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

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture passages, we are all reminded of the Lord calling on us to follow Him and to do His will. Each and every one of us as Christians have been charged and entrusted with the capacity, the gifts, abilities and opportunities for us to contribute our actions and deeds, our works and efforts for the missions and other things that the Lord has given us, that by our faithful commitment and actions, we may indeed fulfil our roles as the Lord’s beloved people and flock, whom He had appointed to be His stewards and servants, to be the stewards and guardians of His creation.

Each and every one of us have been given the various responsibilities in our different areas of expertise, in our various circumstances, groups, and in whatever things that we are doing in life. No two Christians will have the same exact set of responsibilities, mission, ministry and calling, as each one of us are going to have a distinct path in life, although some of us may have more similarities than others, while some have very different paths that God had led them into. In the end, what matters is that each one of us are called through our missions and ministries, through the opportunities that God has granted us, to do whatever we can in contributing to all that He had entrusted us to do.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and to the faithful community there, the Apostle spoke about the need for all Christians to adhere to the path and the teachings which the Lord their God has shown all of them, that they all should be genuine in their faith and way of life. They should not follow the path of worldliness or be distracted by the many worldly temptations all around them. The same reminder applies to us all as well, brothers and sisters, as in this day, even in our own communities, we have always faced those same challenges and trials, oppositions and difficulties. As Christians, we are expected to do the will of God, and to carry out the missions that He has entrusted to us, with all of our hearts and strength.

As St. Paul mentioned in that same passage, all of us as Christians belong to God, as the citizens of Heaven. And because Heaven is our ultimate destination, therefore each one of us must live according to God’s ways. How can we call ourselves as Christians if the way we live, how we act and interact with one another contradict directly what we profess to believe in? Doing so is essentially marking us as hypocrites, who belief in one thing and yet acting in another way. Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, we are expected to be faithful and committed to God, not just in name or appearances only, but in everything we say and act, they all have to be reflective of God’s truth, love and grace. And we have to do what God has told and asked us all to do, through the various responsibilities, opportunities and missions that He has entrusted to us.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard from the Lord Himself the words of His parable to the people and the disciples as He wanted to teach them and show them what they were all expected to do as His followers. Through this parable of the dishonest steward, which many of us should be quite familiar with, the Lord wanted to highlight to us first and foremost, that each one of us are truly the stewards of the Lord, the stewards entrusted with the care of this world that we are living in today, as per what He had told man at the beginning of creation in the Book of Genesis. While He granted mankind the rule and guardianship of the world, He also entrusted it to their care, and hence, each one of us are the stewards of God’s creation.

Now, that parable of the dishonest steward reminds all of us, of the dangers of ‘money’ that is worldly temptations and pleasures, allures and goods, all of which can distract, mislead and tempt us away from the right path. But we must also understand that money, material goods, properties and all the things we have in this world are by themselves actually not evil. They are not harmful on their own, but it is our attachments to them, our unhealthy obsession over them that led to a lot of harm and troubles, a lot of wickedness and evil in our behaviour and actions. Just as the dishonest steward cheating his master in order to save himself, to provide a means for him to live after he was fired, therefore, in many occasions, all those worldly things and possessions had caused many people to mistreat and manipulate others, or even causing extortion and exploitation of our fellow brothers and sisters.

Clearly, this is not what we as Christians are expected to do, and that is not what our Christian identity and action should be. If we are truly God’s people and followers, and if we truly believe in Him, with all of our heart and strength, then naturally we should be like Him, in how He loves us all so generously and tenderly, that He is willing to do everything for us, showing us a most selfless love by giving us His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Saviour, and to die for us on the Cross, that through all of that, we may be reconciled with Him, and saved from all of our troubles and from the clutches of the evil ones, and from the path to damnation. That is what Christians are expected to do, to be filled with the love of God, and not with the selfish love of ourselves and our own desires.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, and a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. And today as we rejoice in the memory of this great and renowned saint, hopefully we can be inspired by the many good examples set by this great servant of God, and emulate his examples in how he exercise great stewardship over whatever it is that God had entrusted under his care, in all the missions and works that he had done throughout his life. St. Charles Borromeo was a brilliant young nobleman who completed his studies and was eventually made as a Cardinal of the Church by his uncle, who was elected as Pope. In his capacity as Cardinal, he assisted the Pope in the many areas of governance of the Church. He helped the Church reforms, rooting out worldly excesses and corruptions from among the clergy and the members of the Church.

He was also later on appointed to be the Archbishop of Milan, which after Rome was probably the most influential and important Episcopal See. As Archbishop of Milan, St. Charles Borromeo launched a great campaign of reform in rooting out the debauched corruptions and condition in which the clergy and laity of the Milanese See had ended up in after many decades without proper leadership as previous archbishops had not resided in Milan at all. St. Charles Borromeo rooted out all those lingering corruptions and worldliness that had crept into the very heart of the Church, leading the faithful on a path towards renewal and rejuvenation of their faith. He pressed on despite the challenges and trials that he had to encounter along the way, and he did not give up his struggle and hard work to the end.

And as Archbishop and Cardinal, he still remained humble and simple in his lifestyle, contrary to the many other people of his class and office. He dedicated much of his time to visit the poor and care for the sick, establishing institutions, hospitals and schools for the betterment of his flock. He spent a lot of time and effort to care for the sick and dying when a plague struck at Milan and the surrounding regions even when the ruler and the local governors all fled from the area, leaving the sick and the poor to fend for themselves. St. Charles Borromeo dedicated his life for the sake of those who have been entrusted to him as we have heard, and this should be what each one of us should be doing as well, as faithful and dedicated Christians, throughout our lives. As he had done, let us all make good use of whatever opportunities and gifts God had granted us all, as stewards of His creation.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life. May He empower us all with courage, strength and perseverance to live ever more faithfully in accordance to the path that He has led and guided us through. May God bless us all and may He remain with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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