Thursday, 11 August 2022 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to turn away from our sins and our wickedness, and once again face the Lord with faith. All of us should do what we can to distance ourselves from the sinful things present in our world today, and resist the temptations to commit such sins and other deplorable actions that are unbecoming and unworthy of us being Christians, God’s own beloved people and children. God also willingly extends to us His forgiveness and grace, but it is really up to us to accept His mercy and forgiveness, and commit ourselves to a new life free from evil and sin.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard of the Lord telling Ezekiel to do His will, in proclaiming His message to the exiles of Israel in Babylon, regarding the fate of their homeland, Judah and Jerusalem, which at that time was in the last days of their existence. Ezekiel and the other exiles were among those whom the Babylonians had brought to exile in that region in an earlier attack on Judah, and back then, the other king that the Babylonians installed on the throne of Judah was rebelling against them, and therefore, the Babylonians came to besiege Jerusalem once again.

The Lord revealed all that those in Judah and Jerusalem would experience, all because of their disobedience, wickedness and sins. The people of Judah had depended on themselves and on worldly powers, on pagan idols and gods rather than on the Lord their God. All these despite whatever God had done for them and their ancestors for a very long time, in taking good care of them and their needs, in protecting them and providing for them. The Lord has been very patient in showing His people His love and kindness, but the people often refused to listen to Him, rejected Him and His offer of kindness and mercy, His compassion and patience in loving them.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the parable that the Lord spoke to His disciples regarding the servant who was forgiven from his debts and then refusing to forgive another fellow servant the debt that this fellow servant had owned him. The Lord used this parable to highlight first of all, the nature of the Lord’s kindness and mercy, His generosity and love, in His willingness to forgive us all our sins and wickedness, in His desire to reach out to us and to find the way for us to return to Him. The Lord used this parable to also highlight to us the need for us to forgive one another our sins and mistakes to each other, just as God Himself has forgiven us ours.

Related to what we have heard in our first reading today, the Lord has forgiven His people time and time again, as He continued to reach out to them ceaselessly, sending out messengers, servants and prophets to help guide His people on their way back towards Him. He patiently waited on them, hoping that they would repent from their many sins and wickedness, and He called on all of them to turn back towards Him with faith. Although their sins were many and uncountable, but when the people willingly and genuinely wanted to be reconciled with Him, their prayers and petitions would be heard, just as in the parable the master forgave the massive debt of the ungrateful servant.

However, more often than not the people of God had not appreciated or understood the depth of God’s love and mercy for them. The Lord had always been faithful to the Covenant which He had made and established with His people and their descendants, but the people were ungrateful like that of the ungrateful servant in the parable. The ungrateful servant did not follow his master’s example, and chose to persecute one of his fellow servants who owed him a debt much smaller than what he himself had owed his master, much as the people of God chose to walk their own path and lived in wicked ways after the Lord had repeatedly forgiven them their sins.

Today, all of us are therefore called to turn back towards the Lord and reorientate ourselves and our lives once again towards Him. And each and every one of us can do well to follow the example of our holy predecessors that we may better know how we should walk in our path of life, that we do not end up falling down the wrong paths that those people in the past had done. Today in particular, we celebrate the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, one of the early members of the Franciscan religious movement, as a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans. St. Clare was the founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic order founded upon the Franciscan charism and way of life.

St. Clare devoted herself to God from an early age, dedicating herself to pious works and charitable actions from her youth. She was born from a rich and noble family, but she endeavoured to leave everything behind to follow the Lord after encountering St. Francis of Assisi and listening to his sermons. St. Clare left everything behind and her family, and despite her father’s attempt to force her to return home, St. Clare persisted and remained firm in her conviction, and eventually continued with her calling and religious life, establishing the Order of Poor Ladies as mentioned and led her community with great dedication and faith.

It was also told that in one occasion, during the time when tumultuous conflicts caused war and much devastation to ravage throughout the land, in what is now the Italian peninsula, an invading army of the Holy Roman Emperor came to the town and the monastery that St. Clare was living in, and ransacked the town before heading to the monastery itself to do the same as well. According to the same tradition, St. Clare defended the monastery, praying before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and holding up the monstrance containing the Real Presence of the Lord when the soldiers came into the monastery, when a great blinding light terrified the soldiers so much that they immediately retreated and left the town in haste.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the story of St. Clare’s examples and life we can clearly see how God was always with those who are faithful to Him, and how each one of us should live our lives in the manner that St. Clare had done, in being committed to God in all things we say and do. Each and every one of us should do whatever we can to glorify God by our lives and to remain faithful to Him, and to the Covenant which He had generously made with us all. May God be with us always and may He empower us to live ever more devoutly in His presence, now and always. Amen.