Friday, 25 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, and Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Popes or Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us to be true to our promises and words, and not to show that our words cannot be trusted or upheld. If our words cannot be trusted, then all the more the Lord Who knows what is in our hearts, will not show us His favour. For the Lord does not want in His presence, all those who lie and are untrustworthy.

For the Lord Himself is an ever-faithful God, Who upholds every single promises He made and truly means whatever He said and is faithful to every words that came out from His mouth. When He promised all of us, that He would save us from certain destruction because of our sins, and give us the Saviour and Deliverer, He did that perfectly, and faithfully, even unto the giving of Himself as the perfect Sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross.

He gave Himself to us so completely, that He was willing to bear the weight of the cross for our sake, and not just the physical weight of the wooden cross, but the true weight of the cross, which is the combined weight of the sins of man, which the Lord bore willingly upon Himself, that we do not have to bear the consequences for those sins which we have committed. That is just how much commitment the Lord has for all of us.

Unfortunately, it is us man, who often break our promises, which we made to God, and which we also made to one another. In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the exchange between the Lord Jesus and the Pharisees, on the matter of marriage and its importance, as the latter argued that divorce should be allowed as in the laws of God passed on through Moses, the Lord allowed for a person to divorce his or her spouse, providing a certain settlement had been made.

However, the Lord Jesus revealed the truth about His true intention, and the truth behind God’s laws. He said that the Lord only allowed His people to do as the Pharisees contended, that is the matter of divorce, because they were so stubborn and were so wicked with their adulterous behaviour, that He granted them that permission, so that they would not commit even more sin of adultery than what they had done.

God never intended to allow the practice of divorce, and in fact, reiterated the importance of the vow of marriage and its sanctity. A marriage is a sacrament in the eyes of the Church, where a man and a woman made solemn promises to each other, to remain with each other, in times of good and in times of hardships, and through whatever life may throw at them. A marriage is a contract between a man and a woman, blessed and confirmed by God, and as the Lord Jesus made it clear, that what God had united, no one, no man, should ever dissolve.

Now, let us see the sorry state and reality in our world today, where the institution of marriage and the family is under constant attack. There are increasingly more and more occasions of divorces and broken families, due to various reasons, but primarily, infidelity and adultery between each of the married couples. And increasingly, people become more and more accustomed to see such practices and even allow them to flourish.

In the present world, we take our marriage vows and promises lightly, and are easily tempted by the pleasures of the flesh, and the temptation of materialism and greed. That is why so many marriages ended up being broken, and many children are left abandoned or troubled as a result. But the Lord reminded all of us through the Scripture passages we heard today, that we as Christians, must be faithful to each other, and ultimately to God Himself, just as He had been faithful to the promises He made to all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us all reflect on our own respective lives, in all of our dealings and actions, in how we have interacted with each other. How many of us have that tendency to go back on our words and promises, or tell lies in order to gain advantage for ourselves? How many of us do not keep our promises even to our closest ones? I am sure many of us would remember the times when we have faltered in this regard.

The main reason for this is that we cannot overcome our pride, our ego and desire. We want satisfaction and good things to come to us, and it may happen that others suffer because of our pride, ego and desire, and our inability to resist those pressures and temptations. Now, it is important that each and every one of us learn to resist and do our best to overcome these temptations to be unfaithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we remember the memory of a few holy saints of God, namely St. Bede the Venerable, an English monk who devoted himself to his faith in God, and completely entrusted his life to Him, spending his time writing his many works about the faith, many of which still survived through the centuries to this very day. And then, we also remember Pope St. Gregory VII, the Successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ, remembered especially for the bitter struggle he had with the secular ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, the Emperor, who wished to impose his power and will over the Church.

This holy Pope refused to give in to the demands of the Emperor, who demanded sovereignty over the bishops in his domains, and defended the rights of the Church, and stayed true to the faith and the commitment, despite the challenges from the Emperor and his nobles. Finally, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was an Italian Carmelite nun who was remembered for her intense dedication to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, spending hours after hours in devout prayer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should follow the examples of these holy predecessors of ours. We should be more faithful in all of our deeds, and do our best to follow the Lord our God, in all that He has taught us to do. Let us deepen our relationship with Him, and spend more time in prayer. May God be with us always, ever faithful to His Covenant, now and forevermore. Amen.

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