A--Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Meaning of Following Christ

Joke: A long line of men stood at one of Heaven's gates, waiting to be admitted. There was a sign over the gate which read, "For men who were good followers of their wives while on earth." The line extended as far as the eye could see. At another of Heaven's gates, only one man was standing. Over this gate there was a sign that read, "For men who were not followers of their wives." St. Peter approached the lone man standing there and asked, "What are you doing here?" The man replied, "I don't really know. My wife told me to stand here."

Christians, the followers of Christ, what does it mean to be the followers of Christ called Christians? In today’s Gospel, Jesus called a tax collector considered as sinner at that time to follow him, and he left everything behind to follow him. Christian, first and foremost, is a call from God to follow him. It is not our effort to follow him first, but it is rather he calls us first to follow him. Do we have to be holy, to be pious, or to be better than anybody else in order to be called by him? No. He calls each and every one of us as what we are and who we are, good or bad, rich or poor, intelligent or not, and young or not young, he calls us at where we are.

The question is: How would we know that he calls us to serve one another in any ministry in our community and beyond? And how would we respond to God’s call? We know that we are called to serve when the thought keeps coming back into our mind and our thought; when we often relate to it; when there is a push or a nudge continues to give us a push to join to serve. We respond to God’s call to serve others by simply accept who we are and what we are to serve others faithfully.

How would we hear God’s voice in order to accept the call to follow him? We might not be able to hear God’s voice because of so many voices in our life. God’s voice might be distorted or distracted from other voices that Christians might wrongly respond to other voices rather God’s voice. This is why we have this day of reflection with the hope to help us to hear God’s voice clearly in all the ministries that we are doing in our parish.

What happens to us after we say yes to follow Christ in doing services to our brothers and sisters in our community and beyond? We are invited to prioritize our life in order to do service to our brothers and sisters effectively. We spend time, talent and treasure to serve others in the community and beyond, but at the same time, we are not to neglect our loved ones at home, our coworkers and our friends. In serving others in our community and beyond, we are reminded to serve our loved ones as well. What might jump out from serving in any ministry in our community and beyond is sacrifice. It requires a tremendous sacrifice to serve others and our loved ones. In today’s Gospel, the tax collector Levi left everything behind to follow Christ. What does it mean to leave everything behind to follow Christ if it’s not a total sacrifice of leaving behind what is his ordinarily life to follow Christ? Levi, the tax collector, his daily activities are to seat at the customs post to collect money that people come to pay for tax. Scriptures remind us that some tax collectors, if it’s not saying that all tax collectors, take some money from tax collection to put in their own pockets. Others abuse taxes, manipulate taxes, or increase taxes so to put some in their own pockets. The moment that the Levi heard Jesus’ call, he left everything, his daily activities to follow him. In doing ministries at Saint Paul the Apostle, have you and I had enough courage and strength to leave things behind in serving one another in our community? It does not mean to neglect our duties at home and just involve in the activities of our parish. In serving one another in any ministry we have at St. Paul, have we come to serve with a string or a condition attached? We serve because of this, because of that, or we serve because of our heart of service to follow Christ. In serving in any ministry we have at St. Paul, have we remembered to fulfill all our duties at home, at work, or at school? Have we come to serve without judging or criticizing others? Are we serving with the heart or serving by the look?

Each and every one of us are called by the Lord Jesus, especially in doing service to our brothers and sisters at St. Paul and beyond, to continue to open up our mind and heart to respond to God’s call to serve one another in our community and beyond. Each and every one of us as a member of St. Paul the Apostle community, we are reminded to carry out the mission of Jesus the Christ, the salvation of all humankind, by living and spreading the Good News. This is our mission, and as a mission, it requires feet and hands to carry out that mission. You and I are feet and hands to carry out that mission to our brothers and sisters at St. Paul the Apostle community and beyond. May all we do in our ministries at St. Paul be the extended hands and feet of Christ to live and to spread the Good News to others.


Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen

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