Wednesday, 17 March 2021 : 4th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded that the Lord’s salvation has come into our midst in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, the Divine Word Incarnate and born through His mother Mary to be the Saviour of the whole world. We are reminded today of the salvation that Christ has brought us through His suffering, His Passion, death and Resurrection.

In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people of the coming of the time and day of salvation, the moment when the Lord would bring all of them to freedom and happiness, and deliver them from their sufferings and troubles. At that time, the people of God had suffered from repeated invasions and also humiliations from their neighbours, and they were nowhere as great as they were as it was during the time of king David and king Solomon.

And just as the northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians recently by the time of the prophet Isaiah, exiling its people to the far-off lands of Assyria and beyond, and the same Assyrians had also been coming up to the southern kingdom of Judah and besieging even Jerusalem itself. The people of Judah and their king Hezekiah were only saved because the Lord intervened on their behalf sent His Angel to destroy the whole Assyrian army.

Through Isaiah therefore, the Lord wanted to remind His people that He has not forgotten or forsaken them, and on the contrary, He remembered them well, and wanted them to be saved. But everything happens in God’s time and according to His will. This means that if the people think that the Lord had not been with them, then they were not patient enough and mistook the Lord as One Whom they could control and have at the back of their whims and desires.

The Lord sent His Saviour into this world through Christ, His own beloved and only begotten Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, that He may gather all of us into the embrace of the Lord, His heavenly Father, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, the Passion, suffering, death and the glorious Resurrection that we shall celebrate very soon during the Holy Week and Easter, He has saved us from the certainty of eternal destruction and death.

Yet, as we heard in our Gospel and as occurred throughout the Gospels, the people to whom the Lord had sent His Son refused to believe in Him and in His words, doubted and rejected Him even when they had seen all the wonders and miraculous deeds He had done, and even after hearing all the great and unsurpassed wisdom with which He had been teaching and preaching to them.

Thus, in our Gospel today, the Lord again reiterated that He, as the Son of God, is indeed the One sent by the Father to be the Saviour of all. And just as the prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming of the Lord’s salvation and wonders, the Lord Jesus spoke of the same, and in fact, spoke everything all as how it has been accomplished in Him and through Him, for He is indeed the fulfilment of what the Lord had been promising us mankind through the prophets.

We are hence reminded once again that our salvation has come to us through Christ, and through His most loving sacrifice on the Cross, by which He has redeemed us from our sins, He has offered us freely the forgiveness of God for our many sins. Yet, it is we ourselves who have been so stubborn and hardened our hearts against Him, refusing to embrace His forgiveness and accept His mercy and compassion.

That is why, we are all called to seek the Lord and to open our hearts and minds to welcome Him into our hearts this Lent. During this time and season of Lent, we are constantly being reminded that we are in need of help from God, to trust in Him and to put our faith and commitment to Him. And today, we happen to be celebrating the feast day of a great saint who can be our role model and inspiration as well.

St. Patrick, the renowned saint of Ireland, the one who evangelised the people of Ireland over a thousand years ago, was remembered for his missionary zeal, faith in the Lord, and especially his dedication to those who had been entrusted to him, those people to whom he had been sent to as a missionary. St. Patrick was captured at an early age by Irish pirates and was taken as a slave, until he managed to escape and return to his family. But this not stop him or discourage him when sent as a missionary and priest later in his life, to the very place where he endured slavery.

On the contrary, St. Patrick dedicated his efforts and his whole life to teach the people in Ireland about Christ, the Lord and Saviour, when most of the people there had not yet known about Him, and were still pagans believing in the pagan gods and idols. St. Patrick patiently explained to them about the nature of God, the Holy Trinity and the main aspects of the Christian faith, and was also involved in the many interactions between the rulers and petty kings in Ireland at the time.

Through his tireless efforts, St. Patrick helped to build the foundation of the Church and the Christian faith in Ireland, and many became converts to the faith and were touched by the courage and commitment, the love that St. Patrick had for the Lord and for his fellow men, for the people of Ireland in particular, who were like the lost sheep gathered by the shepherd, who was St. Patrick himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick, and be inspired by his faith and dedication to the Lord, his exemplary Christian faith and actions in life, his sincerity in reaching out to others and to his fellow men. This Lent, we are all called to purify our faith and to redirect our attention and focus back towards the Lord, so that we may remember that our lives are centred on Him and not on other worldly matters and desires.

Let us all turn towards the Lord, our most loving God and Father. Let us all seek Him with renewed love and dedication, opening our hearts and minds to welcome Him into our beings, allowing Him to transform us into the children of Light, the Light of Christ, the Light of our salvation. May God bless us all and strengthen us, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence. Amen.

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