Saturday, 23 September 2017 : 24th 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 all of us listened to the word of God, which spoke to us about the parable of the sower, a parable which many of us are likely to be familiar with, in which our Lord Jesus spoke about the sower of seeds, who dispersed his seeds and they fell on various grounds and soils, from the rocky grounds and the road sides, to the thorny bushes and then rich and fertile soil.

In that passage, Jesus our Lord spoke of what can happen to the seeds which the sower have spread, depending on the condition of the soil. If the soil is of poor quality and if it has plenty of obstacles, then it is unlikely to be able to support plant growth, and less still to allow bountiful products of fruits and crops to be realised. Only if the soil is fertile then the plants will grow strong and healthy, and bear many fruits.

In that parable, the seeds are the seeds of faith which God has spread over the whole world, to all of us mankind, as the Sower of the Word, for God has spoken His Word and gave us His truth, through none other than Jesus, the Divine Word made flesh, Who became Man for our sake, and all those who heard the teachings of the Lord Jesus have therefore received the Word, the seeds of faith.

But how those seeds develop then depends on how we live up to our faith in Jesus, our Lord. If we do not provide a conducive and matching environment to have the seeds of faith develop in us, then nothing will happen, and the faith in us will remain dormant. And we all ought to know what is going to happen to all of those who remain barren and fruitless, namely, that they will be cast out and rejected.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are constant reminders for us that all of us need to be active in our faith, and to be truly committed to the Lord, for it is only through this commitment that we are providing the fertile and rich ‘soil’ for the ‘seeds’ of faith to grow in us. Otherwise, we are not doing our part in providing the best condition for the growth and development of our faith.

There are many temptations in this world, the temptations of worldly possessions and wealth, the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh and sexual impropriety, the temptation of greed and worldly glory, the temptation of power and fame, all of which are tools used by the devil and his allies in their never-ending attempts to bring about our downfall. The devil is never at rest, always instead ready to snatch us from God’s saving grace.

That is why if we do not let the Word of God, the truths passed down to us through the Church, to be internalised and understood by us, then when trials and difficulties come upon us, we will be tempted to lose our faith and commitment towards God. And then we will end up becoming like the seeds that were eaten by the birds on the roadside, or like the seeds that were unable to grow firm roots on rocky ground, scorched to death, and also like the plants choked by the thorny bushes and brambles.

Is this the fate that we want to happen to us? Is it what we seek in life? It is easier indeed to obey the demands of the devil and this world rather than to walk faithfully in the path of the Lord. Yet, just as farming involves very arduous and tiring labour, thus for us to be faithful Christians it will also require a lot of effort from us. We must be vigilant and ready against all sorts of traps and obstacles the devil is getting ready in our path.

Let us today reflect on the life and examples of the renowned holy saint, whose name may not be foreign to many of us. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, more commonly known by the name of Padre Pio, was a famous and holy Franciscan friar and priest, who was remembered for his many miracles and hard work among the people, his exorcisms of the people possessed by demons, and his stigmata, or the miraculous appearance of the wounds of the Lord on his body.

Thousands and many thousands more flocked to meet Padre Pio, seeking his miracles and prayers. And many were astonished at his miraculous stigmata. Yet, despite all of those, St. Padre Pio remained humble and he distanced himself from any sorts of pride and worldly glory. In fact, Padre Pio was suffering greatly, first of all, physically from the pain of the wounds of the stigmata, and then also through the persecution and difficulties he had to encounter for many years by the skeptics who refused to believe the authenticity of his miraculous signs.

And yet, Padre Pio endured all of these trials and tribulations quietly, with obedience to his superiors and with faith. He placed his trust in the Lord, and continued to work among the people of God despite the criticism and ridicule that many levied upon him, and his piety and perseverance inspired many others who were converted and atoned for their sins because of his examples.

The story of the life of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio should be an inspiration to all of us Christians as well. We must not be complacent or passive in our faith, but instead be active in our commitment like Padre Pio had done in his life. That means, all of us should go beyond our comfort zone and do what we can, in order to do what the Lord wants us to do, so that by our actions we may be fruitful and filled with the good fruits of the Holy Spirit as St. Padre Pio had shown.

May the Lord bless us all, that the seeds of faith He has sowed in us may grow through our loving actions and commitment to Him. May He help us to persevere as St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio had done in his life, that we may not grumble or complain, but accept the suffering with grace, knowing that God Who finds us fruitful will bless us many times more. St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, holy man of God, pray for us all. Amen.

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