Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the calling of Samuel, who had been called by God in his youth, when he was still under the tutelage of Eli, the judge over Israel. He was called to be the servant of God, and to be the one who would lead the people of Israel back to the Lord, as the messenger of His will and desire for His people.
And in the Gospel we heard about the parallel story of how the Apostles, that is the chief disciples of the Lord, were called. They were called from their respective lives to be the bearers of the Good News of the Lord. And therefore, just like Samuel, they brought much goodness to the people of God. They were after all called to be the bearers of God’s great Light to a people who lived in a great darkness, to dispel that darkness and bring them all back to the true Light.
Why was Samuel called by the Lord? And why was the Apostles and the disciples of Christ called by Jesus to follow Him and to do His will? That is because there is indeed much wickedness in this world, so much so that it disgusts our Lord to see such great darkness and wickedness existing among us His people. Thus, He called His servants and all those whom He had chosen to be the bearers of His will to His people, to call them to repentance.
The people at the time of Samuel was led by the judges whom God had appointed over His people. But they were only faithful as long as the judges were alive. As soon as they passed away, they returned to their old way of sin and wickedness, following the customs and practices of their Canaanite neighbours. Therefore, God was angry with them and they suffered greatly at the hands of their persecutors.
Similarly, the people at the time of Jesus lived at a time when they were adrift among the false practices of the people around them. Just a century or so before the birth of Christ, if we read the Book of the Maccabees, then we should know how many of the people of God readily submitted to the pagan ways and rejected the way of the Lord, and they sinned greatly before God.
Nevertheless, it does not mean that God did not love His people. It is neither that He desired their destruction and annihilation. In fact, God loves all of them, and He desires only for their salvation. And that is why, He called Samuel to bring His warnings and His truth to the people, that they might repent and follow Him again. And in the same way, He called His Apostles through whom He made clear His truth and teachings, and from them, the same truth is passed down to all of us.
In the second reading, St. Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth reminded the faithful that they must avoid all forms of sins and fornications, of the flesh and of the spirit. He reminded the people that they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, that is the very Temple and House of God where God Himself resides. If they committed sin and fornications, then they would have defiled the very House and Presence of God Himself, and they committed grave sin that threatened condemnation on them.
Therefore it will be the same for all of us if we choose to live wickedly and be filled with sin. All of us who have believed in Christ and accept Him into ourselves through the Most Holy Eucharist have been made into the dwelling and the house where God Himself resides. Thus, we are all the Temples of the Lord’s Holy Presence and we have to maintain the purity and sanctity of this Temple, that is our body, our mind, our heart and our spirit, so that no taint of sin or wickedness may come and harm our purity.
How is the reading today relevant to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is because all of us have been called to be the disciples and followers of Christ, and we all have been baptised in His Name, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been granted such great grace to have the Lord Himself dwelling in us. Thus first, we have to maintain ourselves in a state of purity and avoiding the taints of sin as best as we can.
But we cannot just stop there, brethren, as the gifts and graces which we have received are the same gifts which God had given to Samuel, and also the same gifts as He had granted the Apostles and disciples in the ages past. Therefore, we too have the same obligation and duty as that which had been given to the prophets and the Apostles, that is to bring the revelations of God’s truth to mankind and to call mankind back to the Lord, abandoning their sins and embracing fully the way of the Lord.
Are we able to be like Samuel and say courageously to the Lord, “Lord, speak, for Your servant is listening!”? It is very difficult for many if not most of us to listen and to allow God to speak in us, within our heart. He speaks to us in a subtle way, and if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the many things in the world, the many pleasures and evils in it, then I would say that, we would be deaf to the Lord calling for us, to repent and to follow Him with all of our heart. Let us change our ways therefore, that we may truly be faithful and active disciples of our Lord.
And again therefore, it is related once again to how we live our lives. No one will believe in what we preach should we not live according to what our faith tells us. No one will follow us if we do not do as what we have preached to them. Thus, our faith in God must be truly a living faith, and in living our faith, we too can preserve the sanctity of our Temple, the Temple of God that is our body, our mind, our heart, and our soul.
Today we mark the World Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees. We ought to pray for all those who have been displaced by various causes, either by war, injustice, oppression or any other reasons, which cause them difficulties and sufferings. If we are truly the Temples of God, the dwelling place of our Lord, then by nature all of us should act according to what our Lord would have done, that is to love those who are least, weakest, the ostracised and the rejected ones in our society. Migrants and refugees are often among these, and if we do not love them, then who will?
Let us share some of our love and our joy, our blessing and our grace with them, the migrants, those who have travelled far from their homeland, as well as refugees who have been displaced from their lands. After all, was not Abraham a migrant too? He travelled far following the will of God, and he obediently followed His commandments, and his descendants Israel also have to move from place to place, suffering difficulties along the way. Thus, let us all share a thought for this, and give them the best we can do. Do not shun them, or ostracise them or reject them, but let us welcome them all with love.
Today we also mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, where we pray for the eventual reunion of all the faithful and all those who profess faith in Christ, under the orthodox and true teachings of the Faith, according to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under the sovereignty and leadership of the one and only Vicar of Christ, the Pope of Rome, whom God had appointed to be His sole representative on this world.
Thus as we begin this solemn week of prayer, let us all commit ourselves to keep ourselves pure and righteous, following the Law of God and be obedient to His teachings, so that all others who see us, will believe and repent from their sins. Let us pray sincerely for the conversion of heretics and schismatics who have separated themselves from the true faith in particular, that they may have their eyes opened and their senses awakened, so they may know what the true Faith is like and abandon all forms of lies and falsehoods which Satan had planted in them to divide the Church of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be true to our mission in life, that is to keep ourselves faithful and at the same time, bring our brethren who are still in darkness and all those who have gone wayward, to return them to the path towards the Lord. Hence, now we pray, we act and we do things that will show the faith we have in our Lord, our loving God, and He who sees it all and knows it all, will reward us richly forevermore. God bless us all. Amen.
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