Wednesday, 14 December 2016 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the proclamations of the goodness of God, through which He declared to all of His people, just how loving and good He had been to them, bringing them from the darkness into the light and saving them from destruction by their enemies. He has blessed them with many things, and it was by His will and by His unending love for us all, that He had sent us the ultimate gift of all, that is His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

Through the Scriptures we indeed have heard just how great God is, and how mighty He has been in ordering around everything He had created in the universe. He is supreme and a Being without any equal save in His own Trinity of Godhood. Yet, different from any other false gods and deities of this world, while many of these demanded worship and sacrifices from the people who worshipped them, God really has no need for sacrifices, but instead what He needs is our love.

Before we loved Him, He has loved us all first, and He showed it by His blessings to our ancestors, right from the very first mankind down to all of us today, and He will continue to do so right to the very last man. And He has loved us all through Jesus, through Whom, He has willed to find all of us His lost sheep, so that He as our Shepherd may gather us all and keep us safe. And to that extent He was willing to do all of that for us, even to come down into this world to gather us in and to deliver us from our troubles.

And He healed from many people their bodily afflictions and diseases, as the concrete sign of God’s love for us all, as He Himself had promised earlier on, that when His deliverance came into the world, He would heal all of His beloved ones from their afflictions, their sorrows and their sufferings, and bring them into the true joy and happiness found only in Him. And the greatest of all of these healings are the healing of our souls, the destruction of sin, and the liberation of all of us from the chains of sin that had enslaved us.

This is what we commemorate and celebrate in Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ, that a great and Almighty God beyond equal and beyond any comparison, would be willing to humble Himself and come down upon us, as merely one among us, as Man, so that by that action He might be able to gather us in, and by gathering all of our sins and disobedience upon Himself, He becomes our Easter or Paschal Lamb, Who becomes for us all the perfect sacrifice before God in order to absolve us from all the taints of our sins.

This is what Christmas is about, brethren, not about ourselves, or about our festivities and celebrations, but truly about God Who loves us so much that He was willing to do all of those things He had done so that we may all be saved. But have we ever shown Him gratitude and thanks for all that He has done for us? The reality is that many of us even ignored and rejected His love, and do not care for what He has blessed us with and we cast His love aside for the love of the world.

It is often that we are too busy with ourselves to even notice His love and His grace for us every single days of our lives. We are too preoccupied with our desires, greed and all of our daily concern to even notice of others around us, let alone God Whom we cannot see directly. And yet, it is clear and undeniable that He is the One behind all of our life’s successes and goodness. Without Him, we can do nothing, and without Him, our lives will be meaningless and empty.

In this time of Advent, as we approach ever closer to Christmas, therefore it is appropriate for us to spend time and indeed find the time to reflect on our own lives, our actions and our deeds. Have we loved our God in the same manner that He has loved us first? He wants from us only our love and devotion, that we should commit and give of ourselves in love to Him. But we are often too busy with ourselves and too distracted to be able to commit ourselves. This is where perhaps we should reflect on the life of the holy saint, St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross was a holy and devout man who was one of the very important figure of the Counter-Reformation efforts during approximately five centuries ago, when the Church was assailed by the many forces of the world that threatened to destroy it from the outside and from within. Many of the faithful were spiritually lacking and corrupt in their deeds. They put ahead the concerns of the world instead of spiritual pursuits, and put ahead their selfishness ahead of the concerns of the poor and the needy, as what Christians should do.

Even among the priests and the religious corruption of the soul and corruption of worldliness had caused great perversity and danger to the whole Church. This brought about division and conflict within the Church, and many souls were lost because they were disillusioned with the Church and its leaders. When the leaders did not show good example, so neither would the members imitate what they should have done. St. John of the Cross set out to stop this decline of the Church, and by his works and many other brave and courageous servants of God, they have reversed the declining trend of the Church and its institutions.

St. John of the Cross helped to reform the Carmelite order together with St. Teresa of Avila, and also conducted many other reforms designed to purify the Church and its religious orders, casting out its corruptions and worldly taints, and promoting true devotion to God and rigorous discipline in how the people and especially the religious and the priests ought to live their lives, filled with faith. But of course, these efforts were faced with tough opposition from those whose lives had been affected by the reform.

St. John of the Cross had to suffer rejection, indignation and even imprisonment for his good works and efforts. He had to suffer many things, even torture and pain, but he never gave up his efforts. Instead, he persevered and did all the more than he could in order to bring renewal to the Church despite the threat of suffering and even death from his opponents. It is all these virtues and qualities which all of us should emulate in our own lives.

May the Lord help us to be ever more faithful as St. John of the Cross had been, and let us all do our best to resist worldly temptations, the temptations of our greed and our bodily desires, so that we may be pure and good in all of our dealings, so that we will be found worthy by the Lord when He comes again to judge all of us. St. John of the Cross, pray for us all, that God will strengthen our faith and help guide us on our path towards Him. Amen.

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