Sunday, 24 January 2016 : Third (3rd) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour: Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened the message of the Holy Scriptures speaking to us about the mercy and the deliverance which our Lord had brought to us all through Jesus His Son, as He entered into the world and brought us all a new hope, a new hope and light amidst the despair and darkness filling up our world.

In the first reading from the book of the prophet Nehemiah, we heard about how after the people of Israel were allowed to return from the land of their exile in Babylon and beyond to the land promised to their ancestors, they were allowed to rebuild all that had been destroyed, the Temple of God and all of their homes and dwellings, and the priest and prophet Ezra was also among them.

When the people heard about the Law and all of its tenets being read to them, they lamented and became very sorrowful and sorry, as they would have heard what the Lord would do with all those who have disobeyed His commandments, walked away from His laws and teachings, worshipped pagan gods and idols and lived in wickedness. Their portion would have been rejection and condemnation, but God would say otherwise.

Indeed, as the prophet Ezra had said, that as long as the people of God sincerely wanted to repent from their past sins and atone the wrongdoings of their ancestors and of their own, then the path forward for them will be open, as God will show His mercy and love to them, and He will bless them once again, and a people once forsaken by God for their sins will rejoice once again.

Through our sins and disobedience against God, we have indeed been sundered away from God’s love and grace, and we have been cast out of the inheritance promised to the faithful, but through our Lord’s great love for us all, He is giving us a new chance and opportunity for us to be redeemed from our fate of destruction, and give us the hope and the promise and the assurance of the entry into the eternal life found only in Him.

In the second reading we heard a long discourse by St. Paul who wrote to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth of the Church of God which he compared to a body, and how it works as compared to how a body actually works. This is because the Church is the Body of Christ, and it is in union with Christ Who is the true Head of the Church, and by which unity the Church exists in grace and doing the good works which Christ had initiated in this world.

Separated from the Lord, the Church can do nothing, and indeed, therefore, the Church serves the Lord and does His good works, and because of that, all of us are also called to do the same, because each and every one of us who have believed in the Lord and followed Him through baptism, have been made members of God’s Church, His own Body, the Body of Christ.

Yes, just as the limbs, the organs and all parts of the body, our body are all united in our one body in each one of us, then all of us are also part of the Church, and we all should be united and function as one, just as all the parts of the body should work in tandem together. If one part of the body is missing or is taken out, then the whole body itself cannot function properly as a part is missing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us in the Church, as different we are in the background and in our personalities or categories, we are all together in this as one people, and as one functional body together. We should not let our differences or our personal desires and emotions to come in the way, as it is easy for us to succumb to those desires and instead of working together, we undermine the good works and the stability of the Church.

Most of us are the laity, those who continue to live our own worldly lives while we profess our faith in the Lord and doing His good works. Meanwhile, those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord in a life of chastity and commitment, they are the priesthood, our priests, bishops and the Pope who represent Christ the true Head, as the representatives of the Lord in this earth.

Each cannot work on its own, having own agendas or plans that especially came in contrast to each other. If this happens, then just as Jesus had said to the Pharisees in His rebuke of them when they accused Him of using the power of demons against demons, that when a kingdom or nation is divided, then the same will also happen to the Church of God, which when divided, it shall be hampered in its works of grace for the sake of the people of God.

And thus we are all brought to the reality of how divided the Church is today, where since ages past, there had been so many people who thought themselves as better than the Apostles and the Church fathers, coming up with their own teachings and innovations to the faith, leading many into heresy and separation from the Church of God.

As they bicker and fight amongst themselves, refusing to return to the true teachings of the Holy Mother Church, the Catholic Church, they weaken the unity and the good works of the Church in saving the people of God from harm and damnation. In the Gospel, Jesus our Lord had laid out the things that He had promised to bring into this world, which through His hands and continued by those who work through His Church, has made that promise a reality.

How shall we bring mercy and love to the poor and those who have fallen on the path, if we ourselves are bickering amongst ourselves? I am not just referring to the division that existed between the Church and those who have willingly and openly rejected the teachings of the Church, but also even within the Church itself, where factions and peoples are in conflict against each other, disagreeing and grumbling against each other.

That is why, on this day, as we continue to progress through this week of prayer for Christian Unity, let us all pray together as one Church, that all the divisions and disagreements may cease, and unity may be restored in good harmony to all those who have been divided and separated from the love of God in the Church, and we pray that those who have willingly and openly rejected and separated themselves from the Church will repent and return to the unity of the Body of Christ in the Church.

May God bless us all in our endeavours, and may He strengthen our resolve to reunite all the divided splinters of the Body of Christ, the Church. Let us all be reunited in the Lord, as one people divided no longer, but in perfect obedience to all the teachings of the Lord as kept in the Catholic Church, that we may together give praise to Him and glorify Him, and bring His good works and salvation to more people throughout the world. Amen.

2 thoughts on “Sunday, 24 January 2016 : Third (3rd) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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