Tuesday, 13 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Henry (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the salvation which God had brought upon His people, as He sent to them deliverers to bring His beloved ones out of their troubles and gather them back into His loving presence and grace. And yet, many did not believe in Him and His servants, and still did not acknowledge Him.

In our first reading today, we heard the story from the Book of Exodus on the coming of the Lord’s promised deliverance to His people through Moses, the one ‘born and raised from the water’ as per his name, as he was rescued from the fated destruction of all the male children of the Israelites. At that time, the Pharaoh or king of Egypt declared that all the male newborn infants of the Israelites were to be killed to prevent the continued growth and spread of the Israelites in the land of Egypt.

The Israelites had been living in Egypt for a few centuries since the days of Jacob and Joseph, and under the reign of the new Pharaoh, they were enslaved and treated horribly, used as forced labour intended to eradicate and subjugate them to the will and desire of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. But the Lord never forgot about His people and did not abandon them. He remained with them and journeyed with them, and promised them deliverance which He fulfilled through Moses, whose birth and early life was mentioned today.

The Lord sent Moses to His people, and saved him from the waters of the River Nile so that he might be the one to shepherd all of Israel out of the land of their misery and enslavement, into the land of prosperity and true joy as promised by the Lord. God has done this so that He can bring the people all into the fulfilment of the long awaited promise He had made, to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, they would not welcome him at first, and refused to listen to him. Moses himself also fled to the land of Midian after he killed an Egyptian while protecting one of the Israelites.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the Lord speaking up against the cities of the region of Galilee, the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were the places where the Lord performed many of His works, miracles and wonders, and where He taught in their synagogues and places of gathering. Why did the Lord speak out with such anger against those cities as we heard in our Gospel passage today? That is because they have all seen so many of God’s miracles and wonders, heard His truth and been shown His love and compassion, and yet, still refused to believe and obey Him.

Instead, many among those people living in those cities still doubted and questioned Him, together with members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who followed Him everywhere and raised doubts against Him among the people. All these amounted to mankind’s stubborn refusal to listen to the truth of the Lord despite the very obvious truth and the love which He has shown before them through Christ. God’s love has been manifested so clearly in the flesh before all of us, and yet, many of us still refused to believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded therefore to listen to the Lord and put our trust in Him. We should be faithful to Him and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to His cause. We can also follow the inspiring examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs of the Church. Today in particular we celebrate the memory of St. Henry, a faithful servant of the Lord, also known as Henry II, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a righteous and just ruler, concerned most with the well-being of his subjects and people, and was committed to the expansion and development of the Church throughout Christendom.

St. Henry spent a lot of time managing his realm with great wisdom and care, and cultivating good relationship between the Church and the state, and he spent a lot of effort improving both the physical and spiritual well-being of his people. For all of these wise and faithful rule as the most powerful ruler of Christendom, and for his faithful dedication and great personal piety, he was the only Holy Roman Emperor to be declared a saint of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also be inspired by the good examples set by St. Henry, his faithfulness and commitment to the Lord, that in all things, we shall always endeavour to be good and faithful to the Lord. Let us all not be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, and instead, strive to walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s path and serve Him with all of our might and strength, at all times. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us with the courage and faith to be His good disciples, now and always. Amen.

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