Why don’t we just give in to worldly riches and pleasures?

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14, 43-52

Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 7:9, 14B-17

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

John 10:27-30

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Salvation and eternal life are for those who would “continue in the grace of God.” (First reading, Acts 13:43) The good news is that salvation has no bounds. It is to be brought “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47). But for those of us who believe and are continuing in the grace of God, will our earthly journey be easy and smooth? Not necessarily so. As we can see from the example of Paul and Barnabas, they were abused, contradicted, (Acts 13:45) driven away and persecuted (Acts 13:50) while evangelizing and doing God’s work.

We strive to be good people, but there is no guarantee that bad things will not happen to good people. Then why must we make attaining eternal life our mission and goal in our earthly journey? Why don’t we just give in to worldly riches and pleasures, instead of living out the teachings of Jesus which is not easy and may even result in us being ridiculed or ignored to say the least? Because of Jesus’ promise of eternal life to us, (Gospel Reading Jn 10:28) we must continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43). If we are willing to see beyond the world that we live in and follow Jesus, listen to his words, we will have eternal life. We will “hunger no more, and thirst no more;” and “he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Second Reading Rev 7:16-17) If more people will live out the teachings of Jesus, our world will become a better place for everyone too.

In the chaos of the present day when morals and ethics are challenged and even life itself is given a meaning contrary to our Catholic faith, let us not be disheartened or discouraged even when our effort to live out the Gospel fails to bear fruit. We must find courage and strength in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. We must carry on with hope, “… the sorrows of our daily lives may never dim our hope of life beyond death.” (“The Way of the Cross with Pope Francis” CNEWA Canada 2015) This message of hope is especially meaningful in the Easter season, which is a season of hope. For our Lord who is risen has brought us salvation!

Posted: April 17, 2016

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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