Wednesday, 31 January 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we listened to the Scripture passage relating to us about what happened to David, the king of Israel in his later years, after God has granted him rest from the troubles and challenges in the early years of his rule as king. David then asked Joab, his commander of the army, to conduct a great survey of the whole realm, and count the numbers of his people.

We might not understand what was the problem with this request done by David, but if we are to think about it more carefully, what David has done is a natural reaction by many of us mankind, because of our human greed and prideful nature. By asking such a command to be done, David fell into sin as he became enamoured by the power and influence he commanded at the time, as his kingdom grew in might, wealth and power.

When he wanted to count the number of his subjects, it is not different from us, when we have gained a lot of money or earned something substantial, and we want to count them all. That is because when we have them, we desire for even more, and as we count what we possess, be it in terms of money or in terms of other material goods, we actually feel, deep in our hearts, a sense of pride and arrogance because we think that it was by our own power and ability that we have achieved all that we gained.

God was angry at David because of that short, momentary occurrence of pride and arrogance. He has allowed himself to be swayed by that pride and the temptation of the flesh, as those were what had led many people into their downfall, into committing sins against God. Thus, God reminded David of his errors and corrected him by means of admonition and just punishment.

And David’s reaction was truly admirable, as he humbled himself before God and admitted all the wrongs which he had done. He accepted the just punishments that God had meted out against him and against his kingdom. He recognised that he was a sinner and that he had gone astray in his path, and resolved to return to the right path. Such was the behaviour which God loved in David, His servant, and He continued to bless him henceforth.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Jesus Who went to His hometown, likely the village of Nazareth, where He performed miracles and taught among them in the synagogue, and yet, He was not well accepted by them. The people quickly grumbled and spoke among themselves, questioning His credibility and doubting all that He had done and performed among them.

They used their human prejudices and judgments to look upon the Lord and His actions. As such, they doubted Him simply because He was the Son of a mere carpenter, a person whose job was not well respected at the time, and considered to be uneducated, poor and generally as people who were looked down upon at that time. That is why they had that preformed judgment in their minds, and they therefore stubbornly closed their hearts and minds to the Lord.

What they have done is not different from what king David had once done. If king David was proud of his own achievements and greatness, the vastness and glory of his kingdom, then the people of Nazareth doubled down on their pride and trust in their own human judgments rather than allowing the Lord to speak to them through His actions. And they refused to listen to Him, and hardened their hearts against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, essentially, what we have heard in today’s readings are reminders for us that each and every one of us will always and indeed, have always faced temptations, challenges and difficulties in our lives. In various ways, we have been burdened by those difficult moments and obstacles, and we may have fallen many times into the temptation to sin. However, we have to persevere and resist through those temptations and overcome those challenges we face along the way.

As Christians, all of us are called to live righteously, filled with courage and dedication, that we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and spend our energy and time doing what the Lord had commanded us to do, what He has shown us and taught us. And perhaps, we should follow an exemplary role model, whose life has been shaped by the Lord, and whose devotion to Him can be good examples for us to follow.

St. John Bosco was the founder of the religious order now known as the Salesians of St. John Bosco or the Salesians, one of the largest religious orders in the world today. Members of the religious order dedicate themselves to follow in the footsteps of St. John Bosco in his missionary outreach and efforts, as well as in his dedicated service to the people of God, particularly to the youths, to the underprivileged and to the weak among the people.

St. John Bosco was an Italian priest renowned for his efforts in educating the youths and the homeless in his community, establishing schools and dormitories for young boys who were homeless and without occupation, getting them to be educated and bringing them up in the right way, giving them the opportunity to be good and contributing members of the community.

St. John Bosco wanted to do more, and he wanted to embark on missionary works to evangelise the faith among the people, and therefore, he established with several others who were inspired by St. John Bosco, in a new religious congregations which eventually became the Salesians we know of today. Through the good examples set by St. John Bosco, which was followed by many of those who have dedicated themselves to God in the same manner, many have been saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to the Lord in the same way as St. John Bosco has committed himself. Let us all turn towards the Lord, and rededicate ourselves completely to Him, just as king David turned away from his folly and admitted his mistakes before God. Let us all be true Christians, filled not with pride and arrogance, or with the greed of our human desires, but instead be filled with love, care and compassion, especially for our brethren, those who have less and are not as fortunate as us to have a good and comfortable life.

May the Lord strengthen each one of us, that we may live in accordance with His ways, and devote ourselves ever more strongly and genuinely to Him. St. John Bosco, pray for us all, that each and every one of us may be strengthened to live our lives with faith as you have done with your own. May God bless us all. Amen.

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