Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we listened to the words of the Lord reminding us of the gifts that each of us have been given by God, and how we need to dedicate ourselves to Him or else, if we do not, we will be found wanting for our lack of faith, and for our lack of fruitfulness in that faith, as per what we heard of the Lord’s words in our Gospel passage today, that all those who sin and do not repent, and act in accordance with faith, will be condemned.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus in which he spoke of the various gifts and talents that God has given to us His people, in its variety of calling and missions entrusted to us. And through this, God wants us all to know that we are all as members of the same Church of God, must be active in living our faith and in committing ourselves to the mission God has entrusted to us. We must support each other in the fulfilment of the successful ministry of the Church.

Not everyone has been called to be priests, or missionaries, or married people with families, each and every one of us have our own respective calling in life. Each of us has been given unique sets of talents and abilities that we can use to fulfil these callings we have received from God, to touch the lives of others and to bring God’s love and light to one another. We can help one another as members of God’s Church, working in tandem to accomplish many things together.

St. Paul continued on in saying how Christ is the Head of the Church and all the faithful are parts of the same Body of Christ, that is the Church. As he spoke of how the parts of the Body are working together in tandem and cohesion with each other, therefore all of us are members of the Church ought to work together as well, cooperate and do our best in our respective capacities, that we may be able to coordinate our efforts for the greater glory of God and to fulfil the mission He has entrusted to all of us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to us through the examples of the Galileans who died in the struggle between the Roman governor and the locals, and also those people who perished in the tower of Siloah. The Lord wanted to make examples of those cases known to the people who heard Him, that they perished not because of their own sins and misdeeds, and they did not perish just because they were more wicked but all would perish unless they repented from their sins.

This is to highlight to us all that we have to stay away from sin, and we have to do what we can as Christians, living our faith virtuously and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. We have to play our part as Christians in being part of the Body of Christ, in reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters, as Christians, all committed to dedicate our time, effort and attention on serving the Lord to the best of our abilities. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to do this?

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians and also an Archbishop, renowned for his works in Cuba as the shepherd of the faithful. He was a dedicated shepherd who gave much of his effort and attention on his flock, caring for their needs and providing for them. St. Anthony Mary Claret was instrumental in his work and efforts in reaching out to his people, touching the lives of many and converting many to the faith.

When he was recalled to Spain to become the Queen of Spain’s confessor, St. Anthony Mary Claret continued to dedicate his life and efforts to serve the poor and care for those who are in need of spiritual guidance and help. He devoted much time and effort to establish schools and education for the people among other efforts. Through all these, we can see how St. Anthony Mary Claret had done with whatever has been placed under his power to contribute to the Church of God.

We can also do the same with our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ. And we are all called to follow the Lord as St. Anthony Mary Claret and the other saints had done, to give our very best in our respective capacities and callings in life, be it as those whom God had called to be His priests and missionaries, or as the members of the laity and all who have been called to lead good examples of Christian living in our families, showing how each and every one of us can serve the Lord together, and complement each other in our efforts. May God bless us all in our every good endeavours, for His greater glory, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 13 : 1-9

At that time, one day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the Temple : Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”

“And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you : no. But unless you change your ways, you will perish as they did.” And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’”

“The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertiliser; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it does not, you can cut it down.’”

Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or 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.

Saturday, 24 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Ephesians 4 : 7-16

But to each of us, divine grace is given, according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it is said : When He ascended to the heights, He brought captives and gave His gifts to people. He ascended, what does it mean, but, that He had also descended to the lower parts of the world? He, Himself, Who went down, then ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

As for His gifts, to some, He gave to be Apostles; to others, prophets, or even evangelists; or pastors and teachers. So, He prepared those who belong to Him, for the ministry, in order to build up the Body of Christ, until we are all united, in the same faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Thus, we shall become the perfect Man, upon reaching maturity, and sharing the fullness of Christ.

Then, no longer shall we be like children, tossed about by any wave, or wind or doctrine; and deceived by the cunning of people, who drag them along into error. Rather, speaking the truth, in love, we shall grow in every way, toward Him, Who is the Head, Christ. From Him, comes the growth of the whole body, to which a network of joints give order and cohesion, taking into account, and making use of, the function of each one. So, the body builds itself, in love.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings tell us that as Christians, all of us must always be vigilant and be ready for the Lord, as He will indeed come again just as He has promised to us His faithful ones. And when He comes again, it will be at a time we least expect, and many of us will be caught unprepared.

And if we do not take heed of the Lord’s reminders, we may end up at the wrong side when the Lord judges all of creation. Do we want to be counted among those whom God will reject and condemn? If that happens to us, we will only have regret with us and by then it will be too late for us to change anything.

We have to realise that God has given us every opportunities available in each of our lives, giving us the chance to be righteous and do what is good in our lives. He has shown us the way forward, and yet, many of us have not followed in His footsteps. Instead, many of us continue to dwell in the darkness and refuse to come into the light, by doing what is sinful and wicked in God’s sight.

Sin is the great disease affecting all of us mankind, and sin is the fruit of disobedience against God. Ever since Adam and Eve, our ancestors had sinned by their disobedience against God and followed instead the devil’s words, sin had become a part of mankind’s history, corrupting all of us by its wicked nature.

But God Who loves each and every one of us did not want us to fall into damnation in hell, for the very simple reason that He loves us dearly. He created us for a single purpose, that He may love us and may share the perfect love He has in Him, that all of us may also be like Him in everything, and forever may enjoy the heavenly bliss of our God.

That is why He sent to us our Redeemer, in Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, through Whom He gave us the only way out of our predicament. For without Christ, all would have perished because of their sins, and all would have fallen into the eternal damnation in hell. It was the loving sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus on the cross which had brought us a new hope, the hope of salvation and forgiveness for our many sins and trespasses.

As mentioned in the first reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Christ has become the New Adam, as compared to the first and old Adam. By His perfect obedience He has shown us how each and every one of us should act in our lives, fully attuned and in full obedience to God’s will, just as Jesus was obedient to His Father, even unto accepting death on the cross.

While from the old Adam we have been corrupted by sin, from the New Adam, that is Christ, we have received the hope of eternal life. As such, if we want to have a way forward in this life, we must reach out to the Lord and seek His salvation. And how do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by turning ourselves from the path of sin towards the path of God, by obeying Him and following His examples in our own lives.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians also known as the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a religious order of people devoted to God, following the vision of their founder, who was a great preacher and priest, spending time preaching and teaching about the faith to the people of God. Many people followed him and listened to his preachings, and were converted.

He did not have it easy, as there were many who were not pleased at his works, and thus opposed him. Yet, St. Anthony Mary Claret did not let these to trouble him, and continued to work among the people of God, and even when he was appointed as Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba. In his new capacity, he expanded the missionary efforts as well as establishing numerous infrastructures such as seminaries for the proper education of priests, as well as hospitals and schools for the benefit of his flock.

By seeing the examples of St. Anthony Mary Claret, we see just how in many things all of us Christians can follow from the examples of this holy saint, both for our own good and for the sake of our brethren. We should turn away from sin, repent and change our ways, doing what God wants each one of us to do in our lives, and then help one another in our path towards God.

May the Lord help us and bless us in our journey, that we may be thoroughly converted to the cause of the Lord. May He empower and give us all the courage needed to say no to sin and to the temptations of the devil and the world. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and receive from Him the promise of eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this, You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o YHVH, I did not seal – You know that very well.

But may all those who seek You, rejoice, and be glad in You; and may all who love Your saving grace continually say, “YHVH is great.”

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Romans 5 : 12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

Therefore, sin entered the world through one man; and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind, because all sinned. All died, because of the fault of one man, but how much more does the grace of God spread, when the gift He granted, reaches all, from this unique Man, Jesus Christ.

If death reigned through the disobedience of one and only one person, how much more, will there be a reign of life, for those who receive the grace, and the gift of true righteousness, through the one Person, Jesus Christ. Just as one transgression brought sentence of death to all, so, too, one Man’s good act has brought justification and light to all; and, as the disobedience of only one, made all sinners, so the obedience of one Person, allowed all to be made just and holy.

But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and, as sin caused death to reign, so grace will reign, in its own time, and, after making us just, and friends of God, will bring us to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Monday, 24 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us Christians who believe in God are challenged to lead a real life of faith, that we should devote ourselves not to hypocrisy and all the things that do not lead to salvation in God. The example was given in the Gospel today, when Jesus was angry at those who were in the synagogue and was against His works, healing a woman who had been enthralled by the demons and the evil spirits for years.

All these meanwhile the synagogue officials, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law constantly opposed the Lord, pretending through their piety that they were doing the works that God wanted them to do. They have taken upon themselves to safeguard the laws and traditions of Moses and their ancestors, but in that process, they truly have forgotten what it meant to be true disciples and followers of the Lord, and instead became blind followers and leaders.

They preached strict obedience and adherence to the Law, and were not hesitant to punish all those who did not follow the Lord as they had done, thinking that they have done the will of God in that way, but in reality, they have only served their own needs and purposes. They had no God in their hearts, but instead their own ego, their own greed and desire for money, for wealth, for possessions of worldly power and glory, and of influence and fame.

That was why these supposedly pious leaders of the people tolerated merchants and all money lenders and corrupt people to set up their businesses at the Temple courtyard, selling and manipulating prices, making profits out of poor and honest people so that those merchants could get rich, and then probably, in the process, also made the Pharisees, the chief priests and the elders rich from the agreement they likely to have made between them.

This was what the warning by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth and the Psalm today meant, that those who serve not the Lord but worldly things such as money, wealth, fame and glory, are real threat to us and to our salvation, as these shall bring whoever that are ensnared in their traps, to veer away from the Lord’s ways and salvation, and fall instead into sin and damnation.

And that is a reminder to all of us Christians, just as our Lord made another example in the Gospel today, which we just discussed, that as Christians we cannot imitate the examples of all those who have not shown righteousness in their way of life. We cannot be like those who have given themselves to debauchery and to follow the ways of this world in their actions and deeds.

As Christians, we are called instead to show care and concern for others, especially for the weak, the downtrodden, the less privileged, the poor and all others who are in need of our help. This is the calling which our Lord made to us, even as He Himself led by example, and showed mercy and love to that poor woman who needed help.

Perhaps, all of us should learn from the examples of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians religious order, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a holy and devout man, whose works did not just include advising and helping the Queen of Spain at that time, Isabel II of Spain, but also in the matters of advancing the cause of the people who are suffering, weak and poor throughout the dominion of the crown and beyond.

St. Anthony Mary Claret established the religious order that would later on be known as the Claretians, in order to gather more people with the same mind, same intention and devotion to serve the Lord and His people with genuine devotion and commitment, desiring for the betterment of those who are suffering and in pain, and bring people closer to God spiritually, that they may not just become better physically but more importantly, also spiritually, drawing closer to God and to His salvation.

St. Anthony Mary Claret showed us through his examples, writings and many other ways that in order to become good and true Christians, we must be able to live up fully to what the Lord had expected from us, and that is not hypocrisy and empty faith, but faith that is made real by genuine commitment and hard work, devoting oneself to God and to our fellow brethren in need.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all awaken in ourselves the strong desire to love and serve the Lord genuinely, and also to love our brethren with all of our heart, so that we will be able to appreciate how we ought to serve God with love, and thus be able to draw closer to Him and find righteousness in Him. At the end of the days, He will bless us all and call us into the eternal glory and joy He has prepared for us. May God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 24 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Luke 13 : 10-17

At that time, Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, and a crippled woman was there. An evil spirit had kept her bent for eighteen years, so that she could not straighten up at all. On seeing her, Jesus called her and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” Then He laid His hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight and praised God.

But the ruler of the synagogue was indignant, because Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath day, and he said to the people, “There are six days in which to work. Come on those days to be healed, and not on the Sabbath!”

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Everyone of you unties his ox or his donkey on the Sabbath, and leads it out of the barn to give it water. And here you have a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Should she not be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?”

When Jesus said this, all His opponents felt ashamed. But the people rejoiced at the many wonderful things that happened because of Him.