Wednesday, 23 September 2015 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the readings of the Scripture that spoke to us about the reproaches and the humility of Ezra the prophet in admitting and atoning for the sins of the people of Israel, showing great penitence before the Lord for the sins and wickedness that the people of God had committed again and again during the years of the kingdom of Israel and Judah.

And then God showed forth His salvation to the people, who had atoned for their sins with repentance and penitence, by liberating them from their oppressors and bringing them back to the land which He had given their ancestors. He listened to their prayers and opened their eyes, so that they saw the truth about the Lord their God, who had cared for them and who had been patient even against the disobedience and rebelliousness that they had shown against Him.

In the psalm today, again we heard the Song of Tobit, the Israelite who was an exile during the time of the Assyrians, who have suffered because of many reasons, persecuted and ostracised even by his friends for his actions that brought about righteousness and justice to others, and for his strong and steadfast faith to the Lord, just as another figure from the Old Testament, Job, had done.

In those instances, we saw how they encountered the difficulties and challenges, and although they grumbled and suffered, but through their faith and dedication to the Lord, they eventually made it through, and God blessed them tremendously. In the Gospel we heard about how Jesus sent forth the disciples to preach to the people the Good News of God’s salvation, which He had revealed to the world that all those who heard them and did something about it in their lives can be saved.

In the other Gospel reading for today, Jesus also spoke about light that should be put on a pedestal for all to see, rather than hiding it under a cover, for the light that is visible shall be a guide to all those who are in the darkness, and through that light, many people can find their way to salvation in their God. In all these readings, which are all truly related, we can see how God is showing mercy for His people through those whom He had called to be His instruments of mercy, to bring the light of His salvation to the people.

We have to keep in mind again and again, that the Lord does not despise any of us as we are, and neither had He unjustly reprimanded us for our mistakes and faults. It was truly justified for Him to punish us because of our rebelliousness, because of our countless sins and disobedience against Him, and yet, though He could just destroy us and cast us into oblivion, but He did not do that, because we are all still His beloved ones, the most beloved of all His creations.

And that was the message of the Scriptures today that all of us ought to take note of. That all of us are capable of being saved by accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness. All of us have indeed sinned and committed wicked things before the eyes of the Lord, and yet at the same time, we are also capable of repentance and penitential acts before the Lord, regretting whatever we have done, and seeking forgiveness from He who is rich in mercy.

Today we celebrate the feast of a very renowned saint of the last century, known for his great personal holiness and piety, his tireless works and exemplary attitudes, his many miracle works and healings, which he performed through many years of service, casting out demons and healing the sick, and who was rewarded with the reception of the same wounds that had been inflicted on Christ, the stigmata.

This great saint is St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also known by his more famous appellation of St. Padre Pio. Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar renowned for his great intellect, his inspiring sermons, and his commanding presence, which every steps he took and every words he spoke made the people to realise God who is present in him, and through him, He made His will known. Many flocked to his sermons and healing works, and countless thousands and more repented from their sins.

St. Padre Pio did not have an easy life, and many of the things that he did was met with opposition and even with doubt and criticism. And yet, he continued to faithfully minister to the people of God, not letting his troubles and difficulties, or any of the challenges to slow him down or to prevent him from proclaiming the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, calling many to repentance.

This is a clear example of what Jesus had told His disciples in today’s Gospel, that as light of the world, we should not hide this light we have under a cover, hidden and invisible, but instead should be proclaimed bright and clear for all to see, so that all who see the light that is in us may be inspired to live their lives like ours as well, and walk in our footsteps to salvation.

May Almighty God, our loving God and Father, most merciful and loving One, have mercy on us and our trespasses, and may He forgive us all our sins, and awaken in us all the spirit of love which we must have for Him and for one another, fellow brothers and sisters in our Lord. Let us all follow the examples of the holy and venerable St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, and be examples ourselves to our brethren around us. God bless us all. Amen.