Tuesday, 9 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, listening to the words of God, all of us are called to listen to the Lord calling on each one of us to follow and obey Him, to do His will and to embrace His calling and also the mission He has entrusted to us. Each one of us as Christians have been given the opportunities as well as the responsibilities to be examples for one another, to lead more and more people towards God and His truth, and to bring ourselves ever closer to Him and His salvation. All of us should also humble ourselves and be willing to embrace God wholeheartedly, and be willing to listen to Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel in which God spoke to Ezekiel regarding what He was sending him to do among the Israelites in exile in the land of Babylon. The Lord gave Ezekiel a scroll in the vision, and the prophet ate it, symbolising his willingness to walk in the path of God, and how he was willing to let God guide him in what he was called to do. As God’s prophet, Ezekiel would go on to do great deeds among the people, and he continued to labour hard among the Israelites in exile, calling on them to abandon their sinful way of life, which had led to their downfall in the first place.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, telling them that unless they become like little children, with regards to their faith, they cannot truly enter into the kingdom of Heaven, and they will not be able to truly appreciate what it really means to be a disciple of the Lord. And He calls on them to welcome young children, as otherwise, if they do not do so, then they are not welcoming Him into their presence either. Through this, the Lord wanted to highlight that in order for Him to lead us down the right path, often we need to open our hearts and minds, to be humble and to be willing to let God guide us in our path.

That is because for us to be welcoming to children in our midst, we have to first learn to listen and to communicate, understanding them and their needs. Otherwise, we will find that it is very difficult for us to engage with the children meaningfully and successfully. One must be humble and be willing to communicate sincerely, and not to impose a judgmental and superior attitude vis-a-vis the children, which in fact is one of the reasons why people fail to connect with the younger generation. Many of us are often burdened with the burden of pride and arrogance, thinking that we know it better and hence, we cannot engage in truly meaningful interaction and conversation with others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through today’s readings, all of us are reminded that as Christians, each and every one of us are called to be witnesses of our Lord’s salvation, His truth and Good News. All of us ought to do our very best in whatever capacity and opportunities that we are in, so that we may help to lead others to God and so that they may find their way back to Him. In the same Gospel passage, the Lord also mentioned how He loves us all and how He would go all the way to rescue His lost sheep, through His story of a shepherd who had one lost sheep among the flock of his hundred sheep.

Just as the shepherd went out all his way just to find that lost sheep, so the Lord Himself has also done the same for our sake, reaching out to us and calling on us to return to Him. He patiently called on us, waited for us to change our hearts and minds, giving reminders after reminders, and assistance along the way so that we may find our way to Him. All of us who have known the Lord and received the promise of His salvation therefore are called to be the witnesses of this truth and promise, and do our very best to evangelise and to do what we can in glorifying God by our lives, and by living a humble, virtuous and good Christian way of life.

Today, we all can and should seek the inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also better known by her name of St. Edith Stein. St. Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to the Christian faith in the early twentieth century, who was drawn by the Catholic faith and decided to be baptised, and was also eventually desiring to be a religious nun, joining the Discalced Carmelite community. She led a devout and virtuous life as a member of the Discalced Carmelites, in the midst of the great hardships which the Church and also the people of Jewish descent faced back then during the intense persecution by the Nazi German regime.

Her faith grew even deeper through the hardships and challenges, and she entrusted herself to her Lord and Saviour. Through the bitterness and hardships of war, St. Edith Stein and many other of the faithful and the martyrs continued to show inspiration and strength for others who were also suffering back then, and for those who lived after her time, and gained inspiration from her patient faith and commitment to God. She was eventually martyred for her faith and commitment to God, when the NAZI regime persecuted and murdered her for the opposition that the Church took against the wicked actions that it had done in Germany and other places.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to follow the path that our holy predecessors had set before us. Let us all humble ourselves before the Lord and do whatever we can to live our lives ever more faithfully in God’s presence, defending His truth and committing ourselves to be witnesses of His truth and love to more and more of our fellow brothers and sisters, and all those whom we encounter in our lives and missions. May God be with us all and may He continue to strengthen us with the resolve to live our lives ever with the commitment as good and devout Christians, now and always. Amen.

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