Monday, 19 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Scripture speaking to us on the matter of following God and obeying His will despite the challenges and temptations that we may face throughout our lives. We heard from the Book of Judges as our first reading passage today how God’s people Israel had disobeyed Him and refused to listen to Him after their leaders had passed on, forgetting all that God had done for their sake.

They worshipped and served other gods, the pagan gods whom their forefathers have crushed and destroyed when they came to occupy the land God had given to them. They were swayed by all those false gods and idols, and were not faithful to the promises which their ancestors had made to the Lord as part of their Covenant. The people chose to follow their own desires and embracing the temptations present in this world rather than being faithful to God.

As a result, the Lord allowed their enemies and those who still stayed in the land with them, the pagans around them to rule over them and dominate them, bringing about hardships and challenges for the Israelites. It was not that God did not love His people by doing what He had done, but rather He loved them so much that He wanted to remind them and bring them into line, just like a father disciplining his children who went wayward.

In the same passage then, God sent many of His servants to the midst of His people, those whom He called to be the leaders and guides for the whole nation as He called them to repent from their sins and disobedience. Those were the Judges of Israel, who helped the people of God to rediscover their faith and to lead them back from the path of sin, freeing them at the same time from all those who persecuted them as a sign of God’s providence and faithfulness to His Covenant.

Yet, it was mentioned how every time the Judges passed on, the Israelites fell back again into their old ways, disobeying God and worshipping the pagan idols, disregarding the laws and commandments that God had put in place for them. They were not able to commit themselves to the Lord and His Covenant, and as a result, God had to sent many Judges, again and again to keep them in line, just as how He would also send prophets after prophets later on to remind His people to be faithful.

What we have heard in this first reading passage today is actually linked to what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, when a man came to approach the Lord Jesus asking how he could receive the grace of eternal life. He said to the Lord how he has obeyed all the commandments and rules in accordance to the laws of Moses. The Lord praised him for what he has done, but then when He asked him to leave everything he had and give them to the poor and the needy, he could not do it and left in sorrow.

What the Lord wanted to show us all through this encounter is not that all of us have to abandon all worldly things and goods as what He has told the man to do, but rather, if we want to be truly faithful to God, then we must not let all those things to distract us and to prevent us from loving Him and dedicating ourselves to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength. The people of Israel as described in our first reading today continued to fall into their sinful ways because they did not truly love God with all of their hearts, and they kept on being distracted and tempted as a result.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a famous and pious saint whose life can be inspiration for us to follow in how we should live our lives with faith that we will not end up falling again and again into sin. St. John Eudes was a French priest who was remembered for his great love and particular devotion to the Lord, especially to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He performed numerous good works among the people, ministering to them and preaching in their midst, inspiring many to embrace God’s love and holiness.

He established religious orders and congregations for the benefit of the faithful, and in one particular case having seen how many prostitutes had difficulties when they wanted to escape such a destitute condition, and hence St. John Eudes founded a religious order as a refuge for those prostitutes who escaped their previous wicked lives and turned to God. He dedicated his life to serve the people of God and by being faithful and exemplary in all the things he did in his life with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. John Eudes? As Christians, all of us are called to live up to our calling as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen from this world, to be His own. Let us all grow in faith and love the Lord ever more wholeheartedly from now on, embracing the most generous love and compassion which He has constantly shown us all these while.

May the Lord continue to guide us all, and may He continue to empower us all to live ever more worthily in His presence from now on, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit God has given us, may all of us be more committed to the Covenant which God had made with us all, now and always. Amen.

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