Wednesday 3 December 2014

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

What is your purpose in life? Have you even wondered why you are here on this earth? Why are you working in a particular job or performing certain tasks? Are the things we are doing, sometimes routine tasks, all there is to life? Some may feel as if life is becoming more and more of a drudgery, and they feel more and more disillusioned and tired of doing the same things over and over again. Those who feel this way may identify with Job in today's first reading, where he lamented: "Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service, his time no better than hired drudgery?" The danger we have to watch out for is when we allow ourselves to begin to feel as if our lives no longer have any purpose and any direction. When we allow ourselves to feel this way, some of us may begin to contemplate suicide, thinking that life is no longer worth living, has no purpose, and there seems to be no more reason for us to carry on.

However, today's readings actually give us a significant reason and purpose for living; and that purpose is God. We live because we believe in God and seek to maintain a close relationship with Him: in good times or in bad, in all that we do, in our efforts to do good and avoid evil; all these mean something special and matter only because we believe that God will be our providence and guide. In the Gospel, Jesus could have easily been carried away with doing wonderful work and helping so many people. He could have been tempted to continue doing this good work with the excuse that he was doing it out of love and compassion for the people. But was this God's will? No. Jesus was aware that his mission was to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to other neighbouring country towns also, not just settle down at one place. What He wanted to do personally wasn’t important. The only thing that mattered was the will of God: and that is to preach the kingdom of God and to glorify God. Likewise, St. Paul knew of his life purpose to preach the gospel, as he tells us in the secong reading: "I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands." This too is our mission and our purpose in life, that is: in all things, to glorify God.

Some of us think that the devil would tempt us into doing something which is bad or evil. However, this is not always the case. The devil could also tempt us into doing something which seems good, and when we do so, some of us may begin to think that without us, the task at hand would collapse. We begin to do things for our own personal gratification, for our own popularity, to feed our ego. We begin to drift away from our true purpose: that is to preach the Good News and to glorify God in all we do. We become more concerned with what others think of us; and so we do things that we hope would make them like us. We become more concerned with what makes us happy, even though that happiness is only temporary; whether it be riches, popularity or power. If our life purpose is based on these factors rather than God, we will soon find ourselves disillusioned and tired.

Thus, let us always remember that we have a purpose in life, and that is to preach the Good News and to glorify God. Let us continue to strive towards building God's Kingdom and not our own, as we beseech God to help and guide us; as we hear the words of the "collect" or opening prayer: "Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care, that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, they may be defended always by your protection."

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