Saturday, 18 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Hebrews 11 : 1-7

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, being certain of what we cannot see. Because of their faith our ancestors were approved. By faith we understand that the stages of creation were disposed by God’s word, and what is visible came from what cannot be seen.

Because of Abel’s faith his offering was more acceptable than that of his brother Cain, which meant he was upright, and God Himself approved his offering. Because of this faith he cried to God, as said in Scripture, even after he died.

By faith Enoch was taken to heaven, instead of experiencing death : he could not be found because God had taken him. In fact, it is said that before being taken up he had pleased God. Yet without faith it is impossible to please Him : no one draws near to God without first believing that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him earnestly.

By faith Noah was instructed of events which could not yet be seen and, heeding what he heard, he built a boat in which to save his family. The faith of Noah condemned the world and he reached holiness born of faith.

Friday, 17 February 2023 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures that highlighted to us the importance of obedience to God and entrusting ourselves to the Lord and His path, and we have to walk in God’s path while obeying His will and commandments as Christians, or else we cannot truly call or consider ourselves as genuine people of God or His followers, as each one of us will be expected to do what is right and just in our every actions and deeds throughout our lives, in even the smallest and least significant things we may do in our lives, in our every moments, we may always put the Lord at the forefront and centre of our lives and existence, and not to fall into the temptations of evil and sin, which had led our predecessors down into the wrong paths.

In our first reading for example, we heard the well-known story and tale of the building of the Tower of Babel, a great tower that man planned on building and which supposedly would rise to reach the Heaven itself. Back then, probably just a few generations since the Great Flood of Noah, which we have heard in the past few days of Scripture readings, mankind had once again flourished and prospered, and rebuilt the civilisation and the communities that had been completely destroyed and eradicated by the Great Flood, which God sent into the world to cleanse it from all the wickedness of all the sons and daughters of man, which was so great that except for Noah and his family, no one else deserved to be saved.

However, as we evidently can notice from what we heard in our first reading passage today, the descendants of man through Noah did not learn much from the lessons of their ancestors, as they began to commit sin once again, disobeying God and growing proud upon their power and achievements, and they began to plan to ascend even to the heights of Heaven itself, which would indeed mirror and is a parallel of what happened when Satan, our great enemy and the Deceiver, fell from grace and power, as he tried to supplant and overthrow God as the Lord and Master of all the Universe. Back then, Lucifer, as Satan was commonly known before his fall, became full of pride and ambition, and rebelled against God, only to be defeated and thrown down from Heaven.

In a similar manner therefore, we heard how those people at that time tried to build the mighty Tower of Babel and attempted to scale the heights of Heaven itself, going proud and haughty from their powers and accomplishments, and thinking that they had no need for God anymore, and that they could therefore do anything as they liked. God therefore reminded them all of their place, and sent upon them a great punishment and something which was meant to disturb and stop their foolish plan, by confusing their language and ability to understand each other. Hence, ever since then, everyone had been speaking their own languages, and no one in this world could perfectly understand everyone else in their tongues and speeches.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the Lord Jesus telling His disciples and therefore to all of us, what we all need to do as His disciples and followers, that we all need to carry our crosses in life and follow Him faithfully, and not allowing our pride, ego, ambition, worldly desires and all sorts of temptations present all around us to distract us and to draw us away from the salvation and grace in God. The Lord reminded all of His disciples and all of us that we all need to be faithful and committed to God and His path, and resist the wickedness of the world, so that we may truly be found worthy by Him upon His coming once again into the world, and not to end up in the damnation and destruction reserved to those who are proud and haughty, like the devil himself and all others who followed his path.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as Christians, each and every one of us are reminded as always of the need for each and every one of us to align ourselves to God and His path, resisting the many temptations and efforts from the devil and all of his temptations, persuasions and pressures for us to abandon our faith and obedience to God. All of us have to remember that we need to be truly faithful and committed to God, and we have to do our best to glorify Him by our lives, and live our lives daily with faithful and good intentions, with actions that are centred on God’s path and His commandments, so that we may inspire many others on how they all can follow the Lord faithfully as well in every possible opportunities in life.

Today, all of us should follow the good examples set before us by the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, who have been called by God to a great and holy existence, and to a great mission in evangelising and inspiring the members of the Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, in everything that they said and did. These Seven Holy Founders, whose feast we celebrate today, dedicated their lives to answer God’s call through a vision that they all shared and received from God, which encouraged them to leave the wickedness of worldly ways and to dedicate themselves wholly to God, as they endeavoured to build and establish a new community of the faithful people of God, eventually known as the Servites or the Servite Order. Their great personal piety and sanctity and devotion to the Lord, as well as their love for their fellow brethren are great inspiration to all of us.

Let us all hence follow the great examples shown by these saints, so that hopefully each and every one of us may also come ever closer to God and may become good role models and sources of inspiration to each other, in our every moments and opportunities throughout life. May the Lord continue to guide us and help us, and strengthen us in our resolve to live our lives faithfully in His path. May God bless us all and bless our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.