Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the Scripture passages we heard today, we are all reminded that we must always have that faith in God, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by worldly sentiments and temptations. Unless we put our effort to resist the temptations against us, then we may find ourselves easily swayed and falling into those same temptations again and again, and therefore fall into the trap of sin. We must always be persistent in living our lives to the best of our abilities, in serving God with all of our hearts and might, at all times.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Job we heard of the lamentations of Job who suffered greatly after having been struck by Satan, who was testing him if Job would abandon his faith in God when he faced such adversities and losses. Job lost most if not all of his vast worldly possessions, his many properties and vast herds of animals and livestock, and he also lost his beloved children to the calamities put forth by the devil. Not only that, but Satan himself even struck at Job’s own body, making him covered with terrible and painful boils and lesions which must have been so unbearable.
Yet, Job remained firm in his faith in God, and he did not allow all those things to deter him or distract him from his obedience to God. Job lamented as we heard in our first reading today, but he did not blame his predicaments on God. Rather, he blamed it on himself and his unworthiness. And in his despair that we heard, he wished that he would rather perish and die, rather than to exist anymore in this world. Certainly we can feel the anguish and the sufferings which Job encountered back then, all that he had lost and all that he was suffering from, the pain and the indignity, the troubles and trials that he faced.
Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Who was travelling on His way to Jerusalem, and was rejected entry into a Samaritan village because the people in that village came to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem in Judea. Back then, the ethnic and religious tensions between the Jewish people in Judea and Galilee, and the Samaritans in the region of Samaria had been happening for many years. Both sides accused each other of having been unfaithful to the teachings of the Lord and they treated each other with disdain and contempt.
That was why, because they knew that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, they closed their doors and gates against Him. They hardened their hearts and minds, and allowed their worldly desires, considerations, sentiments and attachments to guide their way instead of being able to listen to God. That was exactly why they wandered and become lost from God. But yet God did not punish or strike them down as we heard in that Gospel passage story we heard today, and that is because God’s love and compassionate mercy towards us is so great that He wants us to be reconciled with Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it means that we are truly fortunate to have God Who has always looked after us and protect us, providing for us and guiding us all the time with great patience and love. Unfortunately, we did not have strong love for Him and faith in Him, and when the time of trials and troubles come, it was just a matter of time before we give up and abandon the Lord, for comfort in worldly things and desires. In this regard, we should heed the faith and dedication which Job had, in remaining steadfastly faithful to God despite his many sufferings and struggles.
Today, the Church also celebrates the feast of a great and renowned saint whose exemplary life and dedication to God and to his fellow brothers and sisters may become our great source of inspiration and a worthy role model in living our lives as good and committed Christians. St. Vincent de Paul was renowned for his great dedication for the poor and for all those who were suffering. He likely drew his passion and strength from his own experiences, which was also hard and bitter, especially when he had to experience being a slave during his younger years. Back then, he was a young man studying to be a priest when he was abducted and enslaved by the infamous Barbary pirates, who sold him to several masters before finally he managed to convince his last master to return to the Church and to Christendom.
Those early experiences and the own zeal and passion which St. Vincent de Paul had in serving the Lord and his fellow men likely encouraged him to become a priest and then involve himself in missionary work, and also in many outreach particularly towards the sick and the less privileged in the community. He founded and inspired the foundation of several religious congregations and organisations, like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and many others. He worked with the Daughters of Charity in the provision of care for the poor families and those who were suffering. He was also involved in the ministry to those who were forced to work in the galleys and ships as slaves, remembering his own not-so-good experiences as slaves during his younger days.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have heard from the lives of St. Vincent de Paul, and also from many other saints and holy men and women of God, we have to remain steadfast in faith at all times, and we should not allow the sufferings, struggles, trials, temptations and other things present in our world from distracting us in our path towards God and His salvation. We have to be inspired by the perseverance and passion showed by those holy predecessors of ours, particularly that of St. Vincent de Paul whose memory and great life we recall today. May God be with us all in our good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.