Friday, 17 March 2017 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all heard the Scriptures telling us about the story of when Joseph, the beloved and favourite son of Jacob, who was betrayed by his brothers, who sold him off to slavery to the Midianites, who then sold him off to the Egyptians, as many of us certainly remembered in this well known story from our catechism classes or from reading through the Book of Genesis.

Through this story, we saw how jealousy, greed as well as pride has led to us mankind committing sins of various kinds and nature before God and before men alike, as the brothers of Joseph had shown in their actions as described in the Book of Genesis. They were jealous of the attention and the love which Jacob their father had shown to Joseph, being born of his beloved wife, Rachel, and also a child of his old age.

As we heard what happened between them and Joseph, and what the brothers plotted against Joseph, we see first of all, that jealousy and desire easily lead to anger and resentment, and then these lead further into even more jealousy and more anger against those with whom we are angry and jealous with. The brothers were angry against Joseph when he told them that in his dream, all of them would bow down to him.

This is a normal human reaction, for many of us mankind easily succumb to the temptation of our human pride, unwilling to humble ourselves before any other, especially to those who we deem to be inferior to ourselves. Our ego, our pride will not allow us to bend down and humble ourselves. Instead, we try our best to preserve our dignity and our standing, and this is when we mankind begin causing harm, pain and suffering upon each other, whenever we bicker, whenever we are divided against each other.

But God wants to show each one of us that this is not the way forward for us. All of us have been called by God to love one another, and to return to righteousness in Him. He Who created us all out of love wants to love us back and have us all reconciled to Himself. However, more often than not, it is we mankind who have resisted God and did not allow Him to come to us and we refuse to allow His love to enter our lives.

We are so preoccupied in our worldly concerns and desires, that like the sons of Israel, we have been blinded by those desires and concerns, and we are unable to listen to His will in the midst of our preoccupation with ourselves and our needs. We are acting like the evil tenants in the Gospel passage today, a rebuke which Jesus our Lord made to all those who have given in to their worldly concerns, so as to refuse the love and mercy of God.

God has loved us so much that He has given us all hope through Christ His Son, Whom He sent into the world in order to become our salvation. Through Jesus, He shows us how to live like a true Christian, as those whom He had called from the world to be righteous and just, loving and compassionate just like Himself. He wants us to abandon our ways of sin, and abandon all the selflessness, all the jealousy, hatred and evil intent in our hearts, which all of us had done throughout our lives.

In this season of Lent, all of us are called to conversion and change, to abandon our selfish deeds and actions of our past, and embrace the loving ways of our God. We are all called to a change of heart, that while once we are like the sons of Israel, like the evil tenants described in the Gospel passage today, we may now be transformed from beings of darkness and sin, into beings of light and righteousness.

Today we commemorate the feast of the well known saint, St. Patrick of Ireland, the Patron Saint of Ireland, who was sometimes called the Apostle of Ireland, being the one who was contributed with the conversion and the transformation of the whole country Ireland, from a pagan country where druidism and pagan idols thrived before his time, into a faithful Christian nation, whose foundation is in the Lord alone.

St. Patrick was known to be a Romano-British missionary credited with the foundation of the faith and the Church in Ireland, becoming the very first bishop in the island, establishing the Christian community that quickly became the faith of all Irish people just not long after St. Patrick’s time. Before St. Patrick came to Ireland, the island was divided among many different tribes and counties, each ruled by their own kings and rulers, who warred and bickered against each other.

But St. Patrick came and showed all of them the way to the truth of God. He preached the Good News of God to them, and called them to repent their past sins and wickedness. St. Patrick taught them the truth about God, including what is now famous as his symbol of the Holy Trinity, the three-leaf clover. He taught them how God is a perfect and loving union of three Divine Persons, of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as inseparable as the three-leaf clover’s parts from each other.

And God Who is perfect in Love, and Who is indeed Love, wants to share that love with all of us His people. That is exactly why He has given us His commandments, His laws and ways, and Jesus His Son to be our salvation from the darkness, by bringing us into the light of His new world and life filled with love and grace, no longer with greed, evil, wickedness, ego and all other human ambitions and vileness.

St. Patrick converted many people in Ireland during his lifetime and mission, and many gave up their sinful ways and warlike behaviour. Instead, they began to live in peace, harmony and love, just as St. Patrick had taught them to do, following in the examples and the laws of the Lord. This is in fact, what each and every one of us Christians must do in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during this time of Lent, let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and bring ourselves to righteousness and justice through our actions. Let us all do more good works in our lives, as a penance for our sins, and as a sign that we are all sincere in our desire to be forgiven from our sins. Let us all practice love in all of our actions and dealings, and let us all learn to overcome our human desires, our ego, our greed, and all the things that have thus far become our obstacles on our journey towards the Lord and His salvation.

May all of us be able to draw ourselves closer to God by doing more what the Lord wants us to do, and by committing ourselves wholeheartedly to His precepts and laws. May He bless us all and strengthen our faith inside of us, that we may grow ever more in faith, and be ever more righteous and just in life, so that not only this Lent, but from now onwards, we may be true disciples of our Lord, true Christians in name and also in spirit. Amen.

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