Monday, 1 August 2016 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the messages from the Holy Scriptures, from the first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, where Jeremiah was up against the false prophets trying to obtain the favour of the king of Judah by trying to satisfy him and made him happy by providing him with false prophecies.

Those false prophets tried to discredit Jeremiah, plotting against him by portraying him as a doom-bringer and as a pariah, who kept telling bad news one after another, while they portrayed a less negative picture of what was to come. But the prophet Jeremiah did not back down, and instead, he continued to persist to show the people who have disobeyed God about just how much they have erred.

And despite the opposition and the stubbornness of the people, the prophet did not give up. For it was God’s love that drove him to work harder for the sake of the people who had been lost in the darkness, that they might be able to find their way back to the Lord, their loving God. God so loved the world, that even though they have sinned and committed such wickedness before Him, He was still willing to love them and to show His care for them.

And this is visible in the Gospel today, where we heard that famous story of how Jesus our Lord fed the entirety of the five thousand men and likely even many more thousands of women and children in that great crowd which had followed Him to listen to Him. In this, we saw how great is the love and compassion that the Lord has for us all, His beloved people.

He showed pity and compassion, seeing how many of those people who followed Him and were hungry and without food. He provided for them, cared for them, and thus showed the infinite greatness and the endless breadth of His wonderful love and mercy. And yet, it was the same people who also called for Him to be crucified. Yes, the very same people who hailed Jesus as King and Lord, also called for Him to be crucified.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has loved us so much, and yet why was it that in many occasions, from the time of Jeremiah to the time of Jesus our Lord, that they had done so much to bring God’s anger upon themselves? Not only that they refused His love and grace, but they also continued to live in a state of sin and disgrace. They have not listened to the Lord and continued to live in the darkness because of the absence of God from their hearts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all ask ourselves, how do we then stand in this matter? Where do we find ourselves in this issue? Is God truly in our hearts? Are His laws and precepts ours, and did we do all that we can to obey them? If the answers we have to all of these is no, then perhaps we should look at what the holy servant of God, St. Alphonsus Liguori had done.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, our saint of the day, was a holy bishop and a devoted servant of God. He was known around the world as the founder of the religious order now known as the Redemptorists, who devoted themselves to the redemption of mankind, and to the salvation of the many people who had lived in the darkness of sin, by bringing God’s light and truth upon them.

St. Alphonsus Liguori devoted himself to God’s service, giving himself to the poorest, weakest and the least fortunate ones in the society. He worked hard among the sick and the dying, and knowing that he alone could not do much to help the many people who have suffered, he founded that Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known now as the Redemptorist order, to gather together all those who have similar minds and goals to him, that all of them may work together for the sake of God’s people.

Let us all follow his examples, and seek the Lord with all of our might. Our hearts should be turned to God and should be attuned to Him. We should do our best so that we may be ever closer to God, and leave behind our doubts, our fears and our lack of faith, which were the obstacles that had prevented many from following the Lord in the past. May St. Alphonsus Liguori intercede for us, and may he help us to keep ourselves faithful in this journey towards the Lord our saving God. Amen.

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