Friday, 2 August 2019 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures speaking to us about the feasts celebrated by the people of Israel as commanded to them by the Lord Himself through Moses, His servant, who delivered the Law and the commandments, the precepts and rules of the Lord to the people. We heard in detail how there were appointed times and days in certain months for particular feasts and celebrations to be celebrated.

And then in the Gospel passage today, it seemed that we heard a different passage not quite related to our first reading passage because in the Gospel we heard of the doubt which the people who witnessed the Lord’s miracles and works in His own hometown in Nazareth. In that passage, we heard of how the people doubted the Lord despite having seen the miracles He has performed, the wisdom with which He spoke to them, simply because they thought they knew Who He was.

These two readings at a quick glance may not seem to be related and speak of two very different contents. However, in truth, the two readings remind each and every one of us in their own way, that a lot of times in our respective lives we must always put our trust in God and remember to love Him and to dedicate ourselves to Him, and not to be distracted and swayed by the many other commitments we have in life.

It is very easy for us to be distracted by the many commitments we have in life, and to be swayed by the temptations of worldly things, which cause us to forget about God and to ignore Him despite Him truly being present in our midst and within our own lives. In the first reading from the Book of Leviticus, God appointed all those feasts and celebrations of the people for a reason, not just merrymaking and celebration, but also to remind them of God and His love for them.

Otherwise it will be very easy for us to be swallowed and distracted by our worldly concerns, thoughts, as what we have witnessed in the Gospel account on the rejection of the Lord by His own people, from His very own hometown in Nazareth was because of their stubborn insistence to follow their own prejudices and biases, that was borne out of their acquaintance and knowledge of the background of Jesus and His growing years in their midst.

Those people would not allow the Lord to enter into their hearts and minds, and they closed themselves to Him, rejecting Him. That is what exactly can happen to us all as well if we allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly ideas and corruptions. That is why, similar to what the Israelites have celebrated in the past through their many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, the Church has also put in place numerous celebrations and events throughout the entire liturgical calendar, for us to refocus our attention on God.

On this day we also celebrate the feast day of two saints whose lives and examples may be a great source of inspiration to all of us as Christians, in how we should live our lives to the fullest and devote ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly as we should have. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a holy and dedicated bishop who endured through a lot of hard times and persecutions and yet remained faithful to the Lord while St. Peter Julian Eymard was a dedicated priest who founded two religious congregations and was remembered for his great piety and commitment to God.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli was a very hardworking bishop and shepherd to the flock of the faithful entrusted under his care, as he spent countless hours and time to minister to the needs of the people of God. He had to endure through a difficult persecution and challenges when he stood up for the true faith against the heresy of Arianism, which was then widespread and popular, enduring even exile for his commitment and faith in God. He continued to work hard in combatting the falsehoods of the heresies to the last moments of his life.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was remembered for his strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. He helped to spread the popular Forty Hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament throughout his priesthood ministry and gathered likeminded people in establishing two religious congregations of those who dedicate themselves to the Blessed Sacrament, namely the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament for the men, and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for the women.

Having seen the examples and the good works done by these two faithful servants of God, all of us should be inspired to live our own lives in the way that they have shown us, that is to centre ourselves on God and to focus our efforts and attention on Him. Let us all strive to be more dedicated and committed to God despite all the challenges, temptations and obstacles we may encounter on our journey of life.

May the Lord through the intercession of His faithful servants, St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard continue to guide us and grant us the strength and courage needed for us to continue to be faithful and loving towards Him, at every moments of our lives. May the Lord bless us all and our good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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