Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians we should be humble and obedient just as Christ Himself, as the Son had been obedient to His Father’s will, and how He had carried out everything perfectly as how it was supposed to be. And therefore we are all reminded of the Lord’s calling in our lives to be faithful and obedient to Him.

St. Paul reminded all of us the faithful of the Lord’s own dedication and obedience to His Father in his Epistle to the Philippians, referring to how Christ was willing even to empty and humble Himself of His glory and divinity, to assume the humble appearance and status of a slave, to bear the burden of the many sins and faults of the whole world, suffering the most grievous pain and humiliation out of His love for us.

In our Gospel today, we heard from the Lord Jesus a reminder and also a rebuke to all of us for our frequent lack of faith, our refusal to listen to God and obey Him. Through a parable, the Lord told the people about the reality how many of them were too busy with many preoccupations, distractions and temptations to notice the Lord’s calling and what they were supposed to do in their lives. Instead of listening to God and answering His call, they all chose to walk down their own path, into error and sin.

This was represented in the Gospel passage today in the parable, as those guests who had been invited to the a great man’s banquet, and yet refused to come because of their various excuses, all the things that they used as reasons why they could not come to the banquet, such as that they were busy with their lives, their own pursuits in life, their various preoccupations. In the end, their places were given to the others whom the man chose to invite instead.

In the same way, the Lord has also generously invited us all to enter into His heavenly kingdom, to embrace fully His grace and love. However, more often than not, we mankind tend to ignore Him, His calling and His patient persistence in reaching out to us. We refuse to acknowledge and even appreciate His love and compassion, His care and desire to be reconciled with us.

Instead, we allowed ourselves to be tempted and persuaded. We allowed the devil to have a free reign and for him to twist our minds and priorities. We turned away from God and His ways, and end up becoming more and more selfish, wicked and shut off away from God. And unless we realise this mistake that we have often made, we will end up deeper and deeper into trouble.

Therefore, today all of us are reminded that as Christians we should follow the path and examples set before us by the Lord Himself in His obedience. And today, in addition, we also have the good examples set by the saint whose memory we remember and celebrate, namely that of St. Martin de Porres, a holy religious and member of the Dominican Order, from Peru in the New World, from a time when many among the natives and the mixed-race peoples there were being prejudiced against and had difficulties living their lives as they should.

St. Martin de Porres was born into poor condition, from a family of mixed descent from the natives and African slaves through his mother, and as an illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman. He had to endure lots of hardships early in life, and despite his desire to join the religious life, particularly the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans, St. Martin de Porres had a great obstacle as all those who belonged to the slaves, natives and mixed-race were barred from joining the religious orders as full members.

That was why although St. Martin de Porres eventually joined the Dominicans as a Third Order member, as a laybrother, he was never ordained a priest. Nonetheless, despite all the hardships and prejudices that he had to face throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres remained firm in his faith and conviction, and he obeyed faithfully the Lord’s commandments and the precepts of the Dominican order. He served his community and the people with zeal and commitment.

St. Martin de Porres was remembered for his great love, care and concern for the poor and those who were suffering, just as he himself had understood and experienced suffering, prejudice and difficulties in life. He cared for the poor and the sick, and when a terrible disease was spreading through the community, he even travelled long distances to care for those who were suffering. He obeyed his superiors who were against his efforts, although subtly, he did remind them that the precepts of obedience should also not overtake the precepts of charity.

Throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres had exhibited great faith in God and the values of what a true Christian is like and is supposed to be. He has shown us all how each and every one of us should live up to our faith as Christians. Are we willing and able to follow his good examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to follow the examples of faith and obedience showed to us by this courageous and loving saint of God?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us always constantly remind ourselves of our Christian mission and calling, to obey the Lord, our Father and Master, and let us all follow Him and His examples, as well as the good examples set by our holy predecessors, especially today as we recall St. Martin de Porres and his holy life. Let us all serve the Lord with a new faith and zeal from now on, and strive to love Him, and love our neighbours with ever greater commitment from now on. May God be with us and bless us all in our every good endeavours and efforts. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

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 ensure that my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 21 : 26b-27, 28, 29-30a, 30c-32

I will fulfil 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 YHVH 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 soul will live for Him. 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.”

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

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.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the entrusting of ourselves and our lives to God, how we should allow God to work through us and not to be worried about many things and concerns in life. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi stated this clearly, that in everything he did, he did it for the sake of Christ, his Lord and Master.

But St. Paul also mentioned how he was torn between dying and living in Christ. What he meant must be understood in the reality of being Christians at that time and era, when being Christians often meant that one must be ready to suffer, to endure persecution and prison, and even to die for the sake of their faith. St. Paul lived through the beginning years of the great persecution of Christians by the Jews, and later by the Romans, when countless Christians would perish because of their faith.

To die for the faith would be painful, but at the same time, it also released the person from the kind of suffering that they had to endure for the sake of their faith. And because the Lord promised that all those who remain faithful to Him will receive eternal life and glory with Him in heaven, then it is actually something that the early Christians looked up towards, as they sought to escape the brutal persecutions and pains inflicted on them.

But St. Paul chose to remain strong and to endure the persecutions daily, instead of openly desiring and seeking for martyrdom, as his intention was such that, if all the Christians were to perish and without showing endurance, then there would be few if not none of those who would be available to serve as witnesses of faith, and there was a great need of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord at that time, to bring the word of God and His truth to the people, many of whom who are still ignorant of the truth, living in sin and darkness.

And unless they had someone to bring the truth to them, those poor souls would have remained in darkness, and therefore, would have fallen into the eternal damnation in hell, if not for the courageous and hard works of St. Paul and the many other disciples and followers of Christ. These brave and faithful servants of God placed their love and concern for their fellow brothers and sisters ahead of their own selfish desires.

Why is that so? That is because it is very easy for us to fall into the temptation of seeking only our own salvation and personal glory, and not minding or caring about the needs of others in our midst. That is just exactly how the Lord Jesus rebuked those who sought first places in banquets and events through His parable in the Gospel today. Those people sought personal honour and glory, as how many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did, and in the end, the Lord said that they would be disappointed.

As Christians we are called to be humble and selfless, in how we live our lives and in how we serve the Lord through our actions and deeds. We should not allow the pride and desire in us to take over us and control our way of life. Instead, we should follow the examples of the Apostles, the many disciples of Christ of the early Church, the saints and martyrs, who willingly let go of their personal desires and pride, in order to serve God with all their hearts.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Martin de Porres, a Peruvian native American saint, who was a lay member of the Dominican religious order. He was noted for his great piety and sanctity, and in his great dedication to the service of the poor in his community. He lived simply and with great humility, having to endure poverty himself since his early age. He was unable to join the Dominicans fully because of the law of the time that discriminated against the native population of the New World, the Americas where St. Martin de Porres lived and worked in.

Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres gave his all in the service to God, and devoted his whole life to serve the needy and the sick, caring for them without regards for his own personal comfort and without the desire to satisfy his own personal desires and ego. He cared for many of the sick during a great epidemic that struck the city of Lima in Peru, helping many of those who suffered to endure through their sickness with dignity and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples of St. Martin de Porres, in his dedication to the Lord, and his love for his fellow men, in his humility, that he did not let pride and greed to distract him from the path towards God’s salvation. Let us all reexamine our own lives, and find ways in which we can make a difference, by turning ourselves ever more wholeheartedly to the Lord.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, through the good examples shown unto us by his glorious saints, especially St. Martin de Porres, whose exemplary life and actions we ought to adopt as our own. May God bless us always in all of our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 14 : 1, 7-11

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 41 : 2, 3, 5bcde

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, o God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Philippians 1 : 18b-26

Christ is proclaimed and because of this I rejoice and have no regrets. I know that all this will be a grace for me because of your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ. I am hopeful, even certain, that I shall not be ashamed. I feel as assured now, as before, that Christ will be exalted through my person, whether I live or die.

For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I am to go on living, I shall be able to enjoy fruitful labour. Which shall I choose? So I feel torn between the two. I desire greatly to leave this life and to be with Christ, which will be better by far, but it is necessary for you that I remain in this life. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will stay and remain with you for your progress and happiness in the faith.

I will surely come to you again, and give you more reason for being proud of belonging to Christ Jesus.

Friday, 3 November 2017 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us through the Sacred Scriptures are told the difficulties and challenges facing the early Christians, especially those of the Jewish origin, as what St. Paul told to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome in his Epistle. In that Epistle, St. Paul wrote about the anguish which he had of being sundered from among his people, the descendants of Israel.

St. Paul himself, while being a highly educated and Hellenised Jew, was also once a very zealous follower of the laws of Moses, as evidenced in his prior activities as Saul, purging the land of Judea and Galilee from the faithful Christians, arresting them and striking against the early Church. However, God called him to be His disciple, and Saul had a conversion of heart, mind and being, and answering God’s call, he became one of the Apostles.

But by doing so, he has sundered himself from the Jewish authorities, who were against Jesus and His teachings. As mentioned in the Gospels, those who believed in Jesus and propagated His teachings were thrown out of the synagogues by the Pharisees and the chief priests, equivalent to the excommunication from the Church as we know it today, when a Christian is sundered from the Church and God’s salvation due to a serious and grave error.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, yet St. Paul would rather choose to be with God and to obey His commandments rather than going back to the old ways, even though if he had done so, he would have gained prestige and honour he had when he was highly esteemed as Saul. In the Gospel today, Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees who challenged Him as they have often done, as they refused to believe in Jesus and in His teachings.

They have erroneously believed in the laws and customs that they have inherited from the time of Moses and the prophets, as these had been heavily modified throughout the history of Israel. As a result, they ended up interpreting the laws literally without understanding why those laws were given to the people of God in the first place. They thought that the laws were in place to govern the people of God in how they behave and live, but those laws had a singular purpose by God, and that is love.

The Law of God which He gave to Moses was intended to guide the people that they may come to love their Lord and Creator, the love that they should give the One Who had loved them and cared for them, ever since the beginning of time, and ever since He established the Covenant with Abraham their forefather. And Jesus came into this world, in order to deliver to them this truth, that God loves them and wants each and every one of them to be reconciled with Him.

And He wants all of them to experience conversion, by turning towards Christ and abandon their old ways of sin and darkness. Yet, mankind can be very stubborn, just as the people of Israel themselves had shown, in their constant refusal to listen to God, and in their constant waywardness, in their refusal to turn themselves towards God and to listen to Him. Instead, they have walked their own path, and persecuted those who have been sent to remind them, from the prophets to the Apostles.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember the deeds of those who have given themselves completely to the cause of the Lord, and also that of today’s saint, St. Martin de Porres, a holy religious who have lived righteously in accordance with God’s will, inspiring many others to do the same with their lives. He was a lay member of the Dominican order, or the Order of Preachers, who was an illegitimate son of a nobleman, and being born a mixed race in the New World, what is now Americas, he encountered lots of difficulties early on and throughout his life.

St. Martin de Porres did not let all of these to deter him, and he was resolved to serve the Lord and His people, by joining the Dominican order as a lay brother. He was prevented from joining as a full member due to his status as an illegitimately born child as well as his mixed ancestry. Yet, he continued to devote his time and effort, helping his brethren who were sick and poor, caring for them, loving them and show them the gentle compassion that represents God’s love for His people.

The examples of St. Martin de Porres, as well as the holy saints and Apostles, in their loving care and works among us, should remind all of us Christians that we must live according to God’s Law, not by obeying blindly to the teachings of the Church, but rather understanding them and following the examples of our holy predecessors in faith. Let us all live righteously as God’s children and learn to devote ourselves to Him in all of our lives’ effort, our time and attention.

May the Lord bless us always and may He strengthen each one of us, that we may live courageously according to His will, loving one another and doing what He has taught us to do, and thus loving Him also with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and our entire beings. Amen.

Friday, 3 November 2017 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 14 : 1-6

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched. In front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy; so Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”

But no one answered. Jesus then took the man, healed him, and sent him away. And He said to them, “If your lamb or your ox into a well on a Sabbath day, who among you does not hurry to pull it out?” And they could not answer.