Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a great saint, the Patroness of Missions and a Doctor of the Church. St. Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as St. Therese of Lisieux was a great woman, very devoted to God in her prayers and devotions, and in her many works and writings, she displayed exemplary faith and commitment which became inspiration to many others who also therefore walked in her path.
St. Therese of Lisieux was a Discalced Carmelite nun, who joined the religious life from early in her youth, desiring a life wholly dedicated to the Lord. She managed to enter the religious life early at the age of fifteen despite many obstacles and difficulties in her path at that time. She was often sickly and weak in her youth, and throughout her convent life, she was still also often bedridden and sick, but these did not dampen her bright spiritual devotion to the Lord.
The sufferings she went through were painful, but on one occasion in her life, she experienced a total conversion and change, a moment of revelation from the Lord, when she was able to overcome the obstacles and obstructions of her physical and mental state, and which would govern her way of life, thinking and action from then on. She grew ever stronger in her devotion to God, and spending many hours each day in prayer and in deep communication with Him.
She lived her life in obedience to God and to her spiritual and religious superiors, writing her experiences and visions, and discussing many aspects of the faith in her works. Many of these still inspire many people even to this day. And most famous of her works and thoughts is the ‘Little Way’ which she propagated and promoted as the way to achieve the salvation in the Lord. As such she was also known as the Little Flower of Carmel.
This little way has many meanings and aspects, brothers and sisters in Christ, but essentially, it is when we use our every actions and little, small acts in life to be showcase of our love, devotion and commitment to the Lord. It is not by great strides and mighty, proud deeds that we mankind will reach to the Lord, for all these instead will tend to cause our downfall through pride and hubris. Rather, the little way of St. Therese of Lisieux encouraged us to become smaller, humbler and like that of a child in the sight and presence of our God.
This is exactly what Jesus our Lord Himself spoke to His disciples in our Gospel passage today. We are quite familiar with that passage, as we should know that God welcomes children to His presence, and on that occasion, He chided them and rebuked them for quarrelling and disagreeing with one another just over the matter of who would be the most important in the kingdom of Heaven.
That is one of our humanity’s weakness, brethren, that we often succumb to our human and worldly desires, to the temptations of power, riches, fame and greatness or glory in this world. We bicker and fight over even the smallest of things, and we often desire what others have, be it position, honour, or appreciation from others around us.
That is why many of us have not been truly faithful to the Lord, and that is why even many Christians committed many sinful deeds that are unbecoming of them. They were unable to detach themselves from the many persuasions and temptations of the world that the devil is putting on our path, in order to make us stumble and fall into sin.
Ultimately, let us all reflect on our own actions. If we have been spending so much time thinking, worrying and trying to obtain more worldly goods, power, fame, influence and all the others for ourselves, let us then ask ourselves, what is the point of all that? If we die tomorrow, if God wills it, then none of these will be carried with us into the afterlife to come. Rich or poor, strong or weak, famous or unknown, all are equal before God, and all will be judged based on their actions or lack of actions.
If our preoccupation with all those things that distract us from the Lord and His ways have made us to ignore and abandon the plights of the weak, the needy and the poor or worse, if we have even manipulated these and made them suffer in our pursuit of worldliness, then we truly need to change our ways. And the best way is to follow the little way of St. Therese of Lisieux, the advice of our Lord Jesus, making ourselves as small as possible, like that of a child.
What does it mean? It means that rather than being swallowed by our ego and pride, we should be like a child in our faith, innocent and true, and just as a child will believe completely and strongly in something that he or she believes, we too should be pure and total in our dedication to the Lord, and not be distracted by the many concerns of the world surrounding us.
May the examples of St. Therese of Lisieux be our inspiration and guide, and may God help us in our effort to reach out to Him and to His salvation. May we all die to our greed and desires, and be reborn in our renewed faith and dedication to the Lord, that we may finally leave the temptations and the pleasures of this world aside, and commit ourselves wholly to the Lord our God. Amen.