Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened yet again to the continuation of the discourse of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, of which part is our first reading today. In that passage, we heard of how God has revealed His truth to the people, whom He called from among the many nations, to be considered and marked as His own people.

We heard how St. Paul told the people of the great privilege that all of them have received, the revelations of God’s truth which many in the past and previous generations have not had the chance or even had a glimpse of the truth. The people of Ephesus, made of many different peoples from different backgrounds, origins, racial and culture groups, have received the same truth that has been given to the other Christians in many other places, and there was no prejudice in the truth of God.

This has to be understood in the context of the dynamics of the people and the populations of the area, which as mentioned, were made of Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. The Gentiles, the name of group which consisted of first of all the Greeks who predominated in that region, and also the Romans, who were relative newcomer to the region, having received newly gained privilege from their position as the master and lord of most of them

And all of them, including that of the Jews, each and every one of us mankind are often tempted in our hearts and minds. We are tempted to be self-righteous, and by extension of that, selfish and proud, looking down on others, and thinking that we are better and more righteous and just in our ways. This caused rifts, conflicts, disagreements, infighting and jealousies, distrust and unhappiness among the people, among the members of the Church.

In the Gospel today, all of us listened to the word of God in the Scriptures in which He related to us the parable of the stewards and the master who returned suddenly to his household from a journey. In that parable, we heard about the stewards who were entrusted with the caretaker role of what their master possessed, and if the steward slacked in doing his obligations, and instead, became swayed and influenced by the worldly temptations, satisfying his own human desires, then he would be caught unaware when the master came back suddenly.

And these distractions include what St. Paul had written in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth. We are often too preoccupied by our own prejudices and worldly desires, that we forget about God and about what being a Christian is truly about. We forget that being Christians, is first and foremost about love, understanding, being compassionate and filled with concern for others, and not being self-righteous and proud in our behaviour and attitudes towards others.

Unfortunately, that is how we exactly behave towards each other, as we often have that pride in us and the desires, for worldly power, for money, for influence, that more often than not, influence the way we live our lives and how we act towards one another, even within the Church communities and within our own Christian way of life. We end up creating divisions, conflicts and struggle for power and influence, which in the end, bring about pain and suffering, and even causing people to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, probably we should reflect upon the life and examples set by St. Anthony Mary Claret, the saint whose feast day we celebrate today. St. Anthony Mary Claret was the founder of the Claretians, a religious order which has many members in various parts of the world today. He was a Spanish priest, and later on bishop, remembered for his many good works for the sake of the faithful.

Despite his many good works, he faced oppositions and persecutions, from all those who refused to listen to his preaching and teachings. He had to flee into exile from all the machinations of his enemies, and faced all those oppositions many times throughout his life. And yet, St. Anthony Mary Claret remained strong in his faith, and devoted his life to the greater glory of God, reforming the Church and the community of the faithful through his works.

For example, St. Anthony Mary Claret helped to reform the Church in the area of Cuba, then under the rule of Spain, and within just a short period of time, he managed to reorganise and reform the Church and the community in such a way that many people repented from their sinful ways, and many become reconciled to God. Many more people came closer to the Sacraments and became more genuine followers of Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we should gain inspiration from the good works and the commitment shown by St. Anthony Mary Claret, that instead of acting in ways that bring about division, pain, suffering to our fellow brethren, we should instead turn towards God and persevere in faith, in ways that St. Anthony Mary Claret had done throughout his life.

Let us have a renewed zeal in God and devote ourselves even more closely to God, and listen to His will, that we may draw ever closer to Him and be able to find our way to His saving grace and the eternal life and glory promised to us. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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