Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the fact of how difficult it is for us to enter into the kingdom of God, and how we cannot be idle in our lives as Christians as we have plenty of expectations for us in living as true and devout Christians. At the heart of it all is the love that we must have for the Lord, our commitment and dedication towards Him.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard about the encounter between the Lord Jesus and a young, rich man who professed his intention of wanting to follow the Lord Jesus. When the Lord asked the rich young man whether he had done everything that the laws of Moses had specified for him to do, the young man responded that he had been faithful in everything that the law prescribed. Yet, when the Lord asked him to leave everything behind and follow Him completely, the young man left in sorrow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what actually happened in that encounter between the Lord and the rich, young man? The Lord did not intend to condemn or treat the rich with contempt, but instead, He wanted to make a point before His disciples and the people who followed Him, that in order for us to be true disciples of the Lord, we must have that love and commitment in us, to be ready and to be able to do everything for the Lord.

We must be careful here not to understand the Lord’s words and actions literally at the surface level, or else, we will misunderstand His intentions, thinking that He is asking all of us Christians must sell everything that we have and give everything we have to the poor. This is not what He intends for us to do, for then, if everyone is accounted under the same rule, then who should we give all the proceeds to in the end? For those who are poor and receive the possessions will become richer in turn, and then they too have to sell theirs and it will end up in endless cycles of passing on of possessions and wealth from one to another person.

And neither did Jesus condemn the rich or those with possessions and power. Instead, what He warned us all is the dangerous attachments we can develop to these worldly things, that can prevent us from being true disciples of His, for our hearts and minds are not centred and focused on Him, but rather on those wealth, power, fame, glory and other forms of worldly temptations and attachments we have.

As in the case of the young and rich man, who left in sorrow after the Lord has asked him to sell everything that he had possessed and follow Him, we can see that his love, his concern and attachment to his possessions is much greater than his love and commitment to the Lord. That was why he immediately left in sorrow, and not even giving a reply to the Lord’s request for him. He could not bear to part with all the riches and glory he had.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, God has blessed us all with these riches, blessings and all the goodness of the world. Some of us have more while some others have less. God has given all these to us, for us to make good use of them, to share them with those who are less fortunate and suffering, that we do not ignore their pleas for help. We should not be selfish or be overly attached to those possessions, for it is not that God does not want us to possess anything, but instead, He does not want us to idolise and be overly attached to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to overcome our often unhealthy attachments to worldly materials and goods? Are we able to look beyond worldly matters, and refocus our attentions in life to the Lord, that we can overcome our greed and pride, ego and desires within us, and therefore, be able to redirect our efforts to serve the Lord in various ways, and be generous in giving and in sharing our love and blessings with each other?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, a royal prince of Poland and Lithuania, who despite of his wealthy and noble upbringing and birth, did not hesitate to show his love and compassion for the needy, the sick and the poor, being known for his generous dedication of money as well as effort and time to care for the poor in the kingdom. St. Casimir was also renowned for his great piety and love for God. When he died at a young age of twenty-five, everyone remembered him for his love both for God and for his fellow men.

Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord just as St. Casimir has shown us, that from now on we will no longer live our lives for the purpose of self-gratification and self-glorification, but instead, strive for the greater good of all, and for the greater glory of God, through our every words, actions and deeds in life. May God be with us always, and may He bless all of our good works. Amen.

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 10 : 17-27

At that time, just as Jesus was setting out on His journey again, a man ran up, knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments : Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honour your father and mother.” The man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments since my childhood.”

Then Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him and He said, “For you, one thing is lacking. Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow Me.” On hearing these words, his face fell and he went away sorrowful, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” The disciples were shocked at these words, but Jesus insisted, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

They were more astonished than ever and wondered, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked steadily at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God; all things are possible with God.”

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 31 : 1-2, 5, 6, 7

Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit.

Then I made known to You my sin and uncovered before You my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And You, You forgave my sin, You removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to You in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them.

You are my refuge; You protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Monday, 4 March 2019 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Sirach 17 : 20-28

Their misdeeds cannot be hidden from Him, all their sins are before the Lord. He holds a man’s almsgiving dear as a priceless signet ring; He cherishes a good deed like apple of His eye. One day He will rise and reward them; He will place their prize on their heads.

He allows those who repent to return; He comforts those whose hopes are fading. Be converted to the Lord and give up your sins, plead with Him to lessen your offence. Return to the Almighty, turn aside from wrongdoing and totally detest evil.

For who in the grave will praise the Almighty, if the living do not give Him glory? The dead man is as if he did not exist and cannot give praise; he who has life and health can praise the Lord.