Saturday, XVII Week of Ordinary Time, Year A

Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for us

Readings: 1st: Jer 18:1-6; Ps 145; Gos: Mt 13:47-53

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today, the Saturday of the seventeenth week of ordinary time, the Church honors Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Alphonsus was born in 1696. He became a doctor of canon and civil law at the age of sixteen. He practiced for some years, before giving his life to the service of Christ and humanity as a priest.

He was appointed bishop of Sant’ Agata Dei in 1762, where he corrected abuses, restored churches, reformed seminaries, and promoted missions. Alphonsus was the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, well known as Redemptorists. He was a man of excellent morals and spirituality

He died of a painful illness on August 1, 1787. In 1839, he was canonized, and later declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871.

Today’s gospel narrates the events that led to the murder of John the Baptist, the prophet of prophets. Once, I asked my parishioners, what Herodias did with the head of John the Baptist after receiving it.

Only one person attempted it this way: “She dug a hole and buried it.” His guess could be as good as that of any of us.

The truth is that apart from satisfying her evil ego and ventilating her anger, her success as well as her final “trophy” were worthless. This is because, it did not even buy her the peace she needed.

John the Baptist was the victim of corruption and arrogance of an evil government. He was not afraid to speak out when he saw corruption in the land. So, he died for what he preached, for what is just and true.

His life continues to challenge all of us, who have been called to be the light for our society. Unfortunately, at times, we are too afraid to confront evil, because of our excessive instinct for self-preservation.

Indeed, John bore witness both with his words and his life. He gave everything for his mission, and fulfilled those blessed words of Christ: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25).

So, let us pray that through the intercession of Alphonsus, the patron saint of moral theologians, we may always stand firm for whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy” (Phil 4:8).

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for Us

Peace be with you.

Maranatha!

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