Monday, 30 July 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, first beginning with the anger which God had shown His people, those living in the kingdom of Judah, for their refusal to listen to Him and their hardened hearts and minds, which could not allow them to love their God. They had instead persecuted the prophets and killed them, and continued to live in their sinful state.

God was angry with His people because despite all the good things and love He had done to them, they had turned away from Him, abandoned Him and forgot about Him, and threw away all of His laws and commandments. And despite all the miraculous deeds and powers He had shown them, they had instead chosen to put their trust in idols made from wood, stone and gold.

But the Lord did not give up on His people, for He still loved them dearly, each and every one of them. And that is why He sent us all Jesus, His own beloved Son, to be the One through Whom He would bring about salvation to all of His people. And in the Gospel today, all of us heard Him speaking to the people and to His disciples, about the kingdom of heaven, which has come into this world.

The Lord used the parable of the mustard seed to teach the people about the coming of God’s kingdom, telling them what they need to do in order to be faithful and to be committed to God’s ways. He used the mustard seed to show them the example of what the coming of the kingdom of God means to the people who are willing to embrace God and His kingdom.

The mustard seed is a very small seed, one that is insignificant and often overlooked. However, as the Lord mentioned and as those who have grown mustard greens before, we will realise just how wrong our perception can be, as mustard seed when grown into a full-fledged plant, is a large and bountiful tree filled with many branches and leaves. It is a wonderful and often overlooked transformation that accompanied a mustard seed’s growth.

Then the Lord Jesus also told the story of a person who placed three measures of flour and mixed them together with some yeast. The yeast is a crucial component in this process, as without yeast, the flour and mixture will just remain as it is. But with the yeast, as all those who have used them to make bread should know, the flour and mixture will rise as the yeast use the flour material and produce gases as it ferments the bread mixture.

And that is how the ordinary flour and yeast mixture are transformed into wonderful, delicious and nourishing leavened bread. Without yeast and the right conditions, this would never have happened. And the same applies to the mustard seed, as without proper care and the right conditions, the mustard seed as with other plants, would never have grown healthy and strong into a full-fledged plant.

What is the significance of these things to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we look back at the despicable and shameful deeds of the people of God in the first reading passage today, and comparing that to the time of the Lord Jesus, when many of the people listened to Him and became His followers, experiencing profound and even total change in their respective lives, therefore, we can see how the same applies to us as well.

This means that each and every one of us must take in and make the word of God, the revelations of God’s truth, all of His laws, commandments and teachings as preserved and taught to us through the Church, as the centre of our lives. And that is how we can grow in our faith and in our dedication to God. Our lives will surely experience change and transformation by God performing His work in us and through us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a renowned orator and teacher of the faith, who was also a great bishop and committed servant of God. St. Peter Chrysologus was known as such, as ‘Chrysologus’, the Golden-Worded due to his great charism in his homilies, through which he explained in great clarity and detail the meaning and importance of the Word of God to the people.

Many people at that time adhered to various versions of the teachings of faith, even those which were deemed as heresies and improper. But St. Peter Chrysologus patiently and devoutly taught the true teachings of the faith through his carefully and wisely worded homilies and preachings, by which many of the people came to repentance because they listened to him and came to regret their sinful lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if this has happened before to our predecessors, surely we can also do the same with our own lives. We must not wait any longer, for if we continue to wait and continue to disobey God through sin, we may end up finding that it is too late for us, and we may end up in eternal damnation and suffering in hell. What is at stake for us, is nothing less than the fate of our eternal soul.

Therefore, let us all, from now on, put God as the priority and the focus of our life and our existence, and do our very best to serve Him, resisting the temptation to sin and always listening to His will. Let us all deepen our spirituality and prayerful relationship with God, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God, our loving Father. May God bless us all. Amen.

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