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. Aug 2020 .
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Doctrines & Morals

The Memorial of St Alphonsus Liguori

Jer. 26:11-16.24, Mt. 14:1-12. Almost all the Old Testament prophets express a burning indignation when an Israelite preyed on another Israelite, forced the sale of family inheritance, overlooked the needs of orphans and widows and turned might into right, just to impose their own desires. If even priests and Temple officials supported such social injustices, then prophets like Jeremiah in today's first reading speaks out in the name of God, the people’s ultimate redeemer or go’el. John the Baptist also defended the rights of the ordinary people and died in this cause, protesting at Herod’s wealth, sensuality, envy and human respect. His life was whisked away by a dancing girl, put on display by her dissipated step-father. Today's Gospel records Herod’s confusion between John the Baptist and Jesus, whom he thought was raised from the dead.

To understand the entire story, we need to reflect on the attitudes of the character in the Gospel: John the Baptist and Herod, Herodias and her daughter. Of the two men, Herod was a man of power, whereas John was powerless; Herod had the freedom of an autocrat to do whatever he liked, whereas John had no freedom, being locked up in prison. Yet, at another level, John the Baptist had an authority and freedom that the king did not have. John had a moral authority that Herod lacked and he had the freedom to speak out of his convictions, whereas Herod lacked the freedom of his convictions; he had John beheaded against his better judgement. John had the authority of the person who was completely open to God’s Spirit and that he had the spiritual freedom of the children of God. St Alphonsus Liguori whose memorial we celebrate worked with such spiritual freedom that made him to start the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, popularly known as the Redemptorists. Alphonsus Liguori was born in Marianella near Naples on September 27, 1696. He received a broad education in humanities, classical and modern languages, painting and music. In 1723, after a long process of discernment, he abandoned his legal career and, despite his father’s strong opposition, began his seminary studies. He was ordained a priest on December 21, 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized young people of Naples. He founded the “Evening Chapels”.

May the Lord continue to empower us to witness to our faith in God and be authentic Christians in the face of adversity! Amen!! Remain safe and have a productive Month!!!

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