Monday, 26 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that all of us have to keep our faith in the Lord and to obey His Law and follow Him. We have to be faithful to the Lord and not to give in to the temptations to follow false idols and gods, as what our predecessors had done. Instead, we have to listen to the Lord, receive His words and truth, and allow our faith to blossom and grow within us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Exodus the account and story of the time when Moses, after having spent a whole forty days on top of Mount Sinai with God, discovered the rebelliousness and wickedness of the Israelites, who abandoned their God for the false idol of the golden calf, giving themselves up to their fears and their desires, doing whatever they wanted to do instead of listening to the Lord and to Moses, the servant of God, whom they thought to have died and abandoned them.

This is because they had little faith in the Lord, even after having witnessed, seen and heard everything that the Lord had done for them, all the wonders and miracles they have received, in the Ten Great Plagues the Lord sent against Egypt and the Egyptians while they were spared and protected from those plagues, and how God liberated them as He led them through the sea and destroyed the armies and chariots of the Egyptians sent against them.

Later on, the Lord also provided for them all as they journeyed through the desert, giving them bread to eat throughout the journey, the manna from heaven, on every single day with the additional gift of flocks of birds as their food. He also gave them constant supply of water to drink, clear and good quality water through the barren and dry desert without life. All these things the Lord had done for the sake of His people, and yet, they complained, grumbled and disobeyed the Lord, saying how life was better in Egypt and other similar things, showing just how little their faith and love for God were.

God was still so patient with His people even through the disobedience that they had shown. He punished and chastised them for their sins, but still desired them to realise the errors of their ways, and embrace His mercy and compassionate love, that they might be converted to the true faith. He never gave up on them even as they continued to fall again and again into sin, sending prophets and messengers one after the other to the midst of the people with the hope that at least some among them would return to Him and be reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in our Gospel passage today we heard how the Lord spoke about the kingdom of God, which He compared in parable to the measure of yeast in flour, and to mustard seed. These comparisons were used since many among the people would understand better using the terms and examples that they often used in their daily lives and professions. Using those explanations, the Lord wanted His people to realise what they all need to do to be His faithful disciples and followers.

Those parables revealed to us that as God’s disciples and followers, we have to nurture our faith and our love for the Lord in the most favourable condition possible, that through our actions, our deeds and our interactions, we may come ever closer to the Lord and His grace. For those who do not know, yeast is required for the bread to rise and become properly formed, but it requires strict conditions such as the right temperature and most importantly, the absence of oxygen in the air, and hence, the dough and yeast mixture has to be sealed from outside air in order for the bread to be properly formed.

Similarly, for a mustard seed, such a small seed to grow into a large and sizeable tree, with its rich produce and healthy growth, the seed has to germinate first of all, in the right condition. Otherwise, the seed will not germinate, and will remain dormant in its seed form until the condition is right. And after it has germinated, the young plant has to be nurtured and taken care of, or else, it will perish and die, before it can grow into its full glory and size.

Therefore, all of us who have receive the faith from the Lord and receive His truth have to nurture this faith and the love we ought to have for the Lord, for His Law and commandments. We cannot just give lip service and treat our faith as mere obligation or formality, or else, our faith becomes meaningless and dead. This is why, each and every days and moments of our lives, we shall have the need to dedicate ourselves, our time and effort to the Lord.

Today we celebrate the feast of the two parents of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, namely St. Joachim and St. Anne, who have nurtured and taken care of Mary since her birth and throughout her youth. While Mary has been prepared specially by the Lord to be Immaculate and pure, worthy to be the vessel of His salvation in Christ, but it was also definitely thanks to the commitment and the dedication which both St. Joachim and St. Anne had given in their role as the guardians and parents of young Mary, that she grew in faith and love for the Lord.

We can be inspired by the faith and dedication which St. Joachim and St. Anne had shown, especially in their role as dutiful and loving parents to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour. We too can show the same love and dedication, in our own way, first of all towards Our Lord and Saviour, and henceforth, towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and even to the strangers and acquaintances we encounter daily in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all willing to live our lives more devoted to the Lord, and learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, that we will not stumble again like how the Israelites fell into the worship of the golden calf in the past? And are we willing to look upon the good examples of our holy predecessors, like St. Joachim and St. Anne, and the innumerable other saints in how they lived their lives faithfully? Let us all discern this well, and think of how we can be ever more dedicated and committed to the Lord, now and always.

May God be with us all and may He strengthen us with the courage and the commitment to live our lives ever more faithfully in His path, from now on and forevermore. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

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