Wednesday, 17 November 2021 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all presented with the tale of the seven brothers and their mother who were persecuted for their faith by the Seleucid King, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. They were forced to do things that were against the Law of God. Then in our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people using the parable of the silver talents to explain what each of His disciples and followers had to do with their faith.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story from the Book of the Maccabees, continuing with the tale of persecution of the Jewish faithful during King Antiochus’ reign, who was determined in his megalomania and ego to stamp out any dissent and any other religious expressions, set and bound to introduce and enforce Greek customs and practices on the people of his domain and realm, including that of the descendants of the Israelites in the land of Judea, Galilee and elsewhere. This resulted in the great persecution which we had heard for the past few days.

In that particular occasion mentioned today, the seven brothers remained firm in their faith and dedication to the Lord, committed themselves wholeheartedly to Him despite the sufferings and trials that they were then facing, facing certain death and terrible suffering just as they approached martyrdom for the Lord. They all died one by one before their own mother who saw their courage and faith in God. And when the King tried to persuade the last son and asking the mother to ask her son to apostatise, the mother instead encouraged her son to remain faithful.

In any case, all the seven sons and their own mother were all martyred for their great faith, as they committed themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, and not wishing to corrupt themselves with the corruption of sin and disobedience against God. They chose to suffer and die rather than to commit sin against God, and to stand firm against those who persecuted them, knowing that God was with them and that their sufferings and deaths would not be in vain, as their rewards would be great in Heaven.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the parable of the silver talents as described by the Lord, in which the Lord spoke of a king and master who entrusted his servants some amount of wealth in the form of silver talents that were then invested by two of them, who received ten and five silver talents each, while the last servant who received one talent of silver kept the silver hidden and did not do anything to it at all. At the time of the master’s return, he called for a reckoning from his servants of the silver talents that he had entrusted to them.

And we heard how the master praised the first two servants for having doubled what they had received by investing them, putting their hard work and efforts on the possessions entrusted to them, and therefore he entrusted to them even more things as he knew that those servants could be trusted and were worthy and hardworking. On the contrary, the servant who did not do anything to his silver talent was punished and had his silver taken away from him to be entrusted to the one more trustworthy than he was.

Coupled this with what the master then said, that to those who have been entrusted a lot, a lot will be expected, all of us therefore are reminded that each and every one of us as Christians have to dedicate ourselves and everything that God has blessed and granted us all, we have to commit to action and contributions for the greater glory of God. It means that we cannot be idle or complacent with the way that we live our lives, or else, just like the servant who did nothing to the silver talent entrusted to him, then whatever we have received, will be taken away from us and we will have no part in God’s kingdom.

Today, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us have the responsibility to live faithfully in accordance with the laws and customs, the ways and the many other directions that God has provided for us through His Church and through all the gentle reminders that He has given to us all these while. And we should be inspired today by one of the Lord’s great saints, whose feast we are celebrating, namely that of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a holy woman and a most devout servant of God.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a princess of Hungary who was betrothed and married at a young age to the lord of Thuringia in Germany. She was influenced by St. Francis of Assisi and other contemporary saints and holy people to lead a life that is virtuous and worthy of God. She spent a lot of effort in being charitable and in taking care of the need of the people in her husband’s realm, which the latter approved without much of a problem. She remained truly faithful even after her husband’s early death in the Crusades, in which St. Elizabeth dedicated herself to a celibate, religious life.

Despite the pressures from the people surrounding her and from her family for her to remarry for advancing their political aims, St. Elizabeth of Hungary remained adamant in living a holy and celibate life, dedicating her time and effort to serve the Lord through prayer and charity. She was well remembered and respected for her many contributions to the poor and for her care and love for the less fortunate ones in her community. It was also told that miracles also happened throughout her lives. She died at a young age, and miracles happened soon after.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to commit ourselves faithfully in the same manner as St. Elizabeth of Hungary had done? This wonderful and holy predecessor of ours had committed herself and her life to the Lord and we should do well to do the same with our own, reminding ourselves of the responsibilities that we all have. Let us all turn towards the Lord with a renewed faith and conviction, and dedicate ourselves to work for His greater glory from now on and always. Amen.

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