Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the memory of a great saint of the Church and a faithful son of the Church, that is St. Charles Borromeo, or St. Carolus Borromeus, or in his original native language, San Carlo Borromeo, an Italian saint who was a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, a great diocese of the Church, and one of the most influential figure in Christendom at his time, and a great champion of Counter-Reformation.
St. Charles Borromeo was born to a rich and noble family, the younger son of that noble family, who were not expected to succeed the family riches and titles, and thus as was usual at that time, he entered the seminary at a young age, and was prepared for a church career path. And when his uncle was elected as the Pope, he was invested with the red hat of the cardinalate, as what is now known as a ‘Cardinal-Nephew’.
St. Charles Borromeo nevertheless stood apart from many of his generation’s peoples and their vices, and he stood apart from the other Cardinal-Nephews and from the other servants of the Church. He was incredibly humble and devoted in his life, and in his ministry to the works of the Church and to the people of God. St. Charles Borromeo lived simply during his time in Rome to help the administration of the Holy Roman Church.
When his elder brother died, his family wanted him to quit the church career, to marry and produce heir to continue the family legacy. But St. Charles Borromeo remained true and faithful to his ministries and calling, and devoted himself to aid the growth and reform of the Church, through his crucial and important role in the Council of Trent.
And in accordance to the reforms of the Council of Trent, he wanted to devote himself better to the Church, and therefore decided to go through the full process of devotion, through his ordination to the priesthood, and then as a bishop, vested with the full gifts and authority of the sacred order of God. And he was made the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, a great honour but also a great challenge, being the largest Archdiocese in the entire Europe and indeed in the entire Christendom.
The Church in Milan was large and have numerous Catholics, but as a whole, the priests and the laity alike had been unfaithful to the teachings of Christ in the Church. Wickedness and vices were plenty, and many succumbed to the temptations of the flesh and the soul. Selling of indulgences, simony, selling of church titles and positions were rampant. And in accordance with the pious reforms of the Council of Trent, St. Charles Borromeo set about to address all those issues and rejuvenate the Church in Milan.
Under his stewardship, the Church under his care was thoroughly cleansed from the vices and evils which it had accumulated prior to the ministry of his pious undertakings. He cleansed the Church from impurities and wickedness, and realising that all these vices were caused by the lack of education and preparation for the priests, the shepherds of the people, he established many seminaries and institutes to help better equip and prepare priests in their upcoming ministries.
Through his hard works and crucial inputs into the Council of Trent, and through his devoted works towards reform in the diocese he had been entrusted with, he brought much grace and saving grace to the people of God. And through these actions he had done, and from the works he had committed, we can also learn a lot of things and be inspired that we may also follow in his footsteps and do what is righteous in the sight of God.
And how is the life of this saint relevant to the Scripture readings we heard today? That is because St. Charles Borromeo represent the attitude of obedience and listening to the will of God, as what St. Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi, where he highlighted the obedience of Christ, the full and complete obedience without being distracted and misled by the concerns of the world and the self. Christ obediently carried the cross of mankind’s sins to His death, so that we may be saved by that act of ultimate love.
And in the Gospel we heard about Jesus telling His disciples and the people a parable, in which a person held a great feast and invited many guests to come to the feast. Yet, despite the very kind and good offer, the people who were invited refused to come to the feast and instead they went about doing their own activities and routines.
This is much like us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ who has prepared a banquet and feast for us, to share in His Body and Blood, which He gave us freely through the sacrifice on the cross, has given us a free gift of salvation and life in Him, and yet we refused to listen to Him and indeed we rejected that generous offer of our Lord, thinking that we can find better options and pleasure in this world.
And thus we often sin, brothers and sisters, we often disobeyed the Lord’s will and preferring to listen to our own desires. We acted like those guests who were invited and yet refused to come. And thus, if we continue on this path, what lies for us ahead is only damnation and destruction. We will also not share in the goodness of the Lord, which He will offer to others willing to listen to Him and change their ways.
Therefore, shall we reflect on our own lives and then also think of what I have shared with you on the life and works of St. Charles Borromeo, the humble and holy saint of God? Let us dwell no longer in our sinfulness, but embrace the love of God, and say yes to Him as He invites us to His feast of everlasting life. In that way therefore, let us be faithful and accept the Most Holy Eucharist, our Lord’s ultimate way of showing His obedience and love for us, with joy and thanksgiving.
May Almighty God guide us always, so that we may grow lesser and smaller in our ego and pride, and instead grow stronger in our charity and love. Let us seek the Lord with hearts full of love and zeal, following in the footsteps of St. Charles Borromeo. St. Charles Borromeo, faithful and true servant of God, pray for us sinners! Amen.
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