Monday, 21 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how God was with His people throughout their time in the land granted to them by God. But the people of Israel had not always been faithful, and they lapsed again and again into sin, disobeying God and His commandments. They worshipped the pagan gods and idols of their neighbours, Baal and Ashtaroth, and they abandoned the God Who had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and cared for them with His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why is that so? The people of Israel had settled down in the land of Canaan, after the long journey of the Exodus, staying at a land blessed by God, rich and overflowing with milk and honey, where each of the agricultural products and crops the people grew produced rich harvests. They lived in a state of grace and joy, and they enjoyed the many good fruits of the world. But that led them to become decadent and then made them to drift away from the path of the Lord.

The Israelites had with them the laws and the commandments of God, and yet, they eventually failed to remain faithful to those laws and commandments. Why was that so? They had those laws, and they had the leaders, the priests and the elders to guide them to the path of God through the interpretation and obedience to those laws. But those laws would be of no use if the Lord was not truly in the hearts and minds of the people.

That is because if the people did obey the laws and the commandments, but if they did not truly live in accordance to those commandments and believe in them in their hearts wholeheartedly, that was why they easily fell into the temptations of the devil. They were easily swayed by worldly things, and the allures of pagan worship that included revelry and worldly pleasures thus attracted them. They found it too difficult for them to obey the strict commandments of God.

That is what the Gospel passage today has also told us, as it showed us the moment when a young man met and asked the Lord Jesus, about what he ought to be doing in order to receive eternal life. He has obeyed all the laws and commandments of God, as prescribed through the laws of Moses, and further explained and enforced by the Pharisees and by the teachers of the Law.

However, it is indeed possible for someone to obey the Law and at the same time, not truly having a strong commitment and devotion to God. When the Lord Jesus told him that he ought to let go of all the things he had and possessed, and gave them for the sake of the poor before following Him, the young man became very sad and dejected, and he walked away in sorrow. Why is that so? Because to him, his material possessions and wealth worth to him so greatly, that he was not able to be separated from them, even just the thought of it sorrowed him so.

How many of us are like him, brothers and sisters? How many of us are incapable of separating ourselves from our worldly possessions and concerns, ending up in us sacrificing our relationship with God. We end up being so preoccupied with our work, with our pursuit for worldly glory, fame, money and all those things, that they ended up becoming the new idols in our life, like that of Baal and Ashtaroth that deceived and swayed the Israelites to the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have to turn away from all these temptations and false idols of our life. We may think that as Christians we believe in God and worship Him. Yet, if we spend so much of our time trying to accumulate these worldly possessions, and adore them so much, is it not that we have made them to be idols that we worship besides God?

It is important for us all to learn to put aside all these distractions, and we can perhaps learn from the examples of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, that of Pope St. Pius X, the holy Pope and saint, known also as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, for his great dedication to the Lord and for his attempts to bring the Lord in the Eucharist closer to the people, by allowing people at a younger age to receive Him.

But Pope St. Pius X was also remembered for his dedication to the people, as well as his dedication to his family. He was a dedicated parish priest for many years, and he helped many people to overcome their problems and brought them back to the Lord. And as a bishop and later as the Patriarch of Venice, he continued to devote himself to the people, caring for them and remaining humble in all things.

Despite his privileges and position, he never tried to accumulate power, glory and fame upon himself, but instead, he continued the devote himself to do the works of God, and continue to bring glory to God. And he did not forget the kindness of those who were dear to him, especially to his mother, whom he cared for even unto the day of her passing.

Pope St. Pius X encouraged the faithful to have a strong faith and devotion to the Lord, encouraging them to seek for personal holiness in their lives. He encouraged and promoted the traditions of the faith and ensured that the people of God would be able to grow closer to their Lord by returning to the true teachings of the Church, which he ensured by the reformulation of the laws of the Church and the establishment of the first ever Canon Law of the Church, to weed out the excesses of the Church and the faith, and to return to the true faith of their forefathers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius X and the other holy saints and martyrs of God have lived their lives in commitment to the Lord, devoting all of their efforts and works to bring glory to God. There will indeed be lots of opposition, challenges and temptations when we do so, as we walk in the path of God. There will be plenty of moments when we will be pulled to the left and right, even by those who are dear and close to us, tempting us and even pressuring us to abandon our journey towards the Lord.

Our holy and devoted predecessors have experienced all of these, and so we are likely to experience them as well. Shall we now heed these examples, the piety and devotion which the holy saints, especially Pope St. Pius X had shown? Let us all walk in their footsteps, and throw away from our lives, the false idols of human greed, money, possessions, worldly fame and glory, and let us all reorientate ourselves and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord. Pope St. Pius X, pray for us, that all of us will be forgiven by God and be brought into His ever loving embrace. Amen.

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