A story was once told of a Protestant Pastor who had it rough with his parishioners. The people happened to be influential and decided to remove him from their parish. Their effort yielded fruit and he was eventually made the prison chaplain of the maximum security prison in that country. On the last Sunday of his stay with them, he gave a valedictory homily which was titled: “I am now going to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too.”

Unlike the pastor who was displeased with the action of his flock, Jesus gives us the hope of something special. He makes it clear that our efforts and struggles in life will not be in vain. He gives us a reason to have hope for a brighter future if the current condition is not favourable and a stable condition in him if we are satisfied with our current state of life.

We must remember that every problem has a time frame or expiry date. Everything that happens to us must always have a beginning and an end. In the first reading of today, for example, we see how the challenge of unequal distribution of food was resolved by the selection of seven deacons. In Exodus 16 we read how God gave his people manna in the desert. The same God who provided for his people in the desert will take care of your needs. The problem of barrenness became a thing of the past for Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth when the word of the Lord came to them that teach of them would bear a son. Remember what Jeremiah 29:11 says: “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We must remember too that we are special in the sight of God. We have been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit and we therefore belong to God. The second reading reminds us: “We are the people of God, a royal priesthood, a people set apart to sing the praises of God”. We are the living stones of today making a spiritual house.  We form the Body of Christ and he will always take care of his Body.  He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand. He wants us to have hope in him to take care of our material and spiritual needs. There is no room for doubt. We have chosen Jesus, we must not look back. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife – she became a pillar of salt. Remember also what Jesus said to the man who wanted to follow him but wanted to carry his past problems with him: “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”(Luke 9:62).

We must therefore live like true believers in the fact that the Son of God has the power to save us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Anyone who follows him will never get lost; the one who walks with him will never be deceived and the person who abides in his word will never perish.

We must take confidence in the response to today’s psalm: “May your love be upon us, O Lord as we place all our hope in you”. This reminds us of the consoling words in Psalm 125:1:  “Whoever trusts in Yahweh is like Mount Zion: unshakeable, it stands forever.” For us to enjoy the fullness of the love of God, our hope in him must be strong. We must pray and hold unto his promises because he never fails, we must submit ourselves to his will because we shall always have peace when we do his will.

Let us end our reflection with a beautiful prayer from Hebrews 13:20-21:  I pray that the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant,  may prepare you to do his will in every kind of good action; effecting in us all whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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