Monday, 11 November 2019 : 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, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all about the importance of keeping ourselves open to the Wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit, by which His presence and truth enter into us and transform us in the manner that is perhaps incomprehensible to the world and to the norms of the society where we are living in. Yet, it is something that is necessary for us as we grow in our faith.

And it is also an important reminder to each and every one of us that all of us living in this world have been entrusted with the responsibility and the duty of being witnesses of Christ in our daily living with faith, as we are all visible to each other through our actions and our deeds. If we do not live our lives with faith, essentially we are turning ourselves away from God and from His truth and wisdom.

Unfortunately, many of us often succumbed to the temptations of this world, the temptation of power, of fame, of worldly material goods and prosperity, of glory and human praise and adulation. Many of us chose therefore to trust in our own strength and wisdom, and ended up falling into the trap that the devil and our tempters have put in place to make us stumble in our journey of faith.

And the devil knows how to manipulate and trick us well, and the greater the power and responsibility we have, the more that we will be tempted to stray away from the path of the Lord. Power indeed corrupts, as the people says, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is in our human nature, our predisposition and desire for power, for pleasures and happiness in life, for joy of this world that made us vulnerable to the temptations to sin.

That was why the Lord Jesus rebuked His opponents, likely referring to the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests as He spoke out against those who have misled the children of God into the wrong path. And all of that was caused by their preoccupation with maintaining their prestige, power, influence and authority in the society that led them to their haughty and misled attitudes.

Therefore, after having discerned about what we have just discussed, we can see how that all of us are called to serve the Lord and follow Him in His way of truth. However, following God requires us to be open to His truth and wisdom as I mentioned, and we have to be humble and lay down our pride, or else it will be difficult for us to resist the temptations to follow instead the path of the devil, that is the path of worldliness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we can get some inspirations from the saint of today, a renowned saint whose life is truly exemplary before God. St. Martin of Tours was one of the early bishops of Tours in what is now southern France, at the years of the waning of the Roman Empire in the west, about a century after the toleration of Christians through the Edict of Milan. St. Martin of Tours came from a noble background and was an officer in the Roman army before he had a change in life and became eventually the Bishop of Tours.

It was told that on one occasion, on a cold night, as St. Martin rode along on his horse, he saw an old beggar by the roadside suffering and without anything to cover himself from the cold temperature. St. Martin, moved by what he saw, took his sword and cut part of his centurion’s cloak, and gave the cloak to the old beggar to be a comforter and protector in the midst of the cold condition.

That very night, the Lord appeared to St. Martin and revealed that the old beggar was none other than God Himself, and showed him how he had done a truly blessed action by his humility and generosity for the least and the poorest, which reminds us of what the Lord Jesus said, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we are doing it for the Lord Himself. Through that and all other experiences, St. Martin of Tours eventually decided to leave the military and deepen his spiritual life instead, becoming the Bishop of Tours by the support of his flock.

St. Martin of Tours was truly dedicated in his service as the shepherd of his flock, dedicating his time and efforts to take care of the needs of his flock, in particular their spiritual needs. He was a champion of the true faith amidst several heresies that were rampant at that time, protecting his flock from the false teachings and helped to guide them down the right path, leading by example through his own virtuous life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours? We ourselves can follow in his footsteps and do what he had once done in our own respective lives. What we need is the humility and the desire to resist the many temptations present all around us, and also the desire to love God with all of our heart. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Martin of Tours, that God will strengthen our faith through his prayers. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.”

“Listen carefully : if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-10

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is formed in my mouth, You know what it is all about, o YHVH. From front to back You hedge me round, shielding me with Your protecting hand. Your knowledge leaves me astounded, it is too high for me to reach.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 1 : 1-7

Love justice, you who rule over the world! Think rightly of God, seek Him with simplicity of heart, for He reveals Himself to those who do not challenge Him and is found by those who do not distrust Him. Crooked thinking distances you from God; and His Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish.

Wisdom does not enter the wicked nor remain in a body that is enslaved to sin. The Holy Spirit Who instructs us shuns deceit; it keeps aloof from foolishness and is ill at ease when injustice is done. Wisdom is a spirit, a friend to man, and will not leave the blasphemous unpunished, because God knows his innermost feelings, truly sees his thoughts and hears what he says.

For God’s Spirit has filled the whole world; and He Who holds together all things, knows each word that is spoken.

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.