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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – 5 November 2023

Walk the talk.

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, used the powerful image of a nursing mother who cares for her children. He presented the Word of God as nourishment for the soul. Equally important is the relationship he established with the people in sharing his very self. He worked day and night for them and for God. And he is pleased to see the fruit of their labour, the Word of God at work in those who received it and believed.

The priests, during the time of the prophet Malachi, were forewarned. They “have turned aside from the way and have caused many to falter.” They did not take good care the people. As a result, they had broken faith with one another and they violated the covenant. Isn’t this the exact opposite of what Paul established and achieved with the Thessalonians?

The scribes and Pharisees were once again placed on the hot seat when Jesus criticised and exposed their hypocrisy and hunger for recognition. The people were severely warned not to imitate their example. There is no genuine love for the people but everything is merely for showing off. There is neither intimate nor personal relationship established between them and the people. While Paul called and treated the Thessalonians as his dearly beloved, the scribes and the Pharisees only used the people for their own benefit and just to feed their egos.

In our readings this Sunday, the priests and the religious leaders are portrayed not as we hoped them to be. How easy it is to cast a stone on them for not being good role models and not doing what is expected of them. And how convenient it is to just be “ordinary” and “normal,” having lesser expectation and commitment. WRONG! I believe, the caution and warning apply to all of us, Christians. By virtue of our Baptism, we receive the common priesthood. We are all PRIESTS for Christ. We share not only that same dignity but also that same responsibility and commitment to follow Christ, to have a deep relationship with Him and to support each other in faith hope and love. Pope Francis initiated the Synod on Synodality, precisely, to rediscover our true selves in the life of the Church. We journey together, co-responsible and accountable for our growth in faith. And we are not only PRIESTS for Christ but also KING-servants and PROPHET-heralds of the Good News. Come, let us inspire one another and let us all walk together, humbly, with God.     

Fr Gilbert Ramos 

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