Friday, 9 March 2018 : 3rd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Frances of Rome, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us heard today the very clear call from the prophet Hosea upon the people of God, for them to repent from their sins and to return to the faith of their forefathers. This is made in the context of the wickedness of the people who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, which had been ransacked and crushed by their enemies, because of their sins and wickedness, their refusal to obey the Lord and His laws.

The prophet Hosea promised the same promise that God has frequently told His people, that He would not abandon them to the darkness, but He would reconcile all of them to Himself, and therefore, they would once again be His people and receive again the fullness of His love and blessings. God loved all of them and did not wish to see them perish in the hands of their enemies or falling into the eternal damnation in hell.

That was the reason why, He gave them His laws and sent His prophets to their midst, so that they might seek repentance and to be forgiven from all their waywardness and from all the sins that they had committed. But the people continued to harden their hearts and refused to believe in Him or His prophets, and they continued to worship the pagan idols and did more wicked deeds, killing the prophets and messengers sent to their midst.

As a result, the kingdom of Israel was destroyed, and all the people of God were scattered. Many of them were brought off to faraway lands in Assyria and Babylon as slaves and exiles, losing the lands promised to them and their ancestors. All of these were caused by their lack of faith and obedience, and because of those sins, that they refused to repent from, they have received the just punishment for their actions.

But again, God still loved all of His people, despite all of their sins, their stubbornness and constant refusal to obey His laws and commandments. He continued to send prophets after prophets, and messengers after messengers who spoke of God’s forgiveness and mercy which He would show to His people should they turn their hearts and minds back to Him and abandon their ways of sin.

And that was why He sent us His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour and Redeemer. Through Christ, the Lord revealed the fullness of the truth about Himself and His love for us all. He revealed that all that He had done for His people, are all because of His enduring and everlasting love for them. He revealed to them that His Law is indeed about love, and first of all, love which is shown to Him, above all other things, and then love shown to others, to our brothers and sisters in our midst.

But at the time of Jesus, again the people hardened their hearts. At that time, they misunderstood the Law and misused it to serve their own selfish intentions. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law used the Law to advance their own careers and prestige in the society. Instead of bringing the people closer to God, they closer off the kingdom of God from the reach of man. They have been entrusted with the task to bring the people to love God more in their lives, but they have failed in that endeavour.

Thus the Lord Jesus wanted to remind us all Christians, all of us who love Him and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour, that we have to obey His Law with understanding, that is by loving God and putting Him first and foremost in our lives, without anything else in the way or as distractions in our worship of God. Then, we must also love one another, our fellow brethren, by showing genuine care and concern, compassion and love for those who need them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us emulate the examples of St. Frances of Rome, holy woman and servant of God whose feast we celebrate today. St. Frances of Rome was a saint renowned for her charity and good works among God’s people as a lay associate of the Benedictines religious order. She was remembered for her prayerful life and devotion, and for her loving care towards her peers, opening her house as an emergency hospital for multitudes of people when a great plague struck her hometown.

Are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Frances of Rome? Are we able to love the Lord Our God and love one another with the same intensity as she had done and shown us? This is the challenge that we are all called to do in this season of Lent, to renew our faith and spiritual life, that each and every one of us will no longer live our lives according to our past sinfulness, but instead, will find a new existence filled with God’s love and grace.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to live faithfully in accordance with His will. May God bless us all and our journey of faith this Lenten season. Amen.

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