Monday, 5 September 2022 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded to get rid from ourselves all the taints of evil and sin, all the corruptions that came together with the actions and immorality of this world. All of us should not allow those things to distract us from the Lord and our focus on Him. We must resist the temptations of pride and ego and be more humble in our way of life and actions so that we may listen to the Lord and follow Him rather to insist on our own way. We should not harden our hearts and minds but instead be more willing to listen to the Lord and to allow Him to lead us and guide us to the path of truth and grace.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Corinth speaking to us regarding the matter of the attitudes of the faithful people of God, which ought to be free from the evil ways and sins, and how Christians everywhere are called to be holy just as the Lord is holy. We are all called to get rid from ourselves the ‘leaven’ of sin, and purify ourselves in the way of the Lord, dedicating our lives anew in the manner that we have been taught to do through God’s Church. We live in a world that is full of temptations and persuasions, coercions and pressures to acquiesce to the worldly matters and ways just as it was during the time of the Lord and His Apostles.

At that time, St. Paul was exhorting the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth after having heard of the troubles that they were facing, the divisions that they encountered and experienced, the immorality and wickedness that they had indulged in which were scandalous in nature and unbecoming of them as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord and as those who called themselves as His disciples and followers. St. Paul reminded them all to turn away from that path of sin and immorality, and instead embrace the path of God’s truth and love, and His righteousness and grace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to the people who were listening to Him teaching in the synagogue and also to those Pharisees who were opposed to Him and who were hounding Him, attempting to discredit and to persecute Him for His constant works and efforts during the Sabbath to perform healing miracles and other deeds. The Lord criticised the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who refused to believe in Him, who hardened their hearts against His teachings and words simply because they were dead set on their beliefs and prejudices, and not only that, but they even plotted against Him and did whatever they could to undermine His efforts and works.

That was what made the Lord pointed out the folly of their argument and preferences, their way of observing the Law, and reminded them all that the Law of the Sabbath that God had revealed to His people through Moses was not meant to restrain mankind and not to be understood merely in the letter, but it has to be appreciated and understood wholly in its spirit, which is meant to lead mankind back towards the Lord, that they may all find their way to Him, and be reconciled with Him. Instead, those Pharisees and teachers of the Law indulged in their own preoccupations and prejudices regarding the Law, and made use of them to advance their own interests and wants, their ambitions and desires.

They made it difficult for the people to come towards the Lord and made it seem that following the Lord was something that was hard and impossible. They had forgotten that their role as the shepherds and guides of the people of God was to bring God closer to His people and the people closer to Him, which was exactly what the Lord had done, in reaching out for the suffering and the marginalised, and in putting others’ needs ahead of oneself, rather than what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves often did, in promoting themselves and their positions, their achievements and glory ahead of their responsibilities in leading the people of God towards Him.

Today therefore as Christians, all of us should be inspired by the examples of the Lord Himself, and also of the faith and dedication showed by the renowned St. Teresa of Kolkata, also known as Mother Teresa, who was a religious nun and the founder of the religious order of the Missionaries of Charity. St. Teresa of Kolkata was an Albanian who decided to join religious life and became a missionary sister, sent to India and experienced firsthand the hardships of life and the terrible nature of extreme poverty which happened all around her back then in Calcutta, where slums were aplenty and many people lived in great suffering and many were sick, died without any respect or honour on the streets.

Hence, it was then that St. Teresa of Kolkata was inspired to make a difference to the lives of those who were the least privileged, those who were sick and dying, and all those who had been despised by all others. Beginning with herself, she began to minister to many of the poor in the streets of Kolkata, and despite facing many challenges, doubts and disagreements, both from within and outside the Church, St. Teresa of Kolkata began seeing several impacts and successes, as there were others who followed her examples, and soon, it became the foundation of the Missionaries of Charity. And despite the challenges and trials that St. Teresa of Kolkata and her fellow sisters had to face, she continued to dedicate herself to the Lord and her mission tirelessly.

St. Teresa of Kolkata showed us what true Christian charism and mission is all about, that we ought to put the Lord and others ahead of ourselves, and in reaching out towards our fellow brethren with love and compassion, providing help and assistance whenever and wherever possible. St. Teresa of Kolkata reminded us that as Christians we are all called to be full of love and charity, and that we should show God’s love to our fellow brothers and sisters regardless of who they are, their background or origins. We should love all equally just as the Lord Himself has loved us all equally all these times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore commit ourselves to the Lord and devote ourselves completely to Him from now on, inspired by the examples, the great love, compassion and charity which St. Teresa of Kolkata had shown her fellow brethren. Let us do our best to do what the Lord has commanded us to do, and may the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us, and may He continue to encourage us that we will always remember to do what is worthy in the eyes of the Lord, living our lives full of virtue and grace, and distancing ourselves from the path of pride and ego, of human ambition and worldly desires. May God bless us in our every works and efforts, now and always. Amen.

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