Saturday, 7 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us have listened to the words of the Scriptures, reminding us of the calling for each one of us to remain firmly faithful to the path that the Lord has shown before us, for we have been shown the salvation in our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all and we have also received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Wisdom from God. Through all of these we are all called and reminded to walk in the path of God’s Light and resist the temptations of the world that will definitely become great obstacles in our path towards God’s grace and salvation. But if we persevere and remain faithful in Him, God will strengthen us and help us in our journey, and as long as we remain in His grace, we shall be empowered and kept in the path that He has shown us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. John regarding the love of God which had been manifested before all of us in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of all the whole world. But at the same time, we also heard from the same passage a reminder and warning from the Apostle of those who sought to twist and subvert the message of truth, those false prophets and leaders, who did not remain in God’s path. St. John told all the faithful to keep faithfully the commandments of God, all the Law and the things which they had received from God, that they should remain dedicated to the Lord and everything that He has told them to do. He reminded them that Christ is far greater than everything that those false prophets and leaders had presented to them, the world, the evil one and anything that do not lead to the Holy Presence of God.

St. John told the people of God that they have to be vigilant and only listen to the words snd guidance of the true spirit of God, and not the false spirits and the evils that can mislead them down the wrong paths. The spirit of God shows the path towards the one true Saviour, and the path of righteousness and justice. The Spirit of God will lead the faithful towards Christ, while the false and evil spirits will lead the people towards their downfall and destruction, rejecting the salvation in Christ for false pleasures and joys of the world. Unfortunately, at that time, quite a few among the people of God were tempted away from the path of God’s grace and salvation, and fell into the wrong paths, leading down to damnation. There were indeed a lot of those parties seeking the ruination of the souls of mankind, back then and up till today.

In our Gospel today, we heard of the Lord’s works among His people after the arrest and death of St. John the Baptist, as He went from place to place, in Galilee and other places often considered then as the peripheries of the Jewish community and homeland. He visited those who had been without hope, ostracised and hated by others because of their sickness, their way of life and attitudes, healed them and restored them once again to life. The Lord gave them all the Light of His hope and showed them the path towards His grace and eternal life. He showed the face of God’s love, which became accessible and tangible for us, and the Apostles and many of the disciples who have experienced the same love of God in person, transmitted and passed down this same truth to us through the Church.

And through the Holy Spirit that the Church has been given, coming down upon us all at Pentecost, and passed down to us, through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we too have received the same knowledge and Wisdom of God’s love and most wonderful grace. God has shown us His guidance and help throughout our journey of faith in life, and as long as we remain true and faithful to Him, not being easily swayed or tempted by the persuasions and temptations of the world. We shall remain firmly on the path towards His salvation and grace as long as we keep our focus on Him and not be easily distracted by the many false leads and guidance, and resisting the allures of the lies and the false pleasures of the world that the false prophets and messengers brought upon our midst.

Not only that but we also have the inspiration and examples from the saints, our holy predecessors, men and women who had dedicated their lives to the Lord and showed us all the right way going forward. Today, we celebrate the feast of one of those great saints, namely that of St. Raymond of Penyafort or St. Raymond of Penafort. He was a priest and member of the Dominican Order noted for his great holiness and hard work in evangelisation towards those who have veered off from their righteous path, including that of the King of Aragon, James I, to whom he was a confessor of. St. Raymond disapproved of the actions of the king, who kept a mistress and concubine despite being married in the eyes of the Lord and His Church. And when the king persecuted and disagreed with him, and tried to prevent him from leaving the island he was in, he performed a great miracle as he rode on his cloak on the water to reach Barcelona, where the court of the king was at, in the company of his fellow Dominicans.

Many people witnessed that occasion, the great miracle performed by St. Raymond, and became believers. That also included the king himself, who immediately set himself on the right path, ceasing his previous scandalous and wicked attitudes, and embracing the Lord wholeheartedly from then on. St. Raymond also performed other miracles and wonders, and also committed his work in the field of philosophy and theology, and in the reforms of the Church and other institutions both religious and secular in his role as confessor to the king and in his other responsibilities. St. Raymond of Penyafort always devoted his time and effort to glorify God and spared no expense in doing whatever he could to reach out to more of the people of God, helping to lead them all to the right path towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the good examples set by St. Raymond of Penyafort, in his life and works, in all of the efforts he had done to glorify the Lord and in leading more of his fellow brethren to God’s path and salvation. Let us do our best to follow the Lord and commit ourselves to the same path as well. May the Lord continue to strengthen us in our desire to serve Him and to love Him, and may He empower us all in our journey of faith through life so that we may always remain firmly faithful to Him, guided by the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit and by our firm faith, love and devotion towards God. Amen.

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