Friday, 21 August 2020 : 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, today all of us continue with the Scriptural discourse on the renewal of our lives by God, and the call which God has given to each and every one of us to be His followers. He has shown us that to be His disciples, we must all follow Him and obey His Law, and if we are faithful in doing so, then in the end, a new and glorious life with God will await us in the end.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard about the great vision of Ezekiel in which the prophet saw a great valley filled with immense amount of dry bones, symbol of death and destruction. And then God showed Ezekiel a great miracle, as those dry bones came together and were made whole again with muscles and sinews, with skin and came back to the human forms recognisable by man. And last of all, God gave those bodies the breath of His Spirit and the entire valley which was just earlier on filled with multitudes of dry bones, were then full of innumerable multitudes of the living.

Through this wonderful vision God wants to reveal to the prophet Ezekiel that through Him, all of us mankind are to receive new life and glory, free from death, which is the consequence of sin, and which in turn is the consequence of disobedience and unfaithfulness. The Lord therefore led His people into new life, new existence and new hope in Him, as He will forgive them all their sins, cleanse them from their faults and corruptions, returning them to the state of grace they were meant to be before the coming of sin.

However, if we are looking forward to this, then we must also be aware that we must follow God’s path, entrust ourselves to Him, obey His will and His commandments. And this means that we must listen to Him and fulfil His Law, as we heard in our Gospel passage today in which the Lord Jesus answered a Pharisee who asked Him, “Which of the commandments of God is the greatest among them?”, and the Lord succinctly summarised the whole Law into two main and most important Law for us.

And that is first and foremost for us to love the Lord, our God with all of our might, with all of our capacities and capabilities, and with every possible opportunities. And then, we should also show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we love one another generously, show genuine concern and care for our fellow brethren, and we should reach out to those who need our love so that we help one another to grow ever stronger in love and devotion to God.

It is when we know of God’s love that we may also love Him, and this is why it is important that we practice genuine love in our own lives, in loving one another and showing God’s love in every moments of our lives. Today, we also have a great role model and example, whose faith may inspire us all to be more faithful and to love God with ever greater devotion. As we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Pius X, also known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, let us remember his life and the many good and inspiring examples that he has set.

Pope St. Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto in Riese in northern Italy, in a large family of many children. His family was poor, but his parents valued education for their children, and thus, the young Giuseppe went to school each day, walking a long distance every day to reach his school. While his family were poor, but they were happy and faithful to God. The young Giuseppe studied Latin and eventually advanced further in his studies, and was ordained a priest and became the chaplain and parish priest of several parishes.

It was told how the future Pope St. Pius X helped to restore the dilapidated and poorly managed parish, causing many parishioners who had lapsed from the faith to return, thanks to his efforts and dedication in reaching out to those who were in need of guidance and those who who have been lost to the temptations of sin. He did his best to bring education to the poor and the marginalised, likely remembering his own hardships in attaining education in his early years.

He also spent a lot of time ministering and preaching the faith to the people with carefully crafted homilies and sermons, and spent a lot of time in catechising the young, which was told to be so popular that he had to begin evening classes in addition to his daytime classes as they were all fully filled up. For his energy and enthusiasm, his dedication and hard work, his Bishop appointed him as Chancellor and entrusted him with many important work in the diocese.

Eventually he was appointed and ordained as the Bishop of Mantua in northern Italy, in which capacity, he continued to minister passionately to the flock of the Lord placed under his care. He also remained a filial son to his parents, and after his father died, helped to take care of his aged mother, who managed to see her own son honoured and entrusted with the position of the Patriarch of Venice and also elevated to the Cardinalate by the Pope. When his elderly mother passed away, it was her son, Cardinal Sarto who presided over her Requiem.

Even as Cardinal, and later on as the Supreme Pontiff and Pope, Pope St. Pius X remained humble and ever dedicated to his work, in reaching out to the poor and the less fortunate, to the education of young children and to the spiritual growth of the Church and the faithful of all ages and backgrounds. And as Pope he was deeply loved and remembered for his many reforms, in his institution of liturgical reforms especially in the encouragement and expanded use of the Gregorian Chant as the primary sacred music of the Church.

Pope St. Pius X also lowered the age for the reception of Holy Communion that children can be taught to love God and brought closer to Him from the youngest possible age, with proper preparation and catechesis, which is why he is also widely known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist. He also opposes the heresy of modernism, in attempting to change Church teachings to suit the changing world, and championed the return to the true faith and to restore all things in Christ as how his motto, ‘Instaurare Omnia in Christo’ shows us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius X has shown us all how we should live our lives with faith, loving God first and foremost, and also loving our fellow brothers and sisters, our parents, our brethren, our family and relatives, our friends and even strangers, all those whom we encounter and interact with. Are we able and willing to live as genuine Christians from now on if we have yet to do so, following in the footsteps of Pope St. Pius X, holy man and servant of God?

Let us all trust our lives to the Lord, and allow God to bless our lives that each and every one of us may grow ever closer to Him and that we will grow ever more righteous and committed in faith, from now and always. Amen.

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