Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishop)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, telling us about the need for us to stand up for our faith in God, against any opposition that may come our way. In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy, we heard how St. Paul reminded St. Timothy of the need for the faithful to testify for their faith before others, even though it may lead them to persecution and troubles.
St. Paul made this comment based on his own real experience, as he encountered many oppositions throughout his journey, and having both Jewish leaders and the Gentile pagans struggling against him and his works, all the time. St. Paul had to endure incarcerations in prison many times, and he had to endure humiliation and persecution in public, suffering even physical injuries and pains for his dedication to God.
Yet, St. Paul did not give up the struggle, and on the contrary, he gave everything for the sake of the Lord, and dedicated himself completely, knowing that all the sufferings he experienced, all the struggles and oppositions he encountered, it was because of his faith in God, and not only that, but he was experiencing what the Lord Himself has experienced. St. Paul knew that for all the pains he had suffered and endured, all of them were nothing compared to the suffering that the Lord Jesus had endured.
In the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord encountered opposition from the group called the Sadducees, a very influential and powerful group in the society, who opposed the Lord because of His teachings and the truth He brought, which were against their ideas. The Sadducees were those intellectuals and academics who were pragmatists and progressives in the society.
Just in yesterday’s Gospel passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus encountered difficulties with the Pharisees, another powerful group of priests and intellectuals whose ideas were almost diametrically opposite to that of the Sadducees, with whom they often bickered with. However, both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were united in their opposition against the Lord Jesus and His disciples, because they were great threats against their influence and power.
As mentioned, the Sadducees opposed the Lord because they refused to follow the more mystical and supernatural aspects of the faith, just as they refused to believe in the presence of Angels and spirits, and the concept of resurrection and life after death. They lived for the world and in the world, and they saw the Lord’s promise of a life of eternity after death, as a threat to their authority and beliefs.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the entire Gospels, and the New Testament, we can see just how there were plenty of opposition against the Lord and His disciples, because of mankind’s refusal to believe in the truth and their refusal to accept what He had taught them. As a result, there were so much difficulty and suffering facing all those who are faithful to God.
Today, we celebrate the feast of one of those faithful servants of God, St. Norbert of Xanten, a renowned German bishop, who was remembered for his great intellect and devotion to the Lord. He devoted himself so thoroughly to the Lord, as an ascetic and holy man, by whose work, many of the people turned towards the Lord.of course, he did not have it easy, and he had to encounter difficulties and troubles, especially from the powerful and influential.
Nonetheless, his dedication, which is similar to the dedication shown by the other Apostles and saints, St. Paul and all those who did the good works of God, is an example for all of us. Now, are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same manner? Are we able to devote our time and attention to God as best as it is within our capabilities? Let us all learn to be ever more faithful, and seek to be ever closer to God, with each and every passing day.
May God be with us, as we walk along this journey of faith, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly, seeking to love Him and our fellow brothers and sisters, following the examples of our holy predecessors. Amen.