Thursday, 19 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John Eudes, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to listen to the Lord and His words, and to trust in Him, that we may follow Him wholeheartedly, and doubt no longer but believe. We have to welcome the Lord into our hearts and devote ourselves to Him in all things. Without genuine love and commitment to the Lord, we may be easily swayed by worldly temptations and many other obstacles by which the devil has attempted to mislead and misguide us, through lies and false pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of one of the Judge of Israel, namely Jephthah, who made vow before the Lord that if he could defeat the Ammonites, he would offer sacrifices to the Lord whatever it was that would cross the lintels of his door. Little did he know that his own daughter would be the one crossing the threshold of the door. Jephthah, having made the vow before God could not go back on his words and had to do as he had vowed to do. And it is a lesson for all of us as well, brothers and sisters in Christ.

How is that so? That is because we are all reminded not to doubt in the Lord’s providence. Jephthah, while believing in God, he was also filled with doubt as he made such a vow as he did not fully trust the Lord’s providence. The key phrase is that ‘If You make me victorious, I shall sacrifice to You whoever first comes out of my house to meet me when I return from battle. He shall be for YHVH and I shall offer him up through the fire.’ And all these, shows us that Jephthah have not yet fully given his trust to the Lord, that if God gave him his victory then he would offer Him a sacrifice.

God has no need for sacrifices, and He has no need for anything, as after all, is He not the Almighty Lord and Master of all creation? The Lord has everything and is in no need for anything, and He instead provides everything that we need, just as our Gospel passage today highlighted it even further through the parable of the wedding banquet and the wedding garment. God cared for His people, and the master of the wedding banquet, the king depicted in the parable, represents God.

The king invited all his guests to come freely and enjoy his wedding banquet, showing just how much he loved them all and how precious they were. For one to be invited to a king’s banquet, one must have thought that those who were invited have enjoyed such great favour and honour, and yet, as we heard from the parable, the people who were invited refused to come and to listen to the king’s call. They feigned ignorance and busy schedules to refuse the king despite the rich and great honour for them in receiving his invitation.

The king then invited and sought out all the people from all other places, from the streets and elsewhere, to come to his wedding banquet, and many people were indeed gathered and attended that wedding banquet in joy. But one of those who had been brought in did not wear the required wedding garment, and then refused to answer the king’s question when he was asked regarding his lack of proper wear, which resulted in him being cast out.

What we have just heard from that parable is a reminder to all of us that God has provided wonderfully for us, but what is lamentable is our lack of faith and trust in Him. We have not loved Him as much as He has loved us, and we have ignored Him when He called for us to come to Him. Instead, we preferred to linger in our own desires and walk in our own paths, in disobedience against God. We refused to trust in Him even after He has shown us repeatedly His love and dedication.

That is why today, we should spend some time to reflect on our attitude and actions. Have we been truly faithful to God and loved Him as we should have? These are the questions we should ask ourselves now. And today, we should also spend some time to reflect on the examples of our holy predecessors, that can serve as a source of inspiration and as guide on what we can do as Christians to follow the Lord and to obey Him in our daily living.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Eudes, a most devout and dedicated servant of God, a holy priest and founder of two great religious orders, the Order of Our Lady of Charity and the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, the latter of which was also known as the Eudists after their founder. He was renowned for his great piety and sanctity, as well as his great love for both God and his fellow men and women, spending a lot of time and effort to reach out to his fellow brethren.

Through his works among the people, and his particular concern for those who had led a wretched lifestyle such as prostitutes, he helped them by establishing the Order of Our Lady of Charity as mentioned to gather those who sought to provide refuge and help to prostitutes who had been caught in unfortunate situations, and helping them at the same time to overcome their issues. And through the Eudists, he also helped to advance proper education and formation of priests and missionaries among other magnificent works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the good examples set by St. John Eudes, as well as the many other holy men and women of God, let us all therefore do our very best to follow their examples, to rediscover the love which we all should have for the Lord, and be ever more faithful in our daily lives. Let us all strive to do our best, to be ever more committed to God and to be His ever more dedicated disciples in our respective communities today.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our faith, that we may draw strength from Him and persevere through the challenges of life, and resist the temptations of evil and of our human desires. May God bless us all, now and always, in our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

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