Monday, 9 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to do whatever that the Lord has commanded us to do, in His Law and commandments, and to be righteous and filled with virtue in all things, that we may be exemplary to all people, in everything that we say and do. He reminded all of us how He has patiently cared for us and showed His love towards each and every one of us, seeking us and reaching out to us whenever we falter and were in need of help.

Today, we are all called to remember God Who has shown us so much love that we are indeed very fortunate that we have been beloved in such a way. How else we should do in life then if not to commit ourselves to His cause and to follow Him in everything we say and do. It is our calling as Christians to be the Lord’s true disciples not just in name but also in deeds, and that we learn to commit ourselves to the good works that He has called us to do through His Church. And we are all part of this same Church, that is His Body, as the Body of all the faithful united with God, through Jesus Christ, the visible Head of the Church.

And as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that the Lord also expected all of us to be righteous and just in all things, in the ways and in the sight of mankind alike. For we are all called to be the bearers of His truth and love before all, and He has called on all of us to show true and genuine faith, and for us to obey the laws and the rules of the land, that we do not unnecessarily antagonise those who rule over the land, and perhaps may even persuade them and many others to come to believe in the Lord as well, through our virtues and efforts.

In our Gospel passage today, when the Lord was confronted with the temple tax collectors, who questioned the disciples on whether their Master paid taxes to the temple, the Lord spoke of how in truth the children of the Light, that is God’s children and people owed nothing and are free, and naturally are not bonded to pay anything to worldly institutions like that of the Temple of Jerusalem. Yet, the Lord did not tell His disciples to resist, and on the contrary, in fact told them to obey the rules and to pay their dues, although in a miraculous way, by asking them to obtain it embedded in the mouth of a fish.

Through what we have heard in our readings from the Scripture today, we are all called to be the Lord’s true and genuine disciples in our world today, putting our trust in the Lord and remaining faithful to Him while contending with the pressures and demands of the world. The question is, are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the path that the Lord has shown us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to turn towards the Lord with an open heart and mind that He may lead us and guide us down the right path?

Today let us all look upon the examples set by one of our holy predecessors as we look for the path to follow in being faithful to the Lord. The Lord has called St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross to follow Him, and she, also known as her more popular name of Edith Stein, responded kindly with faith and dedication, committing herself wholeheartedly to the Lord. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to the Christian faith, inspired by the life story of her patron, St. Teresa of Avila, the reformer of the Carmelite Order.

She then committed herself to walk in the same path as her inspiration and role model, as she joined the Discalced Carmelites amidst the difficult years of existence for the Jewish population in Germany, then under the dominion of the rising NAZI party of Adolf Hitler, who was very hostile to the Jews and sought for them to be exterminated. St. Teresa Benedicta was sent to the Netherlands with some other sisters to protect them and provide for their safety, but in time, the fires of war caught up to them even to their monastery.

St. Teresa Benedicta dedicated herself to the Lord with her fellow religious sisters, and despite the challenges she encountered throughout the path she walked, she remained firmly in faith, even as she and others were arrested by the NAZI authorities, as they sought to seek retribution against the opposition by the Dutch bishops against the NAZI rules and policies. Eventually, St. Teresa Benedicta herself, as a Jew, was sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, and was martyred there, as a courageous defender of her faith in God, of her sanctity and virtues. She has always been ready to die for the Lord, in her own words, ‘to offer herself to the Heart of Jesus, as a sacrifice of atonement for the true peace’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened and remembered the inspiring life examples of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the ever faithful sister Edith Stein, let us all therefore endeavour to live our own lives in such a manner, committed and dedicated to the Lord. May the Lord continue to strengthen us and empower us all, that we may ever draw closer to Him, and be with Him, in all things, so that we may always trust Him and strive to live Christian lives of virtue and justice in every moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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