Wednesday, 24 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the moment when the Israelites rebelled against the Lord in the desert from the Book of Exodus, and then from the Gospel passage we heard from the Lord Himself speaking to His disciples on the parable of the sower.

In the first reading today, we listened to the anger and rebelliousness of the people of Israel who did not show gratitude to the Lord for having freed them from the slavery in the land of Egypt. They grumbled and complained against the Lord and Moses, His servant and their leader who had led them out of the land of Egypt, saying that they would rather be enslaved in Egypt and enjoy the bountiful food and drinks there rather than to suffer in freedom in the desert.

And yet, the Lord continued to provide for them patiently, promising them food and drink, providing them with nothing less than bread from heaven, and also flocks of birds to give them meat to eat daily, as well as crystal-clear, clean and sweet water to drink. And all of these God gave to His people Israel, for the entirety of the forty years during which all of them journeyed through the desert, where there was no life, nothing to eat and nothing to quench a person’s thirst with.

Sadly, that would not be the last time that the people disobeyed God and refused to listen to Him and to Moses. They would constantly grumble, rebel, disobey and work against the Lord, as the people continued to complain that life had been better in Egypt, or that the food and drink that the Lord provided to them were not as good as what they had expected or what they thought they had experienced in their former life in Egypt.

And let us all keep all of those in mind as we move on into our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord mentioned the famous parable of the sower to His disciples and to the people. In that parable, we heard of how the sower spread the seeds to several different places, and depending on where the seeds landed, they ended up and grew differently based on the conditions of the locations where they landed at.

Those seeds that fell on the rocky ground, or by the roadside, or those that fell among the thistles and brambles were those seeds that fell on unfavourable grounds that did not allow those seeds to grow properly, and therefore preventing the seeds from growing into a well developed plant that can bear rich and bountiful produce or fruits, unlike those seeds that fell on the rich and fertile soil.

And this is what had exactly happened to the Israelites as mentioned in our first reading today, as those people have received the ‘seeds’ of faith from God, having received the truth of God and His laws through Moses, and yet, they did not let the seeds of faith to grow deep in their hearts and minds. They were bogged down and distracted by the concerns of the world and by their desires for worldly pleasures.

That prevented them from being truly faithful to the Lord, and that was why they constantly rebelled against God, again and again. They did not provide the good and fertile soil for the seeds of faith to grow well in them, and as a result, they did not have a genuine faith for God. That was why they continued to slip and fall into sin, again and again. They did not allow God to enter into their hearts.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to be like them as well? God has also given us the same seeds of faith, and unless we do differently from what the Israelites had done, we will end up falling into the same trap of faithlessness and disobedience against God. And therefore, today, we should look up to the examples shown to us by one of our holy saints, whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. Sharbel Makhluf.

St. Sharbel Makhluf, also known as St. Charbel Makhlouf was a Maronite monk and priest, whose piety and commitment to the Lord was truly exemplary and legendary, as many people came to regard him as a paragon of virtue and faith, in how he dedicated himself completely to the Lord in prayer and through a holy life. He allowed the Lord to make use of his life as a wonderful display of what being true Christian means for all of us.

Many miracles and wonders happened after he passed away, and his body was found to be incorruptible and in excellent condition even decades after be passed away. This is the truly good example of how the Lord’s sown seeds of faith have grown wonderfully and bountifully in a fertile and rich soil, that is the rich and fertile soil of our hearts and minds that are fully attuned towards the Lord and are centred on Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore devote ourselves to serve the Lord from now on with all of our hearts, with all of our strength and courage, and with all of our abilities, and not allowing ourselves to be distracted and tempted by sin and the desires and greed within our hearts. May the Lord be our guide and may He empower us all to live faithfully from now on. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the trust and obedience that each and every one of us must have in our lives towards God, our loving Father and Creator, the One Who loves each and every one of us, and by Whose hands we have been brought to freedom from sin, through the gift of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, the people of God, the sons and daughters of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt by God’s own great power. Those who were saved enjoyed God’s saving power because they obeyed the Lord and His commands, which He made through His servant Moses. They followed the Lord’s instructions, on the Passover and what they ought to do, smearing the blood of the Passover lambs on their house doorposts.

Those who did not do what the Lord has commanded them to do, and refused to believe in the Lord and obey Him, like the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as the latter constantly refused to let the people of Israel go free until the very end, all of these suffered because of their disobedience and stubborn refusal to listen to God. They rejected God’s truth and love, and therefore, received the wrath of God as a result.

In our Gospel passage today, this message was reiterated once again by the Lord Jesus Himself, as He mentioned before His disciples and the people, that all those who do the will of God, His heavenly Father, obey Him and follow His ways, are all those who will be considered as His brothers, His sisters and His mother. This happened when the relatives of the Lord came to see Him, and those were waiting while the Lord was busy teaching the people.

It may seem that the Lord Jesus was being rude in rebuking His own relatives and refusing to acknowledge them in such a public manner before His own disciples and so many of the people. But if we look at it more carefully and understand the context and purpose in which the Lord made that comment, then we will realise that the Lord was making a point, calling on the people to be truly faithful to the Lord.

And it also showed how the Lord would not be limited by the boundaries of societal norms and familial relations, which often caused people to be divided and grouped together, to the exclusion of others. What the Lord has done was to show that God’s love is extended to all the people equally, with no favourites and cliques. All those who has obeyed the Lord and done His will shall be considered as God’s own beloved ones.

That is precisely because of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has assumed our humanity in the flesh, the Divine Son of God Who has willingly taken up our human existence and essence to be His own, that in His person is perfectly united and yet distinct, two natures, fully Divine and fully Man at the same time. Through His humanity, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, He has made a new Covenant between us and God.

And by this Covenant, each and every one of us have been made worthy of adoption by God Himself, to share with Christ and through Him the status as the beloved children of God. But are we willing to be part of this great inheritance? More often than not, we are distracted and prevented from finding our way because of the many temptations present in this world, because of sin.

Today, perhaps, all of us should look upon the examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Bridget of Sweden, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Bridget was born into a noble family and was a devoted mother of a large family. She was remembered for her great piety and generosity in helping the poor and the needy, in being generous for all those who were in need.

St. Bridget devoted her life to the Lord, especially after her husband passed away early, and began the foundation of a religious order eventually named after her, the Brigittines, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, gathering men and women from many backgrounds to dedicate themselves to the Lord in prayer and service in monasteries. She went on a pilgrimage to Rome and stayed on there, performing many more good works throughout the rest of her life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the piety and commitment shown by St. Bridget of Sweden should become a great inspiration and example for each one of us to follow, in our own lives, that we may also do the same and may also grow ever closer to God, in our obedience and wilful following of God’s will in each and every single days of our life.

May the Lord continue to guide us all in our journey of life, and may He strengthen us all to live courageously with faith from now on, for the sake of His greater glory. Amen.

Monday, 22 July 2019 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of one of the great disciples and followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, one who is often considered to be an equal to the Twelve Apostles of the Lord, and one who has followed Him through much of His ministry ever since He called her from her past life, and she was also prominently mentioned in quite a few parts throughout the Gospels.

Today’s feast of St. Mary Magdalene, holy woman and devout disciple of the Lord Jesus reminds us of the great transformation that has happened to the life of this woman, who according to some Apostolic traditions and Scripture, was a sinner who lived a life of sin and debauchery, and the Lord Himself cast out many demons out of her. St. Mary Magdalene was known thereafter as a very dedicated follower of the Lord.

In all of these, we can see how God transformed the life of this woman, from someone who was sinful and corrupted into someone who is truly exemplary in faith and worthy of being an inspiration to many other Christians throughout the ages. In St. Mary Magdalene we see someone who has welcomed the Lord into her heart and into her life, allowing Him to work wonders in her and through her.

On this day, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and see how each and every one of us have lived them thus far. Many of us may not realise that the story of St. Mary Magdalene is actually not different from our own stories, her life being similar to our own lives in one way or another. We must not have the misconception of thinking of her as a wretched being whom God miraculously rescued and made clean, or that what she has done is impossible for us to emulate.

Many of us tended to take two extreme positions, both of which led us to the failure in appreciating the significance of St. Mary Magdalene, her examples and her faith. On one side, we look down on her as a sinful woman, whom God saved through mercy and pity, and therefore failing to realise that those same sins she had committed, are the very same sins that have corrupted us and which we ourselves have committed in one way or another.

On the other extreme, we may think that our sins are so severe and terrible that we cannot be forgiven by God, or that God is angry with us and our sins, and will exact punishment and destruction upon us because of those sins. This is called despair, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we must never despair before God. For God’s love for each and every one of us is so great and powerful that not even the greatest of sins can hold against His love, as long as we are fully repentant of our sins.

We must remember and indeed realise that many of the saints whom we venerate and glorify today were themselves sinners, and some among them were in fact infamous for their terrible sins. Some were murderers, while others were adulterers and unfaithful, worshipping pagan idols and gods, or performed wicked and selfish actions in their lives. But what were common among all of them is the fact that all of them repented and turned away from their sins.

They followed in the example of St. Mary Magdalene, who left behind her past life to follow God with all of her heart, which can be summed up in a way through what we have heard in our first reading passage today from the Book of Song of Songs. In that Book, the writer described a great longing and desire for God, which surpassed everything else, born from a genuine and true love for God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as I have just mentioned earlier, each and every one of us must realise and appreciate just how great God’s love is for us. He looks for us and desires for us to be reconciled with Him, and went out all the way to find us, like a Good Shepherd looking for all of us, His lost sheep, scattered in the darkened world due to our sins. And we must also remember how He endured the most bitter and painful of sufferings and pains, on the Cross, for the sake of our salvation.

Therefore, if God has loved us so much, should we not love Him in the same way then? St. Mary Magdalene had shown us her own good example, in her faith and commitment, in her genuine love for the Lord, leaving behind all traces of sin and disobedience behind her. Are we willing and able to make the commitment to do the same before God? Are we able to persist through the many temptations to sin in life?

Let us all pray that God may be moved and through the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene, that each and every one of us will realise how generous God’s love and compassionate mercy is, that we do not give in to despair, but remain hopeful in His love and merciful forgiveness. May the Lord also continue to guide us as we journey in our lives towards His grace and salvation. Amen.

Sunday, 21 July 2019 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we are all reminded of the revelation of God’s truth to us, which He has reserved to all those who are willing to listen to Him and His truth, that all of us who listen to Him and come to believe in Him may come to embrace righteousness and justice in God’s truth. All of us are reminded that God has showed us all His love and generous compassion all these while, and how it is us mankind who are often ignorant of His love.

In our first reading today, we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the encounter between God and Abraham, His servant by the oaks in Mamre when Abraham stayed in Canaan. God appeared to Abraham to reveal to him that whatever He has promised to him in the Covenant He has made with him would be upheld, through the miracle of a son that Abraham would receive from God.

Even though Abraham had earlier on contravened God’s provision by the insistence of his wife Sarah, who tried a shortcut of having a son through her slave, Hagar, but God revealed to Abraham that His Covenant and promise would remain true as how He has planned it, and not as how man planned it. Although God did bless Ishmael, the son that Abraham had with Hagar, but the fullness of His promise and Covenant lies only in the promised son that Abraham then would have with Hagar.

Before we move on into the New Testament readings, it is important that we see what God has revealed to Abraham, and, although not included in the first reading passage today, exactly how Sarah, Abraham’s wife, responded to the revelation. Sarah did not believe in the words that the travellers spoke to Abraham, not knowing that those travellers were actually God Himself in person. She laughed secretly on hearing that she would have a child even though she had been very old then.

But God knew what was in her heart and mind, and asked Sarah why she laughed at what He has revealed to both her and Abraham. Sarah denied it, but God reminded her that He knew everything, and that to prove to her, she herself would indeed bear a son, and that son would be named Isaac, whose name means ‘he laughs’ in reference to the lack of faith of Sarah in God’s revelation of truth.

From what we have heard and discussed, we can see that Sarah did not fully trust in God and placed more faith in her own thinking and perceptions, in her own capability to sort things out, when she chose to take things into her own hands by using her slave to bear Abraham a son on her behalf, and then as mentioned, when she laughed at the words of God, probably thinking that it was ridiculous for anyone to have the notion that she could bear a son at such an age.

And now, let us all compare what we have heard in the first reading from the Book of Genesis to the Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus interacted with two sisters, Martha and Mary, who ended up becoming those counted among His closest friends and disciples. In that occasion, Martha and Mary welcomed the Lord Who came into their house, and then we were shown the contrast in how the two of them welcomed the Lord.

Martha was busy preparing the house, getting ready for the meal and doing everything to show as hospitable a welcome as possible for the Lord. She did have good intentions in doing so, and most likely she believed that it was her best way of welcoming the Lord, as perhaps many of us would have also done. If a guest comes to our house, certainly we will do our best to prepare the house for the guest’s coming.

Meanwhile, Mary was with the Lord by His side, listening to Him preaching and teaching to her. Mary spent her whole time and focused all of her attention and effort to the Lord, unlike Martha who was preoccupied and busy with all of her preparations. Martha became angry at her sister and asked the Lord to tell Mary to help her in her preparations, justifying that she was so busy doing all the work by herself while Mary did not help out at all.

That was when the Lord reminded Martha that Mary has chosen a better path, one that is not clouded by our human and worldly fears and concerns, our desires and our prejudices. Mary focused her whole self on God and had total faith in Him, and that was all that matters. It was not that Martha was wrong in what she had been doing. Surely, Martha loved the Lord too, for otherwise she would not have even made the effort to prepare to welcome the Lord properly according to her standard of hospitality.

However, it was her great preoccupation and indeed, distraction caused by all of the things she was doing in the midst of her efforts and preparations that became obstacles for her in her effort to welcome the Lord into her heart. She was so busy trying to welcome the Lord into her house that she has forgotten to welcome Him into her even more important house, the house of her soul, that is her heart!

And that was what happened with Sarah in the Book of Genesis as well, because she was so busy and distracted being concerned of trying to have a son with her husband Abraham, that she had less faith in God and tried to have a shortcut instead by using her slave Hagar as a means to achieve her goal, and when as mentioned, God came up to her and told her what His plan was for her and Abraham, she did not believe, because she forgot to welcome God into her house properly, that is her heart.

Contrast that with Abraham, who like Mary, welcomed the Lord and brought Him into his own house, both literally and also figuratively, because Abraham trusted in God and believed in Him, and he listened to Him with all of his heart and attention. That was why in another occasion, when God asked Abraham to test his faith, by asking him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham listened to God and complied with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Do we also act in the manner of Sarah and Martha, who were distracted by their business and concerns in life, or do we act in the manner of Abraham and Mary, who had true and sincere faith for God? Let us all reflect on our own lives, our own actions and deeds in life thus far. Have we been faithful as we should have been faithful? Have we made the effort to welcome God into our hearts, into our minds and into our beings?

This is a reminder for each and every one of us not to allow our busy schedules, the many distractions and temptations in life to prevent us from appreciating the faith which we have in God. Let us all overcome those temptations and turn ourselves wholeheartedly from now on to God, focusing our whole attention to Him just as Abraham and Mary had done. As St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle today, to all of us, God has revealed the wonderful truth of His love.

Let us all therefore be faithful bearers and witnesses of God’s love, from now on, so that in our every actions and deeds, we will always be true and be dedicated in all things, devoting our every moments and opportunities to bring glory to God and to show His love and wonderful mercy to all of our fellow brethren in this world. May God bless us all and may He guide us in our journey of life. Amen.

Saturday, 20 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of the promise of God’s salvation and His ever present loving kindness in our midst, because we are all so fortunate to have been beloved by God. Each and every one of us are precious in the sight of God, without any exception. God is generous with His love and He will always be faithful to the Covenant He has made with us.

In our first reading today, we heard of the Lord guiding His people Israel as they went in hurry out of the land of Egypt right after their very first Passover celebration, when the Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go free after the Lord sent the last Great Plague on the Egyptians, killing all the firstborn children of Egypt. God brought them and provided for them, and asked them to bring unleavened bread along with them as sustenance along the journey.

In the Gospel passage, we heard yet another time when the Lord revealed His salvation and great love for His people, through none other than the Saviour He Himself has promised, in Jesus Christ, His own Begotten Son, through Whom the whole race of mankind was to be saved from eternal damnation and from the fate of sure destruction. The Lord Who has once saved His people, now committed Himself to save all of them from certain death.

The liberation of Israel under the leadership of Moses in the Old Testament was indeed the prefigurement and prelude to the true liberation of not just Israel, but that of all mankind under the leadership of Christ. Just as the Israelites suffered under the tyranny of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, all of us mankind have suffered greatly under the bondage of sin, which corrupted us and brought us closer to eternal damnation.

God, Who loves each and every one of us, does not want destruction to be our fate, and therefore, He sent us the promised salvation through Christ, His own Son, by Whose wonders and works, He revealed the true extent of His love and generous mercy towards us, His own beloved people. Even though we have sinned against Him, constantly being stubborn and rebelled against Him, He still loves each one of us nonetheless.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, if God has loved us so much that He has been willing to show us all these wonderful love and blessings, shall we not then strive to show Him the same kind of love and commitment? Shall we not devote our time, effort and attention to He Who has been so generous and kind to us? Let us all think about this even as we carry on living our lives faithfully as Christians.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Apollinaris, a holy bishop and martyr, whose example in faith and whose dedication to the Lord can be a source of inspiration for us in how we should live our own lives with faith and dedication to the Lord. St. Apollinaris was one of the earliest bishops of the Church, successor to the holy Apostles of Christ. He was appointed as the first Bishop of Ravenna in what is today Italy, near the capital of the Roman Empire.

He was persecuted and suffered greatly with his flock during the persecution of Christians by the early Roman Emperors, but he continued to evangelise to the people and preach the Good News regardless, performing many miracles and wonders before the people. He was oppressed and made to suffer and it was told that later on he was arrested and persecuted as the leader of the Church in Ravenna, and yet, despite all these, he did not give up his efforts.

Instead, he continued to serve the Church faithfully and ministered to the people of God to the best of his abilities, which showed his dedication, commitment and love for God, as such courage and dedication would not have been possible without a heart that is so filled with genuine love for God and with true faith in Him. God has a centre part in his life, and this is what each and every one of us as Christians should be doing as well.

Let us all therefore contemplate and strive to do our best from now on, to become ever better Christians, through our own words, actions and deeds. May the Lord continue to guide us down the path to salvation in Him, and bless us all in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 19 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the matter of obeying the will and the commandments of God, not just superficially but also understanding the whole meaning and purpose of the Law in our hearts and minds. In that, we have heard the reading from the Book of Exodus relating to us the moment of the first Passover in Egypt, and then also the encounter between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law regarding the Law of the Sabbath in the Gospel today.

In the Book of Exodus, God had performed many powerful wonders and miracles before His people and before the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as the latter continued to refuse to let the Israelites, the people of God, to go free from their bondage and return to the land promised to them and their ancestors. As such, God sent Ten Great Plagues to the land of Egypt, causing great destruction and harm on the Egyptians who continued to harden their hearts against God.

And the last of the great plagues was also the greatest one, the plague of death that afflicted all the firstborn children of Egypt, which ‘passed over’ the Israelites, as they had followed what God had exactly instructed them to do in our first reading passage today. They were instructed to take a young lamb less than one year old to be slaughtered for the Passover and its blood taken to mark the doorposts and lintels of the houses of the Israelites.

That was the very first Passover celebrated by the Israelites, following the commandments of God and listening to His instructions. And He also instructed them to remember that celebration of the Passover and to celebrate it every years in remembrance of that very night when the Lord had brought His people out of slavery and bondage, freeing them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

That is what the Lord has intended when He asked of them to celebrate the Passover and to remember the love which He has shown to them, His great compassion and faithfulness, His steadfastness and commitment to the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors and which then He had renewed with them as well. But in time, the people ended up forgetting why they celebrated the Passover in the first place, just as the Gospel passage illustrated to us.

In that passage, we heard the exchange between the Lord Jesus and the teachers of the Law on a different matter, that is on the matter of the obedience to the Law of the Sabbath. That Law stated that all the people of Israel must not perform any work or labour on the day of the Sabbath, and which the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees interpreted very strictly to impose a total ban on work on the day of the Sabbath.

And when the Lord Jesus and His disciples seemed to disobey the precepts of the Sabbath Law, by performing work and miracles on that day, which the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees contested on many occasions, they became even fiercer in their criticism and opposition to the Lord. But they did not understand that the Law of the Sabbath was not meant to be understood or used in that manner, much as the Passover was at the time of Moses.

What happened was that the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees had become superficial in their observation of the Law and the commandments of God. They focused on the external observation of the laws and customs, and were focused on the fine details of such observation, but failing to realise the very purpose and intention of why that Law was made in the first place, that is because God loves His people.

The Law was never meant to oppress or make the people suffer and have a difficult life. On the contrary, it was meant to help and guide the people on their way and journey towards God so that they would not end up losing their way through that journey. It was God’s love for us that He has given the Law as a means for us to guide ourselves and to keep ourselves disciplined in faith, so that we may become closer to God.

And the Lord used examples from the past, using the example of king David himself, who ate of the bread of offerings which were reserved only for the consumption of the priests, when he and his followers were desperate and hungry without food. Essentially what the Lord mentioned here is that, the letter of the Law must not be separate from the spirit of the Law. The letter of the Law is what the Law in its literal meaning as the teachers of the Law understood, but the spirit of the Law is the intention and the purpose of the Law, which is God’s love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, today’s Scripture readings are challenging us to reflect on our own lives. Have we lived our Christian lives and faith in a manner more like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in only understanding the letter but not the spirit of the Law? Have we spent our Christian lives only following the rules and regulations of the Church because we think that we have to follow or obey them, or do we have deeper understanding of the meaning of those laws?

Let us all therefore deepen our faith in God, and spend time and effort to become ever closer to God, that we may become better and more committed Christians, no longer focusing on superficial faith, but instead to the deeper spirituality in our hearts, and in building genuine relationship with God from now on, in our community. May God bless us always in this endeavour. Amen.

Thursday, 18 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the trust that all of us must have in God, for He alone is capable of supporting, guiding and providing for us, giving us the strength and courage required for us to remain strong despite the adversity and challenges we have to face in life. We should not lose faith in Him and instead, keep our trust in Him ever stronger.

In today’s first reading, we heard of the doubt and uncertainty which Moses showed the Lord in the Book of Exodus the moment when God called him at Mount Horeb through a miraculously burning bush. Moses was unsure of the role into which God has called him, and wanted assurance from the Lord as he was not confident of his own abilities and strength in having to do what the Lord has entrusted on his shoulders.

But the Lord quickly reassured him and told him what he ought to say before the assembled people of Israel, that He was with him and that He has sent Moses into their midst to be the one who would deliver them out of slavery, and bring them into the land promised to them and to their ancestors. God Himself revealed to Moses what He was about to do in order to bring His people out of the land of Egypt.

Certainly, it was not something that Moses would enjoy doing or have things going his way easily. In order for him to carry on what the Lord has commanded him to do, Moses had to endure a lot of difficulties and challenges throughout the many years that he was leading the people of Israel through the times when they were still in Egypt, when he led the people out of the land of Egypt, and as he led them through the desert.

Moses had to endure a lot of troubles and pain, humiliations and pressure from the people, who refused to listen to him and defiantly reject to obey the will of God and His laws. Yet, God was always with him, guiding him and providing for him along the way. He was always there for him, giving him guidance and advice, and strengthened him to carry on his duties as the leader of the whole nation.

This is what we heard in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord spoke to the people about the yoke that He has brought into this world, His yoke that is lighter than the yoke of the world. This yoke is referring to the difficulties and challenges that all of us as Christians may have to endure as we remain true and faithful to our commitment as those whom God has called to be His own people.

But this yoke is much lighter indeed compared to the yoke of sin, which is the yoke of slavery and bondage caused by our sins and all of our disobedience against God. The yoke of sin may seem to us to be less troublesome, more appealing and less painful, and they may even seem to be enjoyable, but we must not be tempted or fooled. This is Satan’s trick to bring us into our downfall by making the path to our ruin less painful and more appealing than the reality.

The sufferings we may have to endure in this world indeed can be difficult and painful, and Moses himself had suffered the same kind of difficulties and challenges, and he also agonised over them. However, we must persevere, be courageous and strong despite these temptations, as in the end, those sufferings we have to bear as those who are faithful to God are just temporary but the sufferings caused by sin will be for eternity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves anew towards God from now on, doing whatever we can to be good disciples and followers of the Lord, as those who are truly worthy of being called as true Christians. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He strengthen us in our faith, now and always. Amen.