By Fr Francis Anthony
Jesus is the Way, Truth & Life
Our opening prayer for the Eucharist that I read and I am going to read again. It goes like this:-
O God who calls the mind of the faithful to unite in a single purpose.
Yes, all of us are significantly adhering to this, brought us from many places, many races but we are here for a single purpose and we ask God:-
Grant your people (that is us) to love what You command.
It is not just ‘I come to church and I finish my Sunday or weekend obligation‘ but the desire to love what You command and desire what You promise.
So there is always this longing for something beyond us. And we are asking God, through our prayer as a community of worshippers, to give us that oneness. And this is highlighted in a different way through our First Reading. It is coming as a conclusion in the book of Isaiah where Isaiah is saying:-
I’ll bring all the people, the survivors of the tragedy of being sent into exile. I will bring all of them back. A promise that you are suffering but I would not leave you in that state of suffering. I will bring you back to Jerusalem.
And then he goes further and he says:-
Then I will send you as missionaries to the various countries. You will be my disciples (and here all those names there, I would not read it as it is not in our geography books but all those are in the Middle East region) and more than that, you will be bringing offerings to Jerusalem, yes, from all those places, not as people who are in captivities but as people who are free and you are coming back to bless God, to thank God. You are bringing all your gifts
and God goes beyond and this, in the Jewish mind, it is very serious. For the Jewish people, the priests are called from a certain cast of the people, the tribe rather of the people. And the Levites, those who work in the sanctuary, coming from that particular family. But now, in the reading it says:-
And some of them (those people) I will make them priests and Levites too, says the Lord.
So it is God’s plan, that promise given to Abraham coming down in the Jewish history is not the kingdom only for them, it is universal. And our gifts are on par with the gifts of the Levite priests. And we thank God that he is opening his eyes to us and wanting the best for us. And we go through big struggles to be able to live our faith. Yes, that is summed up in the Second Reading where we are called Sons of God and God punishes the children and there is hardships but the text says:-
You are not to be destroyed. It is the love of God.
Tomorrow, the Bishops of Asia, we call this group FABC, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, from Asian Countries and it reflects in our reading. They are not Jews. All the Asian Countries from Pakistan right up to Japan. How the church has gone to all these places. It is the plan of God and discussing what is going to be the role to have a One Church. We are saying that prayer every time we come for Mass after the Prayer of the Faithful, pray for the Synod. Next year is the big gathering of all the Bishops to see how we live our lives as Christians. The word ‘Synod’ is how we walk together. ‘Syn Ordos’ is coming from a Greek word which means ‘with‘ and ‘journeying‘.
And you will see how real when we pay attention to the readings that God is not far away. He is concern for us. As I have said just now. I am very proud of you in this inclement weather carrying your umbrellas and coming to church. Let us also remember it is not you coming. God is also coming to you. And what is important is coming in the Gospel text where we had to enter through the narrow door.
Yes, it is just not because you have been baptised and you have confirmed and all that. I have to struggle to live my faith. And to live my faith is not just I say the rosary, I go for devotional prayers. To live my faith is how I become a missionary, how I reach out to others. Not necessary for you to go to South Africa and America to preach. How I am, in my own way, bringing Christ to others.
And that is what it means. God is making us, He has chosen us to be priests and Levites that we are able to transform the world in our own way. God has confidence in us. Yes. Let us not think God is not. He has confidence in us and He is putting a lot of responsibility on us but at the same time, He is helping us.
The narrow door is how I try with my limited resources, limited knowledge, how I may bring Christ to others just as He gives himself to us, I will give myself to others.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-