Monday, 22 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures all of us are presented with the story of Daniel, the servant of God and his three friends, who were those brought from the land of Israel to the land of Babylon in their youth at the end of the kingdom of Judah. We heard how Daniel and his friends were brought into the court of the king of Babylon and eventually became his trusted advisers. Then in our Gospel passage today we heard the story of a poor widow who gave a very small offering from her poverty to the Temple treasury, and her example was praised by the Lord before His own disciples.

In that first reading we heard regarding Daniel and his friends, those four people were brought as exiles from their homeland to a far-off distant, strange and foreign land that they did not know at all. They mostly had nothing with them, uprooted from the land of their ancestors, likely separated or even having lost their own families as well. They had little or nothing with them, save their faith in God, that we all heard in how they remained firm in their faith despite the king’s steward persuading them to eat from the unclean food prepared for them.

Like the poor widow mentioned in the Gospel passage today, Daniel and his friends had little with them, a material poverty and lacking everything. Yet, they were full of faith and dedication to the Lord. The poor widow still chose to give to the Lord from whatever little that she had remained with her. In the same way, Daniel and his friends gave to the Lord from whatever little they had, humbled and humiliated they had been as a nation and people, and yet, they represented Israel’s remorse and desire to seek the Lord anew.

And this is the kind of faith that the Lord approved, brothers and sisters in Christ. He wants faith that is not just superficial and lacking in depth, but instead faith that is genuine and true, filled with commitment. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are called to do. We cannot be just paying lip service to the Lord and making empty proclamations of faith. Without real and genuine love for the Lord, then we are having an empty and meaningless faith that is not what is expected of us.

Today, all of us are therefore reminded to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to renew our commitment to Him, so that in our every actions and deeds, our words and interactions from now on, we will always strive to glorify God and serve Him to the best of our abilities. We are all called to give our time and effort, whenever we can, even when we ourselves have little to spare. If we truly love the Lord with all of our hearts, certainly we can give and offer Him everything we have without doubt and fear.

Today, we should also be inspired by yet another great role model and example that we can follow, in our Christian living. That is because today we mark the feast of the great and renowned St. Cecilia, the Patron of Church music and a holy virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia devoted herself thoroughly to the Lord and suffered greatly for that, and we should be inspired by her never-ending dedication and commitment to the Lord. And we should also do the same in our own lives as well.

St. Cecilia was a Roman noblewoman who had made vow of virginity before God. But she was forced by her family to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. She dedicated herself to God at her marriage and told her husband Valerian that he could not consummate their marriage as an Angel of the Lord was watching over her. When he asked for proof of the Angel, St. Cecilia told him to go to the Appian Way to see the Angel after being baptised by the Pope, and in the end, he did see the Angel after following St. Cecilia’s instructions.

In the end, it was told that St. Cecilia and her husband, as well as her husband’s brother were all martyred by the Roman prefect. They all suffered martyrdom, and it was indeed amazing how St. Cecilia’s faith was so great and her commitment to the Lord so noble that these inspired her husband and others to seek the Lord as well and to remain faithful to Him even through sufferings and trials, and even unto death and martyrdom.

They have given everything to God, and how about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to follow in their footsteps and love the Lord with total commitment and devotion from now on if we have not yet done so? Let us discern carefully how we are going to live our lives as true and dedicated Christians in each and every moments of our living presence here in this world. May all of us draw ever closer to God and find our way to Him, following Him in the manner that Daniel and his friends, as well as St. Cecilia and many others had followed Him. Amen.

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