Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we all heard about the coming of the Wisdom and the Kingdom of God into our midst, as we heard from the Book of Wisdom about the Wisdom of God and how God’s Wisdom is present in our midst, and then the Gospel passage from the Gospel of St. Luke in which the Lord spoke to the Pharisees regarding the coming of the kingdom of God and about how He was to suffer rejection and death.

In our first reading today, as we listened from the author of the Book of Wisdom, we heard the beautiful exposition and explanation of what God’s Wisdom is all about, and how God’s Wisdom is and has been present all around us, sent by God into our midst, to dwell in us and to stay within us. To us, it has been revealed that the Wisdom of God has passed down to us through the Holy Spirit, which is present in all life and creation, but we have received the fullness of His gifts through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

The Wisdom of God has entered into our hearts, but as mentioned in the Book of Wisdom passage, that God’s Wisdom dwells only in the hearts of those who are holy and just, which means that those who allow God to lead their lives and entrust themselves to Him, listening attentively to His words and truth, then the Wisdom of God will make itself evident through us and our actions, and with the Wisdom of God guiding us in our path, we will be able to walk more faithfully in the way of the Lord.

Through God’s Wisdom, our actions, words and deeds can be sanctified and made to be in accordance with the will of God. And if we prefer to follow our own path or consider things using our own intellect, power and understanding, then very quickly we may end up in the wrong path, as we are likely going to do things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, such as that done by many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at the time of the Lord’s work and ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord and some of those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often doubted the Lord and questioned Him and the validity and authority of His works. In that particular occasion, the Lord was questioned regarding the coming of the kingdom of God as they wanted to see signs and wonders associated with the coming of God’s kingdom. Although He could perfectly do something, but the Lord refused to indulge their lack of faith and stubbornness. They had seen many miracles and wonders, and yet still refused to believe.

The Lord then also reiterated that the kingdom of God is not so much as a place or something to be revealed by signs and wonders, as that of the interior disposition of the people themselves. The Lord stated before those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that the kingdom of God was already present in their midst there and then, and yet, they still failed to recognise it. And why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of their stubbornness in refusing to listen to God, in closing their hearts and minds against God and His truth.

If only that they have the humility and the willingness to look beyond and overcome their ego, pride, greed and ambition, they could have realised the truth that they have been looking for. The Wisdom of God eluded them because they trusted much more in their own human wisdom, power and intellect, preferring to believe in their own ideas and thoughts, than to believe in the truth of God, no matter how unbelievable that may seem to them.

That is why, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, today we are also called to reflect on our own lives. Have we spent our lives thus far resisting to believe in God and in His Wisdom? Have we closed ourselves off from the truth of God and from the providence of His Wisdom? Our pride and arrogance often became obstacles and barriers in our path towards God. These things often prevent us from reaching out to Him and finding our way to Him. Unless we resist the temptations to indulge in them, then we will likely fall into sin.

Today, that is why we should be inspired by the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours, a renowned bishop in Tours in what is today southern part of France, who was formerly an army centurion in the Imperial Roman Army. St. Martin served in the Roman army and was noted for his great character, his care for his subordinates and his charity for the poor and great faith. He was an exemplary character even from the days before he became the Bishop of Tours.

In a well-known story, when he was still an army centurion, St. Martin of Tours was travelling on a cold day when he saw a beggar by the roadside suffering from the severe cold condition, and without much hesitation, he cut his own officer’s cloak in half and gave that half to the beggar to protect him from the cold. And then, later that very night, in a vision, St. Martin saw the poor beggar who revealed himself to be the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He praised what St. Martin had done, which reminds us of the Lord’s own words that whatever we do for the poor and for the least among us, we do it for the Lord.

St. Martin of Tours later was unanimously elected by the people as the new Bishop of Tours and he was chosen because of his great faith and the respect that all the faithful from all backgrounds had for him. The people entrusted him with the leadership over the diocese, as a selection provided by the Wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit. He would go on to become a great bishop and shepherd his people in Tours. He also dedicated himself to resist and oppose the heretical teachings and other threats to the faithful and the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on the examples and the life set before us by St. Martin of Tours, the most faithful servant of God. Let us all be inspired by his generosity, faith, love and courage to live his faith in accordance to the truth of God, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Wisdom of God, through the Holy Spirit that God has bestowed on us. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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