SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Rom 5:12
; Ps 40:7-10
; Lk 12:35-38
Often, we feel defeated by our sins. We try our best to overcome our sins but again and again, we fall into sin. St Paul wrote about his inner conflict. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Rom 7:15,18b-19) As a result, we give up struggling against sin. We end up condemning ourselves as hopeless and incorrigible. Most of all, in our sinfulness, the devil will seek to destroy us by accusing us and making us feel more guilty and useless. The book of Revelation says, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev 12:10) This is his strategy to lead us further away from God by making us feel unworthy to come to Him. By staying further away from the Lord, we will fall deeper into the trench of sin.
Secondly, when we look at the situation of the world, especially in the face of relativism, amorality and individualism, we are bewildered at what is happening. Young people can no longer tell the difference between good and evil. What is evil is now seen as good and what is good is now seen as evil. We are confused by the messages the world is propagating through the mass media, the kind of entertainment that is offered and the sensual, self-centered and inward-looking philosophy of life. To add further to the confusion is the lack of credibility caused by the scandals of both political and religious leaders.
Thirdly, many of us are so pessimistic about the salvation of humanity. There are many who think that at the end of time only 144,000 out of billions of people in the world would be saved, citing from the book of Revelation which says, “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.” (Rev 14:1,3) Indeed, it seems that God created this world and it has got out of hand that even God cannot handle the situation. What He created will mostly be destroyed. But this is far from the truth. We must not forget also that the book of Revelation also speaks about the salvation of the multitude. “After this I heard what seemed to be the mighty voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just.” (Rev 19:1f)
Indeed, this is what St Paul wants to assure us in the first reading. The grace of God is greater than our human sins and imperfections. “If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous.” Indeed, Jesus is greater than Adam, whose sin caused the death of all. Jesus, by His death and resurrection, makes it possible for us to enter into eternal life because by His death, we know that our sins are forgiven and by His resurrection, we know that we are destined for eternal life; and by the giving of the Holy Spirit, we are made sons and daughters of God.
Conversely, it is the sin of Adam that brought us death. “Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.” The death that St Paul speaks about is not just biological death. But it is the death of the soul. It is an eternal death because we are lacking love and truth in our lives. We live a life of sin. This is beautifully summed up in the letter of St Paul to Titus when he wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” (Tit 3:3-7)
Such is the mercy and the power of God’s grace given to us in Christ. Only with this grace, can we now live the laws of Christ.Only faith in the Lord who has shown us God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness for our sins can give us the courage to continue to grow in love each day and never to give up hope in God or in goodness or in ourselves. With the psalmist, we will also desire to live the laws, not because we are afraid of punishment or because of fear but we choose to live the way of truth and love. “Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will. You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings, but an open ear. You do not ask for holocaust and victim. Instead, here am I. In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will. My God, I delight in your law in the depth of my heart. Your justice I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord. O let there be rejoicing and gladness for all who seek you. Let them ever say: ‘The Lord is great’, who love your saving help.”
So what is left for us now is to make the victory of Christ our own. The battle has been conquered by Christ. We need to share in His victory over sin by welcoming the love of Christ into our lives. This is what the Lord is asking of us in the gospel. “See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.” Yes, we must be alert to the coming of the Lord daily in our lives. We must not be like the servants who separate the sacred from the profane, from the day of the Lord’s coming from their ordinary day. God is present in every aspect of our lives. The truth is that He comes to us in many ways through the kindness and goodness of our fellowmen. He comes to us through our spouse, in-laws, parents, siblings, children, friends and colleagues. It is true that we are weak and sinful but we are also capable of goodness. So whenever we see goodness at work in a person’s life, there the grace of God’s love is being poured out to us.
But we cannot see the goodness of God and His grace each day because our lamps are not lit. We are blind and we live in darkness. How can we light up our lamp if not through prayerful watching, like the servants waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast? We need to keep ourselves awake through the praying of the Word of God, making time for silence and contemplation, looking at our life and examining how the grace of God has been given to us and how we can grow further in holiness, in truth and love each day. By keeping ourselves grounded in the faith, in Christ, through a personal relationship with Him and through the celebration of the Eucharist, the Lord will give us His grace. If we are in sin, then we should make full use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to remove the blocks from our lives, be healed of our hurts so that once again we can see the grace of God present in our lives.
Indeed, for those who come to Him, the Lord promised that “he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy are those servants if he finds them ready.” Happiness is always symbolized in a meal in the bible. The meal is a time of fellowship, joy, and fullness. That is why heaven is often described as a wedding banquet because it is the celebration of love, life and joy. We too, when we are in union with God and with our fellowmen, living a life of truth and love, we will be filled with joy. The Lord comes to serve us at the heavenly banquet because He wants to reward us with His love. Are we ready to welcome Him in our midst here and now?