Wednesday, 16 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the story of when Israel went through the Exodus from Egypt and the journey through the desert, finally reaching the land which had been promised to them and to their ancestors, a rich and bountiful land overflowing in milk and honey, the Land of Canaan.

We heard how God led His people into the Land of Canaan, fulfilling the promise which He had made with His servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has delivered all of His people into He wished them to be, and provided for them as long as they remained true and faithful to Him. Yet, as we all know, they were not always faithful, but instead were constantly disobedient and fallen into sin, worshipping the pagan gods and idols, and in not obeying the commandments God had given them.

Then, in the Gospel today, all of us heard about the Lord Jesus Who spoke to His disciples on the matter of those who have sinned and made fault against us, and how we ought to deal with them. The Lord wants all these to be reconciled with us, and to be made to recognise their errors and mistakes, and gave His Church the authority to decide on whether the person, having repented his mistakes, could be reconciled, or instead, having refused to listen, kept them outside of the salvation and grace of God.

Through the Scripture readings today, God wanted to remind us that in order for us to reach out to Him and to find our way to His salvation, we should work together and remain together in the Church, and not to be separated from Him. For it is through His Church that God had blessed us and guided us, on the way and journey towards our salvation.

When two or more are gathered in His Name, He will be present and will bless all those gathered in His Name. However, for many of us, the problem lies in the fact that too many of us are too proud and too egoistic to work with each other, with each of us wanting to have it our own way, and not having a common consensus with others around us.

Many of us want our own point of view to be taken up by others, and we want our own ways and thoughts to be accepted over that of others. Yet, that is exactly when we begin to drift away from God's salvation and into the hands of the devil. The devil is always ever busy trying to pull us away from the path towards salvation, and he is always trying to seduce and to tempt us through manipulations of our pride and human desires, by playing at our ego.

That is how so many people have fallen into heresy and became separated from God's Church, because each of them have thought that their ways were the correct ways, while the true teachings of the Lord passed down through His Church were not. The Lord has blessed them and yet, they chose to walk down their own path, thinking that their own way merited better than the true path shown by the Lord through His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, it is important that we should reaffirm our faith in the Lord, and renew our commitment to Him, that we should always stand firm in the true teachings of the Church, and not to give in to our ego, our pride, and our stubbornness, as what many others had done throughout history. Instead, we should learn to be humble, to always seek God's wisdom and know what it is that He wants us to do in our lives.

Let us all follow the examples of St. Stephen of Hungary, the saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Stephen of Hungary was the first Christian king of Hungary, whose rule was remembered for his benevolence, righteousness and for the great piety which he had shown in his life, dedicating his rule and his nation to the Lord and to His Church. He helped to establish many Christian churches and institutions throughout the entire kingdom of Hungary, bringing more and more people to the salvation in God.

And even though he is the king, the supreme ruler of the land, but that did not make him proud or haughty, or thinking that he does not have any higher authority to obey. Indeed, St. Stephen obeyed the Lord and the teachings of the Lord as espoused and kept through His Church, and he helped to ensure that the laws of God are kept throughout his lands.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow the examples of St. Stephen of Hungary, in his faith and dedication to the Lord, and in his humility and obedience to God, despite all the temptations of worldly power and all other things that would surely have come along with his position and privileges. Let us all no longer be distracted by the attempts of the devil in trying to subvert us and to turn us away from God.

May the Lord help us all, that we may draw ever closer to Him, so that we may find that path towards redemption, and that together as one Church, we may receive the eternal glory that He has promised all of us His faithful ones, remembering that He had once fulfilled the promise He made to His servants, bringing His people to the land He bestowed on them. May God bless us all. Amen.

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