Thursday, 17 November 2022 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Lord today contained within the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the Lord Whom we worship and serve, the one and only true God, our Lord and Master, our King and Ruler over the whole entire Universe, which we will celebrate together this coming Sunday on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King of the Universe. We are therefore reminded today that we worship this Almighty, all-powerful and glorious God, Whose love for us has brought about our salvation and liberation from sin. By His mercy and most compassionate love, each one of us have received the assurance of eternal life and freedom from the shackles of sin that had held us hostage and kept us chained to our fate of suffering and death.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the revelation shown to the Apostle, regarding the triumphant victory won by the Lord, enthroned in glory among the Cherubim and Seraphim, among the Angels and innumerable saints. St. John saw in the vision of the slaughtered Lamb of God, the Triumphant Lord, the Heir of David and Son of God, Who has won the ultimate victory against the forces of evil, sin and death. And he shared it with all of us, the faithful in this world so that we may have hope in Him and that we may trust Him to guide us down the path towards His grace, salvation and eternal life. Many of us have often forgotten the One Whom we are serving, and the One Whom we ought to be following in our lives. We act as if God is nobody, and that He has no place in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. He spoke of this eventual event on few occasions, and told His disciples how all the glory that was Jerusalem and its Temple, the majestic House of God built by king Herod the Great and his successors, would not remain standing, and all of them would be destroyed. This is in fact a reminder to all of us that all the glory of this world is merely passing and will not last forever, and whatever the people at that time took great pride in keeping, like the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, the elders and the chief priests who often rejected the Lord and His truth, and refused to listen to Him because they thought of themselves being superior and better, for all the properties, power, influence and glory they had.

They thought that their Temple authority, their Law and rituals, their practices and all their entrenched positions in the society of the people of God. They thought that their power and privileges earned them the right to boast and to be praised, to be entitled honour and respect they often demanded from the other people, but they forgot that, first of all, all of them were supposed to serve God and help others to come closer to God, as the guardians and custodians of God’s Law and truth. Instead, they often misused their authority and power, persecuting and ostracising those whom they deemed to be less than worthy, those whom they deemed as sinners and beyond redemption, while parading their own efforts and works, their piety and observance of the Law.

In that, the Lord wants us all as Christians to keep in mind not to fall into the same trap of pride, ego and greed. As the later destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its magnificent Temple, and the scattering of the Jewish people into various places, showed that no worldly glory, power, privileges, power or anything of those sorts can remain or last forever. Whatever is in the world can be destroyed and lost within mere short while and a mere moment, and those who depend on those things, on their worldly power and foundation, will indeed be disappointed and humiliated as history itself has shown us. Instead, God wants us all to put our trust and faith in Him, entrusting ourselves to His providence and care, and doing everything we can to follow Him and to obey Him. That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is our calling as Christians, what we are all supposed to do.

Today, the whole Church celebrates the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, whose life and dedication to the Lord should become inspiration and example for all of us as Christians. We have to discern our path in life based on what we know of the life of this holy and devout saint. St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a Hungarian princess and noblewoman who was married to a German noble, and was widowed at a young age. Throughout her life from her youth, and in her short time as a wife in a happy marriage, and afterwards, St. Elizabeth of Hungary had always been very pious and devout to the Lord, and she showed particular concern and care for the poor and the sick all around her, in her community and beyond. She spent a lot of time and effort to reach out to them and to care for them, and after she was widowed, she gave herself to a life of dedication to God.

Despite the opposition and hardships that she had to face in her determination to commit herself and her life to God, to the point that she was imprisoned at times and in house arrest, in the attempts by her family to dissuade her from her commitment, St. Elizabeth of Hungary never gave in to the temptations and pressures, and continued to carry on her efforts and works, and her piety and inspiration soon gained a lot of supporters by all those who were inspired by her tireless works and efforts for the poor and the sick, and those touched by her great personal piety, love and faith in God. She established hospitals and places where the poor and the sick can be taken care of, using her own funds and properties in doing so. She did not let worldly glory, attachments, wealth and all those things to distract her from doing God’s will, and whatever that God has called her to do in her own life.

Let us hence be inspired by the examples shown by St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in her faith and commitment to live a life truly worthy of God, in her piety and devotion to God, and her love for her fellow brethren, that each and every one of us may also draw ever closer to the Lord by following her examples and faith, and also those of innumerable other saints, holy men and women of God who had devoted themselves to the Lord in their own manner and ways. Each and every one of us as Christians ought to follow their examples and remind ourselves that we have to centre our lives on the Lord and rid ourselves from the excesses of worldly desires, pride, ego, attachments to worldly matters, all of which had become serious obstacles and downfall for so many of our predecessors.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our faith, and may He empower and encourage us all to continue to persevere in faith, that we may draw ever closer to Him, and live our lives ever more worthily of Him if we have not yet done so, from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore, and may He stay by our side and remain with us always. Amen.

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