Saturday, 17 March 2018 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, again on this day we heard the opposition that arose against the faithful servants of God from the Scriptures, as committed by all those who refused to listen to the words that those servants had brought unto their attention. Instead of listening to the truth and to the call towards repentance, they plotted against God’s servants to destroy them.

That is the essence of what we have just heard from the Scripture passages today as we come closer to the end of the season of Lent and the beginning of the Passion of Christ at the Holy Week in a week’s time. And the reason of such stubborn refusal to believe and to embrace the truth is because of our own inability to restrain ourselves and our desires.

The Lord Jesus spoke plainly and with authority, as the prophets of the earlier days had done so as well. But yet the people of God refused to listen to them, and they refused to listen to the Lord Jesus, because they would not allow the word of God to enter into their hearts and minds, that they may believe in Him. Instead, the words just entered through their ears and nothing more happened after that.

That is why we have to distinguish between hearing and listening in this case. We may wonder what is the difference between these two actions, but in reality, they make quite a difference. One can hear without listening, but the one who listens, also hears. Hearing refers to the process of sound entering into our ears, being captured by our ears’ sensing ability, and then we can hear the sound.

But hearing something does not necessarily mean that we appreciate or understand what we have heard. In our world today there are many noises around us, surrounding us all day long. When things become too noisy and the sounds become too loud, we shut ourselves from those noises, and we consciously try to not listen to those noises.

Similarly, if our hearts and minds are closed to God’s words and truth, then we will end up like the Pharisees and all those who were opposed to the good works of the prophets and Our Lord Himself, those who heard the word of God but failed to listen to Him speaking to them through those words. Have we been like this, brothers and sisters in Christ?

It is not easy for us to truly listen to God, as there are, as mentioned a lot of noise being ever present around us, all the time. And these are also the ways how the devil is trying actively to prevent us from listening to God speaking to us in the depths of our hearts and minds. Otherwise, had we all listened to Him and repented, hell would have been empty!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in order to be able to listen to God, we have to learn to temper ourselves, our desires and resist the many temptations present in our lives. And sometimes, it is important for us to know that being a disciple and follower of the Lord is not something that is so difficult and complicated after all. St. Patrick, the famous saint and bishop whose feast we celebrate today, preached about God and His nature of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit using a three-leaf clover to make the people understand the complex mystery with a simple symbol and approximation.

St. Patrick himself did not have it easy during his ministry to the pagan peoples of Ireland and in all of his missionary works. He often faced rejection and ridicule, much as the Lord Jesus Himself had faced from the Pharisees and from His enemies. Yet, St. Patrick patiently persevered on in his efforts, and many more people believed in God and were saved because of him.

Let us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, renew our efforts to live our lives faithfully, imitating the examples of Our Lord Himself, and all of His holy saints, particularly that of St. Patrick. May we all be able to loosen the stuck doors of our hearts and minds, too long encrusted with pride, greed, desire, ambition, prejudice, hatred, and all other obstacles that had prevented us from being able to listen to God and understand what it is that He wants from each one of us.

May all of us learn to be better and more dedicated servants of Our Lord, by lessening the importance of our selves, and by growing greater in our humility before God, embracing His forgiveness and mercy for our sins, and love Him with all of our efforts. May we listen to His words and be thoroughly converted in heart, mind, body and soul to become His beloved and worthy children. May God bless us all, and may St. Patrick intercede for us sinners. Amen.

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