Tuesday, 23 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the word of God in the Scriptures we are all reminded of just how small we are before God, and everything happens by God’s grace and will. Although we may not know it yet, but all things will happen as God willed and ordained it to be. And through what we have heard today, we are free to choose our course of action, in living our lives and whether we want to follow the Lord or not.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Daniel we heard of the dream that king Nebuchadnezzar received from God. He saw in that dream a great statue made from different parts and materials, and then a very large boulder, a massive stone that came down upon the great statue and crushed it all to rubble. The king was anxious to find out the meaning of his dream, and eventually asked Daniel, the exiled Israelite for the explanation of his dream.

In Daniel’s detailed explanation that we heard in our first reading today, essentially he told Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of the Babylonian Empire and the conqueror of many nations that his kingdom, dynasty and dominion would not last very long and would soon fall and replaced by other kingdoms and rulers. And this was not just a mere false illusion or dream, as it would soon become a reality.

King Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud and vain ruler, as well as highly ambitious in his actions, desiring to subjugate more and more people and nations. He once built a great golden statue in his own image and demanded all of his numerous subjects to bow down, kneel and worship that golden statue, as if he made himself divine and like that of a god. Although this was not uncommon at that time, but the manner with which Nebuchadnezzar carried it out stood out from the others.

Hence, that vision was a clear reminder from the Lord to the proud Nebuchadnezzar, the very same one who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of God built by King Solomon there, that his power and authority were not without bounds and limits. As haughty, prideful, arrogant and great he was, in the end, he was just a mortal man like any other. His time and his kingdom, no matter how glorious it was, would eventually be eclipsed by others.

In the end then there was that great boulder, a giant rock that destroyed everything. What was that? It was in fact reminiscent of what the Lord Himself told His disciples in our Gospel passage today. In that occasion, the Lord foretold the coming destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. That Temple was built by the returning exiles of Babylon, that returned after the destruction of the same Babylonian Empire that was established by King Nebuchadnezzar. It was enlarged and expanded by King Herod the Great, which building still happened during the ministry of the Lord, after many decades of construction.

And it would come to pass, all that the Lord had predicted. That Temple had become a symbol of pride for the Jewish leaders and in the end, became significant source of oppression and persecution for the true believers of Christ. The Temple authorities often made it very difficult for the disciples and the early Christian missionaries to do their work. However, their dominion and power did not last, and in the end, the Lord’s will and works prevailed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is therefore a reminder for us that in the end, God has control over everything in this world and He has dominion over all things. We must not be haughty and prideful, thinking that we can do whatever we want without any need for concern and discernment. All that we say and do, we must understand that God is always around us, guiding us and leading us to do His will. But mankind often tried to do their own way, and many if not most of them eventually ended up being disappointed and failed.

Today, we should reflect on the lives of today’s saints, namely Pope St. Clement I and St. Columban the Abbot whose lives can be inspiration for us to live a worthy and God-centric Christian lives. We should be inspired by their faith and dedication, and do not allow our wicked and selfish desires to drive us to selfish and immoral actions that are against the will and teachings of God. Let us discern carefully our actions based on their examples.

Pope St. Clement I was one of the early successors of St. Peter the Apostle as the Pope and Vicar of Christ, as the Bishop of Rome and leader of the entire Universal Church. He was remembered for his great role in advancing the cause of the Church and in establishing solid foundations for the Church in various communities, by his numerous works and letters to the various Church communities all over Christendom. And he also died as a great martyr defending his faith under persecution from the Roman Emperors and government.

Meanwhile, St. Columban the Abbot was a renowned saint who was an Irish missionary credited with the foundation of several monasteries in mainland Europe among the Germanic successor kingdoms of the Western Roman Empire during the chaotic early years of the so-called Dark Ages. He worked hard among the people preaching about the Lord and building religious communities that quickly became popular and many joined those communities he established to seek God and His peace, and dedicating themselves and their lives to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these two saints in their own way have shown us how we ought to be living our lives as Christians, filled with love for the Lord and focus on Him, and not on our own selfish desires and ambitions. Let us all therefore discern carefully how we are going to proceed in our lives from now on, and seek to glorify the Lord by our lives to the best of our abilities. May God be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us, now and always. Amen.

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