Thursday, 25 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church, Pope St. Gregory VII, Pope, and St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin (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 to stay united with God and to remain firm in our faith in Him at all times, resisting the temptations of worldly ambitions, attachments and other things that may end up misleading us down the wrong path in life. We should not let our desires and the corrupt temptations and attachments to this world lead us astray from the path that the Lord has shown us. As Christians we should continue to keep ourselves attuned to the Lord and firmly continue to uphold the Law and the commandments of God that He has shown us through His Church, amidst and despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face and endure through as we live our lives faithfully as the followers of Christ.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, of the time when St. Paul the Apostle was standing before the whole Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, which was composed of the most powerful and influential members of the Jewish community back then, including the Pharisees and the Sadducees among them, as the two most powerful factions among the Jews. Each of these groups were bitterly divided and antagonistic against each other, and was then united only in their common hatred and opposition against the followers of the Lord, especially that of St. Paul, who had performed so many works for the Lord and brought many into the Christian faith. Like what we heard in our first reading today, immediately when St. Paul mentioned that he belonged to the group of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Pharisees began to fight against each other in a massive conflict.

This shows that there was no unity among all those who persecuted St. Paul and the other early Christians, and God also gave St. Paul the wisdom to act in such a manner so as to prevent the Sanhedrin from uniting against him and in doing so, allowing St. Paul to commence his journey towards being put on trial by the Emperor in Rome, hence fulfilling what the Lord had called on him to do, to minister to the faithful and to spread the Good News to the very heart and centre of the Empire. Through his tireless efforts and commitment, and as well as all the time and hard work that he had put into place, St. Paul had shown us all what it means for us to be Christians, in trusting in the Lord and in doing what God has called and entrusted upon us to do. And God is always with us, by our side, just as the Lord Himself reassured His disciples as He prayed over them, as He promised them all that they would all see the true glory and joy through Him. Each and every one of us should be inspired to live our lives most faithfully as good Christians.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of three great saints whose lives and devotions to God in their own way may indeed be great source of inspiration and hope for each and every one of us, in how we can emulate their examples in our own lives. They are St. Bede the Venerable, a renowned priest and monk, and also a Church historian whose works and theological writings made him to be remembered greatly and honoured as one of the Doctors of the Church, and then Pope St. Gregory VII, who reformed the Church and led the Church through a turbulent and difficult moment where divisions and struggles between the religious and secular authorities were at its peak. Finally we have St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, a dedicated virgin and holy woman, whose life as a religious and experience as a mystic inspired many during her lifetime and afterwards.

St. Bede the Venerable lived and was active during the early years of Medieval Britain, in which he was renowned for being a great scholar and monk, with extensive library and collection of writings and works that still inspired so many people many centuries after his time. St. Bede the Venerable was ordained as a priest, and went on several travels and trips across the British isles, visiting many places and communities, which helped him to know and understand better about the local communities, especially the Christian Church there, and placed the foundation for the many works that he was writing, in topics as diverse as history and astronomy, among many others, and of course many of them dealing with the teachings of the Church and the Christian truth, which still inspired many who read his works afterwards. Many others made the works of St. Bede as their inspiration, and the rich diversity of his works continued to inspire the Church.

Meanwhile, Pope St. Gregory VII was the leader of the Universal Church during the height of what is known as the Investiture Controversy, which arose because of the dispute between the Pope and the Church with the secular authorities under the Holy Roman Emperor. In the past few hundred years before the time of Pope St. Gregory, both positions have become the greatest religious and secular authorities respectively, and the dispute arose because the Emperor claimed the right to appoint bishops and to control them within his own dominion, being appointed and supreme over all the secular rulers. On the other hand, the Pope St. Gregory VII represented the culmination of the Church efforts to resist secular influence and control of the Church and the members of the clergy, and stood firmly against any efforts of the Emperor and his nobles and supporters in trying to control the Church. He also carried out many other important reforms in purifying the Church from many corruptions and wickedness of that time.

Then, St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi was a woman who had been attracted and called to a spiritual life from a very young age, and who eventually joined the Carmelite monastery, becoming one of the Carmelite religious sisters. She has begun receiving mystical visions from a young age, and this continued on through her time and experience as a Carmelite religious. Her great piety and dedication to God, her exemplary actions and care for others, as well as her great holiness and the visions she experienced inspired many others to follow her examples in faith and dedication to God. Through her dedication, many have come to seek the Lord and endeavour to follow the good examples that this faithful and dedicated woman had done in her own life. Thus, all of us should also be inspired by the examples of those whose lives and commitments to God we have just discussed.

Let us all therefore seek to glorify the Lord and proclaim His truth, love and Good News through our own works and actions. Let us all be good and faithful disciples and followers of our Lord and God, spending much of our time and effort to do the will of God and to proclaim Him in the midst of all the things that we have dedicated unto Him. Let us all be good role models and sources of inspiration for each other, in how we lead our lives and carry out our every actions, even in the smallest and seemingly least significant of actions and interactions with others around us. May the Lord continue to guide us in all things and help us to remain ever firmly faithful in Him, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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