Thursday, 2 August 2018 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, beginning with the passage from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, where God told the people through the prophet, what His intentions are for us all, His beloved ones, those whom He had created. God had created each and every one of us, and He gave us the life that we now have.

He compared Himself to a potter, who created, moulded and reshaped the earthwork according to his own desires. Each potter has a vision of how the potter wants the earthwork and ceramic to end up like, be it the shape or the function. It is entirely in the hands of the potter that the fate of the earthwork is decided. Thus, God was saying that, He alone has the power over all of us mankind, as He is the Potter of us all, His masterpieces.

And in the Gospel passage today, all of us have heard about the Lord Jesus speaking to the people and to His disciples about a parable likening the kingdom of God to a large fishing net spread to capture many fishes in the sea. Many of the fishes are gathered and then later on sorted, with the good ones being kept while the bad quality ones are thrown away and discarded.

The Lord Himself explained briefly the meaning of this parable as He said of the coming of the end of times when all the souls of man will be judged, with those who are deemed to be good and worthy to be brought into eternal life and glory with God, sorted out by the Angels whom the Lord sent to gather His faithful people from among the wicked. Meanwhile the wicked will be cast out to utter darkness and eternal suffering.

But God did not intend for the wicked to perish or die, as ultimately every single one of us, be it good or wicked at this moment, are beloved to Him. Remember that God is always ever faithful despite the disobedience that we showed to Him. He will never abandon us even though we have abandoned Him. He will continue to give us opportunity after opportunity, chance after chance to change our ways and to repent from our sins.

The Lord therefore wants to mould us and change us in accordance with His will and desire. He wants each and every one of us to be transformed in body, mind, heart and soul into people of the light. All of us who have lived in the darkness, we are called to this new existence, that is existence in the light of God. We have to abandon our past darkness, the sinfulness that have kept us away from God.

That is why today, the second day of August is also known in the Church as the day of the Portiuncula Indulgence, when the Lord revealed to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans of the special grace and mercy which He offers freely to all those who devoutly visit the House of God, confessing their sins and being part of the celebration of the Holy Mass, along with the intention of repentance and turning away from God.

But are we willing to allow ourselves to be forgiven our sins? God indeed freely offers Himself His mercy, but are we open to welcome Him to come into our hearts and to heal us from all the sickness and corruption caused by our sins? We need to allow God to enter into our lives and perform His wonders in our midst, and the way is for us to cooperate with God and not to harden our hearts.

Again comparing to a potter and his pottery works, if a piece of pottery is to harden before its shape is completed, then the pottery is very likely to break and shatter into pieces when the potter exerts force in order to change its shape. That is why normally potters will work on the pottery pieces while they are still soft and mouldable. Therefore, in a similar way, if we harden our hearts and minds, and are not receptive to God’s works in our midst, it is likely that we will end up harming only ourselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should instead look upon the examples set by the holy saints of God, particularly those of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, the two saints whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a devout and committed servant of God, who as the bishop and one of the leaders of the early Church, strove courageously against the dangerous threat of heresies, especially that of the Arian heresy.

St. Eusebius was among the many defenders of the true orthodox faith, against all those who tried to subvert it and against all those who sought to turn the faithful people of God into false paths. He was persecuted, had his life threatened, and faced all sorts of insults and even troubles, to the point of being imprisoned under the authority of those who were sympathetic to the cause of the heretics and the pagans. Yet, St. Eusebius remained true to his faith in God and to his cause, and eventually, the true faith triumphed.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a devout priest who was the initiator and founder of congregation of religious and the faithful dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, the Real and True Presence of the Lord amidst us all in this world. He was renowned for his great faith and for his immense commitment and piety, which inspired many others to also follow in his footsteps and to strive to have the same faith in God.

Through the examples of these two holy and devout saints, all of us can see how each and every one of us as Christians can also be like them, in how we live our lives as faithful and dedicated servants of God. The Lord has called us all to Him, to be reconciled with Him, and to be transformed completely, from beings engulfed and corrupted by sin, into people truly worthy of God as His beloved children. Let us allow ourselves to be moulded into worthy vessels of His presence in our lives.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to guide us and watch over us in our journey. May He continue to bless us and to keep us in His providence, that in all the things, the challenges and difficulties, the trials and tribulations we encounter in life, we will always strive to be ever more faithful to the Lord, our God. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.