Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious and Virgins)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about being called by God and believing in Him, through what we have heard and witnessed. In the Gospel passage today, Jesus the Lord compared the people of Israel at the time of His coming with the people of the city of Nineveh, to whom the prophet Jonah had been sent.
In the past week, we have been listening to the story of the prophet Jonah and how he initially was reluctant to follow God’s orders telling him to declare to the people of Nineveh the message, but eventually he obeyed and went to Nineveh. He told the city and the people of Nineveh that the entire city would be destroyed because of the sins and wickedness committed by them.
The entire city believed in the message of the prophet Jonah, and repented from their sins, turning from their wickedness, sincerely showing forth their repentance. And God forgave them their sins. He spared their city and the entire people from destruction. When the prophet Jonah was angry at God’s seemingly sudden turnaround and change of mind, He explained that after all, He loved each and every one of them, regardless of their sins.
The key message here is that, if only that they are willing to repent from their sins, then God will forgive them. But if they refused to repent and believe in the Lord’s message, and continued to walk in the path of sin, then God will reject them because of those sins. It was due to sins unconfessed and unrepented that many had fallen into damnation and into the fires of hell.
And why did Jesus make the comparison with the people of Nineveh? That is because while the people of Nineveh believed and repented. On the other hand, the people of Israel at the time of Jesus and their ancestors refused to believe in God, either through the prophets sent to remind the Israelites, or through the Lord Jesus Himself. They hardened their hearts and closed their minds against God.
That is why God was angry at the people of Israel, for not following the examples what the people of Nineveh had done. The people of Israel always took pride in themselves being the chosen people of God, and as the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and yet, the people of Nineveh, often considered as a pagan and unbeliever, belonging to the Assyrians who were often reviled in the history of Israel as the destroyer of the northern kingdom, in fact believed in God and repented.
What the Lord wants each and every one of us to know is that, for all of us, God has given the equal chance for redemption and forgiveness, to be reconciled with Him and to be transformed from the creatures of darkness and sin that we were once, into the creatures of the light. But it is ultimately up to us to make the conscious choice between obeying and following God, or to abandon God and walk in the path of sin.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us should heed the examples of our holy predecessors who have gone before us, devoting their lives for the sake of God and His people, loving God their Lord through all of their actions. St. Hedwig or St. Hedwig of Silesia was the wife and widow of the Duke of Silesia in what is now Poland, renowned for her great piety and love for her people, while St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a holy woman renowned for her devotion to God, particularly to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Hedwig was renowned for her great piety and exemplary religious life, devoting her time to care for her people, and she spent much of her time for charitable purposes and in the proper upbringing of her children. In fact, one of her sons and daughters is now considered as a candidate for sainthood himself, as two years ago the case for the beatification of Henry II the Pious, son of St. Hedwig was opened. St. Hedwig devoted herself completely to God after she was widowed, and joined religious life, to live in a life filled with prayer and commitment to God.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque meanwhile was a nun and mystic who received many visions from the Lord, showing her particularly the aspect of His Most Sacred Heart. It was through her visions that the now popular devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was propagated and promoted among the faithful. She wrote extensively about her experiences and all that the Lord Jesus told her.
In her own way, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, as well as St. Hedwig had inspired countless numbers among the faithful and those who did not believe in the Lord alike, calling all of us to the salvation and reconciliation with God. Through these holy saints, God wants to call us and to give us a chance at redemption, and now the choice falls upon us. Are we willing to listen to God’s words speaking to us in the depths of our hearts?
May the Lord bless us with strength, courage and the ability to devote ourselves anew to our God, listening to Him and following Him in our lives. Let us turn our backs from sins and from all the wickedness that we have committed in this life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to be ever better disciples of His. Amen.