Thursday, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through the Scriptures on the importance of unity among us Christians, in our Church and in our faithful communities, all those who profess the faith in God, and all of us who believe that Christ is truly our Lord and Saviour. If there is no unity in us, then division and conflict will quickly come into our midst, and as we have seen throughout the history of man, we ended up raising up against one another.

In the first reading today we heard of the moment when St. Paul was tried by the Sanhedrin as he was being brought to answer for the charges levied against him by the Jewish authorities. This was to be St. Paul’s last journey, just before he embarked on his last trip to Rome where he would be martyred. The Sanhedrin were divided among themselves, between the faction of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Both of these factions were very influential and powerful among the Jewish people, as the Pharisees represented the priestly and spiritual caste who preserved the traditions, laws and customs of the people while the Sadducees represented the intellectuals and all those with secular power, and both of them were diametrically opposite to each other in the way they think and argue.

As a result, the moment St. Paul made use of the opportunity to expose the bitter division among the two groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees immediately ended up in a very vicious and brutal conflict with each other. They were so divided amongst each other that they were unable to overcome their differences even against a common enemy, St. Paul himself. We see how the two groups bickered and fought, ultimately because of their own ego and pride.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, division is something that did not come from God, for in God lies nothing less than the perfect Unity, the Unity and Harmony between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, God in the Three Divine Persons but One Godhood. This is what all of us firmly believe in, the believe in the Most Holy Trinity of God, the Unity that He reflects on His own Church and therefore, all of His beloved ones, all of us.

Therefore, that is why the Lord Jesus prayed that there would be unity in the Church and among His disciples and followers, just as He and His heavenly Father are One. Unity comes from God but divisions come from the devil. And ever since mankind first sinned and disobeyed God, and preferred to follow the temptations of evil, they have lost that perfect unity with God and became divided among themselves and divided away from the harmony and unity of God.

All these divisions came about because of our pride and ego, our selfishness and greed within us, which prevented us from being able to appreciate God’s harmony and unity in our midst. Instead of God being at the centre of our lives, we put ourselves and our own selfish desires as the focus of our lives, as the aim and the ambition of our lives. That is how we become divided among ourselves, as our ambitions, ego and pride clash with one another and we refuse to give in.

That is why, today all of us are called to break away from the lure of these temptations to ambition, ego and pride that cause divisions among us, and re-centre ourselves to God, focusing ourselves on Him and His love from now on. That is how we regain the unity among ourselves, bitterly divided and conflicted among ourselves as Christians, in what we have seen in the many splinters and breakaways in the Body of Christ, the Church all these while.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Norbert, a great bishop and a renowned preacher and servant of God who devoted his whole life to God, in the love he showed to the poor and the needy. St. Norbert worked tirelessly among the people of God, devoting all his effort, time and attention to serve the good of the Lord’s people. St. Norbert gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord in what was to become the Canons Regular of Prémontré. He was also instrumental in the ending of some bitter divisions and troubles in the Church at his time.

In what St. Norbert has shown, by focusing ourselves on God and by putting Him ahead of everything else, and by our dedication and commitment, we can bring true unity, harmony and peace to ourselves, and to get rid from ourselves the divisions and troubles that come with our selfishness, ego and pride. Let us all turn to God from now on, and commit ourselves to serve Him from now on, each and every day. Amen.

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