by Fr Joachim Robert
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Theme: Strength in Jesus for Mission
On this 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Peninsular Church as well celebrate the Catechetical Sunday. And on Catechetical Sunday, the theme that was chosen was “Family, a Path Towards Holiness.”
And as we continue to reflect, that family becomes a concrete unit where we grow, where we are nurtured, where we come to go through those differences that we have and those concrete situations of life becomes an opportunity for us to grow in holiness.
In the First Reading taken from the Prophet Jeremiah, a beautiful story of how Jeremiah sees himself in his identity with his community and among the people around him. His identity is founded in God, his identity has its foundation in his Lord who has formed him into existence as it says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”
Dear friends, each and everyone of us have been in the mind of God even before we know them. But we need to remember that each one of us in our family is a gift, each one of us in our family is graced by God, given this opportunity to be in that particular family because God has willed it for us. Yes, we will have challenges, we will have obstacles that comes along the way but it is by God’s design that we are blessed in a family.
And it says, the 2nd line of today’s First Reading says, “I appoint you as prophet to the nations.” So each one of us, dear friends, as members of our families and members of our community, are appointed to lead others towards the holiness of life that God calls for us. Each one of us has a privileged position in our family and in our community to lead each other towards holiness.
And again, as I mention, the circumstances and the difficulties of life that comes together in family life are many but we need to remember that whenever we enter into those challenges and difficulties, the Lord continues to say, in the last line of today’s First Reading, “For I am with you to deliver you.”
And here God gives us the assurance of faith that He will be together with us, whatever circumstances that comes together.
And as we look at ourselves, dear friends, as we look at our families and we look at our community, we are reminded that these are concrete situations that God has placed in our lives, to enrich one another and to enrich our own selves as we become people who are serious about growing in this holiness of life that God gives to us. Because family becomes a context where we share our faith, where we echo our faith, where we echo the gift/the faith of a community concretely.
And as we enter in that concrete situation of life in our families, St Paul in the Second Reading reminds us that we need to remember that we need to be ambitious for higher gifts. And love is the recipe that keeps our community together, keeps our family together and whatever circumstances of life that we endure, whether we spend time with our children, whether our children spend enough time with us, whether if there is family feuds, if there is misunderstanding, whether there is isolation in the families, all these circumstances of life, dear friends, are placed in our lives as an opportunity and a privilege for us to grow in the awareness of what we need to grow into and grow out from.
Because in everything that we do, love needs to be at the centre of our family life. Love has to be the centre of our faith because everything that we do, if it is not done in love, it is like what St Paul says, “If you have the eloquence of man or the angels but speak without love, we are just simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.”
If we do not have love in our actions, in our words, in our deeds, all that we do is in vain.
So today we pray, dear friends, that as we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, that we may be able to echo that faith that we have receive, echo the faith that we receive from our community, from our families, so that we are able to lead others to become disciples of hope, disciples of love and disciples of charity towards one another.
I would just like to share with you one incident in my own life. Because, dear friends, I come from a family of eight siblings together with my parents. And you know being in a big family, there are so many aspects of life that we need to give in, need to let go and sometimes you find your own sense of identity within your family. But whatever situations that has happened around the family, dear friends, even we argue, even we have misunderstanding, ultimately if it is not because of love, we would not be staying together as a family.
Ultimately, whatever circumstances or hatred or misunderstanding that comes along the way, love is a higher gift which we need to be ambitious for. And let us pray for the grace, dear friends, that in our circumstances of life, in the situation of life that we are in, even though our families may not be perfect, but God has given us that family to us. And we need to love the family just as how He loves us.
And if we have situations of life or situations in our family which we need to heal, let us do that in love. Let us ask the Lord to support us, to accompany us and to give us this awareness of heart to grow in love and to express that love towards our family because that ultimately, dear friends, shows the expression of our faith.
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