Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Lord challenges all of us, to be His disciples and His followers, and what we are expected to do, when we choose to become His servants, the extensions of His will in this world. For to become the followers of Christ does not mean an easy life to us, or a leisurely work. Indeed, becoming the followers and disciples of Christ, mean that we die to this world, and abandon all the pleasures and the good that is in the world, for the sake of Christ.
There will be those who accept us, and there will likely be even more who will reject us, sometimes may not even be in a friendly manner. That is because not all people attune themselves to the Lord and His message, and many prefer to live in the ignorance provided by the world and all its temptations. To be a servant and disciple of Christ therefore means to struggle against the world and fight in this uphill battle for the sake of the Lord.
However, we must not give up, for certainly the Lord Himself did not give up on all of us. He still keeps up hope on us, and still continue to love all of us. Indeed, He embraced all of us, gave us all the love that He has in Him, that is infinite, and treat us like His own children. Nothing less indeed than giving us His own life, through His death on the cross, that we may have eternal life ourselves, those of us who believe in Him and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.
God cares for all of us and He will bless us if we stay true to Him and follow Him as His disciples, particularly for those of us who have been called by the Lord to be His servants and serve His people. He will provide for all of us, and even if we face difficulties and opposition, as we surely will, the Lord will always be with us, and we should not need to worry at all.
The problem with our world today is that there are so much things that are good and enticing to men, and there are so much things that tempt us away from the Lord and His call. It is not that we should ignore or shun all of the world’s goodness, but we must know the limit to such goodness, otherwise we would succumb to our natural weakness of desire and greed. If we can understand self-control, we would be able to prevent the world from corrupting our hearts and blocking our path towards the Lord.
Our world has become very materialistic and secular in nature, that many people no longer place God as first in their hearts, and even no longer has the Lord in their hearts. In God’s place came in all the greed that is of the world, for material wealth, possessions, luxury, comfort, and excesses. The crazed search for more money and wealth is just one of the many examples of how our world had changed for the worse.
Especially it is increasingly becoming very difficult for the Church to find new priests today, and new servants of the Lord. Even the numbers of religious brothers and sisters have also dropped significantly, a sign in tandem with the increasing secularism of the world, and the increasing temptation of the world on us mankind.
In the past it is easy for the Church to find new priests and religious members because God still lives strong in many people’s hearts, and many willingly give up everything they have in life for the sake of the Lord, and serve His people through the Church, be it as priests, brothers, nuns, or even as lay worker. However, as I had mentioned and all of you knew, that times had changed. Now, many people are too fixated on their material possessions that they are increasingly unwilling to abandon all of them for the sake of God and His people.
However, internal reasons are not the only reasons, though it does play a very important part in why we have a great decline in the number of people in our seminaries today. The other reasons are external, from our friends, our society, and ultimately, our own families. In many parts of the world, success in life had increasingly been equated with monetary and economic success, and educational achievements, both linked to each other in such a way that, our life becomes more like an investment than a life.
Yes, as you know, in our modern world, raising a child increasingly become more and more expensive as years go by. Every year, inflation brings all living costs higher and higher, and consequently it becomes ever more difficult to raise a child, with soaring expenditures and declining income relative to those expenditures. Education, in particular, became so expensive, that educating a child in our society today becomes something like a chore.
That is why, coupled with the increasingly stronger link between education, its achievements and success in life, made so many parents becoming more and more reluctant to let their children go, when they reveal to them about their intentions in life. You see, God chooses whom He wants to be His servants, and He calls them all, through subtle means. Not many would take up that offer and that call, but many did answer and treasure the calling.
Yet, parental objections often stood in the way of the Lord’s call, because the parents thought of priestly life and a life dedicated to the service of the Lord and His people is a wasted life, a shameful life, and indeed, an investment wasted, because we gradually see our lives less as a life that we truly should see it, but merely more and more as an investment, about money and material possessions.
Friends and society also play a great deal in shaping one’s calling, because peer pressure and objections in the society do prevent one’s calling from being realised, especially when coupled with parental objection. These are in fact, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, some of the crosses that we must bear if we are to follow the Lord. This is exactly because the world does not love Christ, and neither does it welcome Him. The world follows its own ways, and those are not the ways of the Lord.
The purpose of today’s readings however is not to attack or put down parents, just because they rejected or opposed their children’s calling, but rather, to remind all of us that, life is not just about our possessions, or about how much money we have in the bank, or how big is the salary we receive in a month, or even, how many cars and other utilities we have. Life is indeed about Christ, and about loving Christ and our fellow brethren.
We Christians who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ must be brave and courageous, in defending our faith against the assaults of the world and its temptations, and must be ready at all times to take up our crosses, to walk alongside Christ in His suffering. These crosses mean to take an active part in our participation in the Church, according to our own calling, that is for those called and chosen to serve the Lord in divine priesthood, to be brave in embracing one’s calling and rejecting the voices that try to prevent one’s call from being realised; and for those in religious orders, to be faithful in prayer and service; and lastly, but not least, for the laity themselves, that they will take up a more active participation in the Church and groom themselves for better understanding of their faith.
In doing so, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have done God’s will, to be His disciples and preach the Good News to all of the world, including to our fellow brethren and ourselves. Therefore, now, let us pray that the Lord will give us strength and courage to face all the troubles in life, and also give us the understanding of the nature of God’s call and vocations, and bravely defend the faith of the Church in all of our deeds.
May the Lord give us His Holy Spirit, that we will always ever persevere, amidst the difficulties and challenges in this world, in showing God’s love to all, and also to preach the Good News of the Lord to all nations. God bless us all. Amen.