Wednesday, 1 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the prophet Jeremiah, who made his grievances known to the Lord. The context of this passage was that, at that moment, the prophet Jeremiah was assailed by his many enemies, who opposed him and refused to believe in his words. Prophet Jeremiah had difficulties and challenges which he had to endure while he performed his mission among the people.

It was therefore only natural that he would feel so distressed and displeased with his situation at that time. But the Lord reassured him and told Jeremiah that He would always be with him and He will guide him in all of his ways, despite the challenges he might encounter. And He proclaimed to him all the good things that He would do to His people if they turned themselves to Him and repented from all of their sins.

Essentially, He would bless them bountifully once again, and He would love them completely once again without the barrier of disobedience and sin which had caused separation between them and their God. Through this redemption, they would be healed and they would be made whole once again, that while once they were cast away and humiliated because of their disobedience, they would once again become God’s beloved and chosen people.

This was the same promise which God kept on reiterating to His people through the many prophets and messengers that He sent to them. He called them all to embrace the forgiveness that He has given to all of them freely. According to St. Alphonsus Liguori, whose feast we celebrate today, in God there is plentiful redemption. And it is this belief in God’s great saving grace and the redemption He freely gives us all, that encouraged St. Alphonsus to establish the religious order known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or the Redemptorists.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the people what the kingdom of God is like. He compared it to a pearl of great value and a rich treasure found hidden in a field. In this parable, the Lord wanted us to know that looking for God’s mercy and love is truly something that we should look up for in life. To be with God and to be reconciled with Him is something that all of us should aspire to.

But the Lord in the same parable also wanted us all to know that, attaining the kingdom of God, that is to be reconciled with Him and to live in His grace is something that does not come easily for us without our commitment and effort. Indeed, God has given us and offered to us His bountiful and infinite mercy, but this mercy will only come into its full and complete fruition in us, if we endeavour to commit ourselves to be forgiven, that is through sincere and complete repentance from our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are therefore called to reflect on our own lives, on whether we have allowed God’s mercy and love to enter into our lives. Have we been so preoccupied in life that we end up forgetting what is it that we are living for in this world? We do not live and we indeed should not live for the worldly things that many of us often desires, as those things are temporary and superficial at most.

Instead, we should seek for the true and everlasting treasure that is in God alone. It is God’s love that all of us should be seeking for, as we cannot live and survive without God’s love. God is the giver of our lives and it was because of Him that we exist today. If God withdrew from us His favour, grace and spirit, and by His will, should He have willed our destruction, every single one of us would have perished.

But God has always been loving and merciful to all of us, that even to the greatest sinners who repented and truly regretted having sinned before God, He would give salvation and liberation from their sins if the sinner truly, genuinely and sincerely showed the love which he or she had for God, and the total rejection of sin. It is ultimately our sins and wickedness that God despises and not our own self as human beings. We are, after all, God’s most beloved creations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all strive from now on to look for God’s redemption, by following the examples set by St. Alphonsus Liguori and the many other holy predecessors of our faith. St. Alphonsus Liguori was renowned for his great piety and devotion to the Lord, as well as to the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, who is the best example for us on how to live faithfully in the way of the Lord.

He dedicated his whole life to God, to the service of God’s people and to the poor. He has given his all to bring God’s redemption to all the people, including to the least privileged, the poor and the greatest of sinners in the community. St. Alphonsus’ examples inspired many others, who joined the Redemptorists and became agents of God’s continuing work of mercy and love among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all do our very best to turn ourselves to God, to make Him the very centre and focus of our lives, remembering that He Himself has loved us first from the very beginning. He has given us so much in life, that it is only right and just that we should love Him with the same intensity and devotion. And let us all also be exemplary in faith and in our lives, so that in everything we say and do, we will always glorify God and help more and more people to be inspired to return to the Lord.

May God be with us all, and may He continue to guide us all our lives, giving us the strength and conviction to live our lives for His greater glory, and to bring ourselves ever closer to His merciful heart. St. Alphonsus Liguori, patron and founder of the Redemptorists, pray for us all. Amen.

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