Thursday, 2 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the exchanges between Jesus and a teacher of the Law who asked Him about the most important commandment in the Law. And Jesus gave him the perfect answer, a summary of what the commandments and Law of God is truly about, that is love. For the Law of God is about love, and the love of God has been given to us.

The teachers of the Law, the Pharisees and the scribes at the time of Jesus were renowned for their very strict interpretation and imposition of the Law and the commandments of God, where they punished those who did not obey the laws and ostracised them from the society. They harshly ensured that the people obeyed the laws and ensured that they observed the strict sabbath law.

But Jesus pointed out to them a reality and a fact, how in this pursuit to fulfil the needs of the Law, they have ended up forgetting the true purpose of the Law. They ended up making the laws as mere formality and procedure, and less of understanding its true intent, that is love, and love which is ought to be present in our relationship with one another, and ultimately between us and our God.

God gave us the Law, the commandments and His precepts so that we may learn to love one another, and to love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul. He did not give us the laws and the commandments to unnecessarily burden us with the yoke of laws and rules. Yet, we mankind have often misused and misrepresented God’s good laws and rules to serve our own purposes.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law enforced those rules and laws, because they liked themselves to be seen doing all those rules and obeying the set of laws they have set for themselves, for the purpose of being praised and adored for their deeds. They were serving not God or the people of God, but instead only themselves.

Thus, Jesus often rebuked them and showed His anger on them. It is because not only that they had placed such a burden on the people who had been entrusted under their care, but they also misled the people into believing that God is a fearsome and angry God Who will punish all those who did not fulfil the obligations which had been placed on them. In the end, they followed God not because they loved Him, but because they feared Him.

Therefore, all of us are reminded by St. Paul in his letter to St. Timothy, that we as Christians who believe in God should get rid of all things that have been keeping us away from God and His ways. All of us should find ways to devote ourselves to God through understanding more of the measures which He has taken in order to bring us closer to Him and to save us from certain destruction.

Let us all also keep in mind the examples of the two holy servants of God, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, whose feast we are commemorating on this day, that we may imitate their examples and follow them in their footsteps to become better disciples of our Lord. They were faithful and committed to God, and they endured suffering and martyrdom for the sake of their faith in God.

St. Marcellinus and St. Peter lived during the early years of the fourth century after the birth of Christ our Lord. They were told to be a priest and an exorcist living during the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who was renowned for his particularly intense persecution of Christians throughout the Empire. They were martyred for their faith, as they refused to stop preaching the faith in God, and they also refused to abandon their faith for the comfort of the pagan gods.

They served the people of God with devotion and zeal, and they cared for the poor and the sick among the faithful, and casting out demons and evil spirits. They loved the people of God in the manner which God had taught us all to do, and they loved others and especially God, their Lord and Master, with all of their hearts, minds and soul, even unto death, refusing to let go of their Lord.

In all these, we should all learn from the examples of these holy saints and servants of God who have given their all to love the Lord their God and to love their fellow men. Let us all devote ourselves anew to God, and renew the faith which all of us have for Him, and do our best in order to serve Him and obey Him with love, and not with just mere formality or for the sake of doing it, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done.

May God see the love which we have for Him, and may our ways, actions and deeds be found to be worthy and good for our salvation. May God bless us all and strengthen our resolve to be ever more faithful to Him day after day. Amen.

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