is something that is often distant for us.
What is love, brothers and sisters in Christ? Is love something that blossomed between people who like each other and then decide that they want to come together as a couple? Well, that is indeed love, but it is only a small aspect of love, and merely just one small example of love. True love is so much more than that, and true love entails so much more than just what we understand about that kind of love.
Love is not something that is just happiness or just as something that is easy to be done. For the feeling of love that many of us are feeling towards another can in fact be said as infatuation or even as lust. These are not true love. And if our love depends on the mutual commitment of one another to fulfil one another’s needs, then it is not true love either, but instead, our human greed trying to fulfil itself by manipulating each other.
Instead, true love can be seen in what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had done, in His actions in this world, and that is exactly what the Apostles had preached to the people, calling them to practice the same kind of love. And what is that love? Love that knows sacrifice, and love which is selfless and perfect. Love that our Lord Jesus Himself showed us on the cross, when without doubt or hesitation, He allowed Himself to willingly suffer for our sake.
Let us look at it, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Paul himself in another occasion reminded the faithful, that the love of God is so good and perfect. St. Paul mentioned in one of his letters that it is difficult for someone to lay down his or her life for another, even if that someone is a very good person. Indeed, it may be worthwhile for someone to lay down his life for another very good person, but how about what our Lord had done to us?
We are all sinners brethren, and in one way or another, our sins have preceded us, and have grown so great that we should all be ashamed at our sins, all the wicked things which we have done. And yet, our Lord and God, Who loved us all, every single one of us without exception and hesitation, was willing to die not for us all who were righteous, but we who were sinners, great rebels and wicked in the things which we did.
And if God had been so selfless and loving in His love, can we do the same as well? It is not easy indeed, for it is not part of our human nature and habits to give of ourselves to another so willingly. But if we do not try, then we will never know love, and our actions will not have true love. To understand love, we must know how to endure pain and suffering, and be ready to make sacrifices and commit ourselves fully to the one to whom we are showing our love.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we go through this Easter season, and as we live our lives in faith, we have to realise that all that we believe in, is precisely about love, and that is the love which God has shown us, the mercy which He showed us, willing and wanting us to be reunited with Him, and to be redeemed from all of our faults and wickedness.
Shall we recommit ourselves to what the Lord had commanded all of us to do? Shall we show love in all of our actions, loving those who are less fortunate and those who have little or nothing, those who are unloved and rejected by the society? Shall we devote ourselves to give our heart and attention to those who need our love?
It will not be easy indeed to walk on this path, and St. Paul himself had warned the people that the path ahead would be arduous. But if we do not walk on this path, then who else would? How can we call ourselves Christians if we do not suffer and endure the cross as our Lord had? Remember that He had done it first, so that He might show us how to love in the same manner as well.
Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God, and let us all walk the path of our faith from now on, filled with commitment and dedication, and filled with love and devotion, may our faith be living and true, and may everything that we do, will always be based on the love which we have for one another, and ultimately loving the Lord from Whom we have received that love. God bless us all. Amen.