Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to the warning and reminder from Jesus Christ our Lord, to be ever ready and ever alert on the coming of the kingdom of God, that is the time when God will finally make His move to end all the tyranny of sin and evil, and break the power of Satan for eternity, for a final time. That is the time when Christ comes as a conquering and victorious king, who will reward all who had followed Him faithfully and even suffer for His sake, and also punish those who had opposed Him and barred His way.
Following the Lord is not enough with just being with Him, and being idle. That was exactly what Jesus was referring to, when He mentioned the rebuke of the many, who cannot enter the kingdom of God, because they were unworthy, and because they were unprepared for the coming of the kingdom of God. They are caught asleep when the Lord comes again to claim His people for His own, and the Lord rebukes them and rejects them, denying them the reward He reserves only for those He deems to be worthy.
God is our Father and our Saviour, and He loves all of us very much, without condition. He truly cares for all of us, just like a father loves and cares for his own son, for his own children. He gives His love freely for everyone without exception, to the point that He even gave Himself in flesh and blood, His own Body, through the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ suffered on the cross, in His most loving Passion. He endured rejection, mockery, and suffering out of His love for us, that we will not die, die an eternal death in damnation, but may attain life eternal with Him for all ages.
Therefore, out of His great and unconditional love and compassion for us, He who gave us His life through His flesh and blood, wants us to be righteous, upright and worthy of Him. That is why, He corrects us, punishes us, and rebukes us when we make mistakes in our life, and when we go astray from the path to salvation, when the devil begin to take over our hearts. It is to ensure that we remain in Him and not fall into the temptations of Satan.
It may seem to many of us, that the devil seems to be very friendly to us, and yes, brethren, he will always present his smiling face to us, deceiving us into believing his lies and his alluring tactics. Remember, brethren, that the devil was once Lucifer, the greatest, brightest, and mightiest of all the angels of heaven. It is therefore easy for him to show his ‘bright’ and less sinister side to us, in order to deceive us into sin and disobedience against God, just as he had done with Adam and Eve, our ancestors.
We must always remember, that he is also Satan, the devil, the deceiver, the evil snake, and the great enemy of God and all that is good. We must be careful lest we be tempted and fall into his traps. The devil envies the Lord and all mankind, and he will certainly do his best, and use all the resources at his disposal, in order to make us fall. He had done that to our forefathers, and he will certainly do the same again to all of us.
God had given us His help and assistance to us, through His prophets, His messengers, and His own Son in the end. He gave us much assistance, and gave us His Law through Moses, first to His people Israel, and then to us. the core of that Law is the Ten Commandments, which was made clear by our Lord Jesus, as the commandments of love, the love for God and the love for our fellow men. The purpose of these laws? They are meant to be our guide, and our focus, that we will not be easily swayed by the sweet promises of the devil. Yes, brethren, sweet on the outside but bitter within indeed!
The devil placed many obstacles in our path towards the Lord, and that is why, following the Lord our God will not be easy, and it will not be like a walk in the park. Following our Lord will kean a constant, daily struggle, struggle against evil and all the temptations that threaten to divert us from salvation in God. Yes, as Jesus Himself had said, that following Him means to take up our own crosses and follow Him in carrying His cross to Calvary, yes, to our own Calvary.
To follow the Lord indeed means to die to ourselves, and to die to our sins. It is to die to our old lives with Christ’s own death. We die in this way through our own baptism, when we were welcomed and entered into the Church of God, as one family of the faithful ones. Through that ‘death’ we have also been risen up together with Christ, who had triumphed and conquered death, evil, and broke all the powers of Satan through His glorious Resurrection.
Once again, I will reiterate the great difficulty of following the Lord and to remain obedient to Him, His will, and His love, as the devil uses all the resources in his disposal to prevent us from being saved, to suffer and accompany him for eternity in damnation. He deceives and betrays all who believe in him, but he is sweet and smart in his ways, that we will see him as friend and someone good, but truly, nothing good can come of working with the devil. It is a choice we need to make, between the seemingly tough and challenging path of the Lord, but one that leads to eternal life, or the other path that seems to be easy and enjoyable, but is a path to damnation.
Today, brethren, we celebrate Lay Apostolate Sunday, and the purpose of this celebration is indeed to remain us, indeed all of us who belong to the laity, and also the priests alike, must all be apostles to one another, and ultimately be the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, just as the Apostles of the Lord, who gave their all for the sake of God, and spread the Word of God to the four corners of the world, and even gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel, we too should follow in their footsteps.
Christ had repeatedly warned them and therefore, all of us, that the path that He leads is not easy, and challenges are sure to be plentiful. The world itself will hate us, but we cannot fight back hatred with hate, brothers and sisters. We must reach out to them, reach out with our own love, the love God had given to all of us. That is the meaning of Lay Apostolate, that even all of us who do not belong to the priesthood, that is the laity, all of us, have an important part to play in our Church, in our faith. How? Precisely by making sure that we obey God and His commandments, that is love. Yes, love!
The gate to heaven is narrow, brethren, and that is why it is a narrow way. But with love, and with God’s love behind us, nothing is impossible. Yes, what is impossible for man is possible for God. For from men’s perspective, we had been far too dirty and unworthy of the perfection of heaven to have even the slightest hope of redemption, and yet, through Christ, the manifestation of Divine light, we have been promised salvation, as long as we remain faithful to Him and keep true to His path.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today resolve, and indeed, vow to do our best, for the Church of God, for our brethren in need. Show them our great love, care, and compassion. Extend our hands towards them, and accept them into our embrace. The door is narrow, but to all of us who love, and who obey the Word of God, it is not narrow, brethren, but it is wide open for us! And do not forget to pray and support our priests, because just as we have much tasks to do ahead of us, to secure our salvation and the salvation of others in Christ through our actions and deeds, our priests have even greater responsibility. Continue to pray for them, support them in any way we can, while we continue to play our own part and contribute to the work of salvation, the good works of our Lord, made evident in this world, through us, His children and His apostles. God be with us, and bless us all always. Amen.