Saturday, 20 August 2016 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the proclamations of the Word of God, exhorting us to remember that we exist for God alone, and it is to God that we all ought to dedicate our time and devotion, and we should not fall for the temptation of power, of pride and glory, of human affection and fame, and for all things that bring about our downfall.

The essence from the Gospel today cannot be made any clearer, brothers and sisters in Christ, than the exhortation and calling for us all to truly live out our lives in faith, to be beacons of faith and of love, to show to the whole world who we really are, that is as the children and as the followers of our loving God. We must have God in us, and He must be the centre of our lives.

The passage we just heard in the Gospel has been often used to attack our faith and the Church, as those who failed to understand the true intentions of the Lord with His words, would take up those words and then use them to strike without proper understanding at our Church and on the way which we do things in this Church of God, particularly with regards to the way that we worship the Lord.

Critics and unbelievers pointed that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law for their long prayers and elaborate prayer tassels and mantles, citing these to attack our supposedly elaborate ceremonies and celebrations of the Faith, at the centre of which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in how we carry on the worship of the Lord in our churches and parishes.

These same critics argued that our faith is empty just as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had been, but that was because of their lack of understanding, again on what Jesus truly intended with His message and with the truth about our faith. And thus, in their ignorance and stubbornness, they became just like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law whom they were comparing us with.

Why is this so, brethren? That is because the rich traditions of our faith and the Church all speak of the same thing, that is our desire and our strong, adamant and living wish to serve the Lord and to worship Him in the best way we can. But in order to do so, we must learn to detach ourselves from the concerns and the desires of the world, all of which prevented us from being able to comprehend the way in which we should devote ourselves to the Lord.

And that is by giving of ourselves heart, soul and mind to God, by opening ourselves to the word of God that we will find our way to the Lord. Let those critics and all those who showed negativities to our faith be, and instead let us show the fundamental difference which we have between us and those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of old. And that is, while those people sought to serve their own purposes and advance their own status, we do all that we did because we want to worship and glorify the Lord in the best way that we mankind can offer.

And this is where we should look up to the examples of St. Bernard, a holy saint, a renowned religious and Abbot, and also a great Doctor of the Church for his numerous works and contributions for the faith and the Church at large, even until this very day. St. Bernard, also known as St. Bernard of Clairvaux was truly a great reformer of the faith on his time, leading many others by example on how they ought to live their faith lives with devotion and zeal.

He was renowned for his extensive works in trying to bring together different rivalling factions in the Church, chastising all those who sought to advance their own personal, worldly glory at the expense of the Church and the faithful, when at that time, the Church was kind of bitterly divided from within into factions, and where even secular rulers were trying to advance their own influences and positions in relation to the Church and the people of God.

He preached for a return to the true and genuine faith in the Lord, to lay aside the indifference, the distractions and all the intrigues and all the temptations and allures of worldly desires and wishes that had been preventing all of the people of God from finding their way to Him. He preached that all the faithful ought to renew their devotion and commitment to the Lord, and many answered that call to holiness and to refocus their attention back to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us are also therefore called to do the same as well. All of us have that obligation to serve, just as the Lord Himself had mentioned in the Gospel today. As Christians, each and every one of us ought to listen to His calling, and the mission which He had entrusted us with, that is for us to serve the Lord and His people with love.

Shall we all devote ourselves to that mission which we have been entrusted with, and do whatever it is that we can do in order to help those who are around us, particularly all those who are lost in the darkness of the world and all those who have not been able to find their way, tempted and lured away by their human desires and wants. Let us all help one another that all of us may find our way to the Lord and that all of us may be saved together in Christ. May the Lord be our guide always. Amen.

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