Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on the love and dedication which God has shown each and every one of us, as we are reminded of the great love with which He reached out to us sinners, as what we have heard in our Gospel reading today ought to remind us of this fact. In that passage, we heard how the Lord Jesus called a tax collector named Levi, who would later on become one of his chief disciples, St. Matthew the Apostle.
In order to appreciate better the significance of what we have heard in today’s reading, we should understand the context and the historical norms of that time, when the tax collectors were in particular seen as people who were sinners and unworthy of God, looked down and reviled upon, often ridiculed and hated because they were seen as willing agents of the conquering Romans who then ruled over Judea.
They were even treated like traitors, as those who were considered to have sold out the Jewish people and nation to the Romans. And this compounded by the fact that no one likes to pay taxes for their living and land, makes the tax collectors truly among the most hated group of people at that time. They were considered as people who were greedy and wicked, sinful and selfish, and therefore were shunned by the general society.
Yet, the Lord reached out to them and called to them, as what He had done to Levi, calling him to be His follower, not withstanding his occupation as a tax collector. He reached out to Levi and to the other tax collectors, just as He had done with the prostitutes, who were another group of people reviled and rejected by the society as they were cast out and considered as lost cause and terrible sinners.
The Lord made it plainly clear to the teachers of the Law who doubted and criticised Him and His actions, that He did what He had done because He was seeking those who had been sick and afflicted by the dangerous sickness of sin. And yes, sin is a form of sickness that affects the body and the mind, and unless the people afflicted by these sins are cured from their sins, they will be lost forever from God.
And we must always remember that God loves each and every single one of us without exception, mankind great or small, whether their sins were significant or insignificant, whether they were great or small, He loves each and every one of us without exception, to the best that He has given us all. And this great love He has shown us, He gave to us through nothing less than His own ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.
He cared for us all, that He provided for all, including what we heard in today’s first reading, from the Book of Genesis, relating to us of the time when Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac passed away. God took good care of Isaac by providing him someone to love despite the grief that he must have endured and faced at that time, giving him Rebecca to be his wife, and at the same time, fulfilling the promise that He has given to him and his father Abraham, that their descendants will be great and numerous.
God has been so loving and so generous to us, and He wants to love us all the more, and today, we celebrate the feast of one of His saints, who have embraced this love which God has given him, and became a great role model for many of the faithful through the ages. St. Anthony Zaccaria, was a renowned priest and hardworking servant of God, who worked extensively among the people, and was known in particular for the Forty Hours Devotion that he popularised among the people.
Through this popular devotion, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed before the faithful and including other practices that St. Anthony restored and encouraged, such as the ringing of bells at 3 pm on Fridays to remind the people of the moment of Crucifixion, of God’s ultimate love, St. Anthony Zaccaria had made tremendous impact on the faith and the salvation of many souls throughout the years of his works and beyond.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, after we have heard of the extent of Our Lord’s great and vast love for each and every one of us, and of the commitment and dedication shown by St. Anthony Zaccaria, let us all follow in his footsteps and dedicate ourselves ever more to God, for His great love and merciful compassion towards us. Let us all abandon our old ways of sin, and seek to be reconciled to Him, just as He reaches out to us, regardless of how great a sinner we are.
May the Lord continue to love us and may He show His generous mercy at all times, and may all of us draw ever closer to Him and be worthy to receive the salvation which He has promised to all of us, who are faithful to Him. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.