Friday, 13 January 2017 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the matter of the forgiveness of sins, as Jesus our Lord healed the paralytic man, telling him that He has forgiven him his sins, but the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law refused to believe that He was capable of forgiveness of sins, as to them, only God could forgive sins, and they did not believe that He is truly God.

This was precisely pointed out in the first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, how two different types of people heard and received the Good News of the Gospel, but they acted differently, and thus different outcomes were recorded. In one group, the people who heard the Gospel believed in the message of the Lord, and they welcomed the truth of God in their hearts, and therefore they were saved.

However, in the other group, they refused to believe, and therefore the Word had no place in their hearts. They closed their hearts against the truth of God, and in their stubbornness, they had brought about their own downfall. God had freely offered His mercy, love and forgiveness, but if those people refused to accept them, then they would not be forgiven their sins and trespasses.

That was why the paralytic man was healed from his afflictions, because of his faith in God, Who made His good works true through Jesus His Son. He had sent His Son into the world in order to save it, and thus through Jesus, He had brought about His healing and forgiveness into the world. The paralytic man had been made whole in body and spirit, healed from his sickness and also forgiven from his sins.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law on the other hand, even though they were perfectly fine in the body, not afflicted by human diseases and weaknesses, but in their hearts, their sins remained. Sin is the disease of the soul, which gnaws away at our very being, and corrupting us from the inside out. This is why Jesus often rebuked them, at their impurities of their interior beings, while they insisted on outward appearances and exterior piety.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, are we open to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness? Or are we more like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who in their pride and greed refused to believe in the truth that Jesus our Lord had taught to all of them. They refused to acknowledge their sinfulness and wicked ways, and they adamantly refused to change their ways.

That is the attitude of those who have condemned themselves to an eternity of sufferings. Rather, as Christians, all of us should learn to be more like Christ, our Lord, following Him in His humility and obedience to the will of the Father. We should erase from our hearts all sorts of human pride and all the things that prevent us from finding the grace and forgiveness in God. And most importantly, we should be concerned for each other, helping one another to reject false ways and adhere to the true faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us should also follow the examples of today’s saint, St. Hilary of Poitiers. St. Hilary of Poitiers lived during the waning years of the Roman Empire, with the Christian community troubled by the heresy of Arianism, which had gained much traction amongst the people. The false teachings of Arius had misled many into the wrong paths, and there were many who adamantly refused to see the truth in the orthodox and true faith.

St. Hilary of Poitiers worked hard among the people, through his preaching and outreach to them, telling them the truth about God, and dispelling the falsehoods and the lies of Arianism and the other heresies of the faith. He devoted his time to bring the people who had been lost in the darkness that they may find their way back to the light of God, and to those who were still adamant against repentance, he rebuked them and cast them out from the Church.

He did not have it easy as he worked among the people to bring them back to the Church, as it was often that he faced rejection and ridicule, and he was even persecuted and people plotted against him. He had to endure humiliation and even exile in his life. As Christians, we should follow his good examples, and be inspired by his dedication to the Lord, and be like him in his desire to bring his brethren in faith back to the true way towards the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be good and faithful Christians like St. Hilary of Poitiers, devoting our life to the Lord, believing in Him and placing our complete trust in Him. Let us not be blinded by our pride and let us not be distracted by our human desires, but instead, let us do our best to help one another to remain true to our Lord and to His truth. May the Lord bless all of our endeavours. Amen.

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