Wednesday, 25 August 2021 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Louis, and St. Joseph Calasanz, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are always ever reminded of the Lord’s calling on us to be righteous and good, to be faithful and committed to Him, no matter what happens and in what circumstances. We have to resist the temptations to follow our desires and to fall into the traps set by the evil ones, all the those seeking to mislead us in our journey of faith and life.

That is why as we heard the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Thessalonica in our first reading today, we are called to reflect on our nature as Christian to be holy and good, to be obedient to God’s will and to follow Him in all of our ways. The Apostle reminded the faithful there to be righteous and to adopt a life that is becoming of their identity and nature as Christians, and we are therefore called to do the same as well.

St. Paul’s words echoed clearly together with the words of the Lord in our Gospel today, as we heard the continuation of the Lord’s laments against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as He rebuked them for their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith in God. The Lord spoke in this way as those Pharisees who had imposed their version of the Law and its harsh and uncompromising nature on the people of God had misled the faithful into thinking that it is the right way of obeying God’s Law.

And all these happened while they themselves did not truly obey the Lord’s commandments in their hearts, as their obedience and observance of the Law was merely superficial and with the desire and intention to be praised for their actions and piety. Their preoccupation with vanity and worldly greatness led them astray, and thus the Lord rebuked those leaders who had failed to appreciate the true nature of the Law and who refused to listen to the truth that God Himself has brought into the world, through Christ.

All in all, as we heard these words of the Scripture, we are all called to follow the Lord with sincere devotion and genuine love for Him, and not just merely paying lip service or treating our faith as merely a formality. Instead, we should integrate our faith in our lives, within our every actions and deeds, in every words we speak, and in every interactions we made with our fellow men, we should show that we are God’s people, His faithful ones, as Christians through and through in all things.

Are we able and willing to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has called on us all to follow Him, and we should respond to Him with faith, and we should strive to be exemplary in our way of life, that our interior disposition and not just our external appearance show that we truly belong to Him. In all things, let us be inspiration for one another, and help our fellow brothers and sisters to walk faithfully in the path that God has shown us. And we should also look up to inspiration ourselves, from the two great saints whose feasts we are celebrating today.

First of all, St. Louis, also known as St. Louis IX, King of France was one of the great Medieval kings of Christendom, and one of the few kings that were canonised as a saint. St. Louis was remembered during his long reign as a great and holy king, as a ruler who was always caring for the well-being of his people, always doing his best to improve their livelihood and strengthening the foundations of the state while reforming the society and governance of the nation.

And as a most faithful Christian King, St. Louis also dedicated a lot of effort to support the Church and its growth, ensuring the unity of the faithful, the eradication of heresies and divisions within the Church, encouragement of missionaries to lead the people to the truth, establishment of parishes and monasteries among many others. And the King himself led a great Crusade to the Holy Land which he unfortunately was unable to complete, as he passed away on the way in Tunis.

Nonetheless, we have seen the great dedication with which St. Louis had given himself, for the betterment of the people entrusted to him and for the benefit of the Church. Then, the other saint whose feast we are celebrating today, namely St. Joseph Calasanz similarly also showed us all what it means to be a dedicated Christian in all things, as he was remembered for his commitment to the poor and the needy, in his work in establishing free education to the poor, and as a priest who founded the Order of the Poor Clerics Regular, also known as the Piarists.

St. Joseph Calasanz and his role in founding the Piarists contributed immensely to the establishment of free education and better schools and opportunities for the poor children, and many of these were helped by the loving care showed by the Piarist priests and others who had contributed, inspired by the examples set by St. Joseph Calasanz. This saint had done things that were not well accepted at his time, and nonetheless, he still did his best, giving his all to the mission and calling he has embraced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing to follow the examples set by these two most faithful saints of God? Are we willing to listen to the Lord and walk ever more devotedly in His path from now on? This is our calling as Christians, and we should embrace it most wholeheartedly, and not to give in to the temptations of our desires and pride, or to give in to fears, doubts or uncertainties. Let us all trust in the Lord always, and be His genuine and loving witnesses in our world today, in everything we say and do, even in the smallest of things. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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