Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras celebrated the feast of his patron saint Bernard in a grand, magnificent and splendid manner at St. Mary’s Minor Basilica on August 20 (Sunday). Archbishop Moras presided over a concelebrated Mass on the occasion along with Vicars General Msgr S Jayanathan, Msgr C Francis, Fr Anthony Swamy, Chancellor & PRO and several other priests from far and near places of the Archdiocese.
The homily preached by Fr John Sudeep, to drive home his theme, said these days the promises are condition-oriented. A father of a boy on request promised him a bike if he passed the exam in the college. When result was declared the boy was sad. When probed, the boy said he failed. The father still gave him the keys of the bike. The Lord is like that father. If God promises, He gives. Does God change his promise? No, he is not going to change his mind. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5). None of us was born by accident. We did not know who our parents would be.
God promises us eternal life (1 John 2: 25). It is proved beyond doubt that God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. The word ‘promise’ itself occurs over 50 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The other forms of promises we see in the bible include ‘I am your God, you are my people. So do not fear, for I am with you (the word fear appears 365 times in the bible). I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. In both Old Testament and New Testament together we see 5467 promises, though there are many more in subtle forms.
The greatest of all God the Father’s promises is to send his Son. Referring to the day’s reading Fr Sudeep, Head of Infant Jesus Church School said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3: 15). God’s plan and God’s promises worked out to be good for the humanity. He wants to destroy the enemy. So Jesus was given to us. Sin or evil came to this world through Adam and Eve. The greatest of Jesus’ promises is “I will be with you until the end of times.” The Eucharist is given to us. The trend is to take the Eucharist for granted. The effect of the Eucharist is to instill in our hearts. God’s promises are something he always keeps. “No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back one word of what I said.” (Psalm89:34)……..
The Bible projects five prominent varying characters. Noah was a righteous man and helped to continue the humanity. But when he drank some wine, he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Abraham and Sarah contrived to say they were brother and sister instead of husband and wife when they were in strange lands. Moses led people from slavery to the Promised Land. In the course of doing his duty, he killed an Egyptian. Saul, the first king of Israel, out of jealousy plots to kill David. David was a murderer and adulterer. He took Uriah’s wife and got Uriah killed sending him to the front row of the army fighting the battle. Who was the worst among the five? David was the worst among all those five. But in whole bible only about him it is said, “He is of my heart”, i.e., Act 13: 22 says, “After removing Saul, he made David, son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
We are all fragile and sinful. We need to go back to God like David. We have to repent and live for God like David. “Lord, I have sinned.” It is time to give up sin and continue to get all God’s promises. The Canaanite woman was criticized but she cried out “have pity on me”. Jesus said, “I have not seen a person like this woman in Israel. Pray like boy Samuel: speak Lord, I am listening. This is how to know God’s plan in our life.
Noah was righteous and his family was saved. Abraham was faithful to God and he became the father of faith. Moses trusted God and he became the saver of Israelites. David repented and God fulfilled his promise that his only Son, Jesus should come from the line of David. Because Mary’s ‘Yes” God’s promise of making her the mother of his son Jesus was fulfilled. And Bernard said ‘No’ to the world, he fulfilled God’s promise of saving his whole family.
Earlier, prior to the Mass, Fr John Rose, Parish Priest and Rector, Minor Basilica, said, “Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a great medieval monk. He was born in 1090 in France to a Burgandian nobility. He was an extraordinary monk with a great fire in his heart for God and His Church. He was an adviser to the kings, princes, bishops and popes.”
Fr John Rose made two pertinent points about St. Bernard. St. Bernard’s deep love for the Church is noteworthy. He spared nothing – neither his energy, nor his talent or time for the Church. He exhausted himself in the service of the Church. He used to say, “God’s affairs are mine: nothing that concerns Him is alien to me” Speaking about Archbishop he said, Archbishop Moras takes his name from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, is like unto him in his love for the Church. He spends his time, talent and energy for the affairs of the Church, All that concerns the Church of God is not alien to him. He attends without any hesitation to the spiritual, educational, legal and temporal matters of the Church.
St Bernard had great love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He had written a beautiful work on the Incarnation entitled – Missus Est, wherein, some of the most beautiful thoughts ever express about Mother Mary are expressed in simple words. With this background in mind St Bernard said, “Consider, then, and choose which you will most admire – the gracious condescension of the Son, or the surpassing dignity of the Mother. That a God should obey a woman is humility without example: that a woman should command the Son of God, is a dignity without parallel”. Again, he would say, “Can we be surprised that God, who is wonderful in His saints, should also show Himself wonderful in His mother.”
Quoting his sermon, Fr John Rose said, St Bernanrd almost becomes poetical in his praise of Mary. “In dangers and difficulties, in perplexities, think on Mary: let her not depart from your lips, let her not depart from your heart and that you may win the suffrages of her prayers, never depart from the example of her life. Following her, you will never go astray; Imploring her aid, you will never yield to despair; Thinking on her, you will never go wrong; having her as your patron, you will never wander; beneath her protection you will never fear; she being your guide, you will not weary; if she is your propitious star, you will arrive safely in the port.”
Like his namesake St Bernard of Clairvaux, the Archbishop, too, harbours a deep and filial love for Mother Mary. His love for Mother Mary is succinctly summarized in his coat-of-arms, “In thee we hope, Mary our Mother.” That says it all, Fr John Rose said and added that all were privileged to have Archbishop Moras to preside over the Eucharistic celebration. He wished, “May His Grace, Dr Bernard Moras, continue to bless us with his prayers, inspire us by his example and guide us towards Him, who is the Truth and the Life.”
After the Holy Mass, David, leader in the choir, read out a citation felicitating the Archbishop. David briefly touched upon Archbishop’s past and present life situations including his previous ministry in Belgaum diocese. Archbishop’s qualities of heart and head were also mentioned besides his missionary zeal, his involvement in the Archdiocese and various other activities. Archbishop was honoured with shawls and garlands. A cake was also cut on the occasion of the feast of his patron saint.
The choir sung by a group of Sisters was spiritually uplifting. Archbishop thanked Fr John Rose, the Vicars General and all others jointly made the grand celebration possible.
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