Friday, 17 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops or Holy Virgins)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to follow the Lord and be His disciples in the most sincere way possible. We should commit ourselves to Him just as His disciples and followers had done, as we heard how the Lord’s disciples, the Twelve and the women who always kept the Lord company followed Him wherever He went, doing His will and all the works for His glory.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy of the reminder that St. Paul the Apostle gave to his godson, St. Timothy, one of the earliest successors of the Apostles as the first of the bishops with regards to the concerns on the false teachings and false guidance from those who had promoted their own distorted ideas, as there were, even then, in the earliest days of the Church, the seeds of divisions and dissensions placed by the devil and his forces, in trying to destroy the Church and the faithful people of God.

St. Paul spoke of how there were those who pursued their own agenda and promoted their own flawed ideas that did not have the fullness of truth or Divine inspiration as the Lord’s disciples, the Apostles and their fellow co-workers had received. They instead caused confusion and divisions for their own glory and worldly pursuit, masquerading as a teacher of the faith while being the agent of the evil one, who used them to spread these divisions and confusion, and strike at the most vulnerable among the Lord’s flock.

Hence, St. Paul through his words reminded us that we have to be vigilant against all those that sowed dissension and divisions among us, and all those who sought to have personal gains over that of the people of God. All of us should be careful and do not easily allow the devil to have his way over us. We must remain true to our faith and understand what we believe in so that we will not be swayed by those false teachings and ideas. And it is also a reminder for us that we should not be tempted by worldly desires and end up corrupting others for the sake of our own personal glory.

Today all of us are called to remember the commitment which all of us are called to make as the disciples and followers of the Lord. Looking upon the examples that the Holy Apostles and disciples of the Lord had shown, we can see how they had given their all in serving the Lord, in preaching the truth of God and in delivering His love to all, even at times disregarding their own safety and comfort. They laboured for many years in proclaiming the words of God and enduring many persecutions, and at times they also had to go against the false teachings and heresies as St. Paul himself had to contend with.

Nonetheless, they persevered and committed themselves to the Lord without hesitation, spending a lot of effort and time, keeping their focus on the Lord throughout. They might falter and fail, but with the help, strength and grace from God, they went up again, and again, never giving up the works and efforts for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of their fellow brothers and sisters. It is this spirit and faith that our holy predecessors had, which we all should also have in our own lives, in our own faith in God.

Today, we also remember the memory of two great saints and Doctors of the Church, whose lives have been exemplary and works great and numerous, in leading so many people towards the Lord. First of all, St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian Jesuit Cardinal, as a great reformer of the Church, and had a great and immense contribution to the Church teachings and theology. As a great teacher of theology, he inspired and spearheaded a great part of the efforts of the Counter-Reformation against those who divided the Church with their false and heretical teachings.

His great knowledge, wisdom and intellectual understanding of theology and other aspects of the faith were very notable, and the Pope himself took note of his efforts and achievements, making him the Rector of the Roman College and eventually as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and as a Cardinal Inquisitor was instrumental in leading through many aspects of Church reforms and in maintaining the integrity of the Magisterium and Sacred Tradition of the Church amidst a period of confusion and division among the faithful.

Then, the other saint whose memory we remember today, namely St. Hildegard of Bingen was canonised just less than a decade ago by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and then declared as a Doctor of the Church in that very same year. Her feast was added definitively to the Roman Calendar this year by Pope Francis, to celebrate her great faith and piety, her deep spiritual relationship with God and numerous works through which she inspired many who came to read of her works in remaining faithful to God.

St. Hildegard of Bingen was remembered as a great mystic and a theologian, who received visions of God throughout her life, as a monastic nun, dedicating her whole life to God. Even since a very young age, St. Hildegard of Bingen had received her visions, and later on in life, she wrote of her visions and experiences, which were widely known later after her passing. In her visions, St. Hildegard experienced the vision of God, in her various senses, experiencing the Light of God, which she described as the Three Shades of the Light of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each of these two wonderful saints served the Lord in their own unique ways, and they followed in the path set by the Lord before them, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. Are we also able to follow in their footsteps and examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to embrace the Lord in the same way that they had done, and giving our time, effort and attention wholeheartedly to God? Let us all reflect on this and discern how we can be better disciples of the Lord from now on, in our every words, actions and deeds.

May God be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us with His truth that we may always remain true to Him, and remain committed to His truth, and do not fall into the trap of falsehoods and lies that the devil placed all around us. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and good works, now and always. Amen.

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