Friday, 11 November 2022 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the coming of the end of days, and the end of our own worldly existences just as this current liturgical year is coming to an end. We are also reminded that each one of us as Christians are expected to walk in the path that the Lord has shown to us, to be righteous, just and good as He has taught us to do. And that is our Christian mission and obligation that each one of us have been entrusted with, and we should not forget that, as we carry on living our lives from now on henceforth. We must be good role models for each other and show others how we should follow the Lord our God.

In our first reading today, we heard of the Epistle of St. John the Apostle, the reminder that God loves each and every one of us, and that same love ought to be shown by all of us as Christians, as God’s followers, as His people and children. It is the love which God has for us that made everything possible, and we have hope exactly because of this love. We should have deserved destruction and damnation because of our sins and disobedience against God, and yet, by God’s mercy, love and compassion, we have been given the hope out of our current conundrum and trouble, and we have received the assurance of liberation and salvation from evil, sin and death, all those things that sought to dominate and drag us down to the path towards damnation.

St. John the Apostle spoke to the people of God through his Epistle regarding the commandments and the laws that God has given to each and every one of them. Those laws and commandments teach us to love in the manner that God has loved us first, for us to love others generously, caring for the needs especially for those who are in need of more help and love. Unfortunately, in many occasions throughout our human history and also even within the history of the Church and our Christian faith, many among us have not truly practiced this way of life as the Lord wants us to. We preferred to think of ourselves and our selfish desires, greed, pride and ego instead of caring for others and loving those around us. This is what had become a serious obstacle for so many people in following God truly and faithfully, because they put themselves and their desires before serving God.

St. John also warned the faithful of all those who spread false messages and false ideas contrary to what the Lord Himself had taught and shown us, all those who sought to subvert the messages of truth to their own benefits and desires, to achieve their own ends and goals. At that time, there were all those who sought to change the teachings of the Lord as passed down through the Apostles, as it would also be throughout the history of the Church. Heresies and false teachings had sprung up all the time, causing many of the people of God to be led astray and turn their backs against God and His truth. They gave in to their temptations and refused to listen to God, His Good News and truth. The Lord has reminded us all to remember His love for us, that we may also embody the same love in our own actions.

The Lord Himself has shown us the perfect examples, of Him reaching out to the worst of sinners and all those who had been shunned by the other people, like the tax collectors, the prostitutes and all those who were ostracised because they were diseased, sick, and possessed by evil spirits among others. He did not hold against them their sins, but extended His loving mercy and compassion, reaching out to them, walking among them, and journeying with them, to love them all most tenderly despite the fact that it was them who had earlier on abandoned Him and betrayed Him first, preferring to walk in the path of sin rather than to walk in the path of His righteousness and truth. And that way, God has always been so patient in loving us, that He sincerely and truly desires to be reconciled with us all, despite our many sins.

That was how and why, He decided and willingly took upon Himself the weight and burden of His cross and sufferings, to be rejected and abandoned, betrayed and struck down by the world, and by all those who hated and persecuted Him, so that by His suffering and death, He obeyed His Father’s will most perfectly, and showed unto us the perfect example and manifestation of His love for each and every one of us. He Himself had once said that, there is no greater love than for one to lay down his or her life for a friend, and there, the Lord Himself willingly endured all the sufferings and laid down His life for our sake, that through Him, all of us may be saved and have the sure hope of eternal life and happiness with Him. He endured the most painful and humiliating death, that we may be spared our fated destruction and enter into eternal life.

And why do we have to keep this in mind? That is because God has loved us so wonderfully, that He has generously reached out to us with love. Yet, if we continue to reject and resist Him, then in the end, it is our rejection and refusal for God’s love and mercy that will condemn us to eternal suffering and damnation. Our Gospel passage today is clear, that the Lord Himself reminded us all how the time of reckoning and judgment can come just at any time. Unless we are ever vigilant and ready, and careful in how we live our lives, then we may end up falling down this path towards sin and evil, towards destruction and damnation. We have to be careful as the temptations of worldly desires and greed can indeed be very strong, and even many among the righteous had been tempted and fell from grace because of that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why we should heed the good examples set by our holy and devout predecessors, and especially today we honour St. Martin of Tours, a great saint and man of God whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Martin of Tours was once a Roman centurion or army captain, who was a renowned soldier and who was also a devout Christian during the times when Christianity was already widespread and no longer persecuted in the Roman Empire. St. Martin of Tours was also famously known in one particular occasion when he encountered the Lord disguised as a poor, old man in the middle of a cold season, without anything to cover or protect himself from the cold. In that occasion, St. Martin did not hesitate and took his sword to cut his centurion’s cloak in half and gave that half to the poor man to protect himself.

That very night, in a vision, St. Martin saw the Lord revealing Himself before him, as the old man holding the piece of cloak that he had cut from his own cloak earlier on. Ever reminded of this appearance of God among the poor and the weak, the less fortunate and the old ones, St. Martin was deeply affected and touched, and eventually, he left the army behind, and was also elected by the people’s acclamation and support as the Bishop of Tours in the southern region of what is now France. St. Martin of Tours dedicated himself wholeheartedly as the shepherd to his flock in Tours and cared for them most tenderly and generously, showing us all what it means for us to love as genuine Christians and showing the love of God through our very actions and deeds, in all of our interactions. He also resisted those who tried to bring about the falsehoods of their heresies to confuse the people, and he was very active in opposing the efforts of the heretics in spreading their falsehoods.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours, in loving one another, especially the unloved ones, the poor and the weak, those who are sick and dying, and those who are ostracised and without anyone to care for them. Let us all walk therefore always ever more faithfully in the path that God has set before us, ever remembering His love for us, and doing the same henceforth to Him and to our fellow brethren, in obedience to His Law and to His will. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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