Friday, 27 January 2017 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Angela Merici, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Virgins)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we listened to the Lord Jesus teaching the people with parables, telling them that the kingdom of God is like a growing seed, which is sown by man, and then when it lands on a rich and fertile soil, it grows to be a mighty and great plant, even though it might be small as a seed. It is the same therefore with the kingdom of God, according to Christ, which is inside each and every one of us who belong to Him.

We are all given the gifts from the Lord, Who sowed in each of us the seeds of faith, the seeds of hope and the seeds of love. But all of these gifts were dormant in us, and they are not going to grow unless we place them in the right conditions, just as plants will not germinate from their seeds and grow unless they are placed under the right conditions.

And just as plants take a long time to grow from a seed, into a sapling and then into a growing young plant, into maturity and finally laying out flowers and then fruits, therefore it also takes a lot in order to make those seeds in us grow inside us, and transform us to be true beings of the kingdom of God. Our faith requires great patience for us to develop and to persevere through this life. To live faithfully according to the way of the Lord is never an easy one.

As mentioned in the first reading today, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer of this Epistle, likely to be St. Paul, wrote about the hardships which the first and earliest Christians had to endure, many of them being Jews, who were then often torn between their obedience to the laws that governed the Jewish society, and their newfound love and loyalty to the Lord which they had discovered through Jesus their Lord.

But even though they were once a small group of people, often shunned and rejected by others, reviled and ridiculed by their own countrymen for following Jesus the crucified Lord and Messiah, they eventually triumphed through the end, as the Church gradually grew stronger, larger and ever more vibrant even though there were many moments of difficulties and challenges along its path.

Yes indeed persecutions came their way, and many had to suffer for many years because of their faith, but as many did not give up their faith and helped one another to persevere in their faith, that is why the Church was able to persevere through and why the faithful were able to stay strong amidst the challenges and the difficulties. In the same manner therefore, all of us Christians must also stay together and help each other, that we may remain ever faithful.

We should also follow the examples of St. Angela Merici, the holy saint and woman whose feast we are celebrating today. Since her youth, she had devoted herself to God, particularly when her sister died, and we were told that she died without having the chance to receive the Last Rites from a priest. A distraught St. Angela Merici prayed fervently before the Lord, asking Him to forgive her sister and allow her to enter heaven. Later on, it was told that she received a vision, in which she saw her sister in the company of the saints of heaven.

She grew stronger in the faith through prayer, and she resisted the temptation of worldly pleasures and desires, and when suitors came to her attracted by her great beauty, she chose to dress herself in soot and dust, so as to detract her suitors and to remain committed to God. She taught others how to be close and spiritually devoted to God, and became a source of inspiration of many others.

Through the examples of the faith of St. Angela Merici, all of us are called to also grow in our faith, by giving it the most suitable conditions in order to grow, so that what God had planted inside each and every one of us may grow well. It is through deep and fervent prayer, made sincerely and with devotion that we provide this optimum condition. And then we also show our love, care and concern to others around us, giving ourselves to our brethren who are in need of our love.

It is when we have done all of these that we have truly become like the kingdom of God, when all of us Christians work together in love, showing hope to those who are in darkness, and having genuine faith in God, that the seeds of faith, hope and love God had sown in us no longer remains just as seeds, but grow together, interlocking with one another, until everything become a great tree, that is the Church of God, living and vibrant, filled with hope, with love and with faith. That is what the kingdom of God in this world is truly like.

Let us all work together in order to realise this, and be committed to do what we have been called to do, to serve God with all of our strengths and abilities. May God help us in this journey, and may He strengthen the faith in our hearts, awaken in us the desire to help our brethren in need, and make us to become light for those who are still in the darkness and ignorance in the world. God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

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