Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today our Lord Jesus Christ presented to His disciples the story of the dishonest steward, whom the master fired over his dishonesty, and as we knew in this well known story, the steward began finding ways to preserve himself and ensuring his own well-being after he was fired, by using his skills and persuasion, in order to do even more dishonesty, which is the way that he was familiar with, to secure for himself a good life afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is then the point of this story? It is in fact a reminder for us that if we treat of ourselves as those who belong in this world, we will then act in ways acceptable to the world, in all of its tenets and ways, just as the steward, who served himself and his greed for money, did all sorts of dishonesty in order to ensure his life’s well-being. But then, although he may indeed secure for himself a comfortable life after, how about the accountability of all that he had committed?

Truly, the ways of this world can indeed make us go far in this earthly life. Many people are working very hard and even trying to outdo each other in order to secure for themselves promotion, fame, and praise from their superiors and underlings alike. They gathered for themselves much money, possessions, and even power and influence. All of these would indeed ensure that they have a good life in this world. But then again, what will all these worth in the world that is to come?

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful and the Church in the city of Philippi in Greece, he spoke of us being transfigured, changed and transformed by Christ, as Christians who truly devote ourselves and put ourselves in the company of the Lord our God, obeying His ways and commandments. It is linked to what we have heard in the Gospel, that whoever live by the ways of the world, shall likely depend on these, but these while they are good for this world, they are not what can guarantee our salvation in the afterlife.

The ways of this world are often opposed and contradictory to the ways of our Lord. As such, what made us prosperous in this world may not bring us to prosper when the Lord calls upon us to return to Him and to give an account of our lives, of what we have done in that life. If we truly belong to the Lord, then surely we should have committed and done what the Lord had asked us to do?

Unfortunately, many of us are not even aware of what the Lord expects from us. Many of us think of our faith as something of a mere formality, and many of us do not even actively practice our faith! If our actions show that we are contradicting the teachings of the Lord, through our selfishness, through our lack of love and devotion to God, through our hatred and acts that brought about pain and sorrow, we have in fact desecrated the good and holy Name of our Lord.

We cannot be hypocrites in our faith, brethren, and neither should we be lukewarm or ignorant in it. Our faith must be real, genuine, filled with real action and commitment, that we all may then be truly be worthy of the Lord, and in accordance with what St. Paul said in his Epistle, that we should be transformed and changed by the Lord, that in all of our words, deeds and actions, we endeavour to bring glory to God.

And perhaps, in this matter, we should look at the example of St. Charles Borromeo, the famous saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day. St. Charles Borromeo, or San Carolus Borromeo was born into a very influential family of nobles, who at that time, a few centuries ago, had great influence and power in the society. As such, St. Charles Borromeo had been destined for great things from the beginning of his life.

As his relative became the successor of St. Peter and leader of the Universal Church as Pope Pius IV, St. Charles Borromeo at a young age was entrusted with great matters of the Church state and even was made as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, a practice common at that time. And yet, despite such privileges and such great influence wielded by his family and relatives, he lived frugally, with austerity and enforced strict spiritual discipline on all who worked with him and lived with him.

St. Charles Borromeo was very influential and impactful in his works in the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation, together with his contemporaries, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter Canisius and many others, resisting and combatting the evil influences of the so-called false Protestant ‘reformation’, the great heresy which had seized millions and many more of the souls of the faithful into damnation due to its lies and false teachings.

He helped the Church to reform its practices, and helped it to impose much stricter discipline on its teachings and ways, purifying the corruptions that had troubled it for many years previously. In the same manner, after he was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, one of the most influential dioceses in the world, even then as it is today, he helped to enforce the reforms to renew and rejuvenate the faith against the heresies of Protestantism and against the excesses of the Church.

St. Charles Borromeo often led by example, living as what the Lord had taught him to do, and we should do the same as well. We should walk in his footsteps and follow what he had done, practicing our faith through real commitment and actions. May the Lord help us all to do so, and may He awaken in each one of us the strong desire to be truly faithful to our God. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for 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 who 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, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Philippians 3 : 17 – Philippians 4 : 1

Unite in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and look at those who walk in our way of life. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. I have said it to you many times, and now I repeat it with tears : they are heading for ruin; their belly is their god and they feel proud of what should be their shame. They only think of earthly things.

For us, our citizenship is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. He will transfigure our lowly body, making it like His own Body, radiant in Glory, through the power which is His to submit everything to Himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, you my glory and crown, be steadfast in the Lord.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the memory of a great saint of the Church and a faithful son of the Church, that is St. Charles Borromeo, or St. Carolus Borromeus, or in his original native language, San Carlo Borromeo, an Italian saint who was a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, a great diocese of the Church, and one of the most influential figure in Christendom at his time, and a great champion of Counter-Reformation.

St. Charles Borromeo was born to a rich and noble family, the younger son of that noble family, who were not expected to succeed the family riches and titles, and thus as was usual at that time, he entered the seminary at a young age, and was prepared for a church career path. And when his uncle was elected as the Pope, he was invested with the red hat of the cardinalate, as what is now known as a ‘Cardinal-Nephew’.

St. Charles Borromeo nevertheless stood apart from many of his generation’s peoples and their vices, and he stood apart from the other Cardinal-Nephews and from the other servants of the Church. He was incredibly humble and devoted in his life, and in his ministry to the works of the Church and to the people of God. St. Charles Borromeo lived simply during his time in Rome to help the administration of the Holy Roman Church.

When his elder brother died, his family wanted him to quit the church career, to marry and produce heir to continue the family legacy. But St. Charles Borromeo remained true and faithful to his ministries and calling, and devoted himself to aid the growth and reform of the Church, through his crucial and important role in the Council of Trent.

And in accordance to the reforms of the Council of Trent, he wanted to devote himself better to the Church, and therefore decided to go through the full process of devotion, through his ordination to the priesthood, and then as a bishop, vested with the full gifts and authority of the sacred order of God. And he was made the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, a great honour but also a great challenge, being the largest Archdiocese in the entire Europe and indeed in the entire Christendom.

The Church in Milan was large and have numerous Catholics, but as a whole, the priests and the laity alike had been unfaithful to the teachings of Christ in the Church. Wickedness and vices were plenty, and many succumbed to the temptations of the flesh and the soul. Selling of indulgences, simony, selling of church titles and positions were rampant. And in accordance with the pious reforms of the Council of Trent, St. Charles Borromeo set about to address all those issues and rejuvenate the Church in Milan.

Under his stewardship, the Church under his care was thoroughly cleansed from the vices and evils which it had accumulated prior to the ministry of his pious undertakings. He cleansed the Church from impurities and wickedness, and realising that all these vices were caused by the lack of education and preparation for the priests, the shepherds of the people, he established many seminaries and institutes to help better equip and prepare priests in their upcoming ministries.

Through his hard works and crucial inputs into the Council of Trent, and through his devoted works towards reform in the diocese he had been entrusted with, he brought much grace and saving grace to the people of God. And through these actions he had done, and from the works he had committed, we can also learn a lot of things and be inspired that we may also follow in his footsteps and do what is righteous in the sight of God.

And how is the life of this saint relevant to the Scripture readings we heard today? That is because St. Charles Borromeo represent the attitude of obedience and listening to the will of God, as what St. Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi, where he highlighted the obedience of Christ, the full and complete obedience without being distracted and misled by the concerns of the world and the self. Christ obediently carried the cross of mankind’s sins to His death, so that we may be saved by that act of ultimate love.

And in the Gospel we heard about Jesus telling His disciples and the people a parable, in which a person held a great feast and invited many guests to come to the feast. Yet, despite the very kind and good offer, the people who were invited refused to come to the feast and instead they went about doing their own activities and routines.

This is much like us, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ who has prepared a banquet and feast for us, to share in His Body and Blood, which He gave us freely through the sacrifice on the cross, has given us a free gift of salvation and life in Him, and yet we refused to listen to Him and indeed we rejected that generous offer of our Lord, thinking that we can find better options and pleasure in this world.

And thus we often sin, brothers and sisters, we often disobeyed the Lord’s will and preferring to listen to our own desires. We acted like those guests who were invited and yet refused to come. And thus, if we continue on this path, what lies for us ahead is only damnation and destruction. We will also not share in the goodness of the Lord, which He will offer to others willing to listen to Him and change their ways.

Therefore, shall we reflect on our own lives and then also think of what I have shared with you on the life and works of St. Charles Borromeo, the humble and holy saint of God? Let us dwell no longer in our sinfulness, but embrace the love of God, and say yes to Him as He invites us to His feast of everlasting life. In that way therefore, let us be faithful and accept the Most Holy Eucharist, our Lord’s ultimate way of showing His obedience and love for us, with joy and thanksgiving.

May Almighty God guide us always, so that we may grow lesser and smaller in our ego and pride, and instead grow stronger in our charity and love. Let us seek the Lord with hearts full of love and zeal, following in the footsteps of St. Charles Borromeo. St. Charles Borromeo, faithful and true servant of God, pray for us sinners! Amen.


First Reading :

Psalm :

Gospel Reading :

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 14 : 15-24

At that time, upon hearing the words of Jesus, one of those at the table said to Him, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses.”

“The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.’ Another said : ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’ Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I have just got married?'”

“The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'”

“The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, to make sure my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”


Homily and Reflection :

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 21 : 26b-27, 28-30a, 31-32

I will fulfill my vows before all who revere You. The lowly will eat and be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord will praise Him. May your hearts live forever!

The whole earth will acknowledge and turn to the Lord; the families of nations will worship Him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and He reigns over the nations. Before Him all those who rest in the earth will bow down, all who go down to the dust.

My descendants will serve Him and proclaim the Lord to coming generations; they will announce His salvation to a people yet unborn, “These are the things that He has done.”


Homily and Reflection :

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Philippians 2 : 5-11

Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had : Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a Servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that, Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.


Homily and Reflection :