“They followed Christ along the way”, we hear of the apostles. Our liturgy this Sunday calls us to do the same, to follow him faithfully through all the trials and suffering of life and so win the imperishable crown of eternal glory. Conscious of ways we may have failed in this lets call to mind our sins..
I never tire of telling St.Francis’s story. After a vision of a ruined church and Christ saying, “Francis rebuild my church”, he spent himself restoring corrupt church institutions and serving the poor. One day in chapel, his rich father angrily ordered him to return family’s property that he had given away. Francis took off his clothes and walked naked from the church saying, “father take back everything, I go empty handed to serve Christ”. After that he clothed himself in a rough robe tied with a chord and begged from the rich to give to the poor. Though he lived a poor simple life, before long 10,000 young men left all and followed in his footsteps. They too were tired of worldly ways.
In the same way in our Gospel Christ calls the apostles and us to abandon the corrupt world’s ways and follow him in overflowing faith and charity. We may not be asked to be as radical as Francis but we can follow Christ’s pure way, shape our world and church in his image. True that harder today when worldly ways are promoted and faith attacked. Yet to be faithful to Christ and all that’s good and true and right is the greater and more lasting way to glory.
Francis inspired millions during his life and billions since, even the present Pope took his name, but his rich self-serving father left nothing to posterity but a record of his greed. Evil and worldly ways attract in the short term, but in the long run they leave us empty. Billions adored Hitler and Stalin as they turned churches into museums and sent believers to concentration camps. But where are Hitler and Stalin now and what is their legacy, a memory of totalitarian evil and genocide.
Vital choices face each of us every day: to follow God’s way in Christ or to abandon him for the corrupt ways of the world of which Satan is lord. Its a hard choice for the power of evil has a curious attraction and has its prophets too. But its satisfaction is short-lived; as the Bible says godless ways are like something we eat that seems sweet at first but eventually turns sour in the stomach. That’s true of the anti-Christian secular values of today too. The Gospel says we can’t serve two masters. We must make the choice for money and greed or for Christ. There’s no such thing as an ideological vacuum, if we’re not serving one master we’re serving another and there are always dominant worldly ideologies that would browbeat believers. Thousands of these have come and gone but the church goes on.
Lets cling to life-giving faith then and be wise. For like our ancestors it will carry us past every trial and to eternal life. Its our happiness in this world as well as the next. Even secular scholars are realizing this. A noted psychologist on the radio said recently that we should believe for psychological well being. And a scientific study I read recently said that evolution favors those of faith. If we need faith for inner depth, long-term happiness and our survival, abandoning it is folly. Yet, as Paul says, some, seeing the light prefer darkness. Even Christians at times are fooled by contrary forces. Francis was exiled, the apostles were killed and Christ was crucified. Yet they won in the long run. They knew the ways of the world fade to ashes at last and leave us empty before eternity, but God is love, truth, beauty, grace, inner peace and salvation both for happiness in this life and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s own following Christ faithfully in love and freedom to redeem our times lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
And as God’s people loving him with all our hearts and souls let’s pray to this caring heavenly Father for all our needs..
For the church in the world, especially our Holy Father and its leaders that they may lead the faithful and all the world in the wise following of Christ and so redeem our troubled times..
For civil leaders that they may not be promoters of a secular agenda that deprives us of our great faith heritage which is still the true riches of our people and especially our youth..
For ourselves that in our homes, communities and nation we may follow and stand up for Christ and his church, and so go out to meet him when he comes at last as part of his faithful saints..
For our great young people that they may not be so caught up in the hard ways the world so as to neglect the deeper values of life and the eternal salvation of their immortal souls…
For the sick and needy in our society that they may find their comfort in the lord and that we may never fail to treat them with the love, care and gently patience of Christ himself..
For the dead that having remained faithful to Christ in this life they may come to the fullness of heavenly glory..
And We ask all these our prayers through the same Christ our ever caring and loving Lord of life amen.
There’s a story told of the early martyrs. Those who abandoned Christ and worshipped idols were spared death and given money. One man accepted this money and cursed Christ. As he watched the others going to the lions, a bystander said to him, “how lucky you are, you’re alive and wealthy while they’re all dead meat”. “No, he replied, “they are the ones who are alive, I am the one who is dead”. He sold his soul for sordid gain and knew he’d made a bad bargain. Lets pray we won’t make that mistake…Hail Mary