Thursday, 9 August 2018 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings from the Scriptures today remind us of the renewal of God’s loving Covenant with all of us, His people, through what He has spoken via the prophet Jeremiah. The prophet mentioned about God having shown His mercy to His people whom He would gather and forgive, as He is their God and He no longer remembered their sins.

That is precisely just how wonderful is His love for us, and how great His mercy is for us. He has shown all of us, each one of us His magnificent and compassionate heart, always filled with love for us and desiring to forgive us from our sins and disobedience. God has given us this great grace through none other than His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Saviour and our Hope.

And in today’s Gospel, we heard of the account of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles, in which He asked them Who they heard the people thought He was. And they all gave many answers, of the prophets and various holy people God has sent into the world. Then, Jesus asked them again, personally, Who they thought He truly was, and St. Peter answered with courage and faith, that He is the Son of God, Messiah and Saviour.

The Lord Jesus saw the faith in St. Peter and through that faith, He entrusted to him the governance and shepherding of His whole Church, as the foundation of that same Church He established in this world. St. Peter and the other Apostles are the strong base and foundation of this Church through which God exercised His authority and power to bring all mankind away from damnation because of their sins.

He gave St. Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and by this act, He gave His Church the authority and the ability to bring souls towards salvation and liberation from the bondage to their sins and disobedience. He has given all of us the obligation and duty to help our fellow brethren, all those who are still lost to the Lord and separated from His grace and love.

Therefore, each and every one of us are called to live our lives with faith and devotion to the Lord, so that by our exemplary attitude and actions, we may inspire many others to live their lives with faith to the fullest as well. And today, we celebrate the feast of one of our holy and good predecessor in faith, who has shown great faith in her life and in her actions. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also better known as St. Edith Stein, is truly an example for all of us.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was once a Jewish woman and later on atheist, who was a philosopher, and having the chance to encounter the Christian faith and truth, and eventually having found the truth in the Christian faith, she turned to the faith and became a Christian. Her pursuit of the truth and the knowledge of God eventually inspired her to join a religious order, and she became a Carmelite nun.

She lived her vocation faithfully and was involved in educating the young in the community. However, at that time, in Germany where St. Teresa Benedicta lived, rising anti-Jewish sentiments stoked by the NAZI party was growing stronger and stronger, eventually culminating in their takeover of power in Germany. Thus began the infamous persecution and genocide of the Jews that in the end caused millions to perish throughout Europe and beyond.

St. Teresa Benedicta, being born racially as a Jew, did not escape this fate, and she together with many others were arrested and eventually brought to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp and was martyred just days later through gassing in the gas chamber. The story of her piety, courage and commitment to the cause of her faith even amidst persecution and challenges continue to inspire many people right down to this time and era.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if St. Teresa Benedicta was able to commit herself to live faithfully to the message of the Gospel of Christ, why can’t we then do the same with our own lives? Why can’t we devote ourselves in the same manner as those who have gone before us, and showed us what it means to become a holy disciple and follower of God? We must realise that all of us have an obligation to do what the Lord had told us to do, and to live our lives to the best of our abilities, as those who walk in God’s path.

May God be with us in this journey of faith and life, may He empower each one of us to live ever more in accordance with His will, day after day. May the Lord bless us all and our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

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