Monday, 7 January 2019 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures, telling us about the need for us to discern carefully the path of our life, and listen to the right words of advice, that is the truth of God and not instead the lies and falsehoods of the devil. Otherwise, we may end up walking in the wrong path and fall to the trap of sin, which the devil has prepared laboriously to bring us into our doom.

In the passage taken from the Epistle of St. John, our first reading today, we heard of the distinction between the path of God and the path of the world, those who side with the antichrist. Those who reject the way of the Lord are those who side with the devil, the enemies of God, because they do not agree with the Lord’s way, and do things in manner that is against the commandments and the Law of God, as mentioned by St. John.

How should we then discern so that we will not end up going down the wrong path? Then we need to realise that we have to deepen our understanding and knowledge of God’s ways, by delving deeper into the teachings of the Church, and rediscover the richness of the bounties of God’s truth, which have been preserved well by His Church, and taught to us by His bishops and priests, all those who have been tasked with the preservation and the propagation of truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the way of the Lord is one of love and compassion, of obedience to God and adherence to His ways. And the Lord Himself has summarised the Law into two main, essential laws. First of all, we ought to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with every ounce of our strength. And then, we ought to show the same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours, those in our families, and even the strangers whom we encounter in our respective lives.

But as we can easily see and witness all around ourselves and our livelihood, it is not easy to walk in the path that God has set before us, as there will inevitably be conflict and misalignments with the ways and the expectations that come from the world, from the society around us. By our human nature and tendencies, we are often selfish and egoistic, prideful and harbouring hatred in our hearts. We are often jealous of each other and desire what others have but we ourselves do not have.

That is why, it is not easy for us to be faithful to God and to follow His ways. There will be many temptations and even pressures for us to walk away from His path. But if we remain strong in our conviction to love God and persevere in walking down the path He has shown us, then we are assured of the salvation and liberation which God has brought down upon us. We will be deemed worthy of the glorious kingdom and eternal life and joy which will be ours by faith.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, a renowned Dominican friar and preacher, who lived during the High Middle Ages. He was remembered for his important role in the codification and formalisation of the Canon Law in the Church. But more importantly, he also stood up for his faith and the teachings of the Church, even when his king was against him, who though faithful but ensnared with the temptation of lust with a concubinage relationship.

St. Raymond of Penyafort insisted repeatedly that the king must dismiss his concubine, and the king persistently refused to do so. Eventually, it was told that a miracle happened, when St. Raymond of Penyafort wanted to leave the king behind, having no longer been able to tolerate his wicked behaviour, and when the king insisted that he remain, St. Raymond warned the king of the fate awaiting those who refused to listen to God’s will and repent from their sins, and casting his cloak to the water, he sailed on the cloak as if it was a ship. Having heard of this, the king repented from his sins and became a good Christian from then on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the faith and virtues of St. Raymond of Penyafort, let us all be inspired by him and the courage he had in resisting wickedness of the world, and in how he had stood up for his faith in God. Let us all also be courageous in how we live up to our faith, by our actions, and be willing to commit ourselves, from now on, to love God with all of our strength, and be courageous in living a life in accordance with God’s will and grace. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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