Tuesday, 24 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, we can hear how God is calling us all to follow Him, that is to abandon all of our past, sinful ways, and turn towards Him with all of our hearts, with all of our strength, and with all of our capabilities. He is calling us to have a total conversion of the heart, mind and of our whole being, to become His people, His beloved children.

In the first reading today, taken from the book of the prophet Micah, it was an exhortation by the prophet, which is both in form, a prayer and a reminder for the people of the great love which God has shown His people, Israel, ever since the time He chose them to be His people, all the time He has blessed them and guided them, giving a bountiful land to be their inheritance. The prophet Micah was calling the people to repent from their sins and turn towards God once again.

God is always ever merciful and loving towards His people, despite His anger at the sins and disobedience which they have constantly shown to Him. But of course, His mercy and love requires us to be receptive and to actively accept His generous offer of mercy for it to take effect in our lives. We cannot assume that we will be forgiven if we refuse to obey the Lord, and continue to live our lives in our usual, sinful ways.

Instead, He wants us to have a conversion as mentioned, from those who walked in sin and disobeyed Him, to be those who listen to His will, and do what is right and just in our lives, as He mentioned in the Gospel passage today to the people, telling them that all those who have done God’s will, is the mother, brothers and sisters of the Lord. It means that all those who obey God, belongs to God.

And those who belong to God, will not be lost from God, for the Lord will gather all of His sheep, His beloved ones, as a loving and good Shepherd. God will not abandon all those who have been faithful to Him, and indeed, even to those who have not been obedient, He is always ever obedient to the Covenant and the promise which He has made to all of us mankind.

That is why, He chose willingly to accept suffering and death on the cross, for our sake. No one in the right mind and in the right worldly logic will consider suffering, less still to die for someone else, if he or she does not love that person so much, that he or she is willing to do such an act of selfless love and compassion. And as St. Paul said, Christ is even better, for He chose willingly to die for us all, sinners and disobedient people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to reflect on our lives, on whether we have been good disciples of the Lord all these while. Have we obeyed the Lord with our actions and deeds in life, or have we instead been listening to all the falsehoods, lies and the temptations of the evil one? Have we been true disciples of Our Lord, in all of our words and actions?

Let us today examine the life of a holy and devout servant of God, whose examples we can perhaps incorporate into our own lives. St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel was a famous saint originating from what is today Lebanon, a member of the Maronite church, who was a faithful and devout monk and priest. He devoted his whole life to God, and was exemplary in his prayer life and dedication to serve God.

St. Sharbel Makhluf has done what he could have done, to love the Lord Who has loved him first. And in his pious devotion to Him, he showed us all, how we mankind should turn away from all of the distractions of the world, and focus our attention towards God instead. It does not mean that we have to join religious life and monkhood as St. Charbel had done, but truly, we must have a change in our life for the better.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God? Are we able to turn away from all the wicked things which we have done in our lives, and have a new life that is centred on God? These are the questions we have to keep asking in our minds and in our hearts, as we continue on living our daily lives in this world.

Let us all renew our commitment to be faithful and good children of God, as those who do the work that God wants us to do, and listen to Him speaking in our hearts and minds, by having a good spiritual relationship with Him through prayer. May God be with us all, and may He continue to bless all the works He has done through us. Amen.

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