Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the words of the Lord telling all of us to remain faithful and true to Him. We must not allow the wickedness and evils of this world from coming into our midst and corrupt us. If we let those things to mislead and distract us from the path that the Lord has shown us, then many of us will unfortunately likely end up falling down the slippery slope towards damnation. We must remember that as Christians, each and every one of us are called to be righteous, good and full of Christian virtues, that in all the things we say and do, we always bring greater glory to God.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus regarding the Apostle’s reminder to the people of God there on how them being the people and children of God, they were all called to a greater new life, full of genuine faith and actions as Christians, and how they should not follow their past ways and wicked path anymore. They were called to a greater new existence, one that was no longer based on the ways of their predecessors and ancestors. Instead, they were all called to follow in the path that God has set before them, and which He Himself had shown to them through His Apostles and His Church.
St. Paul reminded the people of God in Ephesus how the Lord has called on all of them to be holy just as He is holy, and He called on all of them to be virtuous and good in their path, and not to bring scandal to the Lord’s Holy Name and to His Church. As Christians, they were all expected to make a stand against the wickedness of the world, to abandon the temptations of the world and to side with the Lord wholeheartedly. The Lord told them and also to all of us, that we cannot be servants of both God and Money, and that is, we cannot be servant of both the Lord and of the world. If we allow ourselves to indulge in the temptations of worldly glory and power, sooner or later we may end up falling deeper and deeper into the path of sin.
Instead, we are all reminded of what He Himself had done, all the teachings He has given us and all the truth that He has revealed to us, so that through all of those, we may know how we can proceed ahead as Christians in our way of life, in our actions and deeds, in whatever path we follow. That is what we ought to reflect as we recall the message of the Word of God contained within the Sacred Scriptures we have heard today. We heard from the Gospel passage today regarding the confrontation between the Lord and the leader of the synagogue simply because the Lord healed a crippled woman on a Sabbath day.
The Lord had wanted to heal the woman who had been crippled and kept bent and enslaved by the evil spirits for a long period of eighteen years, and He highlighted to His opponents and naysayers, just how ridiculous it was that the woman would have to wait any moment longer just because it was the day of the Sabbath, which according to the Jewish laws and customs back then, was a day when no work was allowed at any circumstances. Meanwhile, the Pharisees and the leader of the synagogue, who likely held the same belief, were most particularly strict and extensive in their efforts to preserve this custom and practice, in enforcing these rules on the people.
However, in doing so they had become elitist and wicked in their ways, as they became self-righteous and prejudiced against all those whom they deemed to be inferior to themselves, which were essentially everyone else, and especially those who were afflicted with diseases like that of the crippled woman herself. Yet, the Lord courageously challenged this action and view of the Pharisees and the synagogue elders, and healed the woman, showing all the people of God what God truly wants from all of us, to be loving and forgiving just as God Himself has shown us His love and compassion, His forgiveness and mercy.
Today we have yet another example who can help us to find our way in living our Christian faith ever more worthily of the Lord. St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretian religious order, was a Spanish Archbishop and missionary, who dedicated himself to a life of ministry to God, first preaching amongst the Catalans in a region that had been destabilised by wars, and was remembered for his great love for his flock, by his dedication in going from one community to another even on foot. He went to several distant areas like the Canary Islands, preaching the word of God there, and calling on many people to return to the Church of God.
As Archbishop of Santiago, in the New World area of Cuba, the Church entrusted St. Anthony Mary Claret with the mission to evangelise to his flock, in caring for the needs of his community, showing them the love of God as shown by his commitment to establish many hospitals and schools for the common folks, in the reorganisation of the diocesan seminary among others. Through his missionary efforts and writings, he inspired many others to follow his good examples, and that helped to lay the foundation of many good deeds. He spent a lot of time caring for the need of the poor, helping them and caring for their needs, and miracles abound in his works and presence, turning even more people towards God. He continued to do many good works even in his later years, dedicating his life to his missions even when he faced many challenges and hardships.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on all these, and look upon the good examples set by the Lord Himself, and by our faithful and holy predecessors, the saints and martyrs, especially of St. Anthony Mary Claret whose memory we recall and venerate today. Let us all strive to do the will of God in the manner that the faithful sons and daughters of the Lord and His Church had done. And may God be with us always in our journey of faith, so that in our every words, actions and deeds, we will always ever be filled with the righteousness and virtues of God, and strive to glorify God and not seek our own glory in life. May God bless us always in all things, and bless our every efforts and endeavours. Amen.