Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Clare, V. (11th August, 2021) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 65:1-3.5.16-17. (R. cf. vv.20.9);
Saint Clare of Assisi (16th July, 1194 – 11th August, 1253) was born in Assisi as Chiara Offreduccio. The preaching of Saint Francis of Assisi during Lent when she was 18 made her sought for his guidance. She joined the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia, under Francis’ orders. Her father tried unsuccessfully to force her back into his home. Other women who desired to be brides of Jesus later joined her and were known as the “Poor Ladies of San Damiano”. They lived a simple life of austerity, seclusion, and poverty, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order. They wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. Their lives consisted of manual labour and prayer. The city of Assisi was protected from the attack of an army of rough soldiers from Frederick II in 1224 through her intercession before the Blessed Sacrament. At Pope Innocent's request, her process of canonization began immediately after her death. She was canonized as Saint Clare of Assisi in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV. The Order of Poor Ladies was officially changed to the Order of Saint Clare in 1263 by Pope Urban IV. She is the patron saint of television, eye disease, goldsmiths, and laundry.
Topic: Gentiles and tax collectors.
Jesus while teaching in today’s gospel gave steps towards reconciling with the offenders. They include going to the offender alone, going with one or two others, and presenting the matter to the church. He concludes, “… if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt 18:17).
The Jews classified the Gentiles and tax collectors among the worst sinners. Devout Jews are not expected to have anything to do with them not even making effort to convert them. In the early Church, some of the apostles and other Christians maintained this tradition. Hence they criticized Peter, cf. Acts 11:2.
However Jesus’ attitude towards them did not follow this tradition. In fact, it was among the barriers that prevented them from believing Him to be the son of God, cf. Mk 2:16; Lk 7:39. And His reply to those complaining against Him dinning and winning with the tax collectors and other sinners is, “… Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Matt 9:12-13; cf. Lk 5:32; Hos 6:6). He was even nicknamed “… a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt 11:19).
Jesus instructs His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them, cf. Matt 5:44. We know that love bears all things and never ends, cf. 1Cor 13: 7-8). Saint Paul admonishes us, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom 12:14).
The summary of all the commandments given to Christians is to love everybody, cf. Matt 5:43-48; Jn 13:35; 1Jn 4:21. Saint Paul rightly noted that without love every gift and good deeds come to naught, cf. 1Cor 13:2-3. Our love ought not to be “… in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1Jn 3:18). Whoever hates is the real Gentile and tax collector. Saint Paul cautioned Saint Peter publicly “… If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:14). After the three steps given by Jesus in today’s gospel comes the most important one, LOVE. We ought to love everybody no matter how difficult it is for we all have the same God, and are all members of the same body, the Church, cf. Rom 3:29; Eph 3:6.
Bible Reading: Matt 5:43-48; Lk 3:7-14; 5:27-32; 1Cor 13:1-13; Eph 2:11-3:21.
Thought for today: How do you treat your Gentiles and tax collectors?
Let us pray: Merciful God, give us a heart of flesh that we may love everybody even as you love us – Amen.
Saint Clare – Pray for us.
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