Thursday, 12 August 2021 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Frances de Chantal, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are asked to follow the Lord and embrace His ways, as we continue to proceed through this journey of life. We are reminded that we should follow the path of the Lord, follow Him wholeheartedly and be virtuous in life in accordance to His ways. We have to love one another just as how God has loved each and every one of us, to show kindness and love, true faith and dedication in our every actions.

In our first reading today, we heard from the accounts of the Book of Joshua in which we heard how God led His people, the Israelites, into the land promised to them and their ancestors, the land beyond the River Jordan. Joshua called all the Israelites and reminded them all of God’s love and grace, of His guidance and companionship throughout the Exodus, and brought the Ark of the Covenant, the concrete and real symbol of God’s presence amongst His people, to open the path for them through the River Jordan.

And that was thus how the people of God crossed the River Jordan on the dry seabed, as the Lord held back the river while the Ark of the Covenant was on the riverbed, a reminiscent of how the Lord held back the waters of the sea, when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea just forty years earlier as they made their way out of Egypt. God was with their people throughout their journey, and showed His commitment to the Covenant that He has established with them, guiding them into the land which has been promised to them.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the parable of the Lord, on the ungrateful and unforgiving servant. In that parable, we heard the servant who owed a great amount of material and money to his master, and begged for reprieve and time to pay off his debt, which led to the master showing him mercy and not only that, he even forgave that servant’s entire debt, which means that he no longer had to pay anything, all of his great amount of debt, at all. Yet, as we heard, no sooner that the servant was set free of all his debts, than he went to one of his fellow servants and demanded that the debt the other servant owed him be paid in full.

And unlike the master who forgave the servant his debt, that servant refused to listen to the pleas of his fellow servant for patience and mercy. Instead, he acted harshly on the other servant and sent him to the jail until he could pay off his debts. This is where we heard how justice was served, as the master came to hear of the issue, and was very angry against the ungrateful and unforgiving servant, who did not appreciate what love and mercy he has received. Instead of showing the same love and mercy, he has acted without them towards his own fellow brethren, and as we heard, was justly punished for that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scripture, we are therefore constantly reminded of the need for us to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all sincerity in faith. It means that we should follow His examples and show love, compassion and mercy towards one another, to our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord and Master. The Lord has shown us what it means for us to be loving and merciful, and we should heed His words and examples in our own lives.

Today, we should also heed the good examples of one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, a holy woman and religious who dedicated herself to the service of God and for the care of her fellow men, as she established a religious order, named the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, gathering together like-minded women, especially those who have been rejected or refused from joining other orders due to illness or old age. And in this regard, her efforts were also unique as her order focused on reaching out to others instead of being cloistered as most religious orders for women of her time did.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal married into a noble family and had children with her husband, and during her married life, she was remembered for her great role as a wife and mother to her children, and even more so in her charity and care for her fellow brothers and sisters, as she was known to take care of strangers and neighbours, and provide alms and help to those who were in need. After her husband passed away, she took a vow of chastity and inspired by her encounter and journey with St. Francis de Sales, it inspired her to begin a religious journey and eventually established the aforementioned religious order.

The great sanctity and commitment with which St. Jane Frances de Chantal carried out her efforts and works inspired many, and numerous people flocked to join her congregation, and many came to support her efforts, and the fruits of their labour multiplied, for the great benefits of the people of God. And therefore, we should also be similarly inspired and encouraged to live our lives worthily in the same manner. Are we willing and able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all devote ourselves and do our best to serve God with all of our might and strength, from now on.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all with the resolve and conviction to persevere forward through the many trials and challenges we may face in our journey of faith through life. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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