Friday, 21 April 2023 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the love and compassion, the kindness and all of the things which our Lord and Saviour has always shown us, in being present with us and for us, in our every journeys and paths, in all the roads that we are travelling through within our respective lives. God has always been ever present in all of that, and He will not abandon us no matter what. Everything that the Church and the Christian brothers and sisters had done, all have been guided and protected by the Lord. God will not abandon all those who put their trust and faith in Him. His love and kindness have always been shown to us, and none of us will be left without help, in our hour and time of need. For if we depend solely only on our own power, we will likely face defeat and failure, but with God’s help, everything is possible.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the time when the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council was pondering on what to do with the Apostles who had courageously opposed them and refused to follow their orders not to proclaim and teach in the Name of the Risen Christ, with many of the members of the Sanhedrin were desiring to destroy those Apostles, angry and inflamed as they were with the Apostles who defied them and spoke with great Wisdom and courage, in resisting the pressures and coercions levied against them. But with the rising tension and passionate anger, one figure came forth seeking calm and rationale argument, namely the highly respected Gamaliel, a renowned and highly respected teacher of the faith, an elder Pharisee of great reputation. This Gamaliel told the Sanhedrin members to listen to reason and wisdom, and not persecute the Apostles.

The reasons presented by Gamaliel were very compelling, as he brought up the recent so-called False Messiahs, all those who have claimed to be the Messiah or the Saviour sent by God, and how their following and works quickly disappeared and were scattered after their leaders were put to death. Thus, following the same logic and example, Gamaliel convinced the other members of the Sanhedrin to let the Lord’s disciples be, as if their Lord and Master had indeed been a False Messiah like the others before Him, His movement and the works of His disciples would have quickly disappeared and they would be quickly scattered. On the other hand, as what was actually the case, if their Lord and Master was truly the true Messiah, the Saviour of the world, then no matter what efforts or persecutions the Sanhedrin would carry out against them, the works of the Lord would continue and triumph in the end.

That is why, all of us are called and reminded to put our trust and faith in the Lord, remembering that He has always been by our side, guiding us and providing for us, protecting and helping us even in ways that we may not realise at first. The Lord has always been with His Church and His disciples, and as we also then heard from our Gospel passage today, He has provided for us all that we need by His love and compassion towards us. In that Gospel passage we heard of the time when the Lord Jesus performed His well-known miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men and more people, by the multiplication of the five loaves and two fishes that He was offered with. This great miracle showed to all of us that God really cared very much about us, and He truly loved all of us, providing for us not just spiritually but also physically, as a wholesome guidance and providence to us.

The Lord showed pity on all those people who were following Him, as they were hungry without sustenance and food, and had been following Him for many days, as they listened to Him teaching and preaching to them. It was in the countryside and wilderness, and there was no food readily and easily available for them to buy and eat. Hence, the Lord told His disciples to provide for all of them food to eat, which when the lack of food was told to Him, He gathered the five loaves of bread and two fishes presented to Him, and miraculously multiplied them before everyone, as the bread and fishes did not run out despite the huge number of people assembled, at least five thousand men and many thousands more of the women and their children. The Lord showed all of these to His people and those disciples to show them that He has always been with them and that He would not abandon them in their time of need.

This is why each and every one of us are called today to renew our faith and trust in the Lord, remembering His love and providence towards us, which will not change and which will always be by our side. All of us are reminded that as Christians, we have all been chosen by the Lord and called to follow Him, and each and every one of us should dedicate ourselves, our time and effort, our whole entire being to the Lord. Let us all turn towards the Lord with love and devotion, with faith and commitment, as we commit ourselves to walk down His path and to proclaim His truth and commandments, His Law and providence to all the people, to all of mankind. Let us all dedicate ourselves to the Lord with renewed vigour and zeal this Easter, and follow Him, as vigorously as the Apostles themselves had done. And today, we have yet another good role model and example to follow.

St. Anselm, whose feast day we celebrate today, also known as St. Anselm of Canterbury was a great and dedicated servant of God, who committed himself to the ministry and the calling that he had been entrusted with. The Lord has called him to be His servant, becoming eventually a monk and abbot, and then after years of faithful work and ministry, he was appointed a bishop and was sent to minister the faithful as shepherd, which during his time of leadership and ministry, had become a great centre of learning and many were touched by his dedication and efforts. St. Anselm eventually was sent to England, to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, as the leader of all the faithful in all of England. He faced great trials and challenges throughout his ministry, and even went through exile during his work, having to endure persecution and rejection from his enemies. Yet he continued to dedicate himself and kept on going in his works and ministry regardless, entrusting himself to the Lord wholeheartedly.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, can we be inspired by the courage and the hard work shown by all those holy predecessors of ours, in all the trust and faith in the Lord which they had shown us through their lives. Let us all be courageous and committed as they had done in their own lives. Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord and do our best to follow Him in all of our lives, doing whatever we can even in the smallest things, to proclaim and glorify Him by our exemplary lives. May God, our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always and may He empower each one of us to live ever more faithfully in His Holy Presence, now, always and forevermore. Amen.

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