Saturday, 20 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (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 joy by which we should live our lives as Christians, and how we should proclaim the Lord with great joy, in our every day moments and lives, in our every actions and activities, in how we interact with others all around us. All of us are reminded to live our lives with great faith and dedication, following the examples of the Apostles and the many other disciples of the Lord, the holy missionaries and all those who have given their lives to the service of God, in proclaiming His truth and Good News, just as we have heard these from our Scripture passages today, the story of great deeds of evangelisation and missionary works, which we ourselves ought to be inspired to continue in our own way.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the story of the missionary works of a particular Jewish Christian preacher named Apollos or St. Apollos, who was a contemporary of St. Paul and the other Apostles and early Church missionaries. He was a Jewish Christian convert from Alexandria, and according to the Acts of the Apostles and other New Testament sources, he was likely one of the disciples or followers of St. John the Baptist, as it was mentioned how he knew only of the baptism of John and the teachings of St. John the Baptist. But what was unique about St. Apollos was his great zeal and charism, his eloquence and oratorical skills which was very empowering and brought many people, especially those in the Jewish diaspora community, to become Christian believers. After two disciples of the Lord, Priscilla and Aquila spoke to Apollos regarding the revelation of the Christian truth which Apollos had not yet received, St. Apollos continued his labours therefore with even greater zeal and success.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, telling them how one day the whole truth would be revealed to them, and how at that time, prior to His Passion, death and resurrection, He was still speaking in veiled languages, and how many among the disciples did not really understand or appreciate what He was trying to tell them. But He reassured them that everything would be revealed in due time, and indeed, the Lord revealed all to them, the truth that He spoke of and delivered to our midst, and the Holy Spirit has been sent to us, invigorating and strengthening us, while revealing the fullness of truth that God has been willing to share with us. Through the wisdom of God and the zeal that the Lord has placed in us via the Holy Spirit, all of us have been called and reminded to follow the Lord our God in each and every moments of our lives.

All of us should be inspired by the examples presented by our predecessors in faith, that is all those who have embraced the Lord’s call and responded positively to His call, in living their lives well in accordance to the way of the Lord and in doing what they could in order to proclaim the Good News of God. We should look upon these examples in order to help and lead us down the right path, and as inspiration to help us to do what we can in our own way, in whatever capacity that the Lord has given us, through whatever graces and blessings that we have received. Each one of us as the disciples and followers of the Lord all share the same mission and responsibility, to bring forth God’s truth and Good News to all the people of all the nations so that more and more may come to believe in God and be saved through Him.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of one of the holy servants of God, whose life should be an inspiration and example for all of us as Christians, namely that of St. Bernardine of Siena, a great priest and man of God. He was born in what is now Italy in the early days of the Renaissance era, in which time there were a lot of great excesses and corruption in the Church as well as in the general society. He lived through tumultuous and turbulent times, as there were great scandals and political struggles at that time, which affected even to the highest echelons of the Church and the civil society at that time. It was in that time and occasion that St. Bernardine of Siena was called by God to be His servant, to proclaim His truth to a wayward people and to remind all of them of everything that they had wickedly done, and how they should turn away from all those evil ways.

St. Bernardine of Siena became a member of the Franciscan Order and eventually became a friar and ordained as a priest, after which he led a life of great missionary works, preaching and ministering to the people of God. St. Bernardine spent over thirty years working among the people, preaching to them directly and speaking to them, calling upon all of them to turn over a new life and to discard their wayward and wicked ways, calling on them to return to the virtuous and blessed path of being Christians, stopping whatever activities and things that have kept them separated from God and corrupted, such as gambling, excesses of wealth and hedonistic lifestyle among others. He spoke out against corruption and against all sorts of other vices, and through him, not few turned back to the Lord. Nonetheless, it did not mean that St. Bernardine’s work was smooth, as he had to encounter quite a few challenges and opposition to his works, but regardless, he faced it all with faith and courage.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the faith and examples of St. Bernardine of Siena, and look upon our own lives, thinking and discerning in what manner we may be able to serve our Lord with greater fidelity and zeal. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves in the manner of how St. Bernardine of Siena had dedicated his life to serve the Lord, to proclaim His truth and Good News and in persevering in doing so even when he encountered stiff and often bitter resistance from the people that he had been ministering to? Are we willing and able to embrace faithfully our respective calling as Christians, in doing what we must do in order to do our part as members of the same Church of God, to do our best to be His faithful and dedicated beacons of His light and truth to the nations?

May the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, continue to be with us and bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, and may He empower each and every one of us to be ever stronger and more committed in the path that He has shown us all. May God be with His Church and may all of us remain in His favour and love, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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