Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly and to entrust ourselves to His cause and works, to follow Him without doubt and hesitation, and to give ourselves in every opportunities and chances to be the dedicated followers of Our Lord. We have to listen to Him and not to allow the devil, Satan, to tempt us with his lies and falsehoods that can lead us down the wrong path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the continuation of the discourse from the Epistle of St. James, in which the Apostle spoke of the importance for Christians to heed the Lord’s words and commandments, His desire that all of them love one another and treat each other equally without prejudice and discrimination, unlike what had always frequently happened at that time, in a world filled with a lot of inequality and injustice, greed and worldly desires, ambition and ego, all of which had led to plenty of suffering and misery in our communities.

As Christians, all of us have been taught to love one another with sincere and genuine love, without prejudice and without discrimination. All of us have been taught to see each other as fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Whom we have shared in His suffering and death, and have received the sure promise of eternal life and salvation. All of us have to follow the examples of Christ in how He loved all of us without exception, and in how He loved even the most marginalised and the poorest among us, reaching out to us and even to all those who have persecuted Him.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard of the time when the Lord asked His disciples regarding Himself, considering the many speculations that must have arisen back then from all that He had done, all the miracles He had performed and all the great wisdom and truth of God which He had spoken to the people themselves, and which the disciples themselves had witnessed, heard and experienced directly. And they gave various answers, including that of a prophet, a holy man of God, and with St. Peter saying that He is the Messiah, or the Saviour that God had promised to His people.

Then the Lord revealed that yes, while He is truly the Messiah, but He would have to suffer rejection and to be persecuted, by the same people that He has been sent to. This must have been taken with a lot of surprise and consternation by the disciples and followers of Jesus who must not have taken nicely to the idea, as many among them if not most would have expected to have Jesus to be the liberator of the people of Israel, to be their King and Saviour, free from the tyranny of the Romans and any other powers. And thus St. Peter pulled him aside and protested strongly against the Lord for saying such things.

That was when the Lord then rebuked Satan who was likely trying to persuade the Lord to stop His efforts and trying to convince Him not to do as what He was supposed to do, in trying to tempt Him with power and worldly glory. The Lord would have none of it and He told the devil to get away from Him, not allowing Himself to be tempted by the common temptations of this world. He had been tempted and tested by Satan before, and He had prevailed, and that time was not to be any different from the previous occasions in which He was tempted.

Through this, the Lord wants us to know that in following Him we have to discard the old attitudes of our past, sinful lives, and instead, we should embrace the truth and love that God has shown us, dedicating ourselves to follow Him wholeheartedly, doing whatever we can to serve Him in every opportunities available to us so that we may inspire all those who have witnessed us and our actions, knowing that through those, we may become faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s love and all that He had done for us, to suffer the Cross for us and to endure the worst of sufferings just so that we may persevere and gain assurance of an eternity with Him. And Satan tried hard in vain to prevent this from happening.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us should follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors as we celebrate their feast day today, namely the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order. These seven holy men of God, known by their names of Bonfilius, Alexis, Manettus, Amideus, Hugh, Sostene and Buonagiunta of Florence. All of them found each other in a bond of spiritual friendship which then grew on and having received a vision from the Blessed Mother of God, they were resolved to leave behind everything and followed God, marking the foundation of the Servite Order.

The seven holy founders worked hard and dedicatedly through the Order of the Servites, caring for the poor and the needy, those who were abandoned and without any proper attention and care. They all were dedicated with the care for the physical and material needs of those people, of whom the Lord Himself had said to us, that we have to show love and care for the least of our brethren, to the poor and those who had no one to love them and care for them. The seven holy founders of the Servites did their best within their capacity to care for these people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow the examples of our holy predecessors, the great saints especially the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites Order? Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do whatever we can to glorify God through our lives. May the Lord continue to watch over us and help us to persevere through the many challenges in life so that each and every one of us can always remain faithful to Him and be dedicated to the path that God has shown us, and easily tempted and swayed by the evil one. Seven Holy Founders of the Servites, pray for us. Amen.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 8 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus set out with His disciples for the villages around Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” And they told Him, “Some say You are John the Baptist; others say You are Elijah or one of the prophets.”

Then Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” And He ordered them not to tell anyone about Him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took Him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

James 2 : 1-9

My brothers and sisters, if you truly believe in our glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, you will not discriminate between persons. Suppose a person enters the synagogue where you are assembled, dressed magnificently and wearing a gold ring; at the same time, a poor person enters dressed in rags. If you focus your attention on the well-dressed and say, “Come and sit in the best seat,” while, to the poor one you say, “Stay standing, or else sit down at my feet,” have you not, in fact, made a distinction between the two? Have you not judged, using a double standard?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose the poor of this world to receive the riches of faith, and to inherit the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him? Yet, you despise them! Is it not the rich who are against you, and drag you to court? Do they not insult the Holy Name of Christ by which you are called?

If you keep the Law of the kingdom, according to Scripture : Love your neighbour as yourself, you do well; but if you make distinctions between persons, you break the Law, and are condemned by the same Law.