Thursday, 7 April 2022 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Priest (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 all reminded of how God has made a Covenant with Abraham, our father in faith, and how the same Covenant has been renewed and established anew again and again, until the time when Christ, Our Lord and Saviour came into this world and accomplished the works that His heavenly Father has entrusted to Him. He has come into our midst and established with us a new, everlasting and eternal Covenant that He sealed with the offering and outpouring of His own Most Precious Blood and the shedding of His Most Precious Body on the Altar of the Cross. We are called to reflect on this as we draw ever closer to the beginning of Holy Week, the time when we are going to commemorate the events surrounding Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Genesis, we heard of the Lord making the Covenant with Abraham, who was then still known as Abram, a man who came from the far-off region of Mesopotamia, following the commands and call of God into the land of Canaan, the land which God then promised to him and his descendants to be their own land. Abram then did not yet have a son that will carry on his name and legacy, but God promised him that he would be the father of many nations, through his son Isaac, the one that God would give to him in due time, but which then was yet unknown to Abram. Abram trusted in the Lord and although technically he and his wife, both of whom had been advanced in age, could no longer bear a child anymore, but he trusted in the Lord and believed in His words and promises.

That is why God chose to made a Covenant between Himself and Abram, choosing him and set him apart from any other men and women who were his contemporaries at that time. God chose Abram because He knew everything in his heart and mind, and how Abram truly had faith in Him and trusted in Him wholeheartedly. God sees what is in man’s heart, even to the deepest of their hearts and beings. In Abram, God found a truly righteous man worthy of becoming the one with whom He made a Covenant with. Through Abraham, the salvation of all of His beloved people would come, as it has been planned all along from the very beginning.

Thus, Abram made a Covenant with God and he devoted himself to God, with a new life blessed by God, as Abraham the righteous and just, the beloved and chosen one of God, whose descendants were numerous and many, and all of us who call the Lord as our Master, we also call Abraham as our father in faith. All of us share with him this faith which he had first shown all those years ago, dedicating himself to the Lord and followed Him wherever He called him to follow and walk to. All of us are therefore also expected to follow the Lord wholeheartedly in the same manner, giving our time, effort and attention to be ever faithful as disciples and followers of His.

However, as we heard from our Gospel passage today, it is often that many of us have failed to do this as shown by the attitude of the Jewish people in Judea and Jerusalem, especially among their leaders and elders, the chief priests and the Pharisees, who adamantly refused to listen to the Lord or believed in Him despite all the things that they had heard, seen and witnessed themselves through the Lord’s many miracles and works among the people. The Lord has come amongst His people to reveal His truth among them, and to call them to return to Him, and yet, because they were truly stubborn, they refused to believe in Him and hardened their hearts and minds.

They were all too caught up by their pride and ego, that they failed to realise the extent of their infidelity and stubbornness. They preferred to remain in their rebellious state as they thought that they could not have been wrong or mistaken, and they did not like it when others came to them revealing of how vulnerable and misguided they had been. Thus, unlike what had happened in Abraham’s case, his descendants ironically and unfortunately refused to trust in the Lord and His love and truth. While Abraham devoted himself to the Lord and followed Him with all of his heart, the same could not be said of his descendants, and thus, the Lord rightly rebuked them for that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures, we are all reminded that we are to follow the Lord and be committed to Him, to the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us. The Lord has called us to follow Him, and how are we going to respond to Him? Are we going to continue to live in the path of sin and evil, or are we committed to a change in our way of life, and are we willing to walk with God from now on, in obeying Him and dedicating ourselves to His truth? Are we going to be good role models who can show others how we can be good Christians, as good disciples and children of God?

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle, the renowned founder of the Brothers of Christian School, a religious order and fraternity of men committed to the advancement of Christian education all throughout the world. St. John Baptist de la Salle was a priest and canon of the Cathedral of Reims who was called to minister to the needs of the needy, and seeing the terrible state of education of especially young Christians all around him, he decided to embark on a new ministry, in dedicating himself to the needs of those who are last, lost and least, especially those who are struggling in their youth and education.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. John Baptist de la Salle dedicated himself and his whole life for the benefit of many others who are in need of help, all of us should do whatever we can to contribute to others all around us as well. The Lord has called us all to follow Him and we should respond to Him in the same way that St. John Baptist de la Salle and many other of our holy predecessors had done. Are we willing and able to commit our lives in the same way too? The choice is really ours if we want to follow Him and to spend our time and effort in walking down His path.

Let us all therefore remind ourselves of the great faith that Abraham, our father in faith, St. John the Baptist de la Salle, our holy predecessor and many other holy men and women who have inspired us all. May all of us be like them as well in faith, and grow ever stronger in our commitment and dedication to live our lives in accordance with God’s will, now and always, evermore. Amen.

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