MAKE THE PREACHING OF THE GOOD NEWS YOUR LIFE’S WORK
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [2 TIm 4:1-8; Mk 12:38-44]
In his final farewell testament to Timothy, his beloved disciple, St Paul asked Timothy to make the preaching of the Good News his life’s work. Indeed, this should also be the life’s work of every one of us. We might not be full time preachers and missionaries of the Good News, but isn’t our whole life supposed to be one of Good News in words and deeds to everyone? We are called to be a blessing to everyone who comes our way. In this way, we become the Good News to others. Our goal and purpose in life is to be the Good News to others.
This was how St Paul lived his life. His whole life was devoted to the proclamation of the Good News about Jesus Christ. Every ounce of energy he had, every opportunity that he could seize, every occasion that presented itself, whether in prison or out of prison, whether with the Jews in the synagogue or with the Gentiles, before the Sanhedrin, the Tribunal Courts, governors and kings, Paul made use of every occasion to speak about the resurrection of Jesus. He wasted no time or opportunity to speak about Jesus. When he was with the elders at Ephesus, he told them, “I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) “I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
Giving ourselves entirely to His service would entail that we be ready to suffer with Him for the sake of the salvation of others. Paul told Timothy, “Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience but do with all patience and with the intention of teaching.” Timothy, who was the leader of the Christian community at Ephesus, was reminded to proclaim the gospel, welcome or unwelcome. This is certainly a tall order for us today. Many of us are afraid, out of political correctness, to say anything that can offend the sensitivities of people in the world who are advocating selfish, self-centered, materialistic and sensual satisfaction.
Few people today dare to call a spade a spade for fear of being hated or attacked. So we only say things that people are happy to hear, like God loves us all. It doesn’t matter whether we do right or wrong, His love is there for us. He accepts everyone. So there is no need to change. This is half the truth of the gospel.
Timothy was also asked to “refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience but do with all patience and with the intention of teaching.” It is not enough to underscore God’s compassion and forgiveness. But this does not mean that the God of Justice and Truth will tolerate evil and injustices. This is why the gospel must also correct the errors of the world. We cannot ignore the fact that the truth is being suppressed by powerful people in the world who have money, influence, technology and power. We would be failing in our duty if we do not proclaim the truth of the gospel and call people to repentance and obedience. As leaders and guardians it is our duty to instruct the ignorant and to teach them the truth. More so today as Paul advised Timothy, “The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths.” Many of our young people are ignorant simply because they listen to the world and are influenced by their secular friends and the values the world is promoting through the internet and social media. They buy all the secularistic arguments of the world because they have no personal encounter with the Lord. It is difficult to stay on course as St Paul asked Timothy to do so. “Be careful always chose the right course; be brave under trials.
This is what many leaders, including religious leaders, are doing. They only speak and preach about the nice message of the gospel but not the entire message. And the reason is that they fear rejection and loss of popularity. But if we are looking for honour and glory, then we are not doing what the Lord expects of us. This was precisely what the Jewish leaders were doing. They were not serving the people but themselves. Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes that like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogue and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men that swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers.”
Indeed, we are called to be the sentry for the People of God, as the Lord said to Ezekiel. “So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked ones, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.” (Ez 33:7-9) Jesus’ warning to us who fail to act responsibly in forming our people in the truth is a greater punishment. “The more severe will be the sentence they receive.” We will die with regret when we see our people falling into perdition and self-destruction, when we see our children and children’s children absorbing worldly values that will end up destroying their families, marriages and losing meaning in life.
Only by living our life as a libation to the Lord, can we, when the time comes, leave this world in peace and confidence, knowing that we have done all we could in fulfilling the task appointed for us. This was how Paul felt. “As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.” Paul lived a life without regrets. He had done all he could, and he could hand over his work back to God. He was confident that God will give him the reward of everlasting life. We too must live like Paul, making our life as a living sacrifice to God and His people.
This is what the Lord is asking of us, that we give our utmost best in living out the Good News in our lives. In the final analysis, it is not what we do in life, what position we hold and what great work we do in this world. We do not have to be a bishop or a Prime Minister or a President to give ourselves to God. We are called to give ourselves according to our capacity in whichever situation the Lord has appointed for us. We will be examined not for what or how much we have done, but how much we have given of ourselves. In today’s gospel, He pointed to us the example of the widow who gave away her last penny of two small coins. But that was all she had and she gave it all. The Lord remarked, “I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” Indeed, this woman gave everything, her entire life to God, for she did not keep anything for herself. She gave all she could. We should do the same as well.
Consequently, we must never be contented that we have done enough for the Lord if we have just given Him what we have in our abundance. When we give what is in excess of what we need, we are just giving away what we do not need. Although it might appear to be a good and generous deed in the eyes of people, yet, in the eyes of God, we have not truly given ourselves to Him. It is our safety, personal interests and survival that comes first before others. We cannot therefore be said to have given our lives completely for the service of God and others. What Jesus wants of us is that we give ourselves for others just as He did. Jesus stripped Himself of His divinity, took our lowly humanity, suffered injustices and humiliation for our sake and died to save us all. We too must walk this path as well. We are called to give of ourselves as much as we can. In this way, we will leave this world without guilt or regrets.
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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