Monday, 21 February 2022 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded as Christians that we need to be more humble and be more willing to listen to the Lord, to trust in His Wisdom and judgment, and not to allow our ambitions, our human desires, the jealousy and fear in our hearts and minds from misleading us down the wrong path. We must be vigilant lest we end up allowing those things from preventing us in doing the will of God and obeying Him wholeheartedly as we should.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. James the Apostle in which the Apostle spoke of the importance for all of us as Christians to be humble and be exemplary in our lives, resisting the temptations of pride, ego and jealousy, of human ambition and the desires of worldly glory. He reminded all Christian faithful to rid themselves of all these things which could lead them to sin against God because this caused them to bring hurt to others, in doing things that were meant to protect their own self-interests, all of which are contrary to the teachings of the Lord.

That is why, St. James told them and all of us to put our trust instead on the Wisdom of God, the truth and and the virtues that came from God, and which He has freely bestowed and given unto us. If we depend solely on our own strength and power, then very quickly we will realise that we will easily fall into the many temptations present all around us. That is why we have to heed the Lord’s words and calling as He calls us to turn our backs against the allures of sin and evil, and to embrace His love, His truth and wisdom.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people regarding how His disciples could not drive away the evil spirits from the son of a man who brought him to the disciples to be healed. The Lord had indeed sent His disciples to go before Him and carry out His works. To them the Lord had entrusted the authority and power even over demons and evil spirits, the ability to conduct miracles and to heal people from their physical and spiritual afflictions.

However, as implied from the accounts of the Gospel, it was likely that the disciples to whom the man had entrusted his evil spirits possessed son had grown proud of their achievements and works, and they might have thought that their miracles and all the wonders that they did were because of their own greatness and power. Thus, through pride and ego, they had fallen into the traps of the devil, and became greedy and failed to trust in the Lord in Whose Name they were doing their works. Hence, that was how they likely failed to cast out those evil spirits.

The Lord reminded all of them and us as well, that everything we have came from the Lord, all the graces and blessings, all power and might, and hence, we have to humble ourselves and ask Him for His guidance and strength, instead of being proud and thinking that every successes we have achieved, we have done it by ourselves. The truth is indeed that for every successes we have achieved, it was all because God was at our side, guiding us and strengthening us along the way, even if we may not have realised it, and even if we have failed to appreciate His blessings and guidance, and ignored Him.

Today, all of us are called to deepen our trust in the Lord and renew our relationships with Him. The Lord Himself said, that they had to pray and commit themselves to prayer, because it meant that those disciples had not been in tune with the Lord, and had not truly developed a strong and genuine relationship with God. The Lord has reminded us all to maintain that relationship that we ought to have with Him so that we may not end up losing our path in life and falling deeper and deeper into sin and evil.

That is why today we should heed the good examples set by our holy predecessor, whose feast we are celebrating, namely that of St. Peter Damian, holy bishop and Doctor of the Church. St. Peter Damian was a renowned Benedictine monk and a great reformer of the Church, who was appointed as a Cardinal of the Church and as a close assistant and confidant of Pope Leo IX. He was entrusted with the task of reforming the Church together with other leaders of the Church, resisting the temptations of the world to corrupt the clergy and the members of the Church. These were the same corruptions caused by pride, ego, ambition and greed mentioned by St. James in our first reading today.

To that extent, he worked on books and resources that inspired the struggle and efforts to reform the Church, cleansing it from the many accumulated years of simony and other heinous and wicked actions of the clergy and laity alike, purifying the Church from many corrupt influences. He worked among many secular and religious leaders to ensure that the reform efforts could proceed and expand, despite the many challenges and opposition that he and the Pope and other leaders had to face in the reforms they had persevered through.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by the great faith and courage that St. Peter Damian and many other of our holy predecessors had shown. Let us all devote our time, effort and attention to live our lives ever more worthily of God, and trust in Him more. We have to deepen our relationship with God, spending more time with Him, be more humble and listen to Him more instead of listening to the whims of our pride, ego, ambition and hubris. All of those will only lead to our downfall, and we should not allow ourselves be misled by them.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully and to be ever greater examples of virtues and faith in life. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and grow ever more in our faith in Him, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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