Saturday, 12 August 2017 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the continuation of what Moses had taught the people of Israel during their time of journey through the desert to the Promised Land, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy. Moses reminded them of the Covenant which God had established with their ancestors, and exhorted them to continue to keep the same faith which they had, even after the Lord had brought them into the Promised Land, and after they have settled in that land in peace and prosperity.

Yet, as history had shown throughout the Scriptures, the people of Israel had not been faithful. God had blessed them and cared for them in many occasions, through their moments of difficulty, sending them judges to liberate them from their enemies and oppressors, and appointed kings to lead and guide them on the right path. But, still, they continued to disobey the Lord, and even many of the kings and leaders led the people astray.

They were the ones whom the Lord mentioned, as those who had little faith in God, and in His ability to save them from their distress. What applied at the time of Jesus, also applied in the times of the ages past, when the people of Israel repeatedly failed to walk righteously in the path that God had shown them. They instead trusted in their own power and turned to the pagan idols and gods.

This is despite God having shown them His miracles and wonders, after all that He had done for them, and after all the prophets and messengers, and the great deeds and miracles those prophets had performed before them. They refused to repent from their sins and consistently sinned, doing what was abhorrent and wicked in the sight of God and man alike.

At the time of the Lord Jesus, as mentioned in the Gospel today, although the people had seen the miracles and wonders that He had done amongst them, but they were not convinced or had faith in Him. They still had doubts in their hearts, and that was why they were not able to do as the Lord had told them to do. If they truly have faith in Him, they would not be shaken or be doubtful, when the Lord was taken from them at the time of His Passion. As we see, all of the disciples fled when the Lord was arrested by the chief priests.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that the Lord wants to remind us with today's Scripture passages? It is that all of us who follow Him, who call ourselves as Christians must have true and genuine faith in God. We cannot be lukewarm in our faith, or worse still, to have a faith that is just a formality. We either have a faith that is living and genuine, or not to have faith at all. For a lukewarm faith is just as good as a dead and non-existent faith.

All of us must live out our faith with real commitment and action, and we must wholeheartedly believe in the Lord and entrust Him with our very life, in everything we say and do. All of us must obey Him in His laws and commandments, and restrain ourselves from doing what is evil and wicked in the eyes of God. These are the things that we as Christians must do in our lives, as those who are faithful to God.

Then, how should we proceed, brethren? Perhaps, we should heed the examples of today's saint, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, who was widowed at a young age, losing her husband to an accident, leaving her and her four children without a husband and a father. After having settled the matters and the inheritance of her husband, St. Jane Frances de Chantal made a vow of chastity and joined the religious life.

She devoted the rest of her life to the Lord, in her good works and through prayerful dedication, and by founding the Congregation of the Visitation, a new religious order for women who were called to serve the Lord, reaching out to the public and serving the poor and the needy. What she had done at that time was considered revolutionary, as it was not common for women religious to do outreach work such as what she and her companions had done.

Yet, through the examples and the piety which St. Jane Frances de Chantal had shown, all of us should be inspired to live in the same manner, following the Lord with faith, through our real commitment and good works in life. Let us all therefore renew that commitment we must have to the Lord. Let us all be like St. Jane Frances de Chantal and the many other holy men and women of God who have gone before us, and resist the temptations to sin. Let us have a real and living faith, and not be lukewarm any longer in our faith.

May the Lord bless us and strengthen our faith inside us, that our faith, once lukewarm and weak, may become a blazing fire inflamed by the power of the Holy Spirit, guiding us to be ever faithful and devoted in our life. May God be with us always, and may through the intercession of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, the Lord may move our hearts and souls, to desire Him and to seek Him before all else. Amen.

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