Friday, 3 November 2017 : 30th 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 all of us through the Sacred Scriptures are told the difficulties and challenges facing the early Christians, especially those of the Jewish origin, as what St. Paul told to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome in his Epistle. In that Epistle, St. Paul wrote about the anguish which he had of being sundered from among his people, the descendants of Israel.

St. Paul himself, while being a highly educated and Hellenised Jew, was also once a very zealous follower of the laws of Moses, as evidenced in his prior activities as Saul, purging the land of Judea and Galilee from the faithful Christians, arresting them and striking against the early Church. However, God called him to be His disciple, and Saul had a conversion of heart, mind and being, and answering God’s call, he became one of the Apostles.

But by doing so, he has sundered himself from the Jewish authorities, who were against Jesus and His teachings. As mentioned in the Gospels, those who believed in Jesus and propagated His teachings were thrown out of the synagogues by the Pharisees and the chief priests, equivalent to the excommunication from the Church as we know it today, when a Christian is sundered from the Church and God’s salvation due to a serious and grave error.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, yet St. Paul would rather choose to be with God and to obey His commandments rather than going back to the old ways, even though if he had done so, he would have gained prestige and honour he had when he was highly esteemed as Saul. In the Gospel today, Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees who challenged Him as they have often done, as they refused to believe in Jesus and in His teachings.

They have erroneously believed in the laws and customs that they have inherited from the time of Moses and the prophets, as these had been heavily modified throughout the history of Israel. As a result, they ended up interpreting the laws literally without understanding why those laws were given to the people of God in the first place. They thought that the laws were in place to govern the people of God in how they behave and live, but those laws had a singular purpose by God, and that is love.

The Law of God which He gave to Moses was intended to guide the people that they may come to love their Lord and Creator, the love that they should give the One Who had loved them and cared for them, ever since the beginning of time, and ever since He established the Covenant with Abraham their forefather. And Jesus came into this world, in order to deliver to them this truth, that God loves them and wants each and every one of them to be reconciled with Him.

And He wants all of them to experience conversion, by turning towards Christ and abandon their old ways of sin and darkness. Yet, mankind can be very stubborn, just as the people of Israel themselves had shown, in their constant refusal to listen to God, and in their constant waywardness, in their refusal to turn themselves towards God and to listen to Him. Instead, they have walked their own path, and persecuted those who have been sent to remind them, from the prophets to the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember the deeds of those who have given themselves completely to the cause of the Lord, and also that of today’s saint, St. Martin de Porres, a holy religious who have lived righteously in accordance with God’s will, inspiring many others to do the same with their lives. He was a lay member of the Dominican order, or the Order of Preachers, who was an illegitimate son of a nobleman, and being born a mixed race in the New World, what is now Americas, he encountered lots of difficulties early on and throughout his life.

St. Martin de Porres did not let all of these to deter him, and he was resolved to serve the Lord and His people, by joining the Dominican order as a lay brother. He was prevented from joining as a full member due to his status as an illegitimately born child as well as his mixed ancestry. Yet, he continued to devote his time and effort, helping his brethren who were sick and poor, caring for them, loving them and show them the gentle compassion that represents God’s love for His people.

The examples of St. Martin de Porres, as well as the holy saints and Apostles, in their loving care and works among us, should remind all of us Christians that we must live according to God’s Law, not by obeying blindly to the teachings of the Church, but rather understanding them and following the examples of our holy predecessors in faith. Let us all live righteously as God’s children and learn to devote ourselves to Him in all of our lives’ effort, our time and attention.

May the Lord bless us always and may He strengthen each one of us, that we may live courageously according to His will, loving one another and doing what He has taught us to do, and thus loving Him also with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and our entire beings. Amen.

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