Monday, 22 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are called to continue to live our lives faithfully as Christians and continue to carry out what the Lord had commanded us to do, to live our lives in the manner that He has taught us all to do, so that in everything we say and do, we will always be the worthy bearers of His light and truth, and that we may be inspiration and good role models for others around us, proclaiming the Good News and truth of God through our own lives and works, through our every words and interactions. All of us should do what we can to spread God’s message and ways to others whom we encounter in our lives. This is our calling and vocation as Christians, regardless whichever specific vocation that we have been called to.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the works of St. Paul the Apostle among the faithful in the region of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Ephesus was one of the early centres of Christianity, and the faithful there grew rapidly in numbers as both Jews and Gentiles alike embraced the new faith in God. The Lord has called on all of them to be His followers, and He spread to them His Good News and truth through His disciples and missionaries like St. Paul, who went to their region to proclaim the Good News and the truth of God. St. Paul was speaking to some of those disciples who were likely to have belonged to the Jewish diaspora there, who believed in the teachings of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah. As was evident from the accounts from the Acts of the Apostles and the other parts of the New Testament, St. John the Baptist and his teachings were quite widespread around the region.

However, those disciples like the ones in Ephesus have not yet received the fullness of truth as what the early Christians have received, and hence, the Lord called on His Apostles and disciples to evangelise and spread the Good News to all of those people who have not yet heard of this truth and Good News. St. Paul taught them about the teachings and truth of the Lord, proclaiming to them the Good News and the Gospel of salvation. Those disciples believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as their Saviour and Master, and were baptised by St. Paul. The Holy Spirit came down upon them and many great miracles happened, as St. Paul continued to minister to all the faithful there and carrying out the good works that God had planted among them. That was how the Church kept on expanding and growing at that time in Ephesus and elsewhere.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples when they told Him that He was finally telling them the truth and no longer was using parables, hidden meanings and other forms of story-telling through which those who listened to the Lord had not been able to discern fully what He wanted to tell them. But this was because the Lord did not want them all to know everything at once, and wanted them to journey with Him, and to discover their faith in God gradually through their experiences and by listening to the word of God speaking in their hearts and through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit stirring in them, prodding them to follow the path that the Lord has shown them, and for them to find out about the truth which He has presented and brought before all of them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, essentially through what we have received in our Scripture readings today, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us who have received the same truth and revelation of the Good News of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, all of us have the obligation and calling, the mission and vocation to proclaim the truth of God to more and more of the people whom we encounter daily, at each and every moments. In our every works, our words and actions, in our every deeds and interactions with one another, all of us should do our part in living our lives worthily so that we may indeed bear our Christian faith and truth to others who interact with us and witness our work and actions. All of us bear within us this calling and mission, with whatever it is that the Lord has blessed and entrusted us with, in our various areas and competencies.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the examples of St. Rita of Cascia whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Rita of Cascia was an Italian saint and Augustinian nun, a holy and devout religious sister who had dedicated her life to the service and the glory of God. She was married at a very young age by her family and despite her desires to enter a convent even from an early age, she remained as a good and faithful wife to her husband, who was quick-tempered and immoral in nature. She was remembered for her efforts in trying to change her husband’s ways, in the marriage that lasted for eighteen years until her husband and sons passed away. It was known that her husband’s family was involved in the then bitter interfamilial struggles and conflicts, and when her husband was murdered, St. Rita of Cascia tried to dissuade her sons from seeking revenge for their father’s death. She also forgave her husband’s murderers and enemies.

And when the sons of St. Rita of Cascia were in danger of committing sins in the pursuit of vengeance, she voluntarily asked the Lord to take them away so that they would not fall into the path of sin and damnation. Miraculously, God listened to her prayers, and her sons were taken away from her, as they passed away from dysentery, before they could commit murder and mortal sins that could harm and endanger their eternal souls. Afterwards, St. Rita of Cascia entered the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia, in which she devoted the rest of her life to a work of prayer and piety, and managed to bring the two feuding families together in fulfilling the conditions that were imposed to her before she was to join the monastery community, devoting her life henceforth only to the glorification of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence be inspired by the examples and the role models showed to us by St. Rita of Cascia and many others of our holy predecessors. Let us all turn towards the Lord once again and commit ourselves to His path, doing whatever we can to do His will and to love Him at all times. May the Risen Lord, Our Saviour Jesus Christ continue to be with us and guide us all, and bless us all in our every good works, now and always. Amen.

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