Our liturgy this week calls us to serve God in action not just words. To live our faith and so be lights to the lost and needy world is our baptismal call. Lets confess ways we fail in this..
Once a person approached a famous professor about a young man and said: “They say he was one of your students”. The professor replied: “he did indeed attend my lectures, but believe me, he was never a student of mine”. There’s another story about a person visiting a monastery containing numerous monks. Amazed, the man asked the abbot how many disciples he had. “2 or 3”, he replied. Christ also distinguished between camp followers and true disciples. Many today too, though called to follow him along the true way, are more often “in the way”, or “by the way”.
This is because the serious demands he makes causes many to shy away from full commitment. For example many rich people pay no heed to his command to help the needy until it hurts. Also, many today shy away from key aspects of practice like Sunday mass, attending the sacraments, or standing up for Christian values. Or they heed secular ideology rather than church teaching. Such mediocre following is no use to the Lord. As God says in the Bible, “because you’re neither hot nor cold I’ll spit you out of my mouth”, strong words. To be authentic disciples through thick and thin, that the challenge before us, lest we lose the plot.
A story of the early church shows how this can happen to even to the best. Christians were being persecuted for their faith. Those who renounced Christ and worshipped the Emperor as a God were given large amounts of money. One Christian who had been very prominent in the church accepted the money and burnt incense to the Emperor as his Lord. As he watched fellow Christians going to die, a soldier said to him: “aren’t you lucky, you’re alive and wealthy while they’re dead meat”. “No”, he said, “they’re the ones who are alive, I’m the one who’s dead”. He sold his soul for passing wealth, false worldly gods, and knew it was a bad choice. Lets not do that, but keep up the effort to live our faith despite weaknesses and doubts. And in this we can take courage from the example of the apostles. They struggled at every point to follow him, even running away at the end. Yet he didn’t write them off. And Eventually they did serve him unto death. No less is expected of us. Staunch lifelong service of Christ and his church through thick and thin is the Christian call in every age.
True, in the modern world That’s more difficult. When we were growing up it was easier. Everyone went to mass and followed a code of life that was broadly Christian. Now, as this erodes, we have to really stand up and be counted; especially young people who have the added problem of secular peer pressure. Add to that recurrent sins, and all are tempted to give up. But like the apostles we must live our faith faithfully despite all these temptations to lapse. Remember when the people left Jesus because of his teaching on the Eucharist. He said to the apostles: “will you also go away”. Peter answered: “lord to whom shall we go, you’ve the message of eternal life”. That’s the answer we must give today too. For all else fades to dust and ashes but He’s lord of love, truth, beauty, goodness and salvation both for this world and forever and ever; amen. So as God’s own called to discipleship, to faithful suffering following of Christ and the church, lets profess our faith…
Prayers of the faithful
And as the people of God, his disciples on the way of life with Him and his church, we pray for the strength to be the faithful..
For our holy Father the Pope and all the leaders of the church, that they may by word and examples bring the whole world to true godly discipleship and eternal salvation in Christ..
For civil leaders that they may not put any obstacles in the way of Christians trying to nurture their children’s faith..
For young people that they may light up the world by living the vows they made at Confirmation, to follow Christ and practice the faith faithfully within the Holy Catholic Church all life long..
For ourselves that in homes, work places and country we may have the courage to stand up for Christ and be his living presence to our children and loved ones in particular..
For the sick, the lonely, the aged and the needy in body or soul that through our love and witness they may know the love of God..
For the dead that their lives over, the faith kept, and their work in this world done, they may come to the reward of life and light in the heavenly home with God. May our prayers light them home and we pray especially for those who died recently in the parish and those whose anniversaries occur at this time…
And we ask all these our prayers through the only Lord of love, peace and happiness, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who constantly intercedes for us before his father in heaven amen
A great example of faithful following of Christ is St.Stephen, the first martyr. He was a deacon who preached Christ in the early church. He was brought before the opponents of the church and warned under threat to his life to stop. But he kept on preaching all the same; so he was captured and sentence to death. As he was stoned to death his face shone with light and he cried out: “Father forgive them”. We pray that we will have the same courage against more subtle attacks on faith today…Hail Mary.