Thursday, 15 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, 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 listened to the words of the Scripture telling us about the love which each and every one of us as Christians ought to have for one another. This is shown in the first reading of today, taken from the Epistle written by St. Paul to Philemon. In that correspondence, St. Paul spoke of the request which he made of Philemon to take good care of Onesimus, his godson.

This happened at the time when St. Paul was already imprisoned for his activities in preaching the Gospel to the people both the Jews and Gentiles alike. He faced much opposition and endured many rejections from his enemies and from those who refused to believe in the message he preached. He was imprisoned together with Onesimus and many other fellow Christians, and it was likely that Onesimus was released earlier than St. Paul from the prison.

Therefore, what happened was that, St. Paul sent Onesimus back to the community where he met him, the community which Philemon also belonged to. He asked Philemon and the community to accept Onesimus back and to take care of him well, without prejudice and with true love, as if Onesimus was St. Paul himself. This was made likely because St. Paul knew that his time was almost up, and he wanted to make sure everything was well taken care of.

It was likely that St. Paul was about to go forth to his last journey to Rome, where he would eventually meet his martyrdom, and therefore, he sent forth Onesimus, that the community might be able to take good care of him in Christian love. And this is indeed, what the Lord had told His people, by the coming of His kingdom into this world. Not by wonderful and miraculous signs, but through concrete building of a thriving and loving community of the people of God.

In the Gospel passage today, the suffering of Christ was foretold by none other than the Lord Himself, Who told the people and His disciples of His coming passion and suffering. He mentioned how He, the Son of Man, would be rejected and cast out, and would be handed over to the Romans to be crucified for the sake of all the people. And similarly, the Lord had reminded His disciples on various occasion, how they too shall suffer as He has suffered.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there were many of those who opposed the works and efforts of the Lord, who refused to allow the coming of the kingdom of God into our midst. Instead, they trusted more in the providence of worldly powers, goods and abilities. They hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, and proudly sought to advance their own causes and desires, and in doing so, they failed to realise the potential of the kingdom of God in each one of us.

Today we are called to look once again upon our lives and actions. Have we been truly Christian in our attitudes and interactions with one another? Have we showed love, care and concern for our fellow brethren, especially those who are in need and those who have none to love them? These are the things that we should be doing as Christians, as those who follow the teachings and the examples of Christ, Our Lord and God.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Albert the Great, a truly devoted servant of God and bishop of the Church, who was renowned for his many contributions to the developing and growing Church and its communities in the region now known as Germany. St. Albert the Great was also a member of the Dominican religious order, and wrote very extensively on various matters of the faith. He helped to develop the theology and philosophical teachings of the Church, and his many works inspired many people through the centuries.

At the same time, besides his numerous contributions in the literary and teaching areas of the Church, St. Albert the Great was also remembered for his roles in defusing many conflicts and tensions between various factions of the Church, travelling from places to places, calling the people to righteousness and to abandon their sinful and wrong paths. He devoted himself to the good works of the Church and to the building of Christian communities to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should emulate the examples which had been shown by St. Paul and the other disciples of the Lord, and also St. Albert the Great, and the many other holy men and women of God, who have strived to bring God’s kingdom into our midst, to exist in reality through our Church and how its members exist in love with each other and with God.

Let us all embody this faith and belief which we have in God, in our own actions and deeds throughout life. And let us all turn wholeheartedly towards the Lord from now on, being role models for one another in faith, and in how we show our love to our fellow brethren, especially those who have need of our love. May God be with us always, and may He bless us all in our good works of faith. Amen.

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