Saturday of Week 14 in Ordinary Time
“fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell“
In shows with supernatural themes, it is not uncommon to come across a storyline where a character sells their soul to the devil in return for something they want in this world. It could be for riches, for fame, or an act of sacrifice for a loved one. But no matter how justifiable their decision seemed to be, they would eventually have to contend with the consequences of giving up the most important thing of all – their eternal soul.
Today’s gospel reading contains some sobering messages for the disciples of Jesus as He prepares them for their mission. Evangelising the gospel is not a task for the faint-hearted. They would have to deal with persecution and risk their very lives to spread the good news. Suffering is almost guaranteed for them, and it is something that they would have to endure to save their soul. Jesus says in no uncertain terms that “But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:33). The fruit of their labour is not something that they can experience while alive on this earth. To some, this may seem unthinkable; what is the point of living if I have to go through so much hardship as a follower of Christ? What is the point when I have to continually deny myself the earthly pleasures that I crave and that seem so natural to me, so that I choose the narrower and more difficult path? All this for something that lies beyond my existence in this world, beyond what my current senses can perceive? Such is the call of Jesus.
In a world that has constructed all manner of material comforts to help people ease their pain, suffering is seen as something bad that should always be avoided. Coupled with the fact that we live in a morally relativistic environment where the existence of an objective ‘good’ is increasingly challenged, enduring hardship for the sake of Christ has become almost a novelty of sorts. The message in today’s gospel is a stark reminder that many of us have lost sight of what really matters – the salvation of souls, of our own soul and that of others. Whatever great and wonderful things the world may promise us, they can only be enjoyed while we are alive, and guess what, we are not in control of when we leave this world and when everything comes to an end. When that happens, are we prepared for what comes after?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the courage to remain steadfast and faithful to God, especially during times of great trial, suffering and persecution.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for the inspiring examples of the saints and martyrs who have gone before us.