by Fr Francis Anthony
1 Kings 19:16,19-21
Theme: Be Committed to Follow Christ
The opening prayer, I’m going to read part of it, for this Mass and it goes like this:-
Grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.
My dear friends, how real it is when we have to make a decision, when we have to make a choice. What are the priorities that come in to help us to be objective in our choice of what to do or what to omit? And this prayer, if our mind is all wrapped up with the wrong ideas, wrong motives, then it is what is called ‘we are wrapped in the darkness of error‘. It is not someone who is saying or whispering. I am making a decision and because of my thinking, I am not wanting this so I can find all the excuses to safeguard myself and to avoid doing good.
And the text goes further and as I read just now:-
Always be seen in the bright light of truth.
And truth can never be subjective. What is truth to me is also truth for you. What is truth for you is also meant truth for me. Truth is not subjective, deduced by my own syllogism or reflection. It is the humility to be able to accept the realities and put a principle and for us, the principle comes from the scriptures. And very fittingly, Saint Paul reminds us and in today’s reading and he is telling us (as I read some of the places here):-
“My brothers, you were called as you know to liberty”
elsewhere it will be said as Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin.
We are free and Christ has given us all the help that we require to be able to make a choice, to exercise our freedom but again, in the same text it says:-
But this liberty or this freedom is not an opening for self-indulgence.
Yes, words of Saint Paul to these Galatians, many of them were non-Jewish people. And he is telling them freedom is not to be confused with self-indulgence. I want it and that is it and if it bothers you, it is your problem. No.
So, my dear friends, let us ask ourselves “Am I a person who is led by the Spirit?” So I said earlier, our guiding light is the scriptures, the teaching of the church and here the text, Saint Paul is saying:-
If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
My dear friends, let us ask God to help us in this so that the options or the priorities I am going to make an excuse is guided by the Spirit and not of self-indulgence.
And Saint Paul again says in the Second Reading “Love your neighbour as yourself“. This has come very often in various part of the scriptures. But what follows that is:-
If you snap at each other, and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.
Self-indulgence can lead us to in this direction. I want my way. This is what I think. I am not going to be following you. And what is going to happen? Disaster for the community.
My dear friends, let us ask God to help us to be faithful to Jesus and today, in the, I would not elongate, the Gospel Text, Jesus is, the three episodes where 2 people wants to follow Jesus but He puts to them “Are you ready?” And the third person, Jesus calls but that person puts a condition. So following Jesus, coming back to the truth, it is not the way I want to follow Jesus. And this, following Jesus, it is He is the Lord and Master. He is the Way, the Truth and I follow Him and I give priority to what He wants me to be.
It is very appropriate, we are already in the Thirteenth Week Ordinary Sundays. Let us ask God to give us the strength to be able to follow Jesus, the way He wants us, not snapping at each other, not wanting my way but wanting the way that has been lined out for me.
For today, the collection that will be taken (all the collection from all the Masses) will be sent to Rome, what we will call Peter’s Pence. It is sent to Rome and we will see in the books it is written for the Pope to dispense charity where the needs are. And let us not think ‘Oh this money is going there in Rome where charity is.” I am coming from the seminary, I’ve been in the seminary for twenty seven years. I subsisted because of this donation that comes from you. You send to Rome, Yes. Rome is subsidising, at least our seminary here in Penang, the seminary in Singapore (and now they are independent and they do not need help) and the seminary in Kuching. It is for this and it is not only for seminaries. It is sent to all the dioceses which are having problems to manage or break even their accounts.
In the year 1983 while I was in the seminary then as a staff, we sold our property in Pulau Tikus. Many of you might remember that. Where now we have Gurney Plaza, that was our property. It is sold then and the money, yes it was said was sent to Rome but it was not sent to Rome. It was kept in Penang itself so that Bishop could be able to dispense from that account money to other dioceses. So it is not just the seminary. So a few dioceses need help and Rome just tells Bishop and the administrator who was the Bishop of Penang sent that amount of whatever required to these poor dioceses. I am fully aware of that.
So today’s collection, it might not be a big amount, but put together, it is not the amount it is the concern for others that should make us to, in our own way, act as people who are concern as I said just now in the beginning of the Mass, let us pray for the people who are suffering because of the earthquake in the remote area in Afghanistan where the road links are very, very bad. Help funds reach them. Practically manually they are trying to rescue the people and you have seen that all in the TV.
Let us pray for them. At least 1,500 have died. I don’t know whether it will increase and more than 1,000 are suffering. Let us now say it is far away, it is Taliban region, it is not Catholic region. No. They are our brothers and sisters. Let us have concern for them, not monetary but at least through our prayers.
Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-