Monday, 7 March 2022 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to remember that as Christians, we are all bound by God’s Law and Covenant, through which we are all expected to live in accordance with the path that He has shown to us all, through His Church, His Law and commandments. And everything that we have done, or fail to do, will be judged upon us at the moment of the Last Judgment as we have been reminded of today.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Leviticus, we heard of the words that God spoke to His people through Moses, as He instructed them all to be faithful and obedient to Him, to follow His Law and commandments, to be truly devoted to His path and be genuinely faithful in all things and not merely paying lip service to Him. They are all called to be righteous and full of virtues in life, not to be selfish and instead be loving and selfless in all of their ways, caring for others who are in need and be committed to be good brothers and sisters in the same Lord.

The Lord reminded His people not to be oppressive, manipulative and exploitative to others, to enrich and make oneself feel good on the sufferings of others. That was what we mankind have often done, and many of us have acted in ways that strive to preserve our own selfish needs and wants, ignoring the needs of others, and actually abusing the freedom given to us to cause others to suffer for our own benefits. God was saying that if we are all to be His people and His followers, then this cannot be the path that we are walking on, as His disciples, followers and people are those who are just and loving, lacking in hatred, anger and vengeance.

In our Gospel passage today, this sentiment is echoed and emphasised again to us as we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people gathered to listen to Him, regarding the time of the final or the Last Judgment, when the Lord Himself, as the great Judge of all the living and the dead, from all time and existence, will judge all of them, all by their deeds and merits, by their actions and virtues, as well as by their wickedness and evils, and by their failures to do what is good and virtuous whenever they could have done so.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to do what our Lord Himself had taught us to do, to be good Christians in all things, and to do whatever we can to help our fellow brothers and sisters, to be kind and loving to them, showing them compassion and care, attention and the genuine affection that we should show our fellow brethren. The Lord has called on all of us to reach out to others and to show them our love and concern. For it is not only by our wickedness and evil acts that we will be judged against, but also by our failures to do what is right and just, good and worthy for us as Christians.

We are reminded today that just as there are sins of action, there are also sins of omission. These sins are caused by our deliberate and conscious refusal to do what is right, in showing love, compassion and care, or help to others when one is perfectly able to do so. And all these shall be judged against us on the Day of Judgment. To be Christians means that we have to be active in living our lives with faith, and to be dedicated in loving God and in loving our fellow men and women, our brethren, and to do what we can to help one another whenever we can. We cannot be idle in living our lives and faith.

Today, we should also be inspired by St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, whose feasts we are celebrating. Both St. Perpetua and St. Felicity were great and faithful servants of God who according to the Church traditions were catechumens who held onto their faith in God despite the threats and the sufferings that they had to endure for being faithful to God. St. Perpetua was a noblewoman while St. Felicity was a pregnant slave at that time, and both were imprisoned at the order of the Roman Emperor, who endured great physical sufferings before they were eventually martyred for their faith. Through their actions, both saints had shown their great faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard today from the Scriptures and from inspiring lives of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, all of us are called to be more faithful to God and to dedicate ourselves to Him and to our fellow men. This season of Lent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do so, as this is the time and moment for us to deepen our relationship with God, to rid ourselves off the excesses of worldly corruptions and the sins that have weighed us down all these while. We are all called to remember the Lord and our faith in Him, to turn back to Him with contrite hearts and sincere desire to be reconciled with Him.

Let us all therefore, through our Lenten observances, continue to draw ever closer to God and His presence. Let us all through our Lenten practices, through our fast and abstinence, resist the temptations of sin and evil, and through our charity and almsgiving, be ever more generous in giving and sharing not only material goods and help to others in need, but even our love, care, time and attention to those who lack them. Let us walk ever more faithfully in the Lord’s presence, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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