Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on our lives in this world as Christians, as those who belong to the Lord and who have been called to live a good and devout life worthy of God. We are all called to do what is right according to the Law and the commandments of the Lord, distancing ourselves from evil and wicked deeds and things that may end up leading us into our downfall and destruction in hell.
In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome, we heard the Apostle speaking to the faithful through his letter regarding the commandments of God, the Law that God has placed in our midst to govern us and how we ought to be living this life in obedience to God. We have to do as commanded by the Lord, to love Him first and foremost above any other things, and to love one another in the same way that we love ourselves.
St. Paul mentioned this in his Epistle to remind the people of God there in Rome of their obligation as Christians to love, loving God and loving one another. Otherwise, they will not be truly faithful to the Lord and whatever faith they had will be meaningless and empty. For in another occasion, St. Paul also said that, we may have received many gifts, talents and abilities, the gift of speaking in tongues, of prophecy and even miracles and healing, but unless we have love in us, then everything we have is meaningless.
Love indeed lies at the centre of our faith and existence as Christians, as the Law of God and the rules and regulations set by the Church are all meant to help and guide us in our journey towards the Lord, to help us in redirecting our attention to Him, to love Him and to be able to show that love which God Himself has shown us, in our lives and in how we interact with one another. As Christians, we are all called to love and love generously, to show care and concern, compassion and love to everyone, and especially to those who need them the most.
Then, in our Gospel passage today, as we heard the words of the Lord speaking to His disciples, we heard how He told them what it truly means to become His disciples. He told them that they ought to be ready to leave everything behind, every attachments, every other desires and put the Lord and His cause first and foremost, or else, we may get our priorities wrong. However, we must not interpret this as the Lord is asking us to leave behind our family members and relatives, our loved ones. God did not call us to be people who are irresponsible.
On the contrary, what He wants us to do is to reorientate our lives and change our focus from one that is centred on ourselves to one that is centred in God. Our families and relationships should also be framed in the presence of God and His path, and that is essentially how we lead a more wholesome and holy Christian life. We have to live our lives with true love, love for God and love for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not just selfish love and desire for ourselves and our own needs and wants.
The Lord then went on to speak regarding the plans one ought to go through before building a house, and the considerations and plans that kings must have prepared before they marched out to meet other kings for war and battle. What the Lord meant with this is that, all of us have known what is due for us at the end of the journey, and therefore, we are all called to discern carefully how we are to live our lives from now on. Are we going to continue living our lives in the manner as wretched and sinful as they may be, or are we going to embrace the Lord and His path?
We know that following the Lord will also likely include plenty of obstacles and challenges, and many occasions where we may have to make sacrifices and endure the trials and tribulations of being faithful to God, of standing up to our Christian faith and remaining resolute in living our Christian calling in each and every moments of our lives. But it is possible for us to do this if we put our faith and trust in God, and allow Him to lead us in the path that we traverse through life.
And we should also follow the great examples of our holy predecessors, the saints, holy men and women of God who are our role models in faith. Today, in particular we celebrate the feast of St. Martin de Porres, who was a renowned religious and member of the Dominican Order as a lay brother. He was renowned for his great personal holiness and dedication to the Lord, his care and love for his fellow men and women, especially all those who have suffered oppression and prejudice just as he himself had experienced and suffered from.
St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima in Peru as the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman with his freed slave, and as a mixed race or mestizo person, he was accorded like many others a second class treatment below that of those with European descent or came directly from Europe, the latter of which which had the highest prestige and position in the society. He lived his early life in poverty, and as a descendant of the Native Americans, he was barred by law from becoming full member of the religious orders, although he desired to become a priest and religious.
As such, St. Martin had to beg the Dominicans to be allowed to join as a lay brother, who dedicated his life from then on to do the many works of the Order, supporting the religious brothers and the community. It was a lot of hard work, and was sometimes looked down upon by the members of his own community and by the priests, some of whom looked upon his descent and ancestry with disdain, as well as the illegitimacy of his birth.
Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres dedicated himself all the harder to serve his community, and he dedicated himself to the Lord all the more, especially in the Blessed Sacrament. He ministered to the poor and the sick as part of his works, and for many years, cared for many of the people in his community, as well as within the Dominican religious community. His dedication and faith eventually earned him great respect and support by the time of his passing. Many attributed miracles to him and his tomb also exuded great fragrance and other signs of holiness.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if St. Martin de Porres had been able to commit himself and his life despite his difficult background and conditions, to love the Lord and also to love his brothers and sisters, even those who despised and made his life difficult, then why can’t we, most of us with much better condition than he was, dedicate ourselves in the same way too? Are we too complacent and lazy to follow in the same path that this holy saint had walked? Are we not courageous and faithful enough to follow the Lord in the same way?
Let us all discern our path in life carefully then, so that all of us may hence learn to live our lives with greater devotion from now on. May God be with us always and may He guide us and strengthen us so that we may be more willing to follow Him with ever greater sincerity, just as St. Martin de Porres had shown us, in being true and genuine Christians as we should. Amen.