Monday, 3 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture passages we listened to the words of the Lord, speaking to us about the matter of the revelation of His truth, which He revealed to us through first, the prophets and messengers, and later on, in its fullness of truth, through the Lord Jesus, Our Lord and God. He came to us with the Good News of His salvation, that we may come to know of His love and saving grace.

However, in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the unfortunate moment when the Lord Jesus went back to His hometown village of Nazareth, where He encountered opposition and rejection from none other than His own fellow countrymen and even perhaps close friends and relatives, all those who have known Him since His youth and lived around Him for many years.

And the Lord Jesus also made the point through His discourse, how prophets and messengers were not welcome in their own lands and homes, and were rejected by those who knew them well. Ironically, it was those who did not know the prophets and the messengers of God, including the example of the Lord Jesus Himself, that were willing to listen to God’s truth.

Now, we must truly wonder, why was it that the prophets and the messengers, including the Lord Jesus Himself were rejected by the people whom they knew well? In order to understand this, then we must understand how human relationships and thinking work. In our own relationships with others, we always want to find out about others, and when we do so, we make ideas, prejudices and bias in our minds, subconsciously.

What does it mean? It means that just as the saying goes, ‘First impression lasts’, we mankind are very easily impressionable by what we see and by what we hear and sense, and therefore, forming an opinion on something or someone almost as immediately as we witness that something or someone. This is what we have done to everyone and everything we encounter in life, as how we judge them by our human intelligence and wisdom.

But what is flawed is that, we often make assumptions and presumptions based on our own limited understanding and limited awareness of what is actually happening. That is what happened to those who rejected the prophets and messengers, just because they thought that they knew those whom God had called to be His servants. They must have argued that just because they knew those who were to be prophet and messengers, then they could not believe the authenticity of what the prophets have taught and declared.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is what happened to the Lord in Nazareth as well. He was, in the eyes of the people of Nazareth, a mere Son of the village carpenter, St. Joseph. And a carpenter was a very often overlooked profession, paid lowly and considered as a menial and tough job that no one wanted to do as a profession in their lives, unless they had no choice to do so.

By the standard of that time, carpenters and their families were usually very poor, and because of their poverty, they typically were uneducated. Hence, the people of Nazareth took offence at the Lord Jesus, just simply by the fact that His wisdom, the way He preached and taught to them, and how He had worked His miracles and showed His powers, which words would have reached their ears, could be something that was a reality.

They could not reconcile the fact that all those miracles and wonders, all the wisdom they heard being taught and the truth revealed to them about the fulfilment of the prophecy of the prophets, came about through the mere Son of a carpenter Whom they have seen growing up in their midst. To them, it was an affront and insulting that such things have happened, and they blamed the Lord for that.

In reality, it was their human wisdom and limited understanding, their pride in them that caused them to reject the Lord. They could not stand of being outshone by someone Whom they had known for so many years, Who suddenly revealed Himself as the Messiah of God right in their midst. Thus, they hardened their hearts and shut their ears off, refusing to listen to and accept the truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often that we are also to blame for the same kind of attitude in our own respective lives. Too often it has been that we mankind are not receptive to suggestions and to the truth of God, just because we think that we know everything or that we cannot be wrong. This attitude caused us to shut ourselves off even from the Lord Who is trying to show us the way to the truth.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the great Pope, Pope St. Gregory the Great, who was remembered for his great piety and dedication to the growth and reform of the Church and the faith. Pope St. Gregory was remembered for his long years of dedication and service to God, as a monk and later on as the Papal ambassador to the Emperor’s court in Constantinople. He was remembered for being a strict yet dedicated and faithful person.

Pope St. Gregory the Great was in truth a very humble person. When he was elected to the office of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, as the successor of the Apostle St. Peter, leader of the entire Universal Church, he disavowed publicly any form of worldly ambitions and desires, stating clearly that he would devote his whole life to the service of God alone, and nothing else.

And he was remembered for his great commitment to the fulfilment of God’s works in the Church, in his reform of the Christian worship and liturgy and his great charitable efforts to the poor and to the needy, his fervent and strong opposition against all those who espoused heretical thinkings and teachings. His contributions to the Church were immense and yet, he remained after all, humble and focused towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn from the good examples shown by Pope St. Gregory the Great, that we may also learn to be humble and to be committed in living our lives with faith and with humility, that we may open our hearts and minds fully to the Lord, Who wants to show us the truth about Himself and yet, many of us have not allowed Him to speak in our hearts and minds because of our pride and stubbornness.

May the Lord be with us always and may He continue to bless us with His truth, that we may come to learn more and more about His love, and therefore, come to love Him even deeper in our own lives. May the Lord be our guide through our lives and show us the way to Himself. Pope St. Gregory the Great, holy servant of God, pray for us. Amen.

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