Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the entrusting of ourselves and our lives to God, how we should allow God to work through us and not to be worried about many things and concerns in life. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi stated this clearly, that in everything he did, he did it for the sake of Christ, his Lord and Master.

But St. Paul also mentioned how he was torn between dying and living in Christ. What he meant must be understood in the reality of being Christians at that time and era, when being Christians often meant that one must be ready to suffer, to endure persecution and prison, and even to die for the sake of their faith. St. Paul lived through the beginning years of the great persecution of Christians by the Jews, and later by the Romans, when countless Christians would perish because of their faith.

To die for the faith would be painful, but at the same time, it also released the person from the kind of suffering that they had to endure for the sake of their faith. And because the Lord promised that all those who remain faithful to Him will receive eternal life and glory with Him in heaven, then it is actually something that the early Christians looked up towards, as they sought to escape the brutal persecutions and pains inflicted on them.

But St. Paul chose to remain strong and to endure the persecutions daily, instead of openly desiring and seeking for martyrdom, as his intention was such that, if all the Christians were to perish and without showing endurance, then there would be few if not none of those who would be available to serve as witnesses of faith, and there was a great need of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord at that time, to bring the word of God and His truth to the people, many of whom who are still ignorant of the truth, living in sin and darkness.

And unless they had someone to bring the truth to them, those poor souls would have remained in darkness, and therefore, would have fallen into the eternal damnation in hell, if not for the courageous and hard works of St. Paul and the many other disciples and followers of Christ. These brave and faithful servants of God placed their love and concern for their fellow brothers and sisters ahead of their own selfish desires.

Why is that so? That is because it is very easy for us to fall into the temptation of seeking only our own salvation and personal glory, and not minding or caring about the needs of others in our midst. That is just exactly how the Lord Jesus rebuked those who sought first places in banquets and events through His parable in the Gospel today. Those people sought personal honour and glory, as how many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did, and in the end, the Lord said that they would be disappointed.

As Christians we are called to be humble and selfless, in how we live our lives and in how we serve the Lord through our actions and deeds. We should not allow the pride and desire in us to take over us and control our way of life. Instead, we should follow the examples of the Apostles, the many disciples of Christ of the early Church, the saints and martyrs, who willingly let go of their personal desires and pride, in order to serve God with all their hearts.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Martin de Porres, a Peruvian native American saint, who was a lay member of the Dominican religious order. He was noted for his great piety and sanctity, and in his great dedication to the service of the poor in his community. He lived simply and with great humility, having to endure poverty himself since his early age. He was unable to join the Dominicans fully because of the law of the time that discriminated against the native population of the New World, the Americas where St. Martin de Porres lived and worked in.

Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres gave his all in the service to God, and devoted his whole life to serve the needy and the sick, caring for them without regards for his own personal comfort and without the desire to satisfy his own personal desires and ego. He cared for many of the sick during a great epidemic that struck the city of Lima in Peru, helping many of those who suffered to endure through their sickness with dignity and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples of St. Martin de Porres, in his dedication to the Lord, and his love for his fellow men, in his humility, that he did not let pride and greed to distract him from the path towards God’s salvation. Let us all reexamine our own lives, and find ways in which we can make a difference, by turning ourselves ever more wholeheartedly to the Lord.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, through the good examples shown unto us by his glorious saints, especially St. Martin de Porres, whose exemplary life and actions we ought to adopt as our own. May God bless us always in all of our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

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

Luke 14 : 1, 7-11

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

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

Psalm 41 : 2, 3, 5bcde

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

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

Philippians 1 : 18b-26

Christ is proclaimed and because of this I rejoice and have no regrets. I know that all this will be a grace for me because of your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ. I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die.

For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will stay and remain with you for your progress and happiness in the faith.

I will surely come to you again, and give you more reason for being proud of belonging to Christ Jesus.

Friday, 2 November 2018 : Feast of All Souls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the feast of All Souls’ Day, continuing from yesterday’s Solemnity of All Saints, as the last day of the Allhallowtide. In this period of time, we remember the souls of the faithful departed, and while yesterday we rejoice together in the glory of the saints who have triumphed with God, having been found worthy of the immediate glory of heaven, today, we focus our attention to the holy souls in purgatory.

Why are they called the holy souls in purgatory? That is because these are the ones who have passed on from this world, and have been regarded as belonging among the righteous, that they do not deserve the eternal suffering in hell, which is preserved only for all those who have rejected God and His truth, refusing to turn away from sin and from all of their wickedness down right to their last moments.

But these people, who were not counted among the wicked, and did not deserve hell, also still have with them the residual corruption and taints of sin, those that are not confessed and repented prior to their passing. These are the ones who are currently suffering in purgatory, as they are not condemned to hell, and yet, they still have to wait in order for their sins to be purified in purgatory, before they can ascend to the glory of heaven.

These are the souls of the faithful departed, who are enduring the flames of purgatory, the pain of expectation, and the waiting that agonises them, for they are not yet able to experience the fullness of God’s love and grace, and having to endure the waiting period and the time of purification, to remove from them the residual taints of sin mentioned. God is so holy and good, and no sin can exist in His presence, and that is why, these holy souls suffer.

Yet, they all long and hope for the eternal glory of heaven, and one day, when their sins have been cleansed from them, they will be able to leave purgatory behind and enter the glory of God’s everlasting kingdom. And hence, we pray for their sake, these holy souls in purgatory, that through our prayers, we may move God’s heart to show compassion and mercy on them, and hopefully, forgive them their sins through His grace, and they will be able to enter heaven at the soonest time possible.

It is important that we pray for the holy souls in purgatory, because ultimately, they are still together with us, as part of the one Church of God. They are the Church Suffering, who are suffering in expectation of their release from their temporary confinement in purgatory prior to heaven, just as we are the Church Militant, still living and struggling daily in this world, with our sins and with all the challenges we have to face each and every day.

And together with the saints, whose Solemnity of All Saints we have just celebrated yesterday, the Church Triumphant in heaven, all these three parts form the one Church of God, made of the saints’ Church Triumphant, our Church Militant, and the Church Suffering of the holy souls in purgatory. The saints are constantly praying for both us, as well as the holy souls in purgatory, that God may open the pathway for both of us to join them in glorifying Him in the eternal glory of heaven.

Therefore, we, the Church Militant, just as we often pray for one another, we too should also pray for the souls in purgatory, and even we should ask the saints for their intercession as well. We hope that through our prayers, these holy souls of those who have gone before us, including perhaps many of those whom we personally knee, they may all come to enjoy at the soonest opportunity, God’s love and grace in the eternal heavenly rest.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we pray for the souls in purgatory, today, as we remember our loved ones who have gone before us, and who may now be in purgatory, let us all reflect on our own lives. Let us all look deeply and carefully on our own actions in life, and how we have lived our lives thus far. Why is this important? That is because just as those souls had ended up in purgatory because of their residual sins, that can be our fate as well.

If we have not lived our faith through actions and deeds in our life, and if we have neglected the important observances and expressions of our faith, then not only we may end up in purgatory as well, but worse still, we may turn up to deserve the fall into hell, out of which there can be no escape, unlike purgatory which is just temporary suffering and which end point is still the heavenly glory God promised us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God loves each and every one of us very much, but at the same time, He also detests our sins and wickedness, and unless we change our ways and make the effort to turn away from those sins, we are in danger of entering into the eternal damnation in hell. Therefore today, and from now on, just as we continue to pray for the holy souls in purgatory, let us also reform our lives, that we may become ever closer to God and be more faithful to Him, with each and every passing day.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us in our journey, now and always. May He look mercifully upon the sufferings of those in purgatory who long to be with Him in the glory of heaven, that He may forgive them completely their sins, allowing them to enter into heaven at the soonest opportunity. Amen.

Friday, 2 November 2018 : Feast of All Souls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Matthew 11 : 25-30

At that time, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Friday, 2 November 2018 : Feast of All Souls (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Black or Purple/Violet

Romans 5 : 5-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life.

Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.