December 19, 2020 – 3rd Week in Advent

“Firmly holding high the banner – ‘Semper Fi – Forever Faithful!’ in our Christian lives and living in loyalty and allegiance to Christ, our Great Commander”

(Based on Judg 13:2-7, 24-25 and Lk 1:5-25 – Saturday of the 3rd Week in Advent, Year B)

Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton is a former Marine Corps sergeant in the US.

On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck load of explosives into the Marine Camp at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, killing 241 soldiers.

Nashton, a lance corporal, just 23 at that time, was among those severely injured in the attack.

Nashton had many tubes, running in and out of his body, with grave injuries all over.

A witness would say, that ‘he looked more like a machine than a man’.

Yet, he survived!

It is said, that two days after the bombing, while lying on the hospital bed in Weisbaden, Germany…
… in deep pain and agony, Nashton scribbled two words on a note and gave to his commander, Marine Commandant Paul X. Kelley.

The two words on the note read: “Semper Fi”

“Semper Fi” is the Latin motto of the Marines.
It means: “Forever Faithful!”

The pledge of “Semper Fi”…
… strengthened the injured man, in his moments of agony and struggle!
… became the reason for the wounded person, to remain steadfast in the face of anguish!

Every Christian ought to have this pledge to the Lord – “Semper Fi : Forever Faithful” – firmly adhered to Christ and faithfully lived in love.

The Gospel of the Day is the inspiring story of two exemplary persons- Elizabeth and Zechariah – who displayed the courage “to remain faithful” even while staring at hopelessness and despair.

St Luke begins his Gospel, after a brief introduction, with the amazing story of Elizabeth and Zechariah.

It’s interesting to note the meanings of their names…

“Zechariah” meant “The Lord remembers”
“Elizabeth” meant “the oath of God”

Combined, their names would mean, “The Lord remembers His Oath!”

However, life seemingly handed them something quite opposite…

Their childlessness caused to seem that the Lord had totally forgotten!
The barrenness of Elizabeth caused to seem that the Lord had His memories lost!

How true is this situation in our own lives too?

We bank on God’s promises that “He would provide” everything…
… but when some of our expectations fall short, we feel God is just not with us!

We feel joyful to know that God’s Providence will guide us through…
… yet, when some unforeseen and sudden mishaps happen, we feel God has forgotten us!

We feel assured to realise that God will always shelter us…
… however, when we find ourselves in the thickets of problems and crises, we feel God has left us!

This is where we need to look to Zechariah and Elizabeth and be inspired by their amazing faith.

Though life did not move the way they wished…
Though many of their honest longings were not fulfilled…
Though they had to go through occasions of shame and dishonour…
Though all possibilities of hope and expectation was “lost”, humanly speaking…
… they still kept the faith!
… they still remained true to the Lord!
… they still continued to be devout to God!

The Gospel says, “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless” (Lk 1: 6)

Yes, Zechariah and Elizabeth firmly held up the placard of “Semper Fi” – Forever Faithful – to God!
And this is what we too are called to do, in our Christian life of faith – to hold up the banner of “Semper Fi”…

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when our life ahead seems uncertain and the road ahead looks too dark

By firmly trusting Divine Providence and obeying His Will in our lives

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when undeserved sufferings crush our life and unfair behaviour is meted out to us

By strongly pursuing the paths of justice and holding firm to the values of the Gospel

Being “Forever Faithful”…
… even when sin traps us and we find it miserable to let go off our evil ways

By resolutely making efforts to do away with sinful tendencies and seeking to be holy

The “Forever Faithful” principle of Zechariah and Elizabeth was mercifully looked with favour by God…
… and thus the joyful words were addressed: “…your prayer has been heard! Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Lk 1: 13)

Yes, “the Lord remembered His oath” and announced that He is indeed “The God Who is Gracious” by blessing them with John (= God is Gracious)

Our God is a God Who cares much for His people…
Our God is a God Who deeply loves His Own…

This deep care and love, however, deserves our steadfast faithfulness and uncompromising fidelity.

Yes, let our Christian Lives be a life of loyalty and allegiance to Christ, our Great Commander…
… and may we, firmly hold high the banner – “Semper Fi – Forever Faithful!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Lord would never exhort the faithful to persevere…

… if He were not ready to give them the power to do so!”

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