Friday, 11 August 2017 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture passages, beginning with the Book of Deuteronomy, from which a passage was taken out as our first reading today. In that passage, we listened as Moses told the people of Israel during their journey towards the Promised Land, as they endured the long period of waiting, forty years, about how God had cared for them and provided for them all those while, despite all of their lack of faith in Him.

Moses was reminding the people with a long exhortation, telling them just how fortunate they have been, for them to have been loved by God, to be chosen by Him to be His people. For indeed, what Moses said was true, as there was never anything like what the Lord had done for His people, Israel, in how He had personally done wonders to free His people through the works of His mighty hands, by the ten great plagues that oppressed the Egyptians and forcing them to let the Israelites go.

And God had opened the Red Sea before His people, a deed never done before by any, allowing them to pass through safely and destroyed their enemies behind them. He established a Covenant with them, renewing the Covenant which God had made with Abraham, their forefather. He gave them His own Laws and commandments, with which He wanted to guide them to live faithfully according to His will, and then delivered these to them through Moses, His servant.

He fed His people with the bread from heaven itself, the manna, which He gave them daily except on the Sabbath day, before which He gave them twice the amount to fend for the day of the Sabbath. Everything was taken care of for them, and God loved them day after day. He destroyed their enemies, the Midianites and the Amalekites as they journeyed through the desert. However, the Israelites refused to believe in God wholeheartedly, and repeatedly, they betrayed Him for other gods, and made constant complaints against Him.

They demanded more and more things, even though God had been so generous with them. They complained that they had not enough to eat or drink, even though God had given them and provided them with what they needed. And that is precisely what the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today. We may not immediately see the link between the two passages, but what the people of Israel had done, was that they seek to preserve themselves and settle their personal desires and interests, above that of the interests of God.

Jesus our Lord said that those who would preserve their lives and refuse to take up their crosses in life will perish, while those who are willing to accept and take up the crosses of their lives, following the Lord Jesus, while they would suffer and be threatened with destruction, they will triumph in the end, and eternal life and grace will forever be theirs. This is the promise which God had made to all those who are faithful to Him.

Sadly, however, the attitudes shown by the Israelites can be found too often among us mankind, as many of us often succumb to the temptations of worldly goods, pleasures and wealth, and we often think of ourselves first, and how we can advance our own power, prestige and status in the society, ahead of our obligations to the Lord. And that is why so many of us have fallen into sin, because we are incapable of letting go of all these human desires that we have.

We put our desires for pleasure, for money, for worldly fame and glory, for recognition and renown ahead of our obligation to love and serve the Lord with all of our hearts. And that was what happened to the Israelites, who have been swayed away from their faith in God, and what had also happened to our predecessors throughout the ages.

Satan is always ever active, seeking for new preys to hound upon. He is actively seeking our downfall, by putting in our path many obstacles and hurdles, all sorts of temptations, persuasions and pressure, in order to force us to walk down the path of sin. This is where we truly must be careful, lest we are dragged down to the fires of hell with him, as we disobey God through sin.

We should instead seek and strive to do our best, to overcome those temptations and pressures, and follow what the holy saint, St. Clare of Assisi had shown in her life. Today we mark her memorial and feast day, and all of us Christians should learn from her examples. St. Clare was among those who sought to join the society founded by St. Francis of Assisi, when she was moved by his preaching and works.

It was told that St. Clare gave up everything and followed the Lord, joining the religious nuns in their convent. And when her family tried to force her to return with them, she refused to do so, as she had committed her whole life to the Lord, and adamantly holding fast to her commitment to God. And eventually she continued in her life in the secluded convent, dedicating herself entirely to God through prayer.

And it was told that in one occasion, when the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II came upon the city with the intent of pillaging, St. Clare took up the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and held it up high above her. Amidst the rushing and the terror of an invading army, one should have run away in fear, but not for St. Clare. She placed her trust in God, her Protector. It was told that the armies who wanted to pillage the city fled away in fear because of what St. Clare had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Clare of Assisi, and emulate her in her deeds and choices in life. She had decided to give herself completely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and it is that dedication and commitment which we ourselves should imitate in our own lives, and in how we live our faith to the Lord.

Let us all renew our commitment to Him, and let us no longer be swayed or be tempted by worldly temptations, but instead from now on, let us live in accordance with the will of God, and obey all of His laws. May the Lord bless us all, and may He be with us throughout this journey of our faith. Amen.

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