My brothers and sisters in Jesus, during today's readings, we heard the Holy Spirit calling out to us to walk in the newness of life.
In the Name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we have received the Church Sacrament of Baptism. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we died with Jesus, we were buried with Him and we resurrected with Him. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we received a new heart and spirit.
Through Jesus, now indebted to Him for ever for the promise of the inheritance of the Kingdom of God, we are called to walk in the newness of life.
Having died with Christ, we are called to be dead to sin. Accordingly, we are not supposed to be as we were before. When we were born, we were contaminated by the original sin. Consequently, we were called to be deprived of the eternal glory of the children of God. Through Christ, in the blessed hope of eternal life in the heavenly Kingdom, we received a new heart and spirit of the "godly seed." [1 Jn. 3:9] Through our new nature, we now long for what is righteous. We seek to "worship the Father in spirit and truth." [Jn. 4:23] We seek to shine in the "fruit of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. [Gal. 5:22-23]. We seek to humble ourselves in service to the Lord God. We seek to do all what is good and pure as a child of God.
Above this great gift of the new creation within us, we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we now have the power to renounce mortal sins. We now have the power to say, "no" to all sins. As such, let us not allow sinful passions the power to have control over our mortal bodies.
My brothers and sisters, through the gift of new life, we have found the spiritual meaning of living our faith in Christ. We have learned that we must love God first, with our whole soul, our whole heart and our whole mind, [Mt. 22:37] for He is the provider of all things. "This is the greatest and first commandment." [Mt. 22:38] We must love God more than anyone else, even more then our parents, our spouse, our children and all our wealth of this world. If we love God any less than that, we are not worthy of Him. If such love makes others jealous, then that is the cross that we must bear. It is better for us to suffer a little bit now and to lose a parent, a spouse or a child than to lose the love of God and the gift of eternal life that awaits those who persevere in their living faith. None of them, our parents, our spouse or our child has the power to secure our salvation.
The second commandment is that we must love our neighbour as we love ourselves. [Mt. 22:39] There are no greater commandments than these two.
Based on the spiritual laws, the good acts of love that we perform today towards others will be credited to our accounts in Heaven. In today's First Reading, we heard of the goodness of the wealthy lady towards Elisha. In love, she provided him with a place to stay. In return, the Lord God promised her a son through Elisha. By welcoming a prophet, she received a reward worthy of a prophet's reward. By the measure that we manifest love and kindness towards others, that same measure shall be applied towards us when we appear before the Lord Jesus on Judgment Day.
Our reward shall be according to our works. If we are persecuted because of our goodness, "Rejoice and be glad, for our reward is great in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before us." [Mt. 5:12]
Whenever we give tithe to the Church or perform charitable acts towards others, let us not sound a trumpet before us as the hypocrites do so that they may be praised by others. They have already received their reward. [Mt. 6:2] Let us give alms in secret so our Father in Heaven who sees all will reward us. [Mt. 6:4]
Always remember that "The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each." [1 Cor. 3:8] Each will receive wages according to his labour because "The labourer deserves to be paid." [1 Tim. 5:18]
Most important of all, let us have faith my brothers and sisters. For "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." [Heb. 11:6]
The Book of Daniel in the Old Testament provides us with a glimpse of the reward that awaits the wise and those who save souls. "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." [Dan. 12:3-4] Such is the reward that awaits those who are instruments of good works of the Holy Spirit.
Allow me to tell you something that some of you may not know about the Heavenly reward that awaits you for the works that you perform while walking the newness of life in Christ. When we work for someone and they pay us, is that a gift? No, "to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due." [Rom. 4:4] When we do spiritual works, we are accumulating Heavenly treasures. On the day "when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will win the crown of glory that never fades away." [1 Pet. 5:4]
Our goal in this life my brothers and sisters should be to gather as much as we can because we do not know the day when the Lord will call us. We have to run the race in such a way that we may win it, always remembering that only one will receive the greatest crown. [1 Cor. 9:24] We must lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, so we may run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" [Heb. 12:1-2]
As athletes exercise self-control in all things to receive a perishable wreath, we must exercise self-control in all things to receive an imperishable one. [1 Cor. 9:25]
"Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." [Jas. 1:12] He has walked the newness of life according to his calling.