Tuesday, 4 July 2017 : 13th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us heard from the Sacred Scriptures the tale about God’s providence and help for those who are faithful to Him. In the first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard about how the Lord rescued Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were known to us as places where hideous and grievous sins had been committed by the people there, but Lot and his family were righteous in the sight of God, and God wanted to rescue them from harm.

To that extent, God sent His Angels to Lot and his family, warning them about the impending catastrophe, protecting them from the wrath of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and led them out of the city into the wilderness so that they could escape the destruction and live. This was what He has also done for His disciples as they laid in fear in the middle of the lake, battered by strong wind and waves. He chastised the waves and the wind, and all quietened down.

In the end, God helped His faithful ones and saved them from their distress, but it is we, His people, who have often panicked and became worried, having doubts in the Lord’s providence and love for us. The disciples panicked and became worried in the boat, worried that the wind and the waves would knock the boat off and cause it to sink. They were worried because they feared for their lives, and their faith in the Lord were shaken.

In a similar manner, as Lot and his family fled in a hurry away from Sodom and Gomorrah, while they were specifically instructed by the Angels of God not to look back towards the city, the wife of Lot hesitated, and looked back at the city, and ended up turning into a pile of salt, a punishment for her disobedience. Why did she do so? It was the same with that of the disciples’ reasons for their fear and panicking in the boat rocked by the wind and the waves. They had fear in their hearts, and attachment to worldly things that they were not able to overcome.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, have we acted in the same manner as the wife of Lot and as the Apostles had done? Certainly at some points in our lives we have done so. It is in our human nature for us to worry and to think about our lives, and therefore, we end up losing sight of God’s providence and protection for us all His faithful ones. We are entangled amidst our worldly concerns and worries, and we cannot detach ourselves from those concerns.

How many of us, for example, spent so many hours busily working and preparing for our daily schedules and careers? And then how many of us spent so much time in our daily busy schedules that we end up spending close to nothing or indeed nothing for the Lord? Can we not even spend some time with the Lord, for all that He has done for us, for all that He has blessed us with?

Our Lord has done so much for us, that even though we are sinners and unworthy of Him, He resolved to make us worthy again through reconciliation with Him. Do we realise this fact? Do we realise that He has done so much for us to the point of bearing the cross and suffer great injustice and persecution, just so that through His suffering and death, all of us may have new life in Him?

Perhaps all of us should follow the example of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the holy woman and saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Elizabeth of Portugal was the Queen consort of the kingdom of Portugal, who was remembered for her great piety as queen and mother for her people, caring for the poor and the sick, giving herself to a prayerful and charitable life, dedicated to the service of God and to His people.

She maintained peace between the feuding factions in her family and in her country, at the time when a civil war broke between those factions. She made the feuding parties to reconcile with one another, and in other occasions, ensuring the peace between the nobles and the lords of the nation. And when her husband, the king of Portugal passed away, St. Elizabeth of Portugal decided to devote the rest of her life joining the religious nuns in a convent, and continuing to do what she had done for most of her life, caring for the people of God who are in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Elizabeth of Portugal should remind us that each and every one of us, whom God had called to become His children and His people, all of us are beloved by God, and God will protect us from harm, and provide for all of us in our times of need. However, all of us need to devote ourselves in the same manner that God had devoted Himself to us, by loving Him with all of our hearts, and therefore by loving one another, fellow brethren in Christ.

Shall we follow in the footsteps of St. Elizabeth of Portugal and all of our holy predecessors? Shall we walk in their path, which God had shown them and now also show us, so that we may come closer to Him, and thus making us ever more beloved children of His? Let us all commit ourselves anew to God, and seek to do His will in our respective lives and actions. May God continue to love us and bless us, and may He continue to give us His grace and protection. Amen.

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