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Homily to BDiv Students

Homily on the Memorial of St Irenaeus:

Rev Dr Brice de Malherbe Addresses BDiv Students

28th June 2017

Brice de Malherbe

On 28th June 2017, Rev Dr Brice de Malherbe (Faculté Notre Dame de Paris), who was visiting Maryvale in his capacity both as external examiner for the Ecclesiastical Bachelor of Divinity programme and as representative of the accrediting institution (Ecole Cathédrale), delivered a homily to BDiv students on St Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr on the occasion both of the feast day of this Church Father and to mark the end of summer exams for the students.

Readings: Genesis 15: 1-12, 17-18; Psalm 104 (105): 1-4, 6-9; Matthew 7: 15-20

Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Irenaeus.

Irenaeus is definitely a prophet who produced good fruit. He produced good fruit that lasts through time, opposing the gnostics who despised humanity, rejected the dignity of a creature created flesh, soul and spirit. The fruit he produced in the second century is still good for us today, while neo-gnostics despise human nature, believing as their ancient predecessors that the flesh is cumbersome, and paradoxically encouraging all kinds of misconducts.

Why does Irenaeus bear good fruit? Because the centre of his thought and of his life is Jesus, the tree of life - the centre of his demonstration of the goodness of the Catholic Faith is the Word’s Incarnation. He has understood that if God takes flesh of our flesh, there is no other man He wants to save but the man He created in His image, not only soul and spirit – insists Irenaeus – but flesh, soul and spirit.

The love of God for man made Him eager to dwell among men, although they had gone astray, as the love of God for man brought Him to make a covenant with Abraham, so that all generations may be blessed in Abraham, he who had put his faith in the Lord.

Irenaeus gives us a precious key to discern between the true and the false prophets. The false prophets today predict man’s glory through technology’s potentialities, transforming technology into a means of salvation. They end up transforming man into a technological slave. The true prophets confess that there is no other means of salvation but Jesus’ Cross, a tree that seems rotten at first glance, but which is the tree of life because it bears the Son of God who offers His life so that we may partake of it.

Following Irenaeus’ example, may we always draw grow closer to Christ, our Saviour, not by abandoning our human condition but by abandoning “illusory desires”, says Paul, “so as to put on the New Man that has been created on God’s principles, in the righteousness and holiness of the truth”. Amen.

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