Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 7 : 22 – Wisdom 8 : 1

Because Wisdom, who designed them all, taught me. In her is a spirit that is intelligent, saintly, unique, manifold, subtle, active, concise, pure and lucid. It cannot corrupt, loves what is good and nothing can restrain it; it is beneficent, loving humankind, steadfast, dependable, calm though Almighty. It sees everything and penetrates all spirits, however intelligent, subtle and pure they may be.

Wisdom, in fact, surpasses in mobility all that moves, and being so pure pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; nothing impure can enter her. She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of God’s action and an image of His goodness.

She is but one, yet Wisdom can do all things and, herself unchanging, she renews all things. She enters holy souls, making them prophets and friends of God, for God loves only those who live with Wisdom. She is indeed more beautiful than the sun and surpasses all the constellations; she outrivals light, for light gives way to night, but evil cannot prevail against Wisdom.

Wisdom displays her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things rightly.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God, we are all reminded of the great power of God and His most loving compassion and mercy, through the works which He has shown to us, by which He has manifested Himself before all of us, His people, that we all may know the existence of our most Almighty God and Saviour, the One Whom we ought to love and show our dedication and commitment to.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Wisdom the words of the Lord spoken and directed towards the kings and rulers of the world. The Lord spoke through the author of the Book of Wisdom, which traditionally was attributed to King Solomon, or one of the prophets or some others who compiled the sayings of the Lord, in which He chastised the attitudes of the kings and the rulers who were often corrupt and wicked, who abused their power and authority for their own benefits and causing sufferings to others.

The Lord reminded all of them that all of their power and authority ultimately came from Him, and that they would themselves be held accountable for all of their actions and choices. For all of their good and evil deeds they shall be judged and measured, and those who committed bad and wicked deeds shall be punished for their actions while those who are good and righteous, dutiful and just in being a ruler and governor over the people will be judged in a favourable way in the end.

At that time, many of those rulers and other powerful lords did things without much regard or concern for the poor and the needy in their domain, or anyone else, save for their own desires and wishes for power, for glory and more of the wealth and possessions that many of them already had plenty of. It was these excesses that the Lord condemned and criticised, and through what we have heard today from the Book of Wisdom, all of us are therefore also reminded not to do the same in our own lives. The greater the position we have in the community, the more responsibilities are expected of us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Who healed the ten lepers who came to Him as outcasts from the community in the wilderness. Ar that time, according to the Law, those who contracted leprosy had to be excluded from the community and had to wander off in the wilderness and away from others until they were cleansed and healed from their leprosy. As long as they were still suffering from the leprosy, they would not be allowed to return back to the community.

The Lord then told them that they would be healed while telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. On the way, as mentioned, they were all healed, but only one of them, a Samaritan actually went back to the Lord Jesus and thanked Him, while the other nine all were too happy and joyful that they just went on their way and not even showing any gratitude to the Lord for having healed them. The fact that it was a Samaritan who had the faith made it even more ironic, as Samaritans then were considered by the Jews as being pagans and worthy of condemnation.

What the Lord wants us to know from that episode is that all of us have to remember that everything and every blessings have come to us from God, and we must not be prideful in thinking that everything happened for us because of our own success and power. It is not that the Lord expects us to show Him gratitude and thanksgiving. On the contrary, it is by right and justice that all of us must show Him proper reverence and gratitude for all that He had done for us, even for us wicked sinners.

The Lord Himself showed a good example for us to follow, in how He did not even show off His power and glory, as He healed those ten lepers. He could have performed magnificent miracles before them and then told them all to proclaim His works before all the people. No, that was not what He did. What He did was to simply tell them to show themselves to the priests to prove that they had been cured, while the miracles happened quietly and without fanfare. The Lord, the One true authority and font of all power in the Universe, humbly hid Himself and His glory.

That is how all of us as Christians ought to act, with humility and prudence, with true faith and love for God, and not greed and love for ourselves. And today, we all should follow the faithful examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of Pope St. Leo the Great, whose feast we celebrate this very day. Pope St. Leo the Great can show us what it means for us to be faithful Christians and to obey God and His will in our lives, in remaining humble before Him and in staying true to our faith.

Pope St. Leo the Great was the first Pope to be called the Great, and he was the Pope and Leader of the entire Universal Church during crucial moments in the history of the world and Christendom. At that time, the Western Roman Empire and the city of Rome itself had been beset by barbarian invasions, and there were much devastation caused in those difficult years of conflicts and wars. At the same time, the Church had also faced a lot of problems with heretical and unorthodox teachings, most prominently the heresies of Nestorianism and Monophysitism, which both were at the extremes of the Christian theology, threatening to break the Church apart.

Pope St. Leo the Great was a powerful figure, a humble yet very respected leader throughout Christendom, who devoted his time and efforts to care for the needs of his flock, to prevent the Church from falling into heretical ways and to support the Church and the community of the faithful by his great leadership. He also wrote extensively to the bishops and other leaders of Christendom, adhering and affirming to the tradition of the faith of the Apostles, keeping the Church united in the midst of divisions and disagreements. He stopped the barbarian hordes of Attila the Hun, which until then was mostly unstoppable, and prevented Rome itself from being sacked and destroyed by those Huns.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Leo the Great through his actions, leadership and great personal qualities and humility showed us how each and every one of us can become faithful Christians in our own way of life. Are we all willing to follow his good examples and practice our faith courageously and devotedly the way that he had done? Let us all discern these carefully, and pray to the Lord, asking Him to guide us in our journey, that we may make the right decisions and choices, to walk in the path that God has set before us.

May the Lord continue to guide us and remain with us, and may He empower us all to live faithfully as true and genuine Christians, in all things and not just in formality and name only. May all of us who are entrusted with power and authority also use them with prudence and with genuine care and concern for those who are placed under their care and for others. May God bless us and all of our efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 11-19

At that time, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as He entered a village, ten lepers came to meet Him. Keeping their distance, they called to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave Him thanks. This man was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 81 : 3-4, 6-7

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; defend the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the helpless and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

“You are gods,” I said, “You are all sons of the Most High.” But now, you will die like the others; you will all fall, like any mortal.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 6 : 1-11

Listen, o kings, and understand; rulers of the most distant lands, take warning. Pay attention, you who rule multitudes and boast of the numerous subjects in your pagan nations!

For authority was given you by the Lord, your kingship is from the Most High Who will examine your works and scrutinise your intentions. If, as officials of His kingdom, you have not judged justly or observed His law or walked the way God pointed our, He will oppose you swiftly and terribly; His sentence strikes the mighty suddenly.

For the lowly there may be excuses and pardon, but the great will be severely punished. For the Lord of all makes no distinction, nor does He take account of greatness. Both great and lowly are His work and He watches over all, but the powerful are to be judged more strictly.

It is to you then, sovereigns, that I speak, that you may learn Wisdom and not stumble. For those who keep the holy laws in a holy way will be acknowledged holy, and those who accept the teaching will find in it their defence. Welcome my words, desire them and they will instruct you.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate together as the entire Church in honour of the great Mother Church of the whole world, namely the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, also known as the Lateran Basilica or by its full name as the Papal Archbasilica of Our Most Holy Saviour, of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist at the Lateran, the Mother and Head of all the Churches in the City (of Rome) and the World. That Basilica of St. John Lateran has such a singular honour because it is the church where the Cathedra of the Pope is, and as such, it is the Cathedral of the Vicar of Christ.

All dioceses in the world have a church in which the bishop’s seat or throne is located at, also known as the Cathedra. This is where the name Cathedral came from, designating the church in which the bishop presides over the entire diocese, as the seat of his authority and also as the mother church of the entire diocese. That church is known as the cathedral of the diocese, and the Diocese of Rome, of which the Bishop is the Pope himself, also has a cathedral, namely that of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which feast of its dedication we are celebrating today.

And because the Pope as the Bishop of Rome by the virtue of his position as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, and as leader of the entire Universal Church, therefore, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome has a most special significance, not only as the mother church of the entire Diocese and city of Rome, but also as the Mother Church of the entire world, highlighting the Pope’s special and most important role in his Petrine ministry as the Vicar of Christ and leader of all of God’s faithful people.

That Basilica of St. John Lateran is therefore dignified as the only one in the world to hold the title of Archbasilica, as the chief and mother of all churches, surpassing in honour of all the churches and houses of the Lord in the entire world. Many people thought that the Pope’s Cathedral and seat is at the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican, the largest and most majestic of all the churches, but that is because the Pope resides in the Vatican City, and he celebrates most of the liturgical events in that Basilica. The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican is no doubt the second most important due to its location, being built above the location of the martyrdom and the tomb of St. Peter himself.

But the Basilica of St. John Lateran is where the Cathedral of the Pope has always been, since it was built as one of the first churches to be established after the official toleration of the Christian faith by the Roman Emperor, Emperor Constantine the Great. It was established as the first major church buildings built in Rome after centuries of persecution which saw Christians being hunted and oppressed, forced to hide in the catacombs and practice their faith in secret. The church that was to become the Basilica of St. John Lateran therefore in way became a symbol of the triumph of the Christian faith, and became the seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome.

And what is the dedication of a church? It is the moment and special occasion when the building of the church is consecrated and sanctified by God, as a place of worship and as a place worthy to be the house of God, as the place where the Altar of the Lord’s Sacrifice would be established and placed, worthy for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the dedication of a church, the church building and especially the Altar is blessed and sanctified, made to be worthy of the Lord’s Sacrifice in the Mass. The relics of saints, at least one of a martyr are placed in the Altar, in memory of how the early Christians celebrated the Mass in catacombs on the tombs of the saints and martyrs.

On this day, as we rejoice in the memory of the great dedication of this most magnificent and worthy House of God, the Mother Church of all the whole entire world, all of us do not in fact just celebrate the dedication of this great House and Temple of God. As we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful in the city of Corinth, one of the first readings used today, all of us God’s faithful people are in fact also the Temples of the Holy Presence, the Temples and dwelling place of God that He Himself has sanctified and marked through the Sacraments we received.

How is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because just as the church is blessed with holy water during its dedication, thus we have also been washed with the waters of the Sacrament of Baptism, and anointed with oil just as the Altar that is consecrated is also anointed with oil, and had white cloth put over it just as we have also been clothed when we were baptised, and we have also received the light of Christ, the same light placed upon the consecrated Altar. And we are also incensed just as the Altar is incensed.

What is the significance then? All of us are the Living Church of God, the living members of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Body of Christ. All of us are united as one people and one Church, as one community of the faithful. We must not limit our understanding of the Church merely to the buildings and the structures, or just to the hierarchy of bishops and priests, as all of us are also part of that same Church, all united together in our faith in God, and all journeying together in faith.

Just as the churches are holy and a place made and kept worthy for the worship of God, as St. Paul had also said in the reading today, all of us are also called to maintain ourselves in a state of purity and holiness, so that our lives and our bodies, our whole beings may remain in a state that is worthy of God, for God Himself dwells in us, through the Eucharist, the Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of the Lord that we have received and partaken, and through the Holy Spirit that He has sent down upon us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore walk with faith in God’s presence, and do our best as we celebrate today’s Feast of the Dedication of the great Basilica of St. John Lateran that we will always strive to live a holy and worthy life, where our faith became evident in our lives and actions. Let us all serve the Lord faithfully in each and every moments of our lives from now on, and may God Who lives and dwells in us, give us the strength and courage to carry out our duties as faithful and dedicated Christians in our world today. Amen.