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.

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 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 through the Scripture readings chosen for this day, the Lord wants to remind us through His Church that the reality of us being Christians, believing in Him and following His path through our lives is one of struggle, where challenges and trials, opposition and even persecution are likely part of our journey as we proceed on with faith. We cannot escape from this reality, and we have to endure it as best as we can as faithful Christians.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans placed it very bluntly before us, the reality of how God and sin are standing on the opposite ends of each other. If God is all good and righteousness, then sin is all evil and wicked, and sin is the disobedience against God and caused by our rebellion against His will. And while sin on one side brings about corruption and death, on the other hand, God brings about purification and life.

St. Paul made his assessment and comments to the faithful and the Church in Rome in the context of how Rome being the centre and heart of the whole Roman Empire was the place where paganism and its practices of all kinds were at the most numerous and common. St. Paul spoke out against those evil practices which saw hedonistic celebrations and even human sacrifices practices in some pagan rituals, all the corrupt and wicked practices of men.

And being in Rome, those faithful people of God were constantly under difficult conditions, being exposed to the pagan practices and customs all the time, all around them. They were also required by law to treat the Roman Emperors as if they were divine and offer sacrifices to them and the pagan gods. Disobedience can mean terrible suffering and persecution, and even death and martyrdom.

But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had spoken and revealed to His disciples as we heard it ourselves in our Gospel passage today. The Lord plainly spoke of how His coming into the world would not herald an era of peace and harmony unlike what some people would think, as at that time many among the Jews thought that the Messiah would come and restore the glorious kingdom of Israel of old and bring peace to the whole land.

Instead, God revealed that His coming would instead bring about divisions and challenges for those who are faithful to Him, wherever they are and in whichever time period they belong to. And this has been proven right again and again throughout the long history of the Church, even to this present day, to varying degrees of difficulties. Some encountered great opposition, suffering and even martyrdom from those who are close to them, caused by their own friends and families.

Many of the holy martyrs of the Church had to go up against opposition from their loved ones, their own family members and friends, not counting all the others who are against them and their enemies. And this kind of persecution and rejection of our Christian truths and values still remain even to this present day where all around the world, opposition and challenges to our Christian faith, teachings and practices of the Church remain and even growing strong and intensifying.

In our world today especially there is a great rise in secularism and in apathetic and even hostile attitudes against the Faith, with more and more people succumbing to this apathy and ignorance of God’s truth and love. Many people sought satisfaction and joy in worldly things and ambitions, in the pursuit of power, glory, fame and material goods and wealth. And God’s ways are increasingly being forgotten and pushed aside in our communities.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how then do we react to all these things happening around us, all the pressures for us to conform to the general norms and ways of the society that increasingly overlooked, has forgotten and abandoned God for the pagan and ungodly idols of this world, the idol of worldly desires, the idol of human pride, the idol of wealth and fame, the idol of pleasures of the body and mind among many others?

Today all of us should look upon the examples set by one saint whose feast we celebrate today, the famous founder of the Claretians religious order, St. Anthony Mary Claret, a holy bishop and a dedicated servant of God. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a holy and pious man, dedicated in his service to his flock and the people, renowned for his good sermons that drew people from afar. He spent many hours ministering to them and spending a lot of time especially in the confessionals.

He helped to organise the works of the Church in the places he has been assigned to, and he dutifully did all that he had been entrusted to do, including being the confessor to the then Queen of Spain among many others. He wrote extensively on the matters of the faith and placed great emphasis on the growth and development of Christian education and upbringing among the people of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see, St. Anthony Mary Claret dedicated his life to God, stood by Him and walked down the path He has shown us all as well. He certainly did not have it easy, sacrificing countless hours to minister to the people and definitely having faced rejections and oppositions from time to time. Are we able to imitate his good examples in life and his good faith in our own lives?

Let us all stand by God and renew our faith and commitment to Him, and let us draw ever closer to Him so that we may grow ever deeper in our love for Him and dedicate ourselves to His cause from now on. Let our every words, actions and deeds bring greater glory to God, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the man who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of YHVH and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Romans 6 : 19-23

You see, that I speak in a very human way, taking into account that you are not fully mature. There was a time, when you let your members be slaves of impurity and disorder, walking in the way of sin; convert them, now, into servants of righteousness, to the point of becoming holy.

When you were slaves of sin, you did not feel under obligation to righteousness, but what were the fruits of those actions, of which you are now ashamed? Such things bring death. Now, however, you have been freed from sin and serve God. You are bearing fruit, and growing in holiness, and the result will be life everlasting.

So, on one side is sin : its reward, death; on the other side, is God : He gives us, by grace, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 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, on this day we listened yet again to the continuation of the discourse of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, of which part is our first reading today. In that passage, we heard of how God has revealed His truth to the people, whom He called from among the many nations, to be considered and marked as His own people.

We heard how St. Paul told the people of the great privilege that all of them have received, the revelations of God’s truth which many in the past and previous generations have not had the chance or even had a glimpse of the truth. The people of Ephesus, made of many different peoples from different backgrounds, origins, racial and culture groups, have received the same truth that has been given to the other Christians in many other places, and there was no prejudice in the truth of God.

This has to be understood in the context of the dynamics of the people and the populations of the area, which as mentioned, were made of Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. The Gentiles, the name of group which consisted of first of all the Greeks who predominated in that region, and also the Romans, who were relative newcomer to the region, having received newly gained privilege from their position as the master and lord of most of them

And all of them, including that of the Jews, each and every one of us mankind are often tempted in our hearts and minds. We are tempted to be self-righteous, and by extension of that, selfish and proud, looking down on others, and thinking that we are better and more righteous and just in our ways. This caused rifts, conflicts, disagreements, infighting and jealousies, distrust and unhappiness among the people, among the members of the Church.

In the Gospel today, all of us listened to the word of God in the Scriptures in which He related to us the parable of the stewards and the master who returned suddenly to his household from a journey. In that parable, we heard about the stewards who were entrusted with the caretaker role of what their master possessed, and if the steward slacked in doing his obligations, and instead, became swayed and influenced by the worldly temptations, satisfying his own human desires, then he would be caught unaware when the master came back suddenly.

And these distractions include what St. Paul had written in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth. We are often too preoccupied by our own prejudices and worldly desires, that we forget about God and about what being a Christian is truly about. We forget that being Christians, is first and foremost about love, understanding, being compassionate and filled with concern for others, and not being self-righteous and proud in our behaviour and attitudes towards others.

Unfortunately, that is how we exactly behave towards each other, as we often have that pride in us and the desires, for worldly power, for money, for influence, that more often than not, influence the way we live our lives and how we act towards one another, even within the Church communities and within our own Christian way of life. We end up creating divisions, conflicts and struggle for power and influence, which in the end, bring about pain and suffering, and even causing people to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, probably we should reflect upon the life and examples set by St. Anthony Mary Claret, the saint whose feast day we celebrate today. St. Anthony Mary Claret was the founder of the Claretians, a religious order which has many members in various parts of the world today. He was a Spanish priest, and later on bishop, remembered for his many good works for the sake of the faithful.

Despite his many good works, he faced oppositions and persecutions, from all those who refused to listen to his preaching and teachings. He had to flee into exile from all the machinations of his enemies, and faced all those oppositions many times throughout his life. And yet, St. Anthony Mary Claret remained strong in his faith, and devoted his life to the greater glory of God, reforming the Church and the community of the faithful through his works.

For example, St. Anthony Mary Claret helped to reform the Church in the area of Cuba, then under the rule of Spain, and within just a short period of time, he managed to reorganise and reform the Church and the community in such a way that many people repented from their sinful ways, and many become reconciled to God. Many more people came closer to the Sacraments and became more genuine followers of Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we should gain inspiration from the good works and the commitment shown by St. Anthony Mary Claret, that instead of acting in ways that bring about division, pain, suffering to our fellow brethren, we should instead turn towards God and persevere in faith, in ways that St. Anthony Mary Claret had done throughout his life.

Let us have a renewed zeal in God and devote ourselves even more closely to God, and listen to His will, that we may draw ever closer to Him and be able to find our way to His saving grace and the eternal life and glory promised to us. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 39-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”