Friday, 25 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded by what we have heard from the Book of Ruth, our first reading today, of the faith that Ruth, a woman hailing from the country of Moab, a foreigner, had in the Lord. Ruth stayed on at the side of Naomi, her mother-in-law despite the fact that her husband and all her other immediate family had passed away. She remained faithful to the Lord and followed her mother-in-law back to the land of Israel.

And eventually she was blessed by God for her faith, and she met her future husband, Boaz as she was working in his field. She bore a son whom she called Obed, who was the father of Jesse, and who in turn was the father of David, the famous king of Israel. All of these would not have been possible without the faith which Ruth had shown to God, her dedication and commitment to her newfound faith in Him.

In this we also see how God calls the people of all the nations to come to Him and worship Him, as even among the ancestors of the king of Israel existed the faithful foreigners and pagans who turned away from the path of their own ancestors and chose to follow God’s path instead. In this we see how God loves us all, and how each and every one of us also need to love God in the same manner. That is what God intended for us, that through His Laws, we may love Him just as He had loved us first.

That is what the Lord Jesus spoke of in the Gospel passage today, when the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law confronted Him and tried to argue with Him, presumably trying to trap Him in His own words, by asking Him which law is the most important one in the whole Laws and Commandments which Moses had received from God. But those people did not truly understand what God intended to do with His Law, and neither did they practice the Law in the manner He wanted them to do.

They did not understand that God’s laws are truly about love, loving God first and foremost before anything else, and then loving one another, loving our fellow men, our parents, our friends and all those whom we encounter in our lives in the same manner as we have loved God and just as how we love ourselves. Instead, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law became too preoccupied with the formalities and the less important aspects of the Law, focusing on the wrong things and mistaking the true purpose of those Laws.

They reinforced the strict commandment and observances of the Law, but all these were done to advance their own self-interests, that they might be praised for their supposed piety and obedience to the Law. They looked down on tax collectors and prostitutes, and closed the door of salvation to them, thinking that those people were sinners and were unworthy of God. Yet, the Lord Jesus rebuked them and showed them just how genuine and true is the love that those supposed sinners had shown to God.

Just like Ruth, those tax collectors, prostitutes and all those deemed as foreigners, pagans and sinners were able to show greater love, commitment and devotion to the Lord. In that, they have obeyed the Law of God to a far greater degree than what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. They have loved God, and desired the love of God, and as a result, God welcomed them, and forgave them their sins when they sincerely sought Him looking to be forgiven and committed to the change in their lives and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to do the same as well? Are we able to change our lives in the same way? Are we able to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and love Him sincerely from our hearts? This is what we have been called to do, and what we have been reminded by the Word of God which we have heard in the Scripture passages today.

Let us all look at the examples of the holy saints, St. Louis, the holy King of France, and St. Joseph Calasanz, a holy priest and servant of God, whose feasts we celebrate today. Let us all look at the examples of these holy men who had gone before us, and see how they have dedicated their own lives to God, so that we too may be able to follow their footsteps and walk in the same path.

St. Louis, also known as King Louis IX of France, was a very famous and renowned King of France, known as a paragon of virtue and piety, devoted wholeheartedly to the service of God and to his people, being a model king and ruler, who cared greatly for the well-being of his people, both physically and spiritually. Unlike many other rulers of his time, before and after, he used his power with justice and righteousness, and did not succumb to the temptations of power to abuse that authority which God had granted him.

Instead, St. Louis devoted himself to the improvement of the lives of his subjects and people, building churches and helping to establish the institutions of the Church to bring his people closer to God, and seeking to make peace between the feuding factions among his people, to end the bitter rivalries and conflicts among them, that they might overcome their sinful past filled with wickedness, and turn wholeheartedly towards God.

In the same manner, St. Joseph Calasanz had also shown us how to become a better follower of God as St. Louis had done. St. Joseph Calasanz was remembered for his great works of charity among the poor, even establishing a congregation of the servants of God dedicated to help the poor and ministering to them in their needs. He showed his great devotion and charity to the people who were in need, and in that way, he also dedicated himself wholeheartedly to God.

He helped to establish institutions to care for homeless and neglected children, and offered places for the poor and the homeless to stay in. He helped them to get by with their worldly needs, and helped to provide jobs and work through which they were able to sustain themselves in their needs. He was also credited with bringing peace to feuding factions in the Church, just as St. Louis had done among his people.

In all these examples shown by these two holy saints, all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, are reminded that there are many things that each and every one of us can do as Christians to be good servants and followers of the Lord. We should follow their examples, and also the faith and dedication of Ruth and all those who have given themselves entirely to love and to serve the Lord.

Are we able to commit ourselves in this manner? Are we able to do more in order to serve Him? The one who decide this will be ourselves. We need to decide if we can give more to serve the Lord, to love Him with ever greater devotion and to have an ever greater and living faith in Him. Let us all therefore renew our commitment to Him, and renew our commitment to show the same love we show Him to our fellow men as well. May God bless all our endeavours. Amen.

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