Monday, 2 August 2021 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened again to the love and kindness of God in providing for the needs of His people, as we heard the stories of God feeding and providing for them in the desert during their Exodus as described in our first reading today, and then the similar story in the well-known miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men and more by mere five loaves of bread and two fishes by the Lord Jesus, Who multiplied the food for them.

In that first reading passage today, we heard how the people were so ungrateful about the love and attention which the Lord had given them. They were complaining that they could not have the cucumber, leeks, garlic and other things that they used to eat in Egypt, a land that was fertile and bountiful, with all available produces, even when they were enslaved by the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. They were complaining that what they had was just the manna, which they detested.

In truth, the manna itself tasted quite fine, but the people were biased against it, despite the truth that it had been an immense honour and grace for all of them to even have any food at all throughout their journey throughout the desert. Instead of being appreciative of how the Lord had sent them manna, and not only just manna, but even flocks of birds daily to supplement their diet, as well as bountiful amount of water in the midst of the dry and lifeless desert, they chose to complain and refuse to obey the Lord.

They gave in to the temptations of their desires, their desire for good and pleasant life, a decadent and free life without restraint, which led them to wander off from the path that the Lord had shown them. They fell into sinful ways, and committed those sins against God. Moses himself, as the leader of the Israelites, was under great pressure all the time, as we can clearly see his distress as we heard in our first reading passage today.

And yet, the Lord was still ever patient with His people, providing for them ceaselessly and guiding them throughout their forty years of journey, even as He chastised and punished them for their sins, excesses and disobedience. God still loved His people very much, and this was why He showed love and compassion to them, and by feeding them as a very tangible and visible proof of this love, providing them with their essential physical and bodily needs.

As therefore we then heard in our Gospel passage today, how the Lord miraculously fed a multitude of five thousand men and many thousands of other women and children, with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, a story that many of us are surely very familiar with. God cared for all of them as they were hungry and were in need of sustenance after following Him and listening to His teachings for many days.

Through all of these, we are reminded that we are truly fortunate to have been beloved by God, Who wants to love us and care for us. Indeed, if it had not been for His love, we would have been crushed, destroyed and thrown into hellfire for our disobedience and sins. That the Lord still patiently tries, even to this day, in calling us to return to Him, sending countless prophets and messengers, and ultimately His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus to come and save us, are the ultimate proofs and signs of His everlasting love.

Therefore, all of us should be grateful for the Lord, and strive to do whatever we can to follow Him and obey His Law and commandments, which we can do by following the inspiring examples of the saints whose memories we recall and venerate today, namely St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the bishop of Vercelli and a ardent defender of the true faith against the falsehoods of heresies which were plenty at his time. Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a holy and devoted priest well renowned for his piety and devotion to the Lord.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli was dedicated to his flock and endeavoured to keep them safe and faithful throughout the various challenges facing them, and he dedicated his time and effort to care for the spiritual needs of the people, living among them and showing true and genuine love for them. He endured trials and difficulties when persecutions and troubles come for the faithful, especially from those who believed in the heresies and followed the tenets of the heretics, and led to the persecution of those who remained true to the true faith. He endured exile and humiliations throughout his ministry, but those things did not deter him from his best for the sake of the Lord and His people.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli worked hard to reconcile the various divided factions of the Church, reaching out to the many people who had been feuding and been separated from one another due to misunderstandings and lack of guidance in faith. He visited many communities, and many were touched by his efforts, which brought the Lord to His people and helped many to turn away from their wrong paths and to be reconciled with their loving God and Father. His dedication and faith are things that we should be inspired to follow.

St. Peter Julian Eymard meanwhile was a faithful and dedicated priest whose devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, the Mother of God inspired many to follow his examples, as he popularised the Forty Hours devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and established several congregations dedicated to the ministry of the Lord among the people of God. Many followed in his footsteps and committed themselves to the Lord in the same manner, abandoning their previous, sinful ways of life and embracing the path that St. Peter Julian Eymard has shown them. St. Peter Julian Eymard should be our inspiration in how we lived our own lives with faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and be worthy in all of our dealings and deeds, and do our best in all things, to glorify the Lord and His Name at all times. May God be with us all and may He bless us and all of our good endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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