Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Priests or Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the story of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the herald and messenger of God, the one who came and went before our Lord to straighten His path in this world. St. John the Baptist preached God’s mercy and love, urging the people to repent before it was too late, while the gate to salvation and forgiveness is still wide open.
However, it did not mean that he had an easy task or life. He met with many oppositions and challenges, just as the prophet Jeremiah encountered in the reading from the Old Testament we heard today as well. The prophet Jeremiah had a different mission, but of the same nature, urging the people to repent and turn away from their path of sin, and return into the light of God. And he rightly met the same kind of opposition by those who did not want to listen to the word of God.
The same opposition had been encountered by many other prophets who spoke the truth about the decadence and wickedness of men, when mankind had forgotten their true purpose in life, which is to serve God and to show that we truly are the children of God. That means we should not be defiant in our actions and follow wickedness of Satan over the love of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of two saints, namely St. Eusebius of Vercelli and St. Peter Julian Eymard. Both of them were truly holy men who followed the will of God and walked righteously in God’s path. They lived in a very different time period, with St. Eusebius living at the time of the Roman Empire during the early days of the Church, when the Church was assailed by heresies and divisions, while St. Peter Julian Eymard lived at the dawn of the modern era, in the nineteenth century.
Nevertheless, both of them were equally devoted and dedicated in their lives of service to God, and they worked hard in their respective lives to enlighten many of those who had fallen to the trap and darkness of the evil one. St. Eusebius of Vercelli fought hard against the great heresy of Arianism, which was widespread during his time at the fourth century after the birth of Christ. This heresy denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and claimed that He was just a mere man and creation of God.
St. Eusebius painstakingly and patiently worked to bring back many of those who had been seduced by the lies of evil into the true faith. These people were misguided by many things, and some of which include their own human frailties and weaknesses, such as pride, ego, desire and many other similar evils. These were no different from what had afflicted the people who rejected Jesus, and which had afflicted Herod.
Herod was seduced by the temptation of the flesh, in the beauty of his own stepdaughter, to the point that he made a vow without good consideration that eventually led him to a great sin, that is the murder of the prophet and messenger of God, St. John the Baptist. This is what St. Eusebius, as well as St. Peter Julian Eymard tried their best to eradicate from mankind.
St. Peter Julian Eymard had a strong desire to join the religious life since his youth, and despite the opposition from his father and others, he eventually made it to the desire of his life, to serve God. And St. Peter Julian Eymard did many good works for the Lord among the people, and he established two and more religious orders dedicated to the prayerful life to God, and in particular a strong and close devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.
St. Peter Julian Eymard and St. Eusebius of Vercelli were both great role models for us all. Therefore, all that we need to do now is indeed to look at our own lives and reflect, whether we have been rejecting our Lord as the people had done so many times throughout the ages. And as we all have sinned and walked away from the Lord, let us use this opportunity to renew our devotion to God and strengthen our spiritual life, that we may always be close to God and His ways.
May Almighty God bless us all this day, and keep us in His love, that we may reflect in all of our words, deeds and actions, a true discipleship and proof of all of us being the children of our loving Father and God. Amen.