Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priest)
Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Have mercy and mercy will be shown to you. Show love and love will be shown to you. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heed the readings today, this is the common theme that we all can and should certainly be able to pick up and identify, as a common virtue of our faith in Christ. Christ in today’s Gospel taught His disciples how to pray to God, and that prayer, as we are all familiar with, is the Lord’s Prayer, Pater Noster, or our Father.
That prayer is a simple and yet perfect prayer, and indeed how all prayers should be. Prayers is less about glorifying ourselves before God, and even less still a litany of wishes and desires that we often request or even demand from God. How many of us have been angry at God for not fulfilling our wishes, which we constantly include in our prayers?
Prayer is truly about opening oneself to God and to His eternal love, that is to let Him embrace us with the warmth of His love, that we are made perfect once again in love. That is the essence of prayer and the essence of our loving dedication to God who is our Father. Prayer is a line of communication between Him and us, as a medium through which we do not just speak, but also listen, to the words of the Lord being spoken within our hearts.
Too often the noise of this world prevents us from being able to listen to the word of God, and we become preoccupied in our own worldly dealings, in our own emotions and prejudices, in that we end up trusting our own judgments more than we trust or believe in the wise judgments of the Lord. That is also the essence of today’s readings, in that, we need to be able to overcome those personal prejudices and ill emotions within our hearts, that we will be able to make a reasonable judgment.
Indeed, remember that in fact we are not in a proper place to judge, not even ourselves, since as many sins as we can see in others around us, there are often in fact even more sins within us that we cannot see. To judge others for their sins and to condemn them for those sins is not right, for if we judge them for those, surely we will be judged too, for our own, equally if not more numerous sins.
That is why the Lord reminded Jonah of this fact, of the need for one to be merciful and forgiving, for the virtue of mercy and forgiveness is abundant, and out of them, love will be born. Love cannot exist if we do not first show mercy and forgiveness, especially to those who had wronged us, and to those who had caused us pain and suffering.
It is important that we as the followers and children of the Lord, to be chain-breakers. Why so? Which chains are we talking about? It is the chain that binds our heart and shut it tight, hardening it against the love of God and preventing us from sharing our love with our brethren around us. These chains are sin and worldly temptations that bind us to themselves and to hell, preventing us from being saved.
Indeed, we need to be loving and forgiving at the same time in our lives in this world, in our calling as the disciples of Christ, the One who is Love. We cannot remain bound to those chains we had talked about, and rather, we must break free, both from our own chains of sin, or break free the chains that bound others, that all of us will be loved by God for eternity.
Today we commemorate the feast of St. Denis, the bishop of Paris in the Roman province of Gaul, at where is now known as France. He was a zealous servant of God who lived upright and just life, during the time of great persecutions against the Church and the faithful. The Emperor Decius reigned at the time St. Denis was martyred for his faith. Decius was known to be strongly opposed to the Church and to the faith in God, and ordered one of the most vicious and brutal of all the persecutions of Christians by the state.
St. Denis and some people who were condemned to die with him were beheaded on a hill in what is today Paris, and yet, a miracle happened. It was told that St. Denis did not die even though his head had been cut off from his body. St. Denis picked up his head and walked for several miles, preaching and testifying the greatness of the Lord, made evident in the miraculous occasion of St. Denis himself. He only died when he reached a spot where he was then buried, and where now stands a basilica erected in the honour of his name, that is the Basilica Cathedral of St. Denis in Paris.
Today we also honour St. John Leonardi, an Italian priest living during a time of trouble for the Church and for Christendom, at a time when the Reformation rebels were spreading wildly their heresies and teachings across Europe and gained sizable following. St. John Leonardi was devoted to the people of God, especially the weak and the poor, and did many charitable acts to help and love them.
He also spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted the observation of the Liturgy of the Hours, a dedication of one’s prayer in daily basis, as well as the Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. Not limited to that, St. John Leonardi also established the religious order of the Clerks, who took part in and contributed to the effort in stemming the Protestant heresies.
Both these saints and their companions had been devoted to their cause, their calling, and committed themselves fully to both the Lord and His beloved people. Therefore, should we then not do the same? Our calling in life is to love, that is to love both the Lord and to love one another, that in love, we truly become worthy of being called the children of God, who is Love. If we instill love in one another, that love will grow to encompass us, and we will grow to love even more, and then, we will truly be worthy to be called God’s children, of God who is love.
May the Lord continue to bless us and strengthen us with His love, caring for us and providing for us, that we will always ever be covered by His grace and blessings. God bless us all. Amen.