Tuesday, 2 August 2022 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop, and St. Peter Julian Eymard, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops and Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to believe in God and to trust in Him, despite all the challenges and trials that we may have to face and endure throughout our journeys of faith and life. Each and every one of us are called to devote our time, effort and attention to the Lord, and to put our trust in Him that He will guide us through the ups and downs of this life we have in this world, and in the end, we shall be triumphant with Him, hand in hand. We shall not be disappointed if we have faith in the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the Lord speaking to us from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in which the prophet spoke of God’s words to His people, the Israelites particularly in Judah, a people who had become wayward in their ways, wicked in their deeds and who had fallen away from the path of God’s righteousness. They had abandoned God, His Law and commandments, persecuting all those whom God had sent to them to remind and call them to repentance. As such, God said that by their own wickedness and deeds, they would be judged and would have to suffer the consequences of their sins.

But at the same time, just as the Lord has spoken the ominous words of warning and voicing out His displeasure at the wickedness of His people, He also reaffirmed them in His love, reminding them that while He disapproved of and hated their sins, and would discipline them for their misbehaviours, ultimately, His love for them was still and would still be greater than His disgust for their sins. He would gather them back and be reunited and reconciled with them. Through their sincere repentance and desire to return to Him, God would forgive His people and bring them all back to His loving embrace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the famous story of how the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples in the middle of a great storm by the lake, in which the disciples’ boat was travelling in. The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves were so intense that the boat was in real danger of being sunk, and the disciples must have been very terrified. It was then that the Lord miraculously appeared before them, in the flesh, as He walked towards them on the raging waters. As we heard from the Gospel, the disciples were initially frightened and spooked out, thinking that they had seen a ghost.

The Lord reassured His disciples and told them all that it was Him indeed, and St. Peter then jumped into the water, walking towards Him, both with faith and desire to come to the Lord as well as doubt and uncertainties, thinking that if it was indeed the Lord, then he would be able to walk on the water towards Him. St. Peter walked towards the Lord for a few steps, miraculously able to walk on the water. However, it was then told that he wavered, likely overwhelmed by fear and doubt, which made him to begin to sink into the water, and he cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord helped St. Peter out and chided him for his lack of faith in Him and for his doubts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the story of Jesus walking in the water to His disciples, and how He made St. Peter walked on the water and how He assisted him afterwards, all of us are reminded that each one of us should not be afraid of the challenges and trials of the world, as the Lord is and will always be by our side, helping us to endure through the many challenges and trials that we may have to face throughout life. The boat represents all of us, God’s people and His Church, while the disciples represent each and every one of us, all of us with our faith and doubts, with our courage and uncertainties.

The storm, the gale, the wind and the waves on the other hand represents the trials and challenges that we have to face in our lives, as we live through the many obstacles that we encounter daily in their various forms. Like St. Peter and the other disciples, sometimes we have no faith in God and we did not trust Him enough to lead us out of harm’s way, and we became doubtful and fearful, worried that we would suffer and lose everything. But today’s story reminded us that God is and will always be there by our side, if we only learn to focus on Him and not be distracted by the many trials and challenges present all around us.

Today, all of us should be strengthened and inspired by the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the holy saints, holy men and women of God, especially that of St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard, whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Eusebius of Vercelli was the Bishop of Vercelli in what is now northern Italy during the tumultuous years of struggle between the true Christian faith and the popular heresy of Arianism. He had to endure many trials and challenges throughout his ministry and work, and was even persecuted, humiliated and made to suffer, dragged through the streets for his continued faith and adherence to the true faith. And yet, all those things did not dampen his faith at all.

St. Eusebius of Vercelli continued to labour hard and gave his energy, time and effort to lead the faithful from the clutches of the heretical teachings. He patiently endured the challenges and trials, all the oppressions and persecutions he faced from those who sided and sympathised with the heretics and their false teachings. St. Eusebius of Vercelli showed us his resolve and what each one of us should do in the face of hardships, and to continue to trust in the Lord at all times and opportunities. Like St. Peter and the other Apostles, and like the prophet Jeremiah and the other prophets, St. Eusebius of Vercelli committed his life to God and entrusting God with that life.

Meanwhile, St. Peter Julian Eymard was a renowned priest who was particularly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence in the Eucharist, spending a lot of time and effort to popularise the devotion to the Eucharist, the respect and understanding of the Lord’s Real Presence among the people that he ministered to. He dedicated his life and his time to glorify the Lord, reaching out to all those who have been separated from God, calling on them to return to the Lord and to put their faith and trust in Him once again. He spent countless hours in his ministry, and also founded two religious orders to support his mission, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the great examples of our holy predecessors, let us all therefore turn to the Lord with renewed faith and courage, and not be easily swayed by our fears and temptations anymore, knowing that the Lord, our God and Saviour is always ever by our side, and He will never abandon us in our hour and time of greatest need. May the Lord continue to guide us and give us the courage to live our lives ever more worthily, now and always. Amen.

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