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.

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

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

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Romans 9 : 1-5

I tell you, sincerely, in Christ, and my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit, that I am not lying : I have great sadness and constant anguish for the Jews. I would even desire, that, I myself, suffer the curse of being cut off from Christ, instead of my brethren : I mean, my own people, my kin.

They are Israelites, whom God adopted, and on them, rests His glory. Theirs, are the Covenants, the Law, the worship and the promises of God. They are descendants of the patriarchs, and from their race, Christ was born, He, Who, as God, is above all distinctions. Blessed be He forever and ever. Amen!

Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 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 we listened to the word of God speaking to us from the Sacred Scriptures, telling us about the conversion of sinners, and how we should not leave behind our brethren who are in trouble, sinners and delinquents who are in need of our help. There is a hope for everyone, and as Christians we should also help in this matter.

The Lord spoke of those who have lost a silver coin and another who lost a sheep from among his flock. And He told His disciples and the people the great extent and effort which they, as the owners of the respective lost items, would go in order to retrieve what was lost from them. Surely we ourselves have experienced this too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Surely we have known the feeling of how painful and discomforting it is for us to lose something that is precious to us?

Therefore, just imagine that if we can be so discomforted by losing our precious items, our own possessions, all the more God Who owns all of us will be distraught over the loss of even a single one of His beloved children, that is when even one of us disobey the Lord and does things that are contrary to His ways, meaning that he or she has sinned before the Lord.

And sin has been the main culprit of our sundering and separation from God. It has been the thorn on our side ever since Satan tempted our ancestors to disobey the Lord our God and His commandments. And throughout time, again and again, we mankind have fallen into his persuasions and lies, and committed sins which separated us further from the Lord and His salvation.

God loves us all very much brethren, and no one is beyond the scope of His love, unless we ourselves have turned our back of that love and defiantly rejecting His overtures of mercy and kindness. He is our loving Shepherd and we are His sheep, the sheep of His flock. We are His wonderful treasures, which He treasures and if any of us are lost from Him, He will look for us.

Unfortunately, it is we ourselves who often rejected Him, because we prefer to follow the ways of the devil rather than listening to the words of God. We continued to commit sin after sin, and the state of our souls are in great danger. And yet, God never gave up trying to bring us back into righteousness and grace, and He sent thus many prophets, messengers who brought the word of God to us all.

And one of them was St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day we celebrate today. He was a member of the Dominican order, working in the place he was born, in Peru in what was then Spanish Americas. He devoted himself to work for the poor and the less fortunate in his community, and he himself grew up in poverty and faced many challenges in his life.

He faced great discrimination due to his mixed heritage, having been an illegitimate son of a Spanish father and a freed slave mother. By the law at that time, he was counted among those who were barred from joining the religious life fully as a member, and were therefore consigned to be the lowest member of the Dominican order, enduring discrimination, difficulty and even rejection at times.

Yet, all these did not dampen the spirit of St. Martin de Porres, who devoted himself all the more to works and pursuits of mercy and compassion to the poor, the weak, the oppressed and those who suffer because of various reasons. He cared for them and helped them in various occasions, because of his genuine love and commitment for them, living out the Gospel which he was preaching to the people by his own dedications.

This is the kind of example which each and every one of us should also heed and follow, the example of how we should live our lives filled with faith from now on. We are called to show mercy to those who have sinned against us, allowing them to have a renewed faith in God and to repent from all of their sinful and wrong ways. But have we done these in our lives? Have our lives been actively devoted to such good works?

Many of us have thought only of ourselves, and it is often that we selfishly acted in order to preserve ourselves and fulfil our desires. As a result, our eyes, ears and senses are often dulled against the cry of those who are lost, who are struggling, suffering and encountering difficulties, whom we actually can save and help, but because we turned our backs to them, we often have left our brethren to fend for themselves.

Shall we from now on renew our commitment to our faith and that faith we have in the Lord by devoting ourselves anew to look for and help our brethren in need, the lost sheep, whom the Lord wants to save and reunite with Himself, just as He had done with us? Let us all help one another, that in the end, as many as possible can receive the salvation from the Lord our God.

May St. Martin de Porres be the source of our inspiration in living out our faith, and may he intercede for our sake, praying for us all, that our hearts may be stirred and our passion and desire to help others in need can be awakened within us. May the Lord help us and bless us on our way, and may He remain with us forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 3 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)
Luke 15 : 1-10

At that time, tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what He had to say. But the Pharisees and the scribes frowned at this, muttering, “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable :

“Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp, and sweep the house in a thorough search, till she finds the lost coin? And finding it, she will call her friends and neighbours, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is rejoicing among the Angels of God over one repentant sinner.”