Wednesday, 7 September 2016 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today with regards to the readings taken from the Sacred Scriptures which we have heard, I would like to talk about the devotion and life of our holy priests and all those who have devoted themselves fully to the Lord, as religious brothers and sisters, monks and all others who, according to St. Paul, has chosen the path of celibacy, that is rejecting marriage as what others normally do, but instead choosing to remain virgins and devoting that virginity and commitment to the Lord.

And this is something that is very important for us to know and to understand, as it is the central and core tenet of our holy priesthood as well as those who have devoted themselves to the religious life. It has been passed down to us by the Apostolic Tradition of the Church for over a millennia that all those who entered religious life or be ordained as a deacon or a priest and beyond be required to be unmarried for many reasons.

Many of those who are against the Church and attacked the Church ridiculed our approach to celibacy, by saying that such things are unnecessary or even foolish, and that is because they did not understand the reason why it was there in the first place. Had they understood its reasoning and the history of this practice that dated from the beginning of the Church, then they would not only stay silent but they would come to embrace the beauty and the gift of our celibate religious and priests.

From the beginning of the Church, many argued against celibacy because of the fact that many of the Apostles were married. In fact, St. Peter the Apostle was married too. However, if we noticed further, those were also the lives which they led before God called them to be His disciples and Apostles, upon which they left behind their professions as fishermen, tax collector and others, as well as their families behind.

And then this is also tied to the practices of the early Church, notably in Rome and its local churches and parishes, but also were widespread elsewhere, that priests who were married at that time, became embroiled in the scandals and undesirable interactions between them and their wives, as well as their children. It was difficult indeed to divide their attention between serving the needs of their own families and the people who had been entrusted to them as their flock, the sheep of the Lord.

Then, matters arose regarding their children and inheritance issues about them. It was known then that there were quite a number of priests who tried to push on the properties of the Church and the faithful to their children as inheritance, which was viewed with disgust and disdain by the Church as a whole as a sign of corruption. But truly, at the same time, we have also to understand that as males were usually the breadwinner of the family, as priests had a full time work, he was usually unable to provide for their children, and hence such situations often arose.

Thus, after we have discussed about this matter, its history and how it came to be, now we all can see how the priests, religious and all those who devote themselves to the Lord, to the Church and to His people cannot be divided in their attention between serving the Lord and serving his own personal needs and family needs. What we need are those who can commit themselves fully a hundred percent in their attention, to shepherd the flock of the Lord without bias or distraction.

And in this time and era, the need is even greater for the Church and the faithful to have devoted and faithful shepherds in our priests and all those who have given themselves to the service of God. And there were so many challenges and difficulties facing them that we almost should pity them for their sufferings and the tribulations they faced that we all may have salvation from God through their hard works.

But it is truly not pity which we should give them, but rather our prayers, support and assistance. We should assist the priests and the religious we have around us, caring for them and helping them in their ministries by doing our part as members of the Church, as the priests cannot work alone, but must be supported and assisted through our efforts, that the contributions of the laity and the priests alike will bring good things to mankind and to the whole world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray for the increase in religious and priestly vocations, that more and more young people, young men and women who are called by God may be able to respond in kind and devote themselves fully to Him and to His people in the Church. And among us, let us all give support to all those who have given themselves to God and sacrificed much in order to serve the Lord with all of their heart.

Let us all help them and give them our firm backing, that through their works and through our support, God may exercise His works in this world and bring all the people together through the Church, that everyone may receive salvation, justification, and the grace of eternal life. Pray for all of our priests and religious, that God will always be with them. Amen.

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