Monday, 15 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture where we heard first of all the beginning of the Book of Exodus in which the people of Israel who have been living for many years in the land of Egypt were resented by the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who were afraid at their continuous growth and thriving community. The Pharaoh resorted to enslaving the Israelites and putting them under strict control and attempted even to wipe their young generation by ordering Hebrew boys to be killed.

The Pharaoh and the Egyptians treated the Israelites very terribly and they suffered a lot over those years when they were in slavery. But God did not forget about them or abandon them in the moments of their difficulty. Eventually, He sent them a deliverer, in the person of Moses, whom He prepared and protected despite the Pharaoh’s orders to kill all the newborn male babies of Israel. In time to come, he would be the one through whom God worked to free His people from bondage.

In the Gospel passage, God sent yet another Deliverer, and this One was sent into the world to save not just the people of Israel, but in fact the whole race of man, from our slavery, that is much worse than the slavery of the Israelites. For all of us mankind are in truth, have been enslaved to sin, because of our disobedience against God and His will. And sin has therefore subjugated us to its power, and because of that, we have been subjected to death as well.

Unless we are freed from this bondage to sin, we will end up being drawn deeper and deeper into the power of sin, and in the end, there will be nothing for us but destruction, suffering and pain that never end. But God’s love had made our salvation possible, through the giving of His own Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Saviour. And Christ, by the power of His divinity and authority, and by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, brought us all into the promise of eternal life free from sin.

Unfortunately, just like when Moses was sent among God’s people, the Lord Jesus encountered a lot of oppositions, a lot of challenges and difficulties. And He put it plainly to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, that His coming into the world would not bring about immediately an era of eternal peace and happiness, unlike what the people at that time expected. The people expected that the coming of the Messiah would herald an era of great peace and glory for the people of Israel.

Moses had a lot of challenges as well, because his message to the people of God was initially met with skepticism and doubt, and they grumbled when the Pharaoh hardened his heart and made the people to work even harder when Moses performed great miracles before him and insisted that the Israelites were freed. And after God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt, there would be many more challenges that Moses had to endure.

Along the way, the people constantly grumbled and refused to obey the Lord, even putting a golden calf as an idol they worshipped, following the pagan idols of the people they encountered along the way, acting in ways that were wicked and grumbling that they had been led into the desert to die, while they were at least having good life and plenty of food and drink in Egypt although they were enslaved.

In the same way therefore, many of us are also attached and bound by sin, as we resist the efforts of the Lord in bringing us closer to Him and to His righteous ways. The Lord Jesus had to go through a lot of resistance and opposition throughout His years of ministry, and many were against Him, as He Himself said that His coming into the world would bring about controversy, divisions, troubles, and difficulties for all those who follow Him.

The reason for this is because of sin, and because of the dangerous allure of sin that constantly tempts us to pursue the path of sin. And we have to understand that just as God freed His people from the bondage of slavery, He is also freeing us from the bondage we have to sin. In fact, it is God alone Who is capable of freeing us from the bondage to sin. He alone is capable of forgiving our sins.

But are we willing to be forgiven from our sins? It is often that we enjoy living in the state of sin, because sin seems to be better, more attractive and more enjoyable than the path that God shows to us. Therefore, it is important that each and every one of us are aware of the dangers of sin, and that we need to have the strength and resolve to resist the temptation to sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps today we can be inspired by the good examples of St. Bonaventure, a devout and holy servant of God, whose life is truly an inspiration for each and every one of us. St. Bonaventure is a Franciscan who was renowned for his great many works and wisdom, for his great contributions to the Church and in the ministry of the episcopate he exercised, and later on as a Cardinal of the Church, he inspired many others through the ages to live an upright life before God.

Are we able to follow in his footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to turn our hearts and minds totally to God and serve Him from now on with all of our strength? Let us all seek Him with ever greater conviction and be more courageous in living our lives faithfully. There will be plenty of challenges and difficulties along the way, but I believe that with God by our side, everything is possible.

May the Lord be our guide and may He continue to strengthen us along this journey, that we may walk ever more faithfully by His side, each and every days and moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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