Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God speaking to us from the Sacred Scriptures, telling us about the conversion of sinners, and how we should not leave behind our brethren who are in trouble, sinners and delinquents who are in need of our help. There is a hope for everyone, and as Christians we should also help in this matter.

The Lord spoke of those who have lost a silver coin and another who lost a sheep from among his flock. And He told His disciples and the people the great extent and effort which they, as the owners of the respective lost items, would go in order to retrieve what was lost from them. Surely we ourselves have experienced this too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Surely we have known the feeling of how painful and discomforting it is for us to lose something that is precious to us?

Therefore, just imagine that if we can be so discomforted by losing our precious items, our own possessions, all the more God Who owns all of us will be distraught over the loss of even a single one of His beloved children, that is when even one of us disobey the Lord and does things that are contrary to His ways, meaning that he or she has sinned before the Lord.

And sin has been the main culprit of our sundering and separation from God. It has been the thorn on our side ever since Satan tempted our ancestors to disobey the Lord our God and His commandments. And throughout time, again and again, we mankind have fallen into his persuasions and lies, and committed sins which separated us further from the Lord and His salvation.

God loves us all very much brethren, and no one is beyond the scope of His love, unless we ourselves have turned our back of that love and defiantly rejecting His overtures of mercy and kindness. He is our loving Shepherd and we are His sheep, the sheep of His flock. We are His wonderful treasures, which He treasures and if any of us are lost from Him, He will look for us.

Unfortunately, it is we ourselves who often rejected Him, because we prefer to follow the ways of the devil rather than listening to the words of God. We continued to commit sin after sin, and the state of our souls are in great danger. And yet, God never gave up trying to bring us back into righteousness and grace, and He sent thus many prophets, messengers who brought the word of God to us all.

And one of them was St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day we celebrate today. He was a member of the Dominican order, working in the place he was born, in Peru in what was then Spanish Americas. He devoted himself to work for the poor and the less fortunate in his community, and he himself grew up in poverty and faced many challenges in his life.

He faced great discrimination due to his mixed heritage, having been an illegitimate son of a Spanish father and a freed slave mother. By the law at that time, he was counted among those who were barred from joining the religious life fully as a member, and were therefore consigned to be the lowest member of the Dominican order, enduring discrimination, difficulty and even rejection at times.

Yet, all these did not dampen the spirit of St. Martin de Porres, who devoted himself all the more to works and pursuits of mercy and compassion to the poor, the weak, the oppressed and those who suffer because of various reasons. He cared for them and helped them in various occasions, because of his genuine love and commitment for them, living out the Gospel which he was preaching to the people by his own dedications.

This is the kind of example which each and every one of us should also heed and follow, the example of how we should live our lives filled with faith from now on. We are called to show mercy to those who have sinned against us, allowing them to have a renewed faith in God and to repent from all of their sinful and wrong ways. But have we done these in our lives? Have our lives been actively devoted to such good works?

Many of us have thought only of ourselves, and it is often that we selfishly acted in order to preserve ourselves and fulfil our desires. As a result, our eyes, ears and senses are often dulled against the cry of those who are lost, who are struggling, suffering and encountering difficulties, whom we actually can save and help, but because we turned our backs to them, we often have left our brethren to fend for themselves.

Shall we from now on renew our commitment to our faith and that faith we have in the Lord by devoting ourselves anew to look for and help our brethren in need, the lost sheep, whom the Lord wants to save and reunite with Himself, just as He had done with us? Let us all help one another, that in the end, as many as possible can receive the salvation from the Lord our God.

May St. Martin de Porres be the source of our inspiration in living out our faith, and may he intercede for our sake, praying for us all, that our hearts may be stirred and our passion and desire to help others in need can be awakened within us. May the Lord help us and bless us on our way, and may He remain with us forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Philippians 3 : 3-8a

We are the true circumcised people since we serve according to the Spirit of God, and our confidence is in Christ Jesus rather than in our merits. I myself do not lack those human qualities in which people have confidence. If some of them seem to be accredited with such qualities, how much more am I!

I was circumcised when eight days old. I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin : I am a Hebrew, born of Hebrews. With regard to the Law, I am a Pharisee, and such was my zeal for the Law that I persecuted the Church. As for being righteous according to the Law, I was blameless.

But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss. Still more, everything seems to me as nothing compared with the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the All Souls’ Day, we remember all of our brethren who have departed before us, all those whom we have known and have left us behind, and even all others, strangers whom we have not met, but indeed have also left this earthly life behind. Today we remember all the souls of the faithful departed, just as yesterday we rejoice together in the glory of the saints, those whom God and His Church had deemed worthy to receive directly the glory of heaven.

And today, we pray for those who have left this earthly life and yet we are not sure of their state after their earthly death, whether they would be worthy enough to merit to enter the kingdom of heaven, or whether they have to suffer in purgatory before they can enter into the kingdom of God, or whether their wickedness or sins had overcome them and made them judged to be worthy of hell instead. It is not us to decide, but God.

For many of us, our instinctive reaction upon thinking of death is fear, that is we are afraid of death, because of this uncertainty of our fate, and ultimately, of course, many of us find it difficult to part with whatever we have attained and possessed in this world, resulting in many of us trying to preserve whatever we have, our life and our youth, with many emphasis placed on trying to prolong our lives and maintaining our youthful appearances.

Many of us grieve very badly upon losing our loved ones to death, mostly because we think that we are not going to see them again, and we cannot bear to be separated from them. It is part of our natural instinct as human beings to grieve and be sad, because after all, when we are no longer able to physically interact with someone we love and care for, we should indeed feel disturbed by that new reality.

But we should not lose hope or despair, for the Lord Himself had made it clear to us in many occasions, that He has come into the world that all of us may have hope, because of His death and resurrection, which showed us all that there is a path out of that darkness and despair, the path to our salvation in our God. And that is the hope which all of us ought to remember today, even as we are saddened by the loss of our beloved.

Remember, brethren, that Christ’s death is followed by His resurrection, and He has promised us all through His disciples, that He will raise all those who are faithful to Him on the last day, and we all will be reunited with one another, with our beloved ones, with our brothers and sisters with whom we may have been temporarily separated. If we believe in this, then truly, we should absolutely have no need to fear death, be it for our own or for others around us, as it is not an end, but rather the transition and the beginning to a new life filled with new joy with our God.

Therefore, today, as we celebrate the Feast of All Souls’ Day, first of all, let us all realise that as I have mentioned yesterday during the Solemnity of All Saints, there are three parts of the Church, the Church Triumphant, consisting of the saints of God, who have been deemed worthy to enjoy immediately the joy of the kingdom of God, the Church Militant, all of us living in this world at the moment, who are living the daily struggles of our lives, and finally the Church Suffering, for whom we are praying for today.

For the Church Suffering consists of all the faithful ones who have lived in the grace of God, died in a state of grace, but which venial or minor sins have not been completely cleared and absolved from them. They are not yet able to be with God, for they cannot bring sin before God, as sin has no place before Him. Nevertheless, they have also been found worthy enough so as to escape the eternal damnation in hell, which is reserved only for those whose evil and wicked deeds truly outweighed their good ones.

So today, firstly, we have to pray for those souls in purgatory, who are suffering the pain of the holy flames of purification, enduring the consequences of their sufferings. We pray that God will lessen their sufferings and ordeal, and be willing to completely absolve our brethren in purgatory of their sins, that they may finally enter into the heavenly kingdom and partake in the glorious inheritance reserved for them.

And secondly, we should also reflect on how we ourselves live our lives in this world. The souls in purgatory knew well what they have committed in life, all the things they have done that landed them in the purgatorial flames instead of immediately enjoying the glorious heaven. And they definitely would not want us to end up where they are as well. In fact, just as we have prayed for them, they too are constantly praying for us.

Knowing just how much we all are related to each other, even beyond the realm of this world, we should all the more be more inspired to live a good and devout Christian life. We should not take chances, brothers and sisters in Christ, for what is at stake is none other than our own souls, the state of our own salvation or whether it would instead be damnation.

Let us all not wait until it is too late for us, but instead, work together and helping each other to find our way to the Lord, by doing what is right in the sight of God, by our unfailing obedience and commitment, by loving our brethren in need, be generous and be charitable in all things. And let us also not forget about our loving brethren, our beloved relatives and even strangers who are also our brothers and sisters, children of the same God, that we should offer them our prayers and for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass to be offered for their sake.

Let us pray for one another, that all of us will eventually be able to persevere through all the difficult challenges in this world, and give our best in order to do the will of our God, be no longer lukewarm and hesitant in our faith, but instead be true disciples of our Lord, doing His will in all that we say, act and do. May God bless us all, and may all the souls of our brethren, those who are faithful and have departed, find the rest they need in the Lord. Requiescat in Pace. Amen.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Luke 7 : 11-17

At that time, a little later after Jesus healed the servant of a captain in Capernaum, He went to a town called Naim. He was accompanied by His disciples and a great number of people. As He reached the gate of the town, a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; there followed a large crowd of townspeople.

On seeing her, the Lord had pity on her and said, “Do not cry.” Then He came up and touched the stretcher, and the men who carried it stopped. Jesus then said, “Young man, I say to you, wake up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

A holy fear came over them all, and they praised God saying, “A great Prophet has appeared among us; God, has visited His people.” The news spread throughout Judea and the surrounding places.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016 : Feast of All Souls, Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black
Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and we have become just through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason now we may be saved through His life.

Not only that; we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.