Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are brought to pay attention and focus on the Lord and just how much He has been so patient with us, all these while despite all of our disobedience and stubborn attitude. And likened as a loving father in our Scripture passages today, particularly from our first reading and Psalm today, we are reminded just how our Lord is stern with us and firm in guiding our path, and yet, always filled with love and genuine compassion as well.
In our first reading today, we are called by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews to reflect on the love of God, our heavenly Father, Who corrects and punishes those whom He loves, not because He wants to make us suffer and endure difficulties. Rather, if we do not learn our lesson and continue to act irresponsibly, we will end up in even greater suffering and pain. I am referring to the eternal suffering and damnation in hell that awaits all those who have not been faithful to God and His ways.
The Lord guides us in various ways, and He has shown us His loving and tender care even when He was at His sternest against us and our ridiculous antics and stubbornness. He has always been patient in calling us all to return to Him, in waiting for us to embrace Him with love and to spend time with Him once again. And yet, we just how He has been treated, being rejected and cast out, shut out and ostracised when He came into our midst, even by those who knew Him.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the time when the Lord Jesus came to Nazareth in Galilee, His hometown, when He went to the local synagogue and began to proclaim the Word of God to the people there. They refused to believe in Him and doubted Him, outraged and in disbelief that one of them, who had lived in that very same village could have been the Messiah or Saviour promised for the people of God. This prevented the Lord from doing His works and miracles there.
As we heard all of these readings from the Scripture today, we are all often so stubborn in our ways and we often refused to listen to reason that we end up rejecting the Lord and His generous offer of love. Like the people of Nazareth, who thought that they knew better of just Who the Lord Jesus was, and thought that it was impossible for Him to have been the One He claimed He was, thus, pride and hubris often became the greatest pitfalls in our path towards the salvation in God.
That is why all of us ought to resist these temptations to succumb to our pride and ego, our desires and hubris, ambition and all the other things that often became great obstacles blocking our path towards God. And instead of hardening our hearts and minds, we should be humbler and be more willing to open our hearts and minds to the Lord, to welcome Him inside and allow Him to transform us and make use of us to be His instruments by which He performs many wonderful things in this world.
Today, we should look upon the good examples of St. Blaise and St. Ansgar, faithful servants of God and holy men whose life and dedication to the Lord should inspire us to be more faithful and be more willing to follow the Lord ourselves. St. Blaise was the famous physician and Bishop of Sebastea during the days of the later Roman Empire, renowned for his dedication to his people, as well as his care for those who were sick, both as a physician for the body as well as the physician of the soul.
St. Blaise healed many people through his commitment and work, and he inspired many others even after he had been arrested and suffered martyrdom in the persecution by the Roman Emperor Licinius. And in the famous story of how St. Blaise miraculously healed a young boy who had been inflicted with a stuck fishbone in his throat and was in danger of death, many became believers through him and the famous ‘Blessing of the Throats’ done on St. Blaise’s day today invoke this saint’s intercession for many of us.
St. Ansgar meanwhile was known as the Apostle to the North for his tireless efforts and many trips to what is now the land of Germany, ministering to the faithful there and proclaiming the truth of God to many more people, to those who have not yet heard of the Lord’s truth, grace and love. He preached the Words of the Lord to those pagans who have often been stubborn in refusing to believe in God, and through his patience and efforts, many eventually came to see the Light of God and accept Him as their Lord and Saviour.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of our Lord and His faithful servants, and let us all walk in His presence, faithfully and lovingly, committing ourselves anew to the cause of Our Lord and glorify Him and His Name by our actions and deeds. May God bless us all, and may He strengthen us all with courage and faith, now and always. Amen.