Saturday, 17 September 2022 : 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 Scriptures, we are reminded yet again on our faith in the Lord and our beliefs in Him, in how we should have faith in us, which He has sown in us, and we should bear rich fruits of faith, through our exemplary lives and actions. Each and every one of us should do our best to love and serve the Lord at every moments throughout life, so that we may truly live our lives as good and dedicated Christians, worthy of being the ones who have been made and created in the image of God Himself, and Whom God had called and willingly made to be His own beloved children and people.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth we heard the Apostle St. Paul spoke to the people there regarding the matter of the resurrection from the dead and the resurrection of the body as there were still members of the faithful who did not understand or appreciate what the resurrection truly meant and how it would affect all of them. There were then still members of the Christian faithful, probably those who once belonged to the caste of the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead who had doubts about the resurrection and did not understand how it works.

St. Paul highlighted how through Christ, the Saviour of the world, Who came into this world, bearing the truth and salvation from God, has shown us a new life through Him, a new existence that goes beyond our earthly life. He mentioned how the first Adam, our ancestor was given life when he was created by God, and how the New Adam, that is Christ Himself, has brought upon us true and everlasting life, that we shall transcend beyond our mortal bodies and existence, and through Him we shall be reunited and reconciled with God. That new life, which God brought upon us through His Son, shows us that our mortality and death do not mark the end of our existence, and instead there is eternity beyond that of death.

In our Christian faith and beliefs, all of us believe that there is life beyond death, and while all of us have to experience suffering and death as consequences for our sins, but the same sins and death do not have the final say over us. To those who are righteous and worthy, God has shown us through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Saviour, that we shall be reunited with Him and shall once again enjoy the fullness of His grace and blessings as He has always intended for us. The Lord has always been so reassuring towards us, and He did not just love us despite our many rebellions and disobedience against Him, but He even sent us His Son to bring His salvation and deliverance upon us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the well-known parable of the sower by the Lord, in which the Lord Himself told His disciples of what happened to the seeds sown in four different places, by the roadside, on rocky and dry ground, amongst the thistles and brambles, and finally on rich and fertile soil. The Lord went through the meaning of each part of the parable and told them what each of them represented, and how the seeds were truly a reference to the Word of God, the Wisdom and truth which God has bestowed on all of His people. How and where the seeds landed represented how we mankind responded to the Lord, to His truth and love, to His Good News and grace in our midst.

We have to realise that as long as we continue to resist the Lord in the manner of how some among the faithful in Corinth continued to have doubts and reservations on their beliefs, and in their inability to comprehend the resurrection, then it is just like how we mankind tend to shut the Lord out of our lives as we prefer to live them in the manner that we want to live them, following the ways of the world and the paths that may not conform to the path that God has shown and taught us. More often than not we prefer to trust in our own judgments and ideals, and not listening to God speaking to us in the depth of our hearts and minds. And our preoccupation with our own desires prevent us from being able to listen to Him.

That is why today, as we also celebrate the feast of two great saints whose examples and faith can become our inspiration in how we ought to live our own lives, we should give some time to heed their examples and their actions in life. St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen are these two great servants of God who should become our role models in life, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and ever closer to God. Both of them had served the Church and the people of God in various ways, and in their personal holiness and dedication, they have done much to bring the people of God ever closer to their Lord and Saviour.

St. Robert Bellarmine was a Jesuit Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, who was credited for his intense effort in supporting and applying the reforms of the Ecumenical Council of Trent in the midst of great changes in the Church and the community during the Counter-Reformation period. He was very much involved in the renewal of Catholic theology and education, as he was involved over many years in the teaching of theology at the Roman College, now known as the Pontifical Gregorian University, influencing many seminarians who would become future priests and leaders of the Church, impressing many people with his deep intellectual understanding of theology and the Scriptures, as well as his great wisdom.

St. Robert Bellarmine was made as the Rector of the aforementioned Roman College, and then as a Bishop and finally a Cardinal of the Church. He was entrusted by the Pope with the task to assist in the reforms of the Church, and he also wrote extensively on many works and books related to theology and Christian teachings. He also defended the true faith against the many heresies, falsehoods and the other forces arrayed against the Church at that time. Through his ceaseless efforts and commitment to God, St. Robert Bellarmine showed us what it truly means to be truly dedicated as Christians.

Meanwhile, St. Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess who was renowned as a great mystic and writer, and whose contributions to the Church both in her local community and the larger Universal Church were immense. St. Hildegard of Bingen was credited with many writings in various topics and aspects, both regarding Church teachings and even beyond, and devoted her life to the Lord and her community. She wrote extensively on the matters of theology, as well as botany and medicine, and was also credited with the development of monophony in the Church music of her time. For all these efforts and hard work, and for all the contributions that she had done, she was recently therefore canonised ten years ago by Pope Benedict XVI, and then elevated to the position of the Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis, our current Pope.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the examples shown by St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Hildegard of Bingen, that we ourselves may also be good role models and examples for others all around us, in our faith and in how we live our lives. Let us all be true witnesses of the Lord and proclaim His truth and love, His Good News and all His grace to all the nations through our own lives and actions each day. May God bless us always and may He continue to guide us in all of our actions, in our every efforts and deeds. Amen.

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