Monday, 20 August 2018 : 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, all of us heard from the Scriptures, first beginning with the words and actions of the prophet Ezekiel, who was sent by God to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon, as a sign and warning for them. He showed them through what the Lord had told him to do, how the Israelites have profaned the Holy Temple of God, abandoned His Covenant and disobeyed His Laws, and how this would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel alike.

The Lord has made His Covenant with Israel, promising to bless them and to love them, to protect them and to make them grow into a great nation, but with the agreement that the Israelites would obey the laws and commandments that He has placed before them, which He revealed to them through His servant Moses, and then reminded them many times through His many prophets and messengers.

Yet, the people fell into temptation and refused to obey the laws and commandments which they were supposed to keep. They were swayed by worldly pleasures, of money, of prestige, of power, of human praise, the pleasures of the body and the flesh, that they ended up falling for the traps set by the devil in their midst. They abandoned God and worshipped the pagan idols of their neighbours and followed them in their wicked deeds and lives.

In this event, we see how a people that gave in to the temptations of the world could not remain faithful to the Lord, for they were not able to give their all to God, as their attention and focus were divided and occupied by the worldly desires in their hearts. And that is how, in our Gospel passage today, we also heard of the young man who wanted to follow the Lord and having a great wealth.

In that occasion, the young man said to the Lord that he wanted to know how he could follow Him, stating that he has already followed the laws and commandments as Moses have revealed it to Israel. The young man has obeyed the laws and commandments, and yet, when the Lord asked him to leave behind everything and follow Him wholeheartedly, the young man hesitated and left in sorrow.

Through this interaction between the Lord Jesus and the young, rich man, we can see clearly how our attachments to worldly things such as money, wealth, possessions, glory and fame can prevent us from reaching out to the Lord. These are obstacles that come between us and God, and have become stumbling blocks that make us falter and fall in our journey towards God and His salvation. We must get rid of these obstacles before us.

Today, we celebrate together the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a renowned abbot and religious, a holy and devout servant of God. St. Bernard of Clairvaux founded the Cistercian order following his reform of the Benedictine monastic rules and order. He was remembered for his pious life, and his commitment in combatting heresies and falsehoods rampant in the Church and among the faithful at the time.

There were certain people within the Church who wanted to use the faith to advance their own selfish desires, and that was partly why those heretical teachings and aberrant beliefs proliferated. St. Bernard of Clairvaux dedicated his whole life to the Church, and many souls have been rescued from the precipice of downfall to hell because of his dedication and work.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to live our lives filled with commitment and dedication from now on, to love the Lord with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, and with all of our strength and might, that we may ever strive to be worthy of God? And let us strive to stay true to the Covenant which He has made with us all. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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