Saturday, 11 July 2015 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of a renowned saint, that is of St. Benedict of Nursia, also known as St. Benedict the Abbot, the founder of the Benedictines religious order, one of the largest and earliest established religious orders in the world. He was one of the earliest pioneers of monasticism and religious life dedicated to God.

St. Benedict founded many communities of the religious and the faithful, but his life began as a Roman noble in the fifth century after the birth of our Lord, where he once had a great prospect in life, a quality education and a good company of friends and even those who professed their love for him. But, St. Benedict gradually saw how wicked the sins and actions which his companions had committed, and gradually withdrawing himself from worldliness, he found the true purpose of his life.

He sought true satisfaction in life by leading a life filled with prayer, sanctity and devotion to God. When the devil at one time tried to tempt him by filling his mind with the beautiful image of a woman he once loved in his youth, he resisted the temptation by purging it from the flesh by self-mortification, lying on a bed of thornbushes to remind himself of the sinfulness of such thoughts. By purifying his flesh, he gained the purification of his soul and being.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Scripture readings today, the first of which was taken from the last part of the Book of Genesis, talked about the passing of Jacob in Egypt, continuing from where we left off yesterday, and the begging of the sons of Israel, or Jacob, on their brother Joseph, whom they had once betrayed and sold to the slavemasters.

They feared his retribution for all the wrongs they had wrought on him in the past. But this is where they failed to see that whatever evil they had concocted and planned against Joseph, God had turned them into something good for the benefit of many people. The way of the Lord is truly far beyond our comprehension and understanding, and His ways is truly far beyond us and our ways.

What the Lord Jesus wanted to tell the disciples was in fact of the same nature as well. This is because He told them about not needing to worry about anything in life, as God who cares for His beloved ones would be with them and providing them with all the things that they need. And indeed, this was the case, and will always be for all of us who put our trust in Him.

Brethren, it is the fallibility of our human nature for us to have fear, worry and uncertainties inside each one of us. It is exactly because we do not have faith in the Lord, and because we put our hopes on worldly things and matters that we end up sinning before God and men, for we act in ways so as to preserve ourselves, our own prosperity, material goods, well-being, often at the expense of others around us.

The examples of St. Benedict and all that he had done should have inspired all of us. It does not mean that all of us ought to abandon everything and pursue religious life as he had done. Some of us indeed may follow in his footsteps, in the footsteps of the many holy priests and servants of God in giving their lives up for the service of the Lord and His people, but for the majority of us, what we need to do is to live faithfully and reject all of the temptations of the world, which Satan is offering us for the destruction of ourselves.

Can we indeed try to look away and detract ourselves from the temptations that is the worldliness all around us? Do not worry about these things, for truly what is more important is the salvation of our soul. There is no point for us to have a good life in this world, to have plenty of everything, and yet in the world that is to come, we have nothing, because in our striving for goodness in this world, we have brought suffering to others, we have not been obedient to God, and we have ended up sinning before His presence.

Let us all build for ourselves the richness and treasures of the world that is to come, by listening and obeying all that the Lord had shown us. May the examples of St. Benedict and that of other holy saints be inspiration for us, so that we may be forever true to our commitment to our Lord and God. May He bless us and keep us in His grace, and strengthen our faith in Him always. God be with us all. Amen.

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