Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continued the discourse from the Scriptures which started yesterday, in the Gospel according to St. Luke, in which the Lord Jesus taught the people with the parable of the dishonest steward, pointing out what the dishonest steward had done in order to secure his livelihood after he was fired from his job as steward. The steward used his guile and craftiness to trick his master from his money, that there would be people who had gratitude in him and thus would take care of him.

The essence of this passage today is not for us to think that God despises the rich or those who have more possessions than others. Indeed, in the Gospel today, it was mentioned how the Pharisees loved money and sneered at what Jesus had just told and taught them. Yet, in this, we have to understand the context in which the Lord spoke to His people. Jesus did not say that money is evil or wicked, but rather, it was the Pharisees’ love for money and other forms of worldly glory that ended up becoming their downfall.

Throughout the history of mankind, we have seen how our love and desire for money, wealth, possessions and worldly things have resulted in sorrow and suffering for many people because of the actions that those who seek money, wealth, fame and worldly glory have taken, in order to secure for themselves these things. And we know that it is very difficult for us to be satisfied with what we have, as even after we get what we wanted, we will be tempted to want even more.

Thus, at the root of the problem is mankind’s inability to resist the temptations of money, worldliness and pleasures of life, which distract us from our attention and faith towards God. This is what we must address, and what we must take care of, if we are to be true disciples of the Lord, as true Christians. We must not put ourselves and our selfish desires ahead of our obligations to love, for Christians are called to love just as the Lord our God Himself has loved us.

Let us spend some time to reflect, brothers and sisters, on the love of God. God has loved each and every one of us so much, that He has bestowed on us the greatest gift of love of all, that is the perfect love shown by His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who willingly died on the cross for our sake, that through His crucifixion, suffering and death, He delivered us from the tyranny of sin and death.

If God has loved us all so much, then should we not also love Him in the same manner? He has given us all everything, even to the point of humbling Himself unto death on the cross for us. That is why as the Lord Jesus said, that the Law and the Commandments of God can be summarised into two key laws, that is, to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, strength and our whole beings. And then, because we have loved God, we must also love our brothers and sisters in the same way, for God loves all of us, without exception.

We must realise that the more we have been given by God, the humbler and more loving we should have become, and the more we should have shared our blessings with those who have less, little or none. We should follow the examples of the Apostles and the disciples of Our Lord, in the first reading today, where it was mentioned all those who have given themselves for the service of God.

Today we also celebrate the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a saint who dedicated his life to the service of God, and who was remembered for his many good deeds, care and loving concern for his people, first as a layman, and later on as the Bishop of Tours in what is now southern France. St. Martin of Tours was once a soldier in the Roman army, and according to some accounts, he was an army captain.

It was told that in one occasion, St. Martin of Tours met an elderly man who seemed to be homeless on the roadside, without clothing or cover, in the middle of a cold day. Therefore, St. Martin of Tours was moved with pity and compassion, and using his sword, cut off half of his army captain’s cloak, and use that half of the cloak to cover the old man. That same night, the Lord appeared to St. Martin of Tours in a vision, showing him that He was the old man whom St. Martin had helped.

This example is a reminder for all of us, of what the Lord Himself had said in another parable, that whatever we have done for the least among our brethren, the poor, the hungry, the destitute and the lonely, we have done it for the Lord Himself. St. Martin of Tours and the many other holy men and women of God had shown us the example of how each and every one of us as Christians should live in accordance to our faith.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and seek to devote ourselves, our time and effort more and more, to love first of all, Our God, and then to love our fellow brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in need of our love, and those who have no one else to turn to, and those who are unloved and have been rejected by their peers. May God help us in this endeavour, and may He strengthen our resolve to live always in accordance with His ways. Amen.

Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 16 : 9-15

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

“Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?”

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.”

Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 2-3, 4-5, 10-11

I will praise You, day after day; and exalt Your Name forever. Great is YHVH, most worthy of praise; and His deeds are beyond measure.

Parents commend Your works to their children and tell them Your feats. They proclaim the splendour of Your majesty and recall Your wondrous works.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.

Saturday, 11 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 16 : 3-9, 16, 22-27

Greetings to Prisca and Aquilas, my helpers in Christ Jesus. To save my life, they risked theirs; I am very grateful to them, as are all the churches of the pagan nations. Greetings also to the church that meets in their house. Greetings to my dear Epaenetus, the first in the province of Asia to believe in Christ. Greet Mary, who worked so much for you.

Greetings to Andronicus and Junias, my relatives and comparisons in prison; they are well known Apostles and served Christ before I did. Give greetings to Ampliatus, whom I love so much in the Lord. Greetings to Urbanus, our fellow worker, and to my dear Stachys. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send their greetings.

I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, send you greetings in the Lord. Greetings from Gaius, who has given me lodging and in whose house the church meets. Greetings from Erastus, treasurer of the city, and from our brother Quartus. Glory be to God! He is able to give you strength, according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus.

Now is revealed the mysterious plan, kept hidden for long ages in the past. By the will of the eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them. Glory to God, Who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, forever! Amen.

Friday, 10 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the word of God through the Scripture, in which we heard first of all, in the Gospel today when the Lord Jesus used the parable of the dishonest servant to teach His people about the need for them to be truly dedicated to God, and not be divided in their commitment and attention.

In that parable, we heard about a dishonest steward who was found out in his deeds by his master, who then went on to fire him from his employment, and gave him some time to settle his accounts before he is dismissed from service. The steward was accused of fraudulent service, meaning that he had been accused of cheating his master of his money and properties, which was a serious charge.

Therefore, the dishonest steward made his move, trying to provide for himself after he has lost his job as steward. He reached out to his master’s debtors, and as we heard in the passage, he edited those debts, giving the people who were indebted to his master lighter debts and obligation in the end. Why did the dishonest steward do these things? It is so that they in turn would be indebted to him and therefore would be willing to help shelter the dishonest steward when he was out of job.

In this, as we see how the dishonest steward used dishonesty and blatant lie to save himself, we see how those who walk in the ways of the world would double down on that path, when they were presented with the choice of following what the world prescribes and what the Lord had taught His people. That is why the Lord mentioned after this passage, that we cannot serve both God and money. We will end up loving one and despising the other.

Why is that so? That is because we mankind by our nature are easily tempted. Money by itself is not bad or evil in nature, yet, it is in how we use the money and desire to gain it that we end up falling into evil. We always desire to want more and more possessions, and more and more wealth for ourselves, as these are what is valuable in this world, which therefore bring us pleasure and good things, temptations that keep us away from God.

As Christians, all of us should not put the world and all of its allures ahead of our obligations to serve God. We should strive to obey God in all things, and learn to give our whole heart and minds to Him. In this, we should follow the examples of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Bishop of Rome who lived and reigned as the Pope and Leader of the Universal Church during the fourth century after the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope St. Leo the Great lived during tough times for the Church, battered from the inside by the divisions caused by many heresies and false teachings that had brought many people into open disagreement and rebellion against the Church. And from the outside, there were great troubles, due to the chaos of the years during the downfall of the Roman Empire and its authority in the western provinces of the Empire, now parts of Western and Southern Europe.

Pope St. Leo the Great contributed a lot to help bridge the divisions and reunite the splinter factions of the Church. And through the works and writings he had done, Pope St. Leo the Great gained many souls for the Lord, when all these people came to the Lord, turning away from all the falsehoods and heresies they have been lured into. He also was influential in keeping the unity of the Church.

He led the faithful through those difficult times, and it was widely known in one occasion, how he courageously faced the king of the Huns, the infamous Attila the Hun who had wreaked havoc throughout many parts of Europe at that time. Pope St. Leo the Great went out of the city of Rome by himself to plead with the king of the Huns to spare the city of Rome and its inhabitants from destruction. The king of the Huns retreated from the city thereafter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what Pope St. Leo the Great had done in his life should become inspirations for all of us, that we should live well in accordance with our faith, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. There will indeed be obstacles and challenges, but we must realise that all of these are part and parcel of us being Christians, living in accordance with God’s ways, and may not be according to what the world expects from us.

Let us all renew our faith and recommit ourselves to God, by practicing our faith from now on through genuine actions and deeds in this life. Let us not be distracted by the temptations of power, worldly glory, fame, wealth, possessions, pleasure and many other things that can become great obstacles in our path towards God. Let us ask Pope St. Leo the Great for his intercession, that each and every one of us as Christians may live genuinely in faith, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 10 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (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 because of 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 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, 10 November 2017 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3c-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.