Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are presented with the realities facing those who are faithful and committed to God, all the more so especially for those who have been called to be shepherds and ministers to the people of God, like that of the prophets and messengers of God. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, the prophets and servants of God often had to suffer a lot of rejection and even persecution unto death, as what many of faithful servants of God had experienced in the past, as well as many other holy men and women of God.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah of the confrontation between the priests and the false prophets of Judah with Jeremiah, who was at that time, the only faithful prophet and servant of God left in Judah, during the last days of that kingdom. Jeremiah had been delivering the words of God to His people in Judah, warning all of them that the city of Jerusalem and the whole of Judah would soon be destroyed because of the continued sins and the wickedness of the people who refused to listen to God or to repent from their sins and evil ways.
As such, Jeremiah was seen as a troublemaker and even a traitor by some among the people, and his messages contradicted those so called false prophets who conveyed their own messages and rhetoric of glory for the kingdom of Judah. Those false prophets told the king of Judah and the people that they would be able to overcome their enemies and they would triumph, when in truth, those words did not come from God. What Jeremiah spoke about would eventually come true when later on the Babylonians came, besieged and destroyed the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem, and brought the people to exile.
When the priests and the false prophets confronted Jeremiah as we heard in our first reading today, we heard the bitter animosity that existed between them, and how Jeremiah was really alone in his struggle against them, and he was cornered and even had threats against him, as he was accused as a doomsayer and even traitor to the people and the kingdom, with people calling out for his death. But as we heard in our first reading today, Jeremiah made a firm stand before the people, and stating that everything he had said came from the Lord Himself, and saying that the people all needed to repent and turn away from their sins before it was too late for them.
That made some of the people to come to believe in Jeremiah and sided with him, including some of those who would eventually help him in his dire hours of need, and rescued him from his troubles later on. The Lord showed His providence for His faithful servants in this case, while making His will and words known to all. In our Gospel passage today, we also heard yet another one of His servants standing up for the truth, and admonishing those who had been disobedient against God, as was told in the case of St. John the Baptist and him admonishing king Herod and his unlawful, adulterous relationship with Herodias, his own brother’s wife.
St. John the Baptist was arrested and imprisoned because of what he did and said, but that did not dampen his spirit or stop him from continuing to rebuke the king for his continued lack of morality and his disobedience against God. And eventually as we heard in our Gospel passage today, Herodias, who held a deep grudge against St. John the Baptist, plotted his death by making use of her own daughter to seduce Herod during a celebratory party, and ended up in tricking him into ordering the execution of the faithful servant of God. St. John the Baptist was martyred for his commitment and faith in the Lord, for his desire to bring God’s salvation to His people.
Today, we also have yet another example of faith by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Peter Chrysologus, a great priest, preacher and later on named as a Doctor of the Church. He was the Bishop of Ravenna during the heyday of the Roman Empire in the western parts of Europe, and was remembered for his great and very concise homilies and sermons, his great oratorical skills and ability to connect with the people which earned him the epithet, Chrysologus, which literally means, ‘golden-tongued’. St. Peter Chrysologus made such simple yet moving sermons which moved many of the people and turned many into the faith.
St. Peter Chrysologus devoted his life and effort to care for his flock and he was also very committed in combatting and opposing heresies and all false teachings that were rampant back then, guarding his flock against the corrupting forces of those who sought to mislead the people of God. His courage and determination in standing up for the true faith, for God and for his flock of the faithful was just like that of the prophet Jeremiah and that of St. John the Baptist, mentioned earlier today. All of these great saints and servants of God truly showed us what it means for us to be faithful Christians and committed disciples and followers of our God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these wonderful and inspiring stories, let us all ourselves be motivated and inspired to live our lives faithfully from now on as Christians, not just in name only, but also through real deeds and actions. Let us all be inspired to walk down the path that God has set before us, to be faithful to Him, and for us to dedicate our time and effort, to glorify Him in all things. May the Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey, now and evermore. Amen.