Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue again to hear about the prophet Elijah and John the Baptist in our Scripture readings. Why is this so, brothers and sisters? That is because in this Advent season, it is particularly appropriate for us to heed their actions and their words, the proclamations of these faithful servants of God, who were sent to the people in order to turn their hearts back to the Lord.
They were sent to a people who had long lived in darkness and sin, and therefore, through their works, God hoped to bring back a people whom He loved to Himself so that they would be lost no more. Yes, He is the Good Shepherd who looks actively for His lost sheep, and desires greatly that all of us be reunited with Him. He wants us all to be freed from our bondage to the darkness of sin, and to this extent, He did the unbelievable, yes, indeed, for all those who did not have faith indeed, it was unbelievable, for He gave Himself, as the One through whom mankind would be saved.
Which other gods or entities who claimed divinity do this? None, and none beside our Lord and God, the One and only True God, who loves all that He created, and loves us in particular so much that He sent us Jesus, the incarnation of the Divine Word of God, to be our salvation. But so that the works of Jesus may come to a full completion and perfection, therefore, before His coming, God sent His servants to prepare the way for Him.
That was the purpose of the prophets and the messengers of God, great and chief among whom were St. John the Baptist and Elijah, who were in fact the one and same person, called to the service of God at two different times and eras, but nevertheless, they were called to the same mission, to call the people to repentance and for them to seek the mercy of God, and to change their ways and sin no more.
This is in perfect resonance to the very purpose and reason of this season of Advent, which means literally ‘coming’ or the coming of Christ our Lord at the end of time, when He will come again in glory to judge all the living and the dead, and it is for that coming of Christ that we should prepare ourselves thoroughly and completely. And in this, we should heed the examples of the prophets and the messengers of God.
All of us who have been baptised in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit had been made children of God, and also therefore as the members of His Body and His Church, the unity of all the faithful ones in the Lord. But at the same time, through our baptism, we have been given a mission, the same mission which Christ had given His Apostles and disciples before He left this world for heaven at the Ascension.
That mission was to proclaim the Good News and the salvation in Jesus Christ to all the nations, to all the peoples of the world, without exception, and to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a call for all of us to walk in the same path as the prophet Elijah, who called for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel to repent from their sins, and also St. John the Baptist, who cried out in the wilderness for the people to repent and change their ways, to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom, and who baptised them with the baptism of water.
We have the faith in us, and we have been granted God’s grace through baptism. Therefore, it is only fitting that we help one another, especially those who are still lost and in the darkness of the world, to find their way to God, so that at the end of the day, God may see in all of us, the same faithfulness shown by Elijah and John the Baptist.
Today, we also celebrate the feast of a martyr and holy virgin, St. Lucy, whose actions may also inspire us further to live according to the will of God, and according to what we have just discussed. St. Lucy was a young Christian maiden, who lived in Syracuse in the island of Sicily. St. Lucy or St. Lucia was a martyr of the Faith during the last great persecution of the faithful by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and according to tradition, she was executed for being faithful and refusing to recant her faith to the Lord.
St. Lucy devoted herself totally to the Lord, and like many of her contemporaries, she committed herself to a life of sanctity and chastity, vowing to remain in holy virginity for the sake of the Lord. But her mother, not knowing of this and sickened with disease, betrothed her to a rich young man from a pagan family. Nonetheless, through the intercession of St. Agatha, St. Lucy’s mother was healed and St. Lucy managed to persuade her to donate in charitable acts, her riches and wealth to help the poor of the society.
St. Lucy thus showed her genuine and real faith through her loving actions to her brethren in need, and thus stand as a witness of the Lord and of the faith in Him by her concrete actions. Her betrothed complained against her actions to the local governor, who demanded that she offered sacrifices to the Emperor, which she refused immediately and firmly.
St. Lucy was therefore tortured and punished severely, and the authorities tried to kill her by various means, but they always failed. The wood would not burn when they tried to burn her at a stake. She eventually was martyred by the sword. Nevertheless, through her witness and defense of the faith, she became a great inspiration to many of the later generations, and many were saved by her intercession and examples.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, here we have seen what the faithful, that is all of us, have to do. The examples of St. Lucy and what we have discussed earlier showed that all of us have a responsibility to be witnesses of the faith, just as Elijah and St. John the Baptist had once done, to call the people who have lived in sin and darkness to return to the light of Christ, our Lord.
Indeed, it does not meant that we have to follow St. Lucy into martyrdom for this, but what is necessary is that we must realise that our faith cannot be a lukewarm one. We cannot sit on the fence and wait for things to happen. It is essential that we are proactive in our faith and actively spreading the Good News of our Lord, not just by words, but also through our concrete actions and love towards one another.
May St. Lucy intercede for us, that God may strengthen our faith and affirm us all in His love. May day by day we all grow stronger and more devoted in our lives. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.
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