Thursday, 3 February 2022 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, and St. Ansgar, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Word of God being spoken to us through the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to remember the love which God has shown us His beloved people and the mission which he has entrusted to each and every one of us in reaching out to our fellow men and women, and we have to do our part to reach out to others and to proclaim to them the truth of God by our own exemplary actions and life. That is how each and every one of us are expected to do as the Lord’s disciples and faithful followers.

In our first reading today, we heard from the first Book of Kings relating to us the story of the transmission of rule, power and kingship from David, the famous king of Israel to his son, Solomon, whom God had chosen to succeed him in leading the people of Israel. King David reminded Solomon of the obligation and the expectation for him to follow in the path of the Lord and His Law. David reminded Solomon how God has shown His kindness and blessings to the people of Israel and how He has blessed David himself and promised to be with His family and house forever.

The Lord will continue to bless His people and Solomon and his rule and kingdom, just as David has been blessed. But, if they fell into sin and disobeyed God, then they would have to endure the consequences of their sins. God will however forgive them if they are to repent from their sinful ways and desire to return to His loving embrace. He has always loved us and desired for us to be reconciled to Him, sending His servants and messengers to reach out to us and to help us find our way to Him. That is what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today.

For in the Gospel today, we heard the Lord sending out Apostles two by two out to visit the various places that He wanted them to minister in, and often that these were the places where He Himself would come to visit. He sent them to those places just by themselves and told them not to take excessive equipments and preparations with them, and instead asked them to depend on the goodwill of the people they visited because God wanted them to depend not on their own power or might, on their own resources and goods that they could achieve success in their ministry.

Instead, God reminded them all that it is because of Him and His presence guiding them throughout the way, that the Apostles had achieved great accomplishments and successes throughout their work. It was by the power of God that they had healed the sic, cast out the demons and it was by the love and mercy of God that they had touched the hearts and minds of many who had seen the works of God and His servants, answering the Lord’s call that they too have come to believe in Him and became His followers.

Through what we have heard in today’s Scripture readings, we are all reminded that we have been entrusted with the gifts and talents from God, for us to use for the good cause of the Lord and to follow His commandments and Law. We are all called to be righteous like how David reminded Solomon to be obedient to God and righteous in his actions, and just as how the Lord told His Twelve Apostles to do His will and to depend not on their own strength and power, but rather by trusting in God and His love and providence throughout their ministry.

And each one of us have also been entrusted with the same mission by the Lord, to be the witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection in our communities today. We have been called to follow the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly, and we have a lot of good examples to follow on, based on the inspirations from the saints. We should therefore do what our holy predecessors, namely St. Blaise and St. Ansgar, whose feast day we are celebrating today. St. Blaise was a martyr and bishop of the Church, while St. Ansgar was remembered as a great bishop and missionary of the Church, the Apostle to the Germans.

St. Blaise was the Bishop of Sebastea in Asia Minor during the late era of Roman Empire, living during the time of the reforms and upheavals among Christians under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his successors. The Christian faithful endured a particularly brutal persecution, the last of the great waves of persecutions against Christians, which culminated in the last round of persecution after the time of the Emperor Diocletian, when the Emperor Licinius in his rivalry with the Emperor Constantine the Great persecuted the Christians in his territory, which led to the martyrdom of many including that of St. Blaise.

St. Blaise was a great bishop, wholly dedicated to his flock, spending a lot of time and effort through his virtues and works, and in the many miracles accorded to him, to whom a lot of people flocked seeking physical and spiritual healing. Later on, he was arrested, tortured and eventually martyred by the local Roman governor, beheaded for his faith. Through this martyrdom and his earlier care for the ailments of the people, St. Blaise has been well known to this day for the special ‘Blessing of St. Blaise’ for the ailment of the throat.

Meanwhile, St. Ansgar was a renowned missionary who was sent to the lands of the Saxons in the northern parts of Germany which was then still mostly following pagan ways. He converted many among the pagans through his works and devoted his life to the flock entrusted under his care. He helped to build a strong and firm foundation of the Church in that region, and did a lot of work to reach out to the people who have yet to believe in Christ. His efforts earned rich dividends although he had to endure a lot of trials and challenges in doing so. But he never gave up and kept on doing his best, and many came to God’s salvation through him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by these many good examples and inspiration in faith. Let us do what we can in our daily lives to be role models for each other. May the Lord bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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