Friday, 23 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio, Priest (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 reminded of the importance for all of us to embrace our calling as Christians, in doing what we have been called to do, and in following the will of God. Each one of us have received the mission through our Church and faith to proclaim the Lord and His truth, His Good News to all the people and all the nations. The Church of God is composed of all of us the faithful people and flock of God and each one of us have important roles to play in our respective fields and areas of responsibility, at whichever time and opportunity that God has given us in each one of our lives.

It means that just as we heard in our first reading today from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we should remember that there is time for everything, for our every actions and interactions, for us to experience good things and the not-so-good things in life, time to be spent with our friends and relatives, with our loving family and others around us. However, there is also time for us to be spent with God and for us to be with Him, focusing our attention and our thoughts on Him rather than constantly being distracted and occupied by our ceaseless pursuits of worldly happiness and pleasures, and the many temptations of pride and desire present all around us.

There is a time for us all as Christians to dedicate ourselves to God, as is right and just for us to be doing His will and to proclaim His truth and love through our every words, actions and deeds. Each and every one of us are part of that same Church, the Body of Christ, of which Christ our Lord Himself is the Head, and because we ourselves are united to Him, we should obey His will and commandments, as we have been taught to do. All of us have that responsibility to bear as Christians, that we become the living beacons of God’s light to others. We have to embrace this calling, inspired by the faith which the Apostles themselves had shown.

We had a glimpse of that when we heard the Gospel passage today in which the Lord asked His disciples of Who they think He was. And they were mentioning of who the others were thinking He was, either that of the prophet Elijah, or one of the other prophets, or St. John the Baptist among others, and then when the Lord asked them on His identity, St. Peter representing all of them spoke confidently and with faith that He is the Messiah or Saviour that came from God, the Holy One and Son of God. He spoke with courage and faith, of the truth that others maybe found difficult to proclaim. Yet that was likely why the Lord chose St. Peter to be the leader of His Church and the Apostles, because of his faith and great courage.

The Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord would have to face great sufferings and challenges in the years to come, and yet, they all faced them with great faith and love for Him. They willingly suffered and faced persecution in defending what they believed in and what they themselves had witnessed. The Lord has shown His truth and wisdom to them, and they had been entrusted with the mission to spread that same truth to all the whole world. They did their best to proclaim the Lord to all those whom they encountered, and they spent a lot of time and effort to reach out to those who have yet to know the Lord, despite the challenges and persecutions against them.

As we can see, there are in fact a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can do in doing our part as a follower of Christ. Each one of us have been given distinct opportunities, talents and capabilities, that we may bring God’s truth and love closer to His people. We are all called to do what we can in doing God’s will, and it is in the end up to us how we respond to His call. And we have the saints, our holy predecessors, the holy men and women of God, as well as many others, whose lives have been exemplary and inspirational, in how they themselves had committed their lives in the service of God and His people.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also better known as Padre Pio, a great servant of God and saintly man whose life and examples, humility, personal qualities and piety may be a great source of inspiration for each one of us as Christians. He was one of the famous recent saints in history and was noted for many things, not least his stigmata or the wounds he received mystically corresponding to the wounds of the Lord Jesus at His crucifixion, as well as his personal piety and charisma, his fervent celebration of the Eucharist and his countless efforts in ministering to the people, by spending hours in the confessionals and in his known miraculous acts.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio was an Italian Franciscan Capuchin friar and priest who lived a pious life from early on in his life, and who then joined the Franciscan Capuchins, becoming a friar and then a priest. It was told that Padre Pio had experienced visions and ecstatic moments since his youth, which would continue to happen throughout his life. Although he had always been beset with health issues and troubles throughout his life, but Padre Pio did not allow all that to deter him from his work and ministry, and spent a lot of time to serve the community and the faithful who came to him for help, advice and healing.

There was a period of difficult opposition against him as there were those who were skeptical of the legitimacy and the validity of what this man of God had done and experienced. He was also facing challenges from the rapidly changing political and other situations back then, as instabilities raged across his nation. He continued to do his works nonetheless, establishing houses and hospitals for the care of the weak and the poor. St. Pius of Pietrelcina faced a lot of trials and struggles for many decades, and he had to endure scrutiny, doubt and also questions and interrogations from even the highest levels of the Church.

All of that added to the struggle and burden that he had faced in enduring constant attacks from the devil and other evil spirits, as well as the physical and spiritual pains of the stigmata he had for so many decades. Yet, this holy man of God remained firm in his faith and commitment to the Lord. Padre Pio did not allow all those obstacles and hindrances to stop his efforts. He remained obedient to the Lord and to the Church and its authorities, and patiently endured all the crosses that he had to bear. Through his faith and commitment, St. Pius of Pietrelcina, Padre Pio showed us what it truly means to be a Christian, a faithful disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us all therefore glorify God by our lives and let us seek Him with all of our heart and strength in the same way that our holy predecessors like St. Pius of Pietrelcina and many others had done. Let us make best use of our time and every moments and opportunities to do the will of God and to proclaim His truth and love wherever we may be, in our families and in our communities, in our workplaces, schools and more. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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