Friday, 23 December 2016 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings speak in unison in honour of the faithful servant and messenger of God, St. John the Baptist, who is the Herald of the Saviour or Messiah, as the one whom God had sent into the world to precede the coming of His Saviour Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist has been prophesied by the prophets of old to be the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah.

He was sent into the world to prepare and to straighten the path for the Lord Jesus, as many had fallen into crooked ways and sins as they were misled by the corruptions of the world, as well as by their wicked and self-serving, corrupt and unjust leaders, the elders and the Pharisees, all those whom God had entrusted with the governance over His people but they had not done what they had been expected to do.

And it was not an easy task, as there were many challenges and difficulties that he had to encounter during his mission. He had to face opposition and stubborn resistance from the Pharisees and the elders, who refused to believe in him and in his message, which called the people of God to repent from their sinful ways. Those elders refused to believe that they were sinners because they thought that their ways were righteous and that they were worthy of God because of all the supposedly pious deeds that they had done.

In their pride, they had brought about their downfall, and also because of their greed for power, privileges and worldly possessions. They were tempted with those things and therefore became resistant towards God and His approach. In the same manner, those in power like the kings and rulers, the Sadducees who consisted of these people, also opposed the Lord and His ways, as He had revealed through St. John the Baptist.

And we all know how King Herod, the son of Herod the Great lived in an adulterous relationship with Herodias, the wife of his deceased brother Philip, an unlawful and sinful relationship. St. John the Baptist did not fear for his life or for his safety, and he openly rebuked the king for his sins. And when that resulted in his arrest, he did not fear, but constantly continued to rebuke the king for his sinful ways and in the end, met his end in martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John the Baptist is a role model for all of us Christians, for he is someone who has lived obediently in accordance with the will of God, and he obeyed His will even though it might mean suffering and troubles for himself. He did not allow the temptation of fear and selfishness to distract him from following through with the mission which had been entrusted to him, and indeed thanks to his works, many had been reconciled with God and received justification because of their faith and repentance.

All of us should emulate the examples of St. John the Baptist in our own lives. And we should also heed the examples of another saint, namely St. John of Kanty whose feast we are celebrating today. St. John of Kanty or St. John Cantius was a Polish priest and theologian who was renowned for his bright intellect and mind, as well as his numerous works in teaching the faith through his many writings, works and compilations.

And at the same time, he was well known for his great charity and love for the poor, the sick and the dying. He gave generously to them, both in terms of his time, his love and aid, and he inspired many others to do the same. He should also become our inspiration for this Christmas season, in how we ought to spend our time meaningfully and with due consideration for our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who are in need.

Let us all not forget about the poor, the weak and all those who suffer even as we rejoice in this coming Christmas season. There are many who are unable to rejoice because of their circumstances, because they were lacking in what they even need in order to survive their daily lives. Let us share our joy with them and help them, as St. John of Kanty himself had once done, and be open to the Lord’s will and obey Him as St. John the Baptist had been, and not harden our hearts as the Pharisees and the elders had done.

May the Lord bless us all and help us in all of our endeavours, so that the true joy of Christmas may be ours, and that we may also share it with our brethren who are in need of assistance and help. May the Lord be with us all and be with them too, now and forevermore. Amen.

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