Wednesday, 21 December 2016 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as we approach closer to the great celebrations of Christmas, when we rejoice together as all the people of God in memory of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On that day two millennia ago, the Lord had sent into this world His salvation through Jesus, through Whom He revealed to the whole world and to all creation, what needs to be done for us to be redeemed and freed from our fated destruction.

The Lord is our Hope, and in Him alone lies our salvation and grace. But this is a fact that many of us tend to forget, and many of us are often too busy and preoccupied in our lives to notice and to understand the love of our God. We seek instead for the comforts of this world, trying to satisfy our desires and our wants, for either money, possessions, wealth and other things, for things that supposedly bring us joy and happiness.

However, none of these will last us and none of them are permanent. All these are distractions that prevent us from discovering the true joy and love of our lives. Our reaction upon seeing the Lord and upon receiving His love and grace should be that of joy, and indeed of extreme joy and happiness, knowing that because He has come into this world, He has made all things new and filled with hope once again. We should be happy, as the children are happy when their parents come back from work and see them again.

Yet, many of us are like prodigal children, who ignored our Father’s love and pretended as if He is not there. He has blessed us with many things, and yet we are often ensnared in these same things, and rather than giving thanks and rejoicing in the One Who had made all of these possible, we instead end up being entangled in the falsehoods and in the lies of the evil one, he who desired our destruction and damnation.

And it is the same with us who have come to celebrate Christmas without properly understanding what it is that we are celebrating about. Many of us have lost the focus of our celebration and rejoicing, to the point that instead of putting our focus in the Lord, we ended up getting distracted with all the worldly revelry and rejoicing, as what we often see every time we come to the season of Christmas.

That is the sad reality of our world today, in how many of us celebrate Christmas. Many of us, even Christians alike forgot that Christmas is truly about Christ, from Whom the name Christmas came about. Without Christ there can be no Christmas, and if we take out Christ from the equation of our celebrations and joy, then there is no meaning to Christmas. For Christmas cannot exist without Christ, Whose birth is celebrated on that day, and for Whom we should be truly grateful.

As we move on through Advent towards Christmas, it is imperative that we should understand what is our focus this Christmas. In all of our plans, do we have the Lord in mind as we rejoice and are happy with each other? Have we prepared everything with the birthday and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in mind? Have we told our children and our young ones about the Christ and what He had done, His significance to all of us that in this Christmas we merit the opportunity to rejoice?

It is important that during this time of Advent, a season and time of preparation, that we should prepare ourselves well to welcome the Lord Who comes into the world, as we should prepare ourselves such that we are well prepared for the Lord in our hearts and minds, as well as in our souls and in our bodies. This is important so that we will realise that when we celebrate Christmas, we are not just remembering He Who has come before, but also He Who has promised us all that He will come again.

And in that, we should also seek help and guidance from His saints, who are our examples in their faith and obedience to God. Today, we celebrate the feast day of a great saint and a holy man, whose faith and actions can help and guide us on the path towards the Lord. St. Peter Canisius is a Jesuit priest, who was among the first members of the Jesuit order or the Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

At that time, the Church was rife with troubles and with corruption due to the worldliness of many of its members, both the laity and the members of the priestly and episcopal orders alike. Many people openly vie for positions in the world and in the Church, not shying away from misusing their positions and power in order to do so. As a result, the Church became divided and there were many who chose to follow false and heretical teachings and became sundered from the salvation of God in the Church.

St. Peter Canisius helped to refocus the people’s attention towards the Lord, through his hard work, his preachings through which he taught the people, many of them, about the truth found in the fullness of faith through the Church alone. He endured many rejections, ridicule and challenges and many thousands flocked back to the Lord as a result of the hard works of St. Peter Canisius and his fellow compatriots in faith.

Through the drive of the Counter-Reformation as it is now known, the Church through the Society of Jesus led by St. Ignatius of Loyola and aided greatly by St. Peter Canisius and the other prominent members of the Church such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila helped to reform the Church and root out the corruptions and wickedness that had plagued the Church at that time, returning it to its pure intention for the salvation of the souls of mankind.

St. Peter Canisius is renowned not just for his actions, but also through his works in the Three Catechisms he wrote, a series of teachings of the faith which he made clear and available to the people so that, they would no longer fall into heresy and into the false teachings and ways. Through these Catechisms, many people after the time of St. Peter Canisius had benefitted greatly, and many returned to the faith and were saved from damnation because of his works.

And St. Peter Canisius was also renowned for his deep and strong devotion to Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. His many works include a series of Mariology works through which he explained in great detail the role of Mary as the bearer of the Saviour of the world, and how in her own life examples she has become a great example to all of us to follow, in how we ought to live our lives in accordance with the will of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of St. Peter Canisius and the other brave and courageous saints of the Lord, let us all reorientate our lives and rededicate our lives to the Lord our God, and shed away all the sins and wickedness of our lives, surrendering ourselves to God and obeying Him in the same way that Mary our role model had done.

May the Lord help us all to remain ever faithful to Him, and not to give up amidst the many temptations present in this world. May He bless us all and keep us all in His grace, now and forevermore. May all of us use the remaining time in this Advent season to prepare ourselves well to celebrate Christmas meaningfully and with full faith in the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

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