LIVING WITH CONFIDENCE
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [Jer 33:14-16; Ps 25; 1 Th 3:12 – 4:2; Lk 21:25-28.34-36 ]
In the gospel, Jesus spoke of the signs that would precede the Second Coming of the Son of Man. “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” However, we should not fear the end, because it is not meant to be a day of punishment but a day of reward. Indeed, the Lord said, “when these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.”
But why do some people fear the end? Because they are worried that they would not be ready to meet the Lord and account to Him for the life they have lived, the blessings of talents, the wealth and the resources. They are afraid that they would fail the judgment of God. And so talking about the final judgement helps them, as it did during the time of our Lord, to take their life on earth seriously as the future reality will depend on the present life. Some are so obsessed about the final judgment that they live in fear rather than in true freedom and peace. Such an approach to life contradicts the gospel because the judgement of God is truly a judgement of love.
However today, we have the opposite situation where most people never give a thought about the future state of life. This is because we are living in a different situation. In the days of old, life was hard due to poverty, illnesses, epidemics, wars and natural disasters. Therefore, it was natural for such people, whose life span was also short, to be prepared for the future life, which would be a better life than what they had on earth. However, today, with a better standard of living, a more comfortable life, the sumptuous spread of food, and good medical care, old age masked by cosmetic makeover, life has been prolonged; people are now more concerned about enjoying this life than giving thought to the next life since this life is so good!
Indeed, these are the warning signs of our times that the Lord spoke about in the gospel. Relativism, atheism, individualism and materialism. There is a loss of the sense of the Sacred. The consequence is that people no longer have respect for the sacredness of life. This explains why abortion is taken lightly and in some quarters, doctors are suggesting that abortion should be extended even to newly born babies. Now, the world is promoting euthanasia, simply because they believe that life ends and finishes at death, and we disappear from the face of this world forever.
Furthermore, the time immemorial institutions of marriage and family are under threat. As a result, we will have more dysfunctional children who will grow up without a real identity, even of their sexual identity. In the West, they are promoting Agender, gender neutral or transgender or intersex. Humanity has come to such a degraded state, they are even promoting bestialism. In some Western countries, and even in Indonesia, they have animal sex brothels. Such obsession with sex is because of pornography and promiscuity, where people become addicted with sex through constant indoctrination by the mass media. That is why we still have many sexual crimes committed each day even though they know how serious the penalty is for such crimes.
Another imminent sign that the world could end up destroying itself is the way we treat creation. The failure to practice ecology will lead to greater global warming and climate change and the destruction of creation. Recently, the United States sent a spacecraft to Mars, which is about 484 million kilometres away, hoping to try to understand how Mars became inhabitable when it was believed that it was once habitable.
But why do we live this kind of fake life, pretended happiness when we are not truly at peace in our hearts and the joy is superficial? This is because it is focused on self, not on others. A joy contained within oneself will eventually be stifled out. In truth, as the Lord warned us, “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap.” Indeed, it is the temptations of the flesh, the World and Satan that has led us to live an unenlightened, sensual life focused on oneself without any real love and concern for others. People are there for us to make use of, but we do not give our hearts to love and authentic relationships.
That is why, if we want to live a happy life on earth and hereafter, we must live the fullness of life at the end of time on this earth. If true happiness in life consists in freedom, love, relationships, giving and sharing and humble service then, we should already be living this life on earth. This is what living a life of holiness is. St Paul said, “And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.” By living a life of holiness, we live a blameless life before God and before men. We live in total freedom without fear of judgement because at all times, we could walk and stand with heads erect as we having nothing to hide.
A life of holiness means to live a life of integrity. St Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it.” This means that we live out who we are, Christ’s disciples and what we are called to do according to the gospel taught to us by the Lord. When our life is consistent, who we are is also what we believe; we can live our life in total freedom from all fear because we live a blameless life, a life with a clear conscience. It makes no difference when the Lord comes, now, next year, at the end of their life on earth or at His second coming. When we live a life of integrity we are always welcoming the Lord who comes at every moment of our life.
A life of holiness must be expressed in a life of charity. St Paul wrote, “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.” Holiness in the Bible, in fact, is spelt out in terms of charity. The Lord, after commanding the people to “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy”, gave them a list of instructions as to how they should treat their neighbours, their loved ones, the elderly, the poor and the stranger. (Lev 19) So how can we know that we have grown in holiness if not in our capacity to love more and more, to forgive those who have hurt us, to tolerate those who are weak and to be compassionate with those who are poor and vulnerable?
That is why at the beginning of the New Liturgical Year, the Lord invites us to start the year with a new beginning so that we will have a glorious ending. The Lord says, “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.” We must keep ourselves alert to the signs of the times, which are not just cosmic signs but the events that are happening around us and in our lives. We just have to become conscious of the consequences of sin, infidelity, immorality, cheating, and dishonesty.
Today, we are called to imitate our Lord, who is the Promised Messiah, to show us the way to true peace and joy. Jesus by His life, death and resurrection has shown us the way to live a life of integrity, which is fidelity to His vocation as the Son of God, the Saviour of humanity. We too are called to live out our fidelity to the Father as His adopted sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ. St Paul reminds us, “You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.” So with the psalmist, we are called to learn from the Lord by contemplating on His word and His ways. Walking the way of the Lord is the sure path to fullness of life.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
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