Brothers and sisters, God our Lord loves us, and He sent us His Son, Jesus Christ, to show that perfect love that He has for us. Jesus came that He may bring salvation to all mankind. He gave Himself for us on the cross, that through His sacrifice as our Paschal Lamb, we are purified from our sins and our unworthiness before the Lord.
He gave us His new commandments of love, that through His disciples, we receive the commandments to love one another, and to love God with all our beings, with all our attentions. He gave us these that we may have love in all of us, and therefore worthy of Him who created us, because God is love, and without love, we cannot be with Him.
He did not leave the Apostles empty handed either, when He departed from them and ascended into heaven. He gave the Apostles, and from them to us, the very Advocate, the Holy Spirit that is from God, that the Spirit would come and transform this world, with the power of God. The Holy Spirit came over the Apostles and energised them, and gave them the courage to preach the Good News of the Lord.
Through the Apostles, we too receive the Holy Spirit, which is descended to us through a continuous succession of shepherds in the Church, to our priests and bishops today. In the sacrament of baptism that we received, either directly after our birth or in our adulthood, we were welcomed into the Church of God, and be reunited with God through the waters and baptism, and we also receive the Holy Spirit, which is then strengthened by the conferring of the sacrament of confirmation.
The Holy Spirit empowers us and gives all of us the strength to be disciples and missionaries of the Lord, and that allows us to follow through Jesus’ mission to us, that is to evangelise to the entire world. We are today called to be messengers of God’s word. But brethren, we have to make sure that we ourselves are properly placed to proclaim God’s words to the nations, like St. Paul once did, to the people of Rome and beyond.
We have to follow the Church’s teachings and commandments of the Lord as taught by the Church. Listen to the homilies of our priests in the Mass, read the Scripture with commentaries on the passages, and learn more about our faith through reading of sources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains basically everything that we need to know about our faith. Also understand and learn more on the history of the Church, which had existed since it was established by Jesus Christ Himself and which He had built on Peter, which the Pope, who is his successor, represents Christ in this world and act as the leader and shepherd of all God’s sheep and flocks.
Be careful not to spread false teachings and follow the false prophets that run rampant in our world today, as the Scripture is easily misinterpreted, and the witness to the faith as represented by St. John the Evangelist in his Gospel of John, which we read today, can easily be used by Satan to turn the word of God and twist it to serve his own purposes. Remember that Satan himself used the words of the Scripture in his attempts to tempt Jesus in the desert.
Pray and pray, and make sure that we have a healthy spiritual life, and feeding constantly on the word of God that provides us with spiritual sustenance, and receive often the Lord in the Most Precious Eucharist, and allow Him to dwell into ourselves, that the Holy Spirit that dwells within us can truly exercise its power and bear fruits of the Holy Spirit, such as love and compassion.
Jesus too did not leave us without hope, as through John too, He gave to us the vision of His second coming, of His long-awaited return to this world. This time not as a humble king, but as a terrible judge and triumphant King who would judge all creations and separate the good from the bad. He gave that vision to John, so that we will be ready and not be complacent, that when He comes, we will not be caught unprepared like the five unwise women, who did not bring extra oil with them. Be rather like the five wise women who stood ready with extra oil, that when the time comes, we are ready for the Lord.
Today, we celebrate the memorial and feast of a great Pope and saint of the early Church, that is Pope St. John I. Pope St. John I was an upright and faithful man, dedicated to the Lord, and was chosen to lead the Universal Church due to his holiness and love for the Lord, and prolonged service for the sake of the Lord and the Church. He was forced by the secular authorities, who have fallen to heresies, to gain moderation for the punishment for heresy, and despite the Pope’s opposition, he was forced to do so, and yet, when he had successfully done so, he was imprisoned for treachery and plotting charges against that secular ruler.
Despite the betrayal, and the imprisonment, Pope St. John I did not falter but remain steadfast to his death, as a martyr of the faith. He is a role model, an upright person, whose faith in God and steadfastness is an example to all of us, to be more courageous like him in spreading the Good News of the Lord. We have to be courageous, to spread the message of God’s love, and may God be with all of us in this mission, which Christ had entrusted to us. God bless us all. Amen.