Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Book of Leviticus, how the Lord charged Moses and therefore His people, with the keeping of the observance of festivals, feasts and important holy days, such as the sabbath days. We heard how the Lord charged the people to keep the observance of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, to remember the days when they were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power of God.
All of these feasts and festivals, rites and celebrations truly are for a single purpose, that is to remind the people of God of God’s great glory and power, and even more importantly, that is to remind them of the love which He has for them, and therefore, to remind them yet again of the love and dedication which they have to have for Him. Yet over time, people seemed to forget this, and focused more on the exterior aspect of the celebrations rather than on the substance.
In the Gospel today, we heard how Jesus was not well received in His own hometown of Nazareth, where the people doubted Him and questioned His teachings and authority, because they thought that they knew Him as a mere carpenter’s Son. This is exactly the same problem that had been faced by many other prophets and messengers that God had sent to His people as well.
They were not well received because these people had become a superficial people, who cared just for their appearances and external outlook. Inside them, within their hearts, there is truly a void not filled by the love of God, but by their love for themselves. This is why they rejected the prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself as well, for they challenged the people and their way of thinking as well as their way of life.
We should not think that this is an issue that is confined only to the past. In fact, throughout history, mankind had been affected by the very same issue that caused us to be captivated and mesmerised by the multitudes of goodness and temptations that lie in this world, the pleasures of the flesh and the many concerns of this world. We then end up forgetting about God and our obligation and need to serve Him and to give all of our attention to Him.
Then, we truly should learn from the example of a great saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day, namely that of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, also known as the Society of Jesus, one of the most renowned and important religious order in the history of our Church. St. Ignatius of Loyola, through his life, would show us the way to the Lord and how to find it amidst the challenges and temptations of this world.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in a noble family in what is now Spain a few hundred years ago, where conflicts and wars were regular parts of people’s life. He was born into the caste of society which believed that glory and power, or gold and wealth, or fame and affluence, or all of them are the way to go in life. And so did St. Ignatius of Loyola, who believed all these as integral parts of his life.
But one day, after he was injured during a battle and siege of a castle, he got a revelation in life, that the way which he had pursued all the while might not be the right way to go. He found that all the things which he had pursued for himself and his own glory were truly meaningless, and he began to seek a true and real purpose in his life, and it was there that he found the Lord and turned himself and his life to serve Him.
He abandoned all the worldliness that had been part of his early life, abandoning everything and devoted all of the rest of his life and his works to the greater glory of God, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ which was his motto and which became the motto of the Jesuits as a whole. He dedicated his time and his life to the glory of God and laboured hard to help the people of God finding their way to Him.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was a champion and great defender of the Faith, who spearheaded and led the Church’s great effort to counter the great heresy of Protestantism in what was so-called ‘reformation’. He was one of the great heroes of the Church’s effort to reconvert back countless thousands of people to the true faith, together with his fellow Jesuits, which would soon prove to be very essential to the salvation of many lost souls.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, walk in his ways, and follow him as he leads us towards the Lord our God. May we be able to shun all sorts of temptations and pleasures of the flesh and instead of focusing on appearances and our external outlook, may all of us be able to find our inner beauty, by devoting ourselves ever more to the Lord and practicing our faith, so that we may be found worthy by He who will reward us. God be with us all. Amen.