Tuesday, 5 July 2022 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Zaccaria, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord as contained in the Scriptures, we are presented with the sins that we have often committed in life, as shown in what the people of Israel had done in the past, and how God is freeing us all from the bondage to those attachments to evil, wickedness and sin. Through Christ, His beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour, God had brought His salvation and grace upon us, and He has shown us the path towards eternal life and joy through Him. Now, the question is for us Christians, is how do we respond then to His call for us?

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Hosea on all the wickedness that the Israelites in the northern kingdom centred at Samaria had done, in their rebellion against God. The kings and the people chose to worship pagan idols, the golden calf of king Jeroboam, the first to mislead the Israelites into sin, and then Baal and Asherah and many other Canaanite gods, on top of persecuting the many prophets and messengers that God had patiently sent into their midst to help them to rediscover the right path in life. They stubbornly refused the Lord and His messengers, and shut the doors of their hearts and minds against Him.

Thus, through what we heard in our reading passage today, we are all reminded that while God’s mercy, compassion and love are truly vast and boundless, and while God is ever patient, but He also wants us to know that sin has no place before Him, and we cannot ignore those sins, or else they will threaten to drag us off the path towards God’s salvation. Sin is a terrible force that corrupts us and makes us defiled and unworthy of God, and God alone can heal us from this affliction through His forgiveness and grace. Yet, it also depends on us accepting and embracing His love and mercy.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to the Pharisees and to His disciples at the time when He was accused by the Pharisees of colluding with the prince of demons in His miraculous healing and exorcism of the man who was possessed by evil spirits. Those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were among the most educated and influential members of the community, but they were also those who were the most vocal in their opposition against God, against His works and efforts. Despite everything that the prophets had proclaimed and spoken regarding Him, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to see the truth.

And they also refused to open their hearts and minds to believe in God, much as how the people of Israel at the time of the prophet Hosea and before that had been unfaithful, stubborn and wicked in their actions. Much of this can be attributed to pride, ego and greed, all of which had often led mankind to their fall, all throughout history. Nonetheless, the Lord continued to persevere through His mission, reaching out to the people, who were described in our Gospel today, as likened to a flock of sheep without a shepherd. The Lord took pity of them, loving them and showed them His truth, teaching them and guiding them to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, therefore we are all reminded that all of us must be ever vigilant against sin, and we have to always be wary that we do not fall into the temptations to turn away from God and His path. We should not allow the pressures and the coercions of this world and the allures of sin to force us to embrace the ways of the world. There will be plenty of avenues through which Satan and his followers will try to strike at us, trying to turn us towards the path of sin and evil. We have to resist them and entrust ourselves in the Lord, and follow Him with commitment.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Zaccaria, a renowned priest and founder of the religious order of the Barnabites, and also a devout and zealous preacher of the faith, ever hard at work to spread the word of God, His truth and love to the people he had ministered to. He cared for the needs of the people, and making popular devotions such as the devotion to the Passion of the Lord, the Holy Eucharist and propagation religious vocations among the people and the greater activity and contribution from the laity. St. Anthony Zaccaria devoted his life to God and showed his fellow brothers and sisters what it truly means to be Christians, to be disciples of the Lord.

Let us all therefore also seek to glorify God and to proclaim His truth and love in our respective communities today. And let us all distance ourselves from sin and wickedness, and let us follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, and not be distracted any longer by the worldly temptations, by the idols of desires and worldly glory among other things. Instead, let us all draw ever closer to God and do our very best to be inspiration and role models to one another, so that we may help to bring God’s truth, love and salvation to more and more people out there, as genuine Christians, now and always. Amen.

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