“Being focused on the Lord and seeking to be pure and unsullied – in holiness and sanctity!”
(Based on Acts 20:28-38 and Jn 17:11-19 – Wednesday of the 7th Week in Eastertide)
The Question-Answer column of a particular youth magazine, once had a query as follows:
“I’m puzzled about life, and I wonder if you could help me?
Am I different from everyone else of my age?
Or do they wear false masks as I do?
I go to parties and dances and act as if I were enjoying myself like everyone else I know.
But I am not enjoying myself at all!
I always feel that there is something missing, and I don’t know what it is. . .
Behind the laughing and the fun, I think I look at life just a bit more seriously than most I know.
I see more in life than just having a good time.
Do you think this is wrong at the age of twenty?
In a few years will I see things differently?
Or should I take off the false face now, and act the way I feel?”
The expressions of this young man, faced with a dilemma in life, resonates with the thoughts of many people in the world…
… including perhaps, ours…
We get a feel that there is certainly “more” to life…
… than just the peripherals that I daily engross myself in…
We get an impression that there certainly is something “higher” in life…
… than just being limited to the external comforts of life…
An answer to this vital dilemma of our life is given expression by the Lord in today’s Gospel: We live in the world, but we do not belong to the world!
Jesus prays to the Father: “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them safe from the evil one.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17: 16)
The call of a Christian is to live as a people “set apart” for Christ.
The Lord wishes, desires, wants and makes it a must that the one who follows Him, must seek to follow Him fully, wholeheartedly and unreservedly.
But the Lord was also very much aware that this His desire for a people “totally set apart” would face a lot of challenges and crisis from the Evil One.
He knew that His followers would struggle much in living a pure life in the midst of many impurity, uncleanness and contamination.
He knew that His followers would find it hard to preserve holiness in the hub of wicked temptations, ensnaring enticements and luring persuasions
St Paul warns the Church at Ephesus to be aware of the many dangers that may allure them in the world…
… and to remain focussed and alert
“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which He obtained with His own Blood.
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert…” (Acts 20:28-31)
We often find ourselves lost in this strange maze of the world….
We immerse ourselves too much in worldly activities and works….
… But, somehow at the end of the day, when lying down on our beds, we, perhaps, feel ourselves lost and not having a true sense of satisfaction!
We plunge ourselves to enjoy a lot of worldly pleasures, comforts and luxuries…
… But, somehow, after having been sort of saturated with those externals, we, perhaps, find ourselves still unhappy or experiencing a void!
We engage ourselves in an excess use of the social media, networking sites, chatting applications and remain attached constantly to modern communication gadgets…
… But, somehow, though we are in contact with many people, we, perhaps, realize that there is a grave presence of loneliness and not having genuine relationships of love and true care!
And therefore, Jesus, the ever-practical, sensible and realistic Master…
… Firstly, prays for His followers for strength and courage: “I pray for them…. Holy Father, keep them in Your name… “(Jn 17: 9a, 11b)
… Secondly, reminds His followers on the need to set their hearts on Him because they belong not to the world: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17: 16)
This then ought to be our strength and hope, as we seek to live a Holy Christian Life in this world, often corrupted by sin and transgressions.
Knowing that Jesus has prayed for us….
In His prayer, we can find hope and blessings
In His prayer, we can find encouragement and support
Setting our heart entirely on the Lord and not being totally attached to the aspects of the world
In His Love, we find meaning in our relationships
In His Presence, we ought to engage all our activities
Light passes through pollution, but doesn’t get contaminated!
Every Christian, a reflection of the Light of Christ, ought to be such…
… focused on the Lord, seeking to be pure and unsullied, in holiness and sanctity.
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants.
It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted…
… it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it
… subject to ignorance
… suffering and the dominion of death
… and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”.
Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation.
… Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example. … The first Protestant reformers, on the contrary, taught that original sin has radically perverted man and destroyed his freedom; they identified the sin inherited by each man with the tendency to evil (concupiscentia), which would be insurmountable.