Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about first of all, what St. Paul told the Church and the faithful in the city of Galatia, about the comparison between the two sons of Abraham, namely Ishmael and Isaac, who were born of two different women. The former was born of the slave woman Hagar, while the latter was born of Abraham’s rightful wife, Sarah.
The birth of Ishmael was caused by the impatience of Abraham, who gave in to the temptation of worldly fear and concern, of the lack of an heir, even though God has promised him many times that an heir would be born to him through his wife. Yet God did bless Ishmael and his descendants, for after all, he and his descendants are still the descendants of Abraham, although not the ones to whom God would give the fullness of His blessings.
St. Paul used this example, as he himself mentioned, in order to represent allegorically, the relationship which the people of God has with their Lord and Creator, in the context of the old Law as revealed imperfectly through Moses, and what He revealed perfectly in the new Law and Covenant of Jesus Christ, Son of God sent into the world to be its Saviour and Redeemer. The old Law was represented by Ishmael while the new Law was represented by Isaac.
In order to understand his intention and meaning fully, we also have to look at the earlier part of the Epistle to the Galatians, in which St. Paul mentioned that the old Law brought about bondage and the new Law brought about freedom. What he meant was that, while the people obeyed the Lord through the old laws of Moses, they were still bound to the chains of sin, for the coming of God’s salvation have not yet been fulfilled.
Meanwhile, the coming of Christ brought about the fulfilment of God’s promise just as Isaac was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. Christ revealed the full truth of God’s love through the Law and the Covenant which He renewed through the loving sacrifice of His Son on the cross. And this was written by St. Paul in rebuking those in Galatia who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and customs, that is the ‘Old Law’ on the people of Christ, Who has received the fullness of God’s Law – the ‘New Law’.
In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus also rebuked the people in the same manner, in how they kept on asking for miracles and signs even though they have seen many miracles when they were with the Lord all those times. They failed to notice God working in their midst even though He had done so many, many times. And that was why the Lord rebuked those people who so hardened their hearts and minds against His truth.
Those who were obsessed with the fulfilment of the old laws and ways as prescribed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and refused to accept the truth of God, would be judged according to their refusal and stubbornness, and as long as they continued to refuse to accept God into their midst, they would have no part in the new Covenant and Law which He has brought upon the world.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we ourselves as Christians are sometimes also suffering from the same condition as the Jews had been. We have not been truly faithful to the Lord as how we should have. We have only been faithful on the outside, like how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been, but inside our hearts, many of us do not have that faith and love which we should have for God.
Today, we ought to reflect on our lives, and our actions, and how they have or have not been good and faithful to God. And we should also follow the examples shown by the holy woman, St. Teresa of Jesus, also known by the name of St. Teresa of Avila, a great reformer and model of faith, and also a Doctor of the Church, for her many contributions and wonderful written works, which has inspired generations of the faithful.
St. Teresa of Avila was remembered for her great piety and love for God, dedicating herself into a life of deep and intimate prayerful relationship with Him. She was a great reformer of the Church, both for her contributions during the critical years of the Counter Reformation efforts against the heretics, as well as in her role in establishing the Discalced Carmelites order together with St. John of the Cross, in purifying the religious order from corrupting influences of worldliness.
For her role in the reforms of the Church and for her many other contributions, she was recognised as one of the great saints of the Church, and declared as Doctor of the Church. And her examples should also inspire each one of us, to live according to our faith, and to devote ourselves ever more closely to God and His ways from now on. Let us all turn towards God with a renewed zeal and with a new love, that we no longer live a life that is empty and devoid of love, but instead, have true love for God from now onwards. May God be with us always. St. Teresa of Jesus, pray for us. Amen.