Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the sending of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the Lord Himself entrusted the mission to evangelise and to preach the Good News of His salvation. To them the authority had been given to bring peace and the grace of God to mankind, to all the people who are willing to welcome the peace and grace of God.
In the first reading, taken from the last chapters of the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God promised His people with hope and salvation, at a time when many periods of turmoil and suffering had occurred to them for many generations because of their own infidelity and lack of faith in God, following the pagan gods and idols rather than following the Lord their God. The northern kingdom of Israel had also fallen, and most of its people had been brought to slavery and exile in Assyria.
In those darkened and uncertain times, God had promised His mercy and peace, the rest that they would enjoy from all those things that troubled them. But at the same time, as what we heard in the Gospel today, there was a need for those who would come up and bring the word of God to the people and the masses. And only a few of them would dare to come up and to preach to the people of God, the likes of Isaiah himself, and later on Jeremiah.
If we read through the entirety of the book of the prophet Isaiah and especially later on the prophet Jeremiah, we would see how they encountered challenges after challenges in their work, and they certainly did not have it easy most of the time. The kings like Ahaz of Judah rejected Isaiah, and the later kings also rejected Jeremiah. The people refused to listen to them, and false prophets would rise to challenge Jeremiah, spreading lies and untruths, and making Jeremiah’s life very difficult.
That was why Jesus when He spoke to His seventy-two disciples whom He sent ahead of Him, spoke of how He was sending them like sheep among the wolves. They would really be wandering among those who might refuse to listen to the word of God. Some would turn themselves to God, open their hearts and follow Him, but many others would not do so, reject their message and even persecute them.
But God was with them, and He encouraged them, saying that He would be with them, and so long as they remained faithful, their names had been written in heaven, and thus the promise of eternal life and everlasting glory was already theirs. Yet, there is always a lack of faithful servants of the Lord due to various reasons, but especially because of the lack of the ability to commit to a life of suffering and difficulties that would come as a result of our faith in the Lord.
That is why Jesus said that while the harvest was plentiful, but the labourers are few, and those few labourers would not be able to fully engage and capitalise on the rich harvest, and the excess harvest will just be wasted. And this fact cannot be further than the truth today. There is a need for many more labourers and servants of the Lord, those who are willing to give up their time and effort for the sake of the Lord and for His Church.
Today, we celebrate also the feast of one of the Twelve holy Apostles, that is of St. Thomas, the Twin, also known as the doubter and the one who has always been doubtful and lacking in faith in Jesus, and to that end, even doubting that Christ had risen from the dead in His glorious resurrection. He doubted Jesus when He was going forth to Jerusalem, saying that they were all going to die together with Him. And of course all of us are aware that he also asked for a proof that Jesus had risen.
In some ways, the actions and behaviours of St. Thomas represent that of our own actions. We ourselves have not been completely faithful to the Lord, and we have our moments of doubt. There are times I am sure, when we tend to believe more in ourselves and less in God. There are also times when we think that we know it all, and we do not need God. And it is in those moments of vulnerability, when Satan can enter our hearts and sow the seeds of confusion and discord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is also the reason why many of us do not embrace the calling of God. We as Christians have been called to be His servants and to follow His ways in all things, and yet, many of us still commit actions and things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, in being selfish, in being uncaring and unloving towards others, and sometimes even bringing other people into sin through our own actions.
If we ourselves are not capable of fulfilling what is required of us as Christians, then how should we expect that we will be able to convert the whole world to the cause of the Lord? And that is precisely the mission which God had entrusted to all of us, as the members of His Church, to go forth to all the nations and preach the Good News of His salvation, and baptise them all in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
We have to start with ourselves, and make a difference from ourselves. Otherwise we will not be able to inspire others if we ourselves have not been faithful to God and righteous in our ways. God Himself will not look kindly upon us if we do not walk faithfully in His ways, if we just call ourselves Christians and yet we act in ways that are totally un-Christian in nature.
There is that challenge for us all Christians, particularly those among us who have been called to serve the Lord. God calls His servants in unique and mysterious ways. He called them through their hearts, prodding them up to take up their crosses and follow Him. He had chosen those whom He deemed to be worthy, and now it is up to those whom God had chosen to choose whether they want to follow Him or not.
But the voice of God is often muffled and silenced by the noise of this world. We are too busy, too distracted by the concerns of the world, by the concerns of power, of wealth and possessions, of the ambitions and human greed, of prestige and many other factors which affect our ability to devote ourselves to God and to His people. And the opposition from the society, even from within our own families will be great too.
Are we all ready to stand up against the challenge? Are we all ready to embrace the roles into which we have been entrusted by God? Let us all embrace our calling, be doubtful no longer but from now on be filled with courage and strength to embark on the way of the Lord. And for those among us whom God has called in His own subtle ways, let us all not be afraid but be fully dedicated and be committed to serve the Lord, carry our crosses and follow Him. St . Thomas himself, who was doubtful, eventually made a turnaround and devoted himself for the Lord with all of his heart and faced death with pride, defending his Lord and Master while bringing many nations to God’s presence.
May God bless us all, and may He put in each and every one of us, a loving heart, fully filled with love for Him and for our fellow men, that in everything we say and do, we will always bring greater glory to the Lord, our God. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.