Thursday, 27 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded of the most wonderful works of God in our midst, that exist all around us and which He has done for our sake, providing for us and blessing us with many wonderful things, which unfortunately often ignored by many of us. Many among us have not realised just how much God has done for us, and just how wonderfully beloved we have been. We have not opened our eyes and our hearts to recognise God’s love for us.

That is why then in the Gospel reading today we heard about the Lord healing the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who begged Him to heal him and restore his sight. And despite the ridicule and the efforts of the crowd to silence him, Bartimaeus continued to ask for the Lord, shouting out for Him and calling on Him to show mercy towards Him because he truly believed that the Lord could heal him and make him whole again. And that was how Bartimaeus, the blind beggar was healed and restored his sight, by his great faith in the Lord.

Bartimaeus was blind, and he was unable to see any light, as his eyes had failed him. The Lord opened his eyes again and restored his ability to see the light and all things surrounding him. He sought the Lord for healing, and the Lord healed him. And through what we have heard about Bartimaeus and his healing by the Lord, we are actually reminded to seek God’s healing for our own predicament and illness, that we too may be healed and may be made whole again just as Bartimaeus had been made whole.

Why do we need healing, brothers and sisters in Christ? Some of us may wonder why we need healing or why we have the need to seek the Lord. That is in fact because we are all, even though we may be perfectly good in health and in our physical selves, but we are suffering from sin, afflicted by this disease that is affecting us and will end up destroying us unless we have them resolved by none other than the Lord. The Lord alone has the power to heal us from our sins, as unlike any other ailments of this world, no one can forgive sin but God alone.

Hence, we need to seek the Lord and ask Him for His healing and forgiveness for our sins, so that we may be freed from bondage to those sins and be brought to a new life filled with grace, in the presence of God. We should also realise that we are really fortunate that God Himself always wants us to be reconciled to Him and to be freed from our sins, just as He wanted to heal Bartimaeus and how He recognised the faith that the blind beggar had in Him. Hence, we too need to have that faith in the Lord as well.

Today we are all called as Christians to have genuine faith in the Lord and to devote ourselves, our efforts and attention, our time and our energy to serve the Lord, to walk on His path and to remain true to Him, even when we may encounter trials and challenges, ridicule and sufferings along the way. Just as Bartimaeus was insistent despite being ridiculed and opposed by all those who were around him, we also have to be insistent and committed in our faith, as best as we are able to.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, a great missionary and servant of God, the first Bishop of Canterbury in England, as he went to that land, reestablishing the Church hierarchy and presence in England after barbarian invasions in the preceding centuries destroyed much of the Church infrastructures and presence established earlier during the Roman times. Pope St. Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to England with the mission for the conversion of souls, and St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated himself to his mission.

Through his tireless works, St. Augustine of Canterbury did not just manage to establish a firm foundation of the Church in England, but he also managed to convince even some of the local rulers and kings to convert to the Christian faith. St. Augustine of Canterbury spent a lot of time in patiently reaching out to the pagans and the believers alike, and beginning many other missions that would end up in converting the entirety of England to the faith within a century or so. St. Augustine of Canterbury is therefore remembered for his great contributions and faith, which should become source of inspiration for all of us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on? Are we able to commit ourselves like St. Augustine of Canterbury and so many other saints and our holy predecessors had done? Let us all seek the Lord with all of our hearts from now on, and be like Bartimaeus in his faith and belief in the Lord’s love and providence. May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen all of us with faith. Amen.

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