Monday, 27 August 2018 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Monica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the readings from the Scripture through which we are reminded that God is truly amazing in all of the plans that He has for each and every one of us. And it is only by listening to Him and obeying His will that we will find true satisfaction, joy and comfort in life. For all that the world can offer us, there is nothing that can truly satisfy us except God alone.

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Thessalonica, St. Paul thanked God for all the faith which the people had shown in Him despite all the persecutions, difficulties and challenges they encountered in life. It was indeed a difficult time to live as Christians, as the early Christians were shunned and opposed by the Jews, and were looked with disdain and suspicion by the Greeks and the Romans alike.

But St. Paul encouraged them all that God would work wonders through them and He would strengthen them and make them worthy to be His disciples and followers. And the time would come when He would glorify the faithful for the obedience which they had shown in many occasions. This is a reminder that God never abandoned His people, and that He still loves each and every one of us, and desires that all of us can be reconciled with Him.

This is when the Lord Jesus came in through the action that He highlighted in today’s Gospel passage. He harshly rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their self-serving, selfish and self-centred attitude in dealing with their faith as well as in how they exercised the authority entrusted to them over the people of God. He rebuked them for their lack of true and genuine faith, as their faith expressions were merely, for most, a self-serving attitude.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law essentially have given in to the temptations of the world. They gave in to their pride, when they refused to believe in the truth and the Good News that the Lord Jesus had brought before them and the people. And their desire for power, for recognition, fame and status within the society was likely the reason for their constant and stubborn refusal to believe in God’s truth, despite all that they have seen and witnessed.

The Lord essentially told us all, that to be Christians, we must be prepared to face rejection, suffering, challenges, difficulties and trials along our journey of faith. But God also assured us, that He will never abandon us. If He has not abandoned even sinners and all those who have disobeyed Him, then all the more He will not abandon us all, who kept our faith in Him. God always loves us all, and to those who have fallen into sin, He always gives a second chance.

Today, it happens that appropriately, we also celebrate the feast of St. Monica, known especially because she was the mother of another great saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the four original Doctors of the Church. St. Monica was remembered as a loving mother and a devout and prayerful Christian, whose attention in life could not be anything less than the fate of her own son’s soul.

This came about at the time when St. Augustine, St. Monica’s son, was still young. Although St. Monica was a Christian, but her husband and her son were not. And living in a world filled with hedonistic pursuits and worldly pleasures, it was inevitable that St. Augustine fell into those temptations and lived in a state of great sin. But St. Monica did not give up on her son, as well as her husband.

She prayed and prayed, day after day, for their conversion and desire to embrace the Christian faith. Eventually, her unceasing prayers and efforts bore fruits, as first, her husband had a change of heart and confessed the Christian faith, and then her son also had a change of heart and became a Christian as well. That was how St. Augustine eventually became a great saint in the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by what St. Monica had shown, in her dedication and never-giving up attitude towards her son, St. Augustine. Let us all also show the same love, care and concern towards our brethren, especially all those who have fallen into the traps of sin along their journey towards God. Let us help each other in our way towards God. May God bless us all. Amen.

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