Tuesday, 7 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Sixtus II, Pope and Companions, Martyrs and St. Cajetan, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures, speaking to us firstly about the healing of the people of Israel, God’s people, which God promised to them, after they have been humiliated and cast down in shame. They have been humiliated and crushed by the Babylonians and their many other enemies, but God promised that although all of those came about because of their disobedience, He would restore them.

It is this transformation which the Lord wanted to happen to all of His people, to all those who are faithful to Him, and to those whom He has chosen to be counted among His own. And this is again presented in a different way in our Gospel passage today. In that passage, we heard the story of the Lord Jesus Who came to His disciples in the middle of a raging storm in the Lake of Galilee.

The disciples were together in a boat, without the Lord Who went on His own to pray in a secluded place. Suddenly, a great storm arose and threatened to sink the ship the disciples were in. They were greatly troubled and feared for their lives. They were very afraid that the waves and the wind would cause the ship to capsize and they would all perish. Not even good fishermen as some of the Apostles were, could have survived a powerful storm in the middle of the lake.

It was then that the Lord Jesus appeared to them and walked on the water amidst the storm. He appeared to them and initially they were very afraid, thinking that they were seeing a ghost. However, the Lord reassured them and came to them, and said that it was truly Him. St. Peter asked that if He was truly the Lord, then he would walk to Him on the water as He had shown them.

As the Lord called on St. Peter, the Apostle walked on the water towards the Lord, but then, overcome once again by fear of the wind and the raging waters, he lost faith and began to sink. The Lord reached out to him and picked him up, rescuing him from sinking. He chided him for his lack of faith. He then calmed the storm and everything became still, showing His power and authority.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the transformation that God is calling us into, from the state of unfaithfulness and lack of trust in God. While we have been corrupted by sin and by disobedience against God, we have been given this opportunity for redemption, if only that we can turn ourselves to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength.

But are we willing to commit ourselves to the path of repentance and reconciliation with God? First of all, we need to realise just how willing God is in forgiving each one of us sinners. He loves us all and wants all of us to be reconciled with Him. Now what we need to do is to open ourselves and allow ourselves to partake in God’s merciful love. Let us then follow the example shown by today’s saints, Pope St. Sixtus II and St. Cajetan.

Pope St. Sixtus was the successor of St. Peter as the leader of the Universal Church, during the time of the early Church when the Church was still frequently persecuted under the Roman Emperors. At that time, the Church and the faithful were persecuted during the reign of the Emperor Valerian. Many of the faithful and their leaders were arrested, tortured and martyred for defending their Christian faith.

But they trusted the Lord completely, and know that He would provide for them in the end. He would not abandon them and He would bless them for their enduring faith in Him. That was the source of the courage and the strength of the saints and martyrs, including that of Pope St. Sixtus II and his companions in martyrdom. They trusted the Lord and devoted themselves completely to Him.

Meanwhile, St. Cajetan was a renowned priest who founded the congregation known as the Theatines, with outreach efforts to the suffering and to the poor. He was also remembered for his effort in establishing a bank that worked with the poor and helped them to get by in life. His charity and commitment to the people of God, to the betterment of those who were physically and spiritually broken were truly commendable.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, having heard of the good examples set by those two venerable and holy saints, let us all practice this good faith in our own lives. Let us all be generous in giving, not just of our material goods but also of our own selves, in service to one another and in loving all the fellow children of God. In doing so, we are also loving the Lord our God. Let us all also grow further in trust and faith in the Lord.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us all, day after day, living our lives with ever greater commitment and devotion, from now on and forevermore. May the Lord bless each and every one of us, His beloved children. Amen.

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