Saturday, 21 August 2021 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to listen to the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly, to be righteous and good in all things, and not just paying lip service to the Lord. We should have real and genuine love, devotion and desire to follow the Lord, and to look upon good role models that we may walk in the right path and not lose our way to temptations and allures of the evil ones.

In our first reading today, we heard the story of Ruth, one of the ancestors of king David of Israel, who was in fact not counted initially among the Israelites as she was a Moabite woman that belonged to the neighbouring nation of Israel called Moab. But she followed her mother-in-law, an Israelite named Naomi back to the land of Israel after losing her husband, and she was accepted among the Israelites, as Ruth insisted to follow Naomi and accepted the latter’s God as her own God.

Ruth helped Naomi and encountered Boaz, one of Naomi’s relatives, who came to like Ruth and through what we have heard in our first reading today, they eventually married each other, by God’s blessings and guidance, and Ruth came to bear Boaz’s son, called Obed. Obed was the grandfather of king David through his father Jesse, who was Obed’s son, and Ruth’s grandson. Therefore, one of the ancestors of the greatest historic kings of Israel hailed from among the pagans, who willingly accepted the Lord and became one of His followers.

Compare this to our Gospel passage today in which we heard about the Lord speaking to the people and His disciples regarding the attitudes and behaviours of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. He spoke to them regarding how those people were outwardly pious and prayed aloud in synagogues, making show of their faith and piety in public places, as most of them did, but they did so for the wrong reasons, as they were led by their vanity and human desires to seek glory and fame rather than true love and faith in God.

The Lord highlighted this as an irony to show how those people who claimed themselves to be faithful and pious, and who liked to look down on others, on those they deemed to be unworthy and sinners, like the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and foreigners and pagans. And yet, Ruth, the pagan Moabite woman, had greater faith than they were, as she embraced the Lord wholeheartedly and was so devoted to her mother-in-law even though she had no reason to do so, as her husband and Naomi’s son had passed away.

This is therefore a reminder for all of us not to have just an external and superficial faith, like that which many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had. And neither should we behave in the way they did, by looking down on others whom they deemed to be inferior and less worthy of God than themselves. That is not what we should be doing as Christians. On the contrary, we should be good role models of our faith in our own actions, in everything we say and do, so that all who see us and witness our works may know the Lord through us.

That is why today, we should look upon the good examples set by Pope St. Pius X, whose feast we are celebrating this day. Pope St. Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto to a poor family in what is now northern region of Italy, and as he joined the seminary to become priest, he worked hard, and was known as a priest to be both humble and dedicated to his mission, in reaching out to the poor and the needy, and in his works to restore the churches and to advance proper education for the youth.

Eventually he was made a chancellor and rector of the local diocesan seminary, where he worked more wonders in reforming the Church administration and priest formation, and served as caretaker for the local Diocese of Treviso before being chosen as the Bishop of Mantua by the Pope. As bishop and then later on as Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice by the Pope’s appointment, Pope St. Pius X, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto continued to do his best for his flock, in reforming the Church and in reaching out to them.

Cardinal Sarto was elected as the Successor of St. Peter as Pope Pius X, in which capacity, he immediately embarked on serious reforms, particularly against the dangers of heresies of modernism and other irregularities of the faith, began the reform the Canon Law and making important changes to the liturgy and sacred music, placing the Gregorian Chant back in its proper place as the primary form of Church music in liturgical celebrations.

Lastly, Pope St. Pius X was also remembered for his important reforms in lowering the age of the First Communion, that younger children could receive the Lord at a younger age when they have been prepared and are spiritually ready. That is why Pope St. Pius X is also known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, in his drive to allow more to receive the Eucharist, both at a younger age and also in the encouragement of frequent partaking of the Eucharist, while previously the people only received the Lord in few occasions throughout the year.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having seen the faith and examples of Pope St. Pius X, let us all be inspired to follow his path and dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, that we may indeed be inspirational in our own way of living, that we may be truly faithful to the Lord in all things, in words, deeds and actions, and not just being superficial or misguided like many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law as we discussed earlier.

May the Lord be with us all through this journey of faith, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the resolve and strength to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our might. May God bless us all in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always, and help us to persevere through. Amen.

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