Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded on the mission that Christ had when He came upon this world. The mission that Christ had in saving this world, is not an easy mission, brethren, because even though He is God, it does not mean that He had an easy time. Yes, He had had much opposition and resistance during His time on earth, and during His ministry to the people of God.
Herod rejected Him, the innkeeper rejected Him and His family. The people rejected Him, and the priests and the Pharisees rejected Him, and together they even had condemned Him to die, to die a humiliating death on the cross. Basically, the path of the Lord is filled with obstacles and dangers, definitely not a walk in the park. That was why Christ said in the Gospel reading, in what some of us may feel a bit disturbed, that He came not to bring peace, but discord.
This discord come about exactly because of the divisions that the Lord, in His person and in His teachings, that divides the people, because some people will follow and obey the Lord, but there will always be some or many who will dissent and disagree with Him. They were those who had rejected Him in the first place. Those who mocked Him, His disciples, and even us, who believe in Him.
Many martyrs of the early Church faced suffering and martyrdom because their families and relatives rose up against them, either betraying them to the authorities or by dealing with the holy martyrs themselves. Discord existed between the people of God and those who still believed in the pagan gods. Even discord and persecution awaited God’s servants, the prophets like Jeremiah.
We tend to sway away from the path of the Lord, because just as the Lord Himself had been rejected, mocked, and treated badly, we too, who follow the Lord will face much opposition and discord in our lives, and in all our dealings. We will be rejected as well, and we will face discord even with our own families and relatives. This discord however, does bring about potential destruction and conflict that involve all of us. It is indeed much easier for us to follow the ways of the world, and give in to the temptations of this world, some of which include money, wealth, sexual pleasure, good life, and many other things.
The world offer us much goods, and much things that are indeed more enjoyable, pleasurable, and easier to be done than to follow the Lord, and that is exactly what caused the discord and friction that will surely exist within our families, within our circle of friends, and within our own societies, much like how it was during the early Church. In the early Church, being the followers of Christ means to be detached from the larger general population, and for those in the positions of privilege and power, following the Lord, or in short becoming Christian was a serious risk to them, both for their position and for their own lives.
Temptations are many, brethren, and even more so in this world of ours today. In this world, many things easily bring us astray from the true path towards the Lord. Money, wealth, world pleasures, and even good food can corrupt us and our hearts, subverting us from the purpose given to us. That is why, brethren, our churches are empty! Our seminaries are empty! Our new priests are getting fewer and older! All because of the challenges presented to us and the Church, especially important in this ever-changing times.
Yes, brethren, the need is greater than ever for us to support one another and pray for one another, that we remain faithful and dedicated to their faith in God. This is that we will not fall to the traps of the evil one, and therefore falter in our path towards salvation. We have to be strong and stand up against the temptations of evil and the pleasures of the flesh, and rebuke the devil and all that he offers us. But worry not, brothers and sisters, for our Lord is with us, and He will guide us and protect us, as long as we remain faithful and loving to Him.
God walks with us and remains with us if we are faithful to Him. He will not abandon us, just as He never abandoned Jeremiah in the sewers, and He lifted him up through king Zedekiah and his servants. The same happened to the disciples of Christ, the apostles, like St. Peter who was imprisoned by King Herod and intended to be executed, because of his faith in Christ, and was to be made an example to the other Christians. However, God rescued him through His angel, and He liberated him from his shackles in order to do many more good things for the sake of God, and God’s beloved people.
In our world today, there will be many challenges and persecutions, in many different forms, and do not be surprised that the devil may attack where we least expect, that is from within, from within ourselves, within our own families, within our own friend circles, and within our own societies. Indeed brethren, the one who caused divisions and discords among us is in fact not the Lord, but ultimately is the devil who sowed in us the seeds of his discord, his rebellion, and his disobedience against the will of God. Sin and our human weaknesses are the channels through which Satan nurture in us these seeds of evil. It is up to us whether we let divisions and discord rule over us, or that we give ourselves fully to the Lord and immerse ourselves in His love, that all of us may be reunited in harmony, as the one people of God, all of whom obey the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our beings.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, reminding ourselves of the words of the readings today, of the teachings of the Lord revealed through Christ our Lord, let us resolve to continue our total love and devotion towards He who had come into this world to save it. He who has punished the enemies of the Lord and the enemies of those who believe in Him. He who had taken those He had chosen from this world, and protect them, that despite the oppositions of this world against them, they remain triumphant because of the power and glory of God given them through Christ, who had marked them as His own.
May the Risen Christ who is triumphant against evil, bless us and strengthen us with His love, that we will persevere in our worldly struggle and indeed, daily struggle against sin and against the forces of evil arrayed against us. May the holy saints and martyrs of God who had gone before us, intercede for our sake and pray for us sinners still living in this world. God bless us all. Amen.