Thursday, 17 March 2022 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded of how our actions in this life in this world can have great consequences for us in the future, a consequence that can last for eternity. As we continue to progress through this season of Lent, today’s readings therefore aptly reminded us of this reality, so that we can make a conscious effort to choose the right path for us before it is too late for us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in which the fates of the righteous man and the wicked man were put plainly before everyone. The ones who have faith in the Lord and believed in Him shall always have the blessings and grace of God, with God as their firm foundation and assurance, with Him as their source of strength and hope. Meanwhile, the wicked shall never find their true happiness and satisfaction, unless they seek the Lord and turn towards Him wholeheartedly.

This is a reminder to all of us that following the Lord requires us to distance ourselves from the path of evil and wickedness, of evil and selfishness, distancing ourselves from all the desires and temptations of the world. We have to resist our desire to enjoy the pleasures of worldly life and happiness, and depending on all those wealth, glory, power, and any other worldly means to achieve our personal satisfaction, or else, we may end up falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the well-known story in the Lord’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man, in which, Lazarus, the poor man and a rich man whose house Lazarus was often begging at, both died at the same time. The Lord highlighted in that story just how different their fates ended up, as Lazarus enjoyed a great new life in Heaven, in the presence of Abraham and the saints, while the rich man suffers for eternity in the eternal fires of hell, suffering for all the sins he had committed.

This is a reminder of how we can easily ignore the needs and the plight of the needy in our midst, especially when we are too busy and preoccupied by ourselves, our desires, greed and the many temptations surrounding us. The rich man might not have directly hurt or persecuted Lazarus, the poor man sitting by his gates. However, when he could have at least shared even the scraps of bread and food from the excesses that he had, he did not do so, and allowed Lazarus to perish out there.

That is what we as Christians should guard ourselves against, as we continue to progress through this season of Lent, we have to remind ourselves not only just to avoid committing sins and wicked deeds, that are the sins of action, we also have to avoid committing the sins of omission, that is to do nothing and to consciously ignore our obligations and our chance to help, when the Lord presented the opportunity before us. There are a lot of people out there who still need our help, and we have to reach out to them.

Otherwise, as we all heard and knew well, the fate of the rich man may very well be ours as well. If we allow ourselves to be blinded and swayed by worldly temptations, of the riches and power, of glory and fame, of all the pleasures and satisfactions, all that can distract us from the path of the Lord’s righteousness and justice, then we may end up really falling into that path towards eternal damnation. We are reminded that the fate that awaits us after death is one that is everlasting.

Today, we should model ourselves based on the very popular and renowned saint whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. Patrick, the well-known Patron Saint of Ireland, the one who first brought the faith to Ireland and worked to build the foundation of the Church and the Christian faith to that island. Countless peoples were converted by his works and efforts, and thanks to his faith and dedication, many people even to this day can trace their faith and that of their ancestors’ to him.

St. Patrick had an early brush with Ireland when in his youth he was actually captured and enslaved by Irish pirates, and after having been enslaved for several years, he finally managed to escape and returned to his family. However, this did not stop him to return to Ireland later on after he had taken up the clerical life and became a priest. He was sent back as a missionary to Ireland, sent to establish the Church and the influence of the faith in that still pagan island. St. Patrick laboured hard for many years, risking his life at times, to spread the word and truth of God to the Irish.

Through his great and tireless efforts, his patience and clarity in teachings and through the wisdom and guidance from God, St. Patrick managed to bring countless people in Ireland into the faith, and he established the first hierarchy and structure of the Church in Ireland, himself being one of the first bishops in Ireland. He baptised many people and influenced the life of so many people, and his faith inspired many even long after his passing from this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that great faith which St. Patrick had shown is what all of us have been called to have as well. The Lord has given us the same mission and the gifts and means to carry out His will. Are we going to follow the examples of St. Patrick in being faithful and obedient to God? Or are we instead going to be like the rich man in the Lord’s parable of Lazarus and the rich man? Let us consider and discern these things carefully in our hearts and minds, brothers and sisters in Christ.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless and guide us in our journey of faith, that we may always ever be committed to Him, to the very end. May God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

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