Thursday, 23 March 2017 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Scripture passages that speak to us about the need for us to follow and obey the Lord, and not to harden our hearts and minds against Him, as what some of our predecessors had done, and exemplified by the examples of the Israelites and those who lived during the time of Jesus and His earthly ministry.

God had done so many good things for His people Israel, liberating them from the Pharaoh and from the Egyptians, allowing them to pass unharmed through the sea, and caring for them throughout their journey in the desert. He provided for them food and water, and all that they ever needed were taken care of. Such was the love which God had shown His people, and He wanted them to do only one thing.

And that thing is to obey His commandments and laws, to be righteous just as He is righteous, to be holy just as He is holy. But they were easily swayed by the temptations of their flesh, which caused them to fall into sin, and into disobedience against God. They hardened their hearts and minds against God, that even though He has loved them so tenderly and cared for them so graciously, they complained and grumbled against Him.

In the same manner, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were the elders and leaders of the people of God, who were entrusted with the leadership and guidance of the people, as they were supposedly the best educated and the ones most knowledgeable about the Law of God. Yet, in their pride and in their closed hearts and minds, they refused to believe in the One Whom God had sent into the world in order to bring His truth to them, Jesus.

They went so far as to accuse Jesus of colluding with the forces of the devil, through Beelzebul, one of the princes of demons, in His miraculous works and actions. That is when Jesus firmly rebuked them and chided them for their hard-hearted attitude, and in their refusal to open their minds to the Lord, even to the point of spreading and telling lies for the sake of trying to undermine the good works of our Lord, just because they were jealous of the influence and attention which Jesus was getting for His actions.

We may think that all of these things only happened to the groups of people we have mentioned, and will not happen to us. However, in reality, if we think about it again carefully, there are many occasions in our respective lives, when we shut ourselves from God, because we are too busy with our worldly dealings and works. Sometimes we do not realise it, but we can be too busy to know that God wants to come to us and enter into our lives.

We can shut our hearts and minds from God, because we are so self-centred and concerned so much about our own well being and worldly cares, that we end up shutting ourselves from our brethren as well. This is what we as Christians must not do, or else we will end up as those who call themselves as Christians, but are such in name only, and in their hearts, they do not have God inside them.

During this time of Lent, it is important that we use this opportunity to think about our lives, and reflect on how we have lived our lives thus far, through all of our actions and deeds, through our words and all that we have acted in this life, in how we approach and live with our fellow brethren, and how we have chosen our actions. We really need to ask ourselves, if we have allowed God to be the mover of our lives, or whether we have put Him aside, replaced by our attachment and obsession with worldliness.

Perhaps, in this matter we can also follow the examples of St. Turibius de Mogrovejo, a holy bishop and a devoted Spanish missionary, who became the Archbishop of Lima in what is now modern day Peru. He was thoroughly devoted to God, and gave himself completely to the mission to which he has been called. He preached among the natives and the people who have not yet heard the word of God, and he converted many people to the faith.

However, he did not have it easy at all. He had to go on very long journeys to go around his vast Archdiocese, visiting his people in various places, from the deepest parts of the jungle, with all of its associated risks and dangers, to the steep hills and mountains, to the deserts and dry lands, encountering hostile tribes and dangers along his way.

But St. Turibius de Mogrovejo did not give up despite all of those challenges. We may be wondering what is the reason for his strong resolve and commitment. St. Turibius de Mogrovejo had God as his source of strength and resolve. He put his trust in God, and that was how he was able to persevere through all the difficult times and through all the challenging moments.

Are we able to follow the Lord in the same way as St. Turibius de Mogrovejo had done? Are we able to commit our lives to Him, and to do good deeds as that holy saint had done? It is entirely up to us, if we want to allow God to be our foundation and our strength, putting our trust completely in Him. But, we really need to allow Him to come into our hearts and allow Him to transform our lives, that we may truly be His in heart, mind, body and soul.

Let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, devoting our effort and our time to serve Him, by loving one another, our fellow brethren, and commit ourselves to do what is good in the sight of God. In that way, we are loving God with sincerity and genuine intentions, and God will reward us with His grace and love in the end of it all. May the Lord strengthen our faith and empower us all in our faith. God bless us all. Amen.

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