Friday, 4 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, “What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question. ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

Friday, 4 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Friday, 4 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Philippians 3 : 17 – Philippians 4 : 1

Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears : they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things.

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Thursday, 3 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are reminded that as Christians we must not have the elitist attitude thinking that we alone are righteous and that others are less deserving of God’s salvation than us. We must not think that we are more worthy than others just because we follow His Law and commandments, and then ridicule and ostracise, being prejudiced or biased against others, or worse still, blaming others just because we think that they have not been faithful to God the way that we have been faithful. Instead, first and foremost we must remember that it is our Christian calling and obligation in fact to not only love the Lord with all of our hearts and might, but also to love our fellow brothers and sisters, without prejudice, in the same way.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi, we heard the Apostle speaking to the people regarding the matter of circumcision and the faithful. In order to understand the significance of this discourse, we have to understand that back then there were significant friction between the members of the Christian communities including that in Philippi, between the new converts from among the Jewish diaspora as well as the new converts from among the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people like the Romans, the Greek and many others. The Christian faith and truths attracted both the Jewish people and the Gentiles alike, and the differences in their thoughts and practices bring about this discord between the faithful.

That is because according to the practices of the old Law as revealed through Moses and as shown in the Old Testament, the Jewish people had to undergo circumcision or the removal of the skin from the genital of their males, in order for them to be part of the Jewish community. This Law had been preserved from the days of Moses onwards to this day. However, the crux of the matter as highlighted by St. Paul, was the overemphasis on these external and outward practices and which also became sort of badge of pride and honour by the adherents of its practices which resulted in the people of God being elitist and exclusivist in their way of life and in how they interacted with others who do not belong to their group, or those whom they deemed as inferior and less worthy than they were.

The Pharisees, to which St. Paul himself belonged to, and which the Apostle highlighted in that very occasion, was in particular the most to blame for this attitude. For back then, many among the Pharisees were very proud of their observance of the Law of God, their piety and dedication. They looked down on others and made great show of their faith practices and piety. They imposed the very strict interpretation and excesses of the additions to the Law of God over the centuries to the whole people. Their prejudice against people who were sick and diseased, possessed, and others like the tax collectors and the prostitutes, were carried on to some among the early Christian converts originating from among the Jewish people, some of them like St. Paul himself, were Pharisees.

Therefore, there were disagreements and even attempts by those who supported the Pharisees and wanted the whole Church to adopt the very strict interpretation of the Law and all of its immense number of rules and regulations, imposing them even to the Gentiles who converted to the Christian faith. That would have made it very difficult then for the Gentiles to adopt the Christian faith, as back then, some of the Jewish practices and customs were viewed with disdain and even with outright disgust by the Romans, the Greeks and the other Gentiles. In particular, this involved the practice of male circumcision, which the Gentiles found abhorrent. That is why, people like St. Paul, a former Pharisee, wanted this practice to be made completely optional for the whole Church.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord Jesus as He confronted the Pharisees and the elders who were very critical at the Lord’s warm treatment of those whom the they considered as sinners and unclean like the tax collectors, as He went even to their place to have a meal with them. Such an action would have been unthinkable for the Pharisees and the elders who wanted to have nothing to do at all with those pagans and all those whom they deemed to be inferior, less worthy and wicked. This was exactly why St. Paul warned the faithful against these attitudes that are actually incompatible with all of us being Christians. A Christian should not be prejudiced, exclusivist and self-righteous in their attitudes.

On the contrary, we have to remember what the Lord told all those assembled, using the parable of the lost sheep and the lost silver coin. When He mentioned how the shepherd would go out forth to look for the one lost sheep despite the ninety-nine other sheep that were safe and sound, and how the woman would put all her effort to find her missing silver coin piece despite the other pieces that she had with her, it showed us all the kind of love and the effort with which God had done for our sake, out of His ever enduring and ever great love for us all. Through His generous love, He has reached out to us again and again, all of us sinners who are undeserving of His love, and yet, despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness, God continued to reach out to us nonetheless, with love. And that is what we as Christians are expected to do as well with our lives.

Today, we shoud also look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, on his feast day, namely that of St. Martin de Porres, the renowned patron saint of the poor and the needy, and of those who are underprivileged and ostracised. St. Martin de Porres was himself born in the New World, the Americas, as a mixed-race illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed nativewoman. St. Martin de Porres grew up in poverty and endured a lot of prejudices and sufferings because of his background, and although as he grew up he wanted to join the Dominicans as a member of the religious order, the prejudices and the challenges facing St. Martin de Porres as a mixed-race man prevented him from joining the Dominicans as a full member.

Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres continued to persevere in his faith and faithful actions, devoting a lot of time and effort to care for his fellow brethren, especially to those who were sick and dying, those who were underprivileged and suffering. He performed many works, even menial works and labours for the sake of his community of Dominican brothers, as well as others. Soon after, many miracles and wonderful works occurred all around St. Martin de Porres, and many came to him for healing and advice. He continued to live humbly and faithfully in God’s path, and devoted his works to the good and the well-being of his brethren, obeying his superiors and listening to God’s will. He lived virtuously and humbly, to the very end of his life, a great example and role model for all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of St. Martin de Porres, his life and good examples, let us all therefore reflect upon all these and see in what way we as Christians can do and act in our own lives to be more like St. Martin de Porres and the innumerable other saints whose holy lives, whose love for the needy, the poor and the underprivileged can become our source of inspiration and examples, in how we ought to lead our own lives. Shall we not follow the path of the Pharisees and the elders, and the path of those who thought themselves as being worthy and righteous, but instead, walk ever humbly and faithfully in the path that God had set before us?

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, and may He strengthen and empower each and every one of us to be able to live courageously with faith and devote ourselves and our attention to Him. May God bless us all and all of our good efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 3 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

Thursday, 3 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 104 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds. Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

Thursday, 3 November 2022 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Philippians 3 : 3-8a

We are the true circumcised people since we serve according to the Spirit of God, and our confidence is in Christ Jesus rather than in our merits. I myself do not lack those human qualities in which people have confidence. If some of them seem to be accredited with such qualities, how much more am I!

I was circumcised when eight days old. I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin : I am a Hebrew, born of Hebrews. With regard to the Law, I am a Pharisee, and such was my zeal for the Law that I persecuted the Church. As for being righteous according to the Law, I was blameless.

But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss. Still more, everything seems to me as nothing compared with the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.