Monday, 24 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us Christians who believe in God are challenged to lead a real life of faith, that we should devote ourselves not to hypocrisy and all the things that do not lead to salvation in God. The example was given in the Gospel today, when Jesus was angry at those who were in the synagogue and was against His works, healing a woman who had been enthralled by the demons and the evil spirits for years.

All these meanwhile the synagogue officials, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law constantly opposed the Lord, pretending through their piety that they were doing the works that God wanted them to do. They have taken upon themselves to safeguard the laws and traditions of Moses and their ancestors, but in that process, they truly have forgotten what it meant to be true disciples and followers of the Lord, and instead became blind followers and leaders.

They preached strict obedience and adherence to the Law, and were not hesitant to punish all those who did not follow the Lord as they had done, thinking that they have done the will of God in that way, but in reality, they have only served their own needs and purposes. They had no God in their hearts, but instead their own ego, their own greed and desire for money, for wealth, for possessions of worldly power and glory, and of influence and fame.

That was why these supposedly pious leaders of the people tolerated merchants and all money lenders and corrupt people to set up their businesses at the Temple courtyard, selling and manipulating prices, making profits out of poor and honest people so that those merchants could get rich, and then probably, in the process, also made the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders rich from the agreement they likely to have made between them.

This was what the warning by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth and the Psalm today meant, that those who serve not the Lord but worldly things such as money, wealth, fame and glory, are real threat to us and to our salvation, as these shall bring whoever that are ensnared in their traps, to veer away from the Lord’s ways and salvation, and fall instead into sin and damnation.

And that is a reminder to all of us Christians, just as our Lord made another example in the Gospel today, which we just discussed, that as Christians we cannot imitate the examples of all those who have not shown righteousness in their way of life. We cannot be like those who have given themselves to debauchery and to follow the ways of this world in their actions and deeds.

As Christians, we are called instead to show care and concern for others, especially for the weak, the downtrodden, the less privileged, the poor and all others who are in need of our help. This is the calling which our Lord made to us, even as He Himself led by example, and showed mercy and love to that poor woman who needed help.

Perhaps, all of us should learn from the examples of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians religious order, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a holy and devout man, whose works did not just include advising and helping the Queen of Spain at that time, Isabel II of Spain, but also in the matters of advancing the cause of the people who are suffering, weak and poor throughout the dominion of the crown and beyond.

St. Anthony Mary Claret established the religious order that would later on be known as the Claretians, in order to gather more people with the same mind, same intention and devotion to serve the Lord and His people with genuine devotion and commitment, desiring for the betterment of those who are suffering and in pain, and bring people closer to God spiritually, that they may not just become better physically but more importantly, also spiritually, drawing closer to God and to His salvation.

St. Anthony Mary Claret showed us through his examples, writings and many other ways that in order to become good and true Christians, we must be able to live up fully to what the Lord had expected from us, and that is not hypocrisy and empty faith, but faith that is made real by genuine commitment and hard work, devoting oneself to God and to our fellow brethren in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all awaken in ourselves the strong desire to love and serve the Lord genuinely, and also to love our brethren with all of our heart, so that we will be able to appreciate how we ought to serve God with love, and thus be able to draw closer to Him and find righteousness in Him. At the end of the days, He will bless us all and call us into the eternal glory and joy He has prepared for us. May God bless us all. Amen.

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