Saturday, 3 February 2018 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s first reading we heard about the young king Solomon at the start of his reign praying to the Lord asking for guidance and strength. And God asked Solomon for what he desired, and he answered the Lord with the request for wisdom, the wisdom to judge right from wrong, in leading the people of God as he was still young and lacking in experience.

God was pleased with Solomon’s request, praising him because he did not ask what the others in the world normally would have requested. Given that we can request for anything we want to have, many of us would have chosen to request for money, or material possessions, or prestige, or worldly glory, or length of life and comforts of life, or even all of them. But Solomon did not do that.

He asked from God what the world could not give him, and wisdom, that is true wisdom is something that only God alone can grant to those to whom He was willing to reveal it. Ultimately money, wealth, prestige, long life and everything else that we normally desire, are all temporary and impermanent, and eventually we will lose all of them, and we will bring nothing with us at the end of our lives.

But even wisdom itself cannot guarantee everything or safeguard everything. If we read on further about the life of king Solomon, we will notice how in his later age, during his old ages, he was swayed by his many wives and fell into sin, erecting many pagan idols and altars to the foreign gods to satisfy his wives and concubines. God was angry at Solomon because he was unable to keep his commitment to Him and instead fell into temptation of his great wealth and power.

This is a reminder for us, that all of us must not be tempted and must resist the temptations of money, of prestige, of worldly glory, of material possessions, that we do not fall into sin as Solomon had been. Instead, we should really put our complete trust in God, in His wisdom and in His ways. When we start to put our trust in our own power and abilities, that is when we begin to sway away and be tempted.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God cares for us so much that He is willing to go to such great lengths to provide us what we need, and give us what we need. Just as He has offered help to Solomon in his time of need, He gave us nothing less than His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and our Saviour, and in the Gospel passage we heard today, we see just how committed He is to all of us.

Despite being very tired, as Jesus and His disciples ministered to many people in many different places, when He saw the people being lost, leaderless and clueless, like sheep without a shepherd, He had pity and compassion on them, and He continued teaching them for many hours, guiding them to the right path by His words, telling them and calling them to repentance from their sins.

We should heed what the Lord has done, and as Christians, we must be courageous in doing what the Lord Himself had done and shown us. And we should perhaps model ourselves after faithful servants of God, whose memory we remember and celebrate today, namely St. Blaise and St. Ansgar. St. Blaise was a holy bishop and martyr of the faith, who lived in what is now today Armenia. St. Ansgar was a renowned missionary and bishop who worked hard to spread the faith in the region now part of northern Germany.

St. Blaise was a very skilled and experienced physician who often ministered to the people for their various sickness and illness, caring for them physically as well as spiritually, as their bishop and shepherd. He cultivated a strong spiritual life and habits, which was notable among his flock, and many were inspired by his great faith and dedication to God.

During one of the last great persecutions of the Church and the faithful, St. Blaise was among those who were arrested by the authorities, and as he remained steadfast in his beliefs and in his zeal in living the faith he had, he was martyred by beheading. However, his examples and great faith remained alive many decades, centuries after he died, even until this very day.

St. Ansgar meanwhile ministered to the many pagan peoples and tribes living in the area now found in the northern parts of Germany and Scandinavia. He went from place to place, working hard in the footsteps of the Lord Himself, teaching the people about the faith and about God. Many turned to the faith and converted because of his hard work, and slowly, more and more people, throughout northern Germany and Scandinavia became Christians.

He lived simply and devoutly, committing himself to prayer and fasting. St. Ansgar cared greatly also for the weak and for the poor, ministering to them regularly. Many were inspired by his examples and followed suit in the ministry to the people of God, and more and more people wanted to be baptised as Christians, having witnessed what the holy man of God had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all as Christians also do the same in our own lives, that in whatever capacity we are in, and in whatever way we can contribute, we may be able to spend our time, effort and attention, to love the Lord all the more, to dedicate ourselves ever more, and to put our trust in God alone, just as St. Blaise and St. Ansgar had done.

Let us not be tempted by worldly glory, hubris, desire, greed, ambition and all the other things which are major obstacles in our path to reach out to the Lord. Rather, let us all be ever more humble before God and men alike, so that in everything we do, we say and we act, we do them for the greater glory of God, and God Who knows all that we do, will bless us greatly. May God be with us always, with our efforts and works. Amen.

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