Saturday, 19 August 2017 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the pact which the people of Israel swore before Joshua, the leader appointed by God to lead Israel, on his deathbed, that they would be faithful to the Lord, their God, and they would reject the worship of the pagan gods and idols. They vowed before God Himself that they and their descendants would continue to worship YHVH, their God, forever and would not turn away from Him.

Yet, as history would have proven, the people of Israel did not keep their promise and broke their vow, which they made before God Himself, as they were tempted by worldly pleasures and false promises, the temptations made by the devil to lure them away from the path of salvation towards the Lord. They turned away from God and instead worshipped the pagan idols, and abandoning His laws, they turned to debauchery and wickedness.

We may be wondering what it is that made them to do all those things, turning away from the goodness of God. They blatantly and openly rebelled against God Who had provided for them all their needs, and Who had defended them from their enemies and gave them fertile lands and riches of the land promised to them. God Himself made a Covenant with them, and promised that prosperity, peace and harmony would be their lot forever.

It was their greed, their human and worldly desires that had led them astray from God. The devil manipulated those wicked desires and the greed in their hearts, the ego that he found there, to turn them away from God, by the sweet lies and false promises of power, worldly glory, fame, influence, wealth and more. They were too engrossed in worldly concerns that led them to fall into sin and into rebellion against God.

Then, we come to the Gospel passage which we heard today, when the Lord Jesus rebuked His disciples who prevented the people who wanted to bring their children to Him. He wanted the children to come to Him, to be with Him and to listen to Him, and He even praised those children and asked that His disciples follow their examples, having the same faith as the children had shown to the Lord.

Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because the faith of a child is pure and genuine, without the taints and corruptions of our human greed and desires, without the corruptions of our ego and emotions. If we have seen a child before, when the child believe in something, he or she will have pure belief in his or her innocence, before he or she is corrupted by the desires of the world, the desire for worldly goods and pleasures.

Thus, in this manner, God is calling all of us to imitate the faith of the children, who came to Jesus to love Him and to seek Him. He called us to love Him unconditionally and wholeheartedly as the children has loved Him, and not burdened by the desires and the temptations of the world. Otherwise, we might end up like the Israelites who were tempted and swayed to abandon the Lord their God because of those temptations.

Perhaps we should also heed the examples of the life of St. John Eudes, a holy priest and servant of God whose feast day we celebrate today. St. John Eudes was a French priest who was renowned for his preaching and works among the people of God, especially among sinners and prostitutes. He helped to establish the religious congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge to provide for those prostitutes and sinners who desired to be reconciled with God.

In addition, he also established another religious congregation, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, which would be named after him, as the Eudists, who helped to build up the formation of faith amongst the priests and the seminarians, and through which works, he encouraged the strong devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, together with contemporaries such as St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

The devotion which those holy saints had to the Lord and His blessed mother Mary should be an inspiration to all of us, that we should also show the same kind of devotion and love, that in all the things we say and do, we will always seek to love God and devote ourselves to Him, rejecting the temptations of worldly power, wealth, fame, glory and all the other things that Satan has placed on our path towards God to make us fall down and falter.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to Him, and seek to love Him with greater zeal and devotion from now on, and let our love be like that of the love which the faithful children have given to the Lord Jesus, that we too may be worthy to be called, the children of God. May God be with us all, always, and may St. John Eudes and the holy saints of God intercede for us always. Amen.

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