Saturday, 4 March 2023 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained within the Scriptures, we are all reminded that as God’s people, each and every one of us are called to be genuine in our Christian way of life and devotion to God. All of us must live our lives in the manner that the Lord has taught us all, or else we are truly no better than hypocrites and unbelievers, and unworthy of calling ourselves as Christians, or God’s children and holy people. He wants each and every one of us to rediscover this faith and zeal that we all ought to have within us, especially through the faithful and dedicated observance of this holy and blessed season and time of Lent, a time of reflection, discernment and reconciliation between us and God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard the Lord telling His people through Moses and His servants, that the people of Israel had been called and chosen from among the nations to be His own people, as the first of those whom He had called, to walk in His path and to devote themselves to Him. That was why He gave them all His Law and commandments, His precepts and taught them His ways and the truth. Unfortunately, the people of God were stubborn and often gave in to their desires and worldly attachments, and ended up causing them to sin many times in many occasions, unable to resist those temptations and get rid from themselves their stubbornness and attachments to worldly things. The Lord reminded all of His people that just as much as He has blessed and loved them, they also have the obligation and the requirement to obey the Law and the commandments that God has given them.

This means that they ought to do what the Lord had taught them to do, distancing themselves from sinful practices and ways. The Lord has given them His Law and the Ten Commandments to guide them in their path so that they would have something to hold onto in their lives, amidst the many trials, challenges, temptations and many different pressures for them to conform to the worldly ways and paths, and abandoning God’s path and truth. Indeed, to live our lives in the manner acceptable and appropriate for the Lord is not something that is easily done, and more often than not we will realise, just as our ancestors and predecessors had discovered before us, that to be a faithful Christian is something that is easier said than done, and that there are a lot of challenges and difficulties that await in our path, in obeying and observing God’s Law and commandments in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples, which also serves as a reminder for us all, that as the followers and disciples of the Lord, we must always remember to love one another and to be full of compassion and love even to those who did not love us back, and those who despise us. That is the challenge which the Lord has also given us all as Christians, to be different from the world, which is definitely more used to us loving those who love us, those who benefit us and those who care for us, and also putting ourselves ahead of others. As Christians, on the contrary, the Lord taught us all to put others before ourselves, and to do whatever we can to reach out to others with genuine and pure love, and He Himself has shown us this by His own example, which we remember particularly during this time of Lent.

I am referring to the suffering and the trials that the Lord Himself would willingly endure and suffer for our sake during His Passion, as He picked up His Cross and brought it up all the way to the Hill of Golgotha, or Calvary, where He endured all the pain, humiliation and the worst of sufferings so that by His sufferings, in His Passion, He might lead us all into freedom, by bearing upon His own shoulders, all the multitudes of our sins and the punishments for them, to die on our behalf and becoming for us the perfect offering of pure love, to atone for all the sins of the whole world. He endured all of that out of His ever present and patient love for each and every one of us, desiring to see us forgiven and reconciled with His heavenly Father, that none of us hopefully will be lost to the damnation of hell due to our many and innumerable sins.

That is why during this time and season of Lent, all of us are called to remember God’s ever generous love for us, and His rich and compassionate mercy, remembering how He has always provided for all of His beloved ones, and even for those who have betrayed and abandoned Him. The Lord chose to willingly suffer and die for everyone, and not only for those who have already loved Him. He went out of His way, seeking all those who have been lost to Him, those who indulged in sin and wickedness of life, and refused to listen to Him, reaching out to them patiently, each time, so that hopefully they might listen to reason and His truth, and be converted, and be reconciled with Him. This is what He has done to each and every one of us as well. No one is truly beyond God’s mercy, forgiveness and love, unless we ourselves choose to reject Him to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through this season of Lent, let us all continue to discern our way of life and see in what way we can be better and more committed disciples and followers of His, and we can do this by following the good examples set by our holy predecessors, one of which, whose feast we are celebrating today, is St. Casimir of Poland. St. Casimir was a Royal Prince of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, who was known for his great piety and devotion to God, as well as charity and care for the needy and the poor in the kingdom from his early age. He was remembered for his exemplary faith and actions, his chaste and holy lifestyle at a time when it was common for someone in his status to embrace a debauched and hedonistic way of life. St. Casimir dedicated his life to the end to the glory of God, and despite dying in a relatively early age due to tuberculosis, the example of his holiness and dedication to God continue to inspire many people right up to this day.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, can we follow the good examples of St. Casimir and many other of our holy predecessors in how we ought to live our lives? In this season and time of Lent, let us all reorientate our lives and redirect our focus in life back towards the Lord, Whom we should put right at the very centre of our lives. Let us all turn towards Him with faith, and do whatever we can to serve Him faithfully each day and at every moments given to us. May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us all and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever better and stronger in our desire to serve Him, and to do His will, at all times. May God bless us always, in our every actions, deeds and efforts, to glorify Him by our lives, now and always. Amen.

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