Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abb. D., (20th August, 2018) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Deut 32:18-21. (R. cf. v.18);
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 20th August, 1153) was born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France. His pious parents sent him at an early age to a college at Chatillon. Fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he embraced the Cistercian Order. He was sent by his superior with twelve other monks to found a new monastery at Clairvaux. Saint Bernard was appointed Abbot. He founded numerous monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honour of God. He refused several Bishoprics offered to him. Popes were governed by his advice. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. In obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff he travelled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. St. Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles.
Topic: Inheriting eternal life.
A rich young man came to Jesus in today’s gospel and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus replied him in part, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” After Jesus enumerated the commandments at the young man’s request he said to Jesus, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus replied, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” On hearing this, “he went away grieving”.
The last verse of the gospel made explicit the obstacle of the rich young man, his many possessions. We must remember that all possessions come from God, cf. 1Chr 29:12; 1Cor 11:12.
The Psalmist rightly admonishes us not to set our heart on riches even when they increase, cf. Ps 62:10. It is important to note that “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov 11:4). Again, “Those who trust in their riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like green leaves” (Prov 11:28). And again, “riches do not last forever” (Prov 27:24).
To inherit eternal life, one must first disinherit this life. We must remember that the cares of the world, the delight in riches, and the desire for other earthly things choke the word of God and make it unfruitful, cf. Mk 4:19; Matt 13:22. Hence Jesus warns, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). The life of Saint Bernard is a very good example. He turned his back to the snares and temptations of the world.
Bible Reading: Jas 5:1-6; 1Tim 6:17-19.
Thought for today: ...riches do not last forever (Prov 27:24).
Let us pray: God, remove far from us falsehood and lying. Give us neither poverty nor riches; but feed us with the food that is needful – Amen (cf. Prov 30:8; Matt 6:11).
Saint Bernard – Pray for us.
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