Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in the readings today from particularly the Gospel, that we cannot be like the Pharisees, who refused to believe in Jesus simply because according to them, Jesus had disobeyed the laws of God as revealed through Moses because He often performed His healing miracles on the Sabbath day.

In fact, sometimes the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law purposely placed sick and possessed men or women, at the places where Jesus were teaching the people during the Sabbath day so that they hoped they could trap Jesus in His own actions and they then could accuse Him of disobeying the Sabbath law, thus allowing them to charge Him.

However, Jesus countered their argument, by citing the historical example of king David, the well-known and highly respected king of the nation of Israel. At the time of his great need, hungry and chased by his enemies, David and his men took the bread of offering normally reserved only for the priests, also on the Sabbath day, which was normally forbidden. But in that case, they were under difficult situation and help was greatly needed.

Through all these, we see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to understand the true meaning and intention of God’s laws and commandments. They thought that everyone ought to obey the Law as God is a fearsome God Who imposed His laws and commandments on His people, and therefore, all the laws including the law of the Sabbath was treated as inviolable and they persecuted those who did not obey.

But God did not give us all His laws so that He could burden us or pressure us to do all that He has commanded us to do, that we ended up fearing Him and trembling before Him. No, His main intention is love, and He wants each and every one of us to be able to love Him wholeheartedly just as He Himself has loved us first. The Law of God is the Law of love, designed to keep us faithful in His ways, and to help us to learn about God and to devote ourselves ever more closely to Him.

Thus, in the same manner, the law of the Sabbath was instituted, because by setting aside one day when the people might stop their daily business and work, and when they may cease their constant worries and attention on the worldly matters, they might be able to spend that time with God, and strengthen their relationship with Him through prayer and devotion. But, this has been forgotten by the people, and the Pharisees enforced the Law of the Sabbath for the sake of doing it, and not with the purpose of allowing the people to love God more.

That was why Jesus pointed out the errors in their teachings and ways, since they even abhorred good deeds and works that were done on the day of the Sabbath. They did their sacrifices and prayers on one hand, but on the other hand, they discouraged the people from doing what the Lord wants each one of us to do, that is to be loving and to be gracious in how we love, towards both God and to our fellow men and women.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Himself said that when we show our love, care and attention to the least among our brethren, we have done it for none other than the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all Christians devote ourselves, our time and effort to show love and genuine care for others, especially those who are in need.

Perhaps we should also follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Claver, a devout and holy priest, whose dedication to the slaves in the New World, now the Americas became renowned and remembered by many, who looked up to his examples and commitment. He was a Jesuit priest who worked among the poor and the slaves in that area, converting them and teaching them about the faith.

And he did not hesitate to stand up for their sake when they were poorly and unfairly treated, and St. Peter Claver showed us therefore an example of how we as Christians should live, not through hypocrisy and arrogance like that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but through genuine love and devotion, via our care for those around us who are in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on devote ourselves in the same manner as St. Peter Claver had done. Let us love one another and love the Lord, devoting ourselves more wholeheartedly from now on. May the Lord bless our loving works and continue to strengthen in us the desire to love Him and to serve Him through all that we say and do. Let us all also ask for St. Peter Claver to intercede for us. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s