Friday, 21 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how a woman of Israel, Naomi, was left all alone after her husband and two sons passed away, leaving her with her daughters-in-law who followed her. One of the two daughters-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite woman, a foreigner in the eyes of the Israelites, refused to leave when Naomi decided to return to her homeland and asked them to go.

This same Ruth would eventually be the ancestor of David, the king of Israel, through whom God renewed His covenant with His people and with all of us. Ruth would go on to meet Boaz, her future husband, and by God’s will, and through Naomi’s faith and perseverance, the foundation of the family of David would be born. And through David, God made secure his kingdom and his family, and through him, the salvation of all mankind was made secure, through Jesus, Son of God, Son of David.

And Ruth as we heard in today’s reading, made the great profession of faith before Naomi, as even though she was a foreigner, a Moabite, usually looked with suspicion and often treated badly and with prejudice by the people of Israel, but her faith shone forth and true, for she proclaimed that Naomi’s God would be her God, and Israel would be her people, counting herself among them. This surrendering of oneself to the will of God is a great example for all of us to follow.

In the Gospel today, we heard about how Jesus explained to the teacher of the Law, who asked Him what the most important commandment in the Law is. Out of the Ten Commandments, and the numerous rules and regulations of the laws as revealed to Moses, the most important Law is indeed about love. It is for love of us mankind that God had revealed His Law, so that all of us may find our way to Him and keep ourselves steady amidst the temptations and challenges of the world.

Indeed, the essence of the Law is to love the Lord with all of our might, with all of our strength, with all of our minds and intellect, and with all of our very beings, that in everything we say, in everything we act and do, we do them for the love of God, for the sake of the Lord, and for the sake of everything that God had made, which includes all creation, and also all of us, mankind, loving one another, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord.

It is the same kind of faith and devotion which Ruth had shown us in the first reading today, the total commitment and devotion which all of us ought to have as well. We have to have this kind of faith if we are to call ourselves true disciples of the Lord. If we truly follow the Lord, then all of us should love Him, and give Him all the best things we have, the best of our attention and focus, our best devotion and commitment.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church, when we celebrate the feast of one of its greatest saints and holy servants of God, namely that of Pope St. Pius X, the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, defender of the True Faith and defender against the evils and wickedness of Modernism. He is one of the greatest Popes of the modern era, who helped the Church to withstand the forces of darkness gathering and pushing against the Church.

Pope St. Pius X was born a humble and poor boy, by the name of Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, at a time when uncertainties and darkness started to cloud the judgments of mankind and nations. He rose through the occasion by his tireless dedication and strong stance against the sins and wickedness that were eating away at mankind’s heart and soul.

In his position, firstly as a lay person, then a priest, then a bishop, a Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice, and then as the Successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ, he remained as a beacon of faith and truth, and an inviolable and steadfast anchor of the faith, condemning sins whenever he found it, and helping and showing mercy to sinners whenever and wherever he could.

He helped to reform the Church and made it stronger by codifying a new set of the Canon Law which were crucial to help the Church to withstand the forces of change and corruption that were threatening many of the faithful. He showed by example in many situations, with his great piety and dedication to the Lord. He also tried to bring the faithful closer to God, by championing and pushing for frequent reception of the Holy Communion, which up to then was only done very irregularly.

Through his hard work, he was known to be a saintly Pope even before he passed away, and the push for his beatification and sainthood came immediately after his death. He became an inspiration to many of the faithful, and I hope that through his intercession, he will also become an inspiration to many of us. May all of us show the great faith and devotion to the Lord, as Ruth and as Pope St. Pius X had done. May God be with us in all of our good endeavour. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 21 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 22 : 34-40

At that time, when the Pharisees heard how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. One of them, a teacher of the Law, tried to test Him with this question, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law?”

Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments. But after this there is another one very similar to it : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments.”

Friday, 21 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 145 : 5-6ab, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

Blessed are they whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and all they contain.

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Friday, 21 August 2015 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ruth 1 : 1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22

There was a famine in the land during the time of the Judges, and a man from Bethlehem in Judah departed with his wife and two sons to sojourn in the country of Moab.

Naomi’s husband Elimelech died. She was left with her two sons, who married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After living in Moab for about ten years, her sons, Mahlon and Chilion also died and Naomi was left bereft of husband and two sons. Having heard that YHVH had come to help His people by giving them food, Naomi prepared to return home.

Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law returns to her people and her gods. You too must return. Go after her.” Ruth replied, “Do not ask me to leave you. For I will go where you go and stay where you stay. Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”

Thus it was that Naomi returned from Moab with her Moabite daughter-in-law and arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest began.

Thursday, 21 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a great saint, the Pope of the Holy Eucharist as he is famously known, namely Pope St. Pius X, the first Pope to be elected in the twentieth century, and a great reformer of the faith who brought great rejuvenation both to the Church and to God’s people. Pope St. Pius X had done a great deal of goodness for the Lord and His people, and the effects of what He had done can still be clearly felt today.

Pope St. Pius X was the one who reformed much of the liturgy and the celebration of worship in the Church, and he made the Gregorian chant once again the predominant hymn and song used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Through his contributions, he made the liturgy of worship to God much richer and more beneficial for the growth of the faith and devotion among the faithful. Numerous other contributions he had made to the benefit of God’s people.

And his greatest contribution was the great improvement in the accessibility and focus on the Most Holy Eucharist, the very Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who had given us these freely as He offered Himself humbly to the Lord as the sacrifice for the sake of our salvation, which we celebrate regularly in the Holy Mass. This is the centre of our faith, and the very foundation of what we believe in God.

In addition, if we today know the Holy Communion as something we always do every time we attend the Holy Mass, and if we can remember the time when we first received the Holy Communion in our early youth, then all of these could be attributed to the works of this holy Pope, Pope St. Pius X, and this is why he is also known famously as the Pope of the Eucharist. Why is this so? Let me elaborate further.

Pope St. Pius X encouraged frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist by the faithful, and he also lowered the minimum age required for the reception of the first Holy Communion, bringing the Lord closer to even young children. This reminds us clearly of what the Lord Jesus had said to His disciples and followers, that all of us ought to imitate the faith of children, and we should not prevent children from coming to the Lord.

With that consideration, what Pope St. Pius X had done was truly exemplary, allowing children, provided that they are at an age when they are already able to discern about the Lord, to receive the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist, certainly at an age significantly younger than what was previously stipulated and practiced in the Church. This helps many of the youths and children to be close to the Lord for the important years when their faiths in God are developing and taking roots.

And ultimately, today we will focus on the role of this holy man and shepherd of the Church, in how he transformed and brought the Lord and His fullness of truth into the centre of the faithful’s attention, by emphasizing strongly on the importance of worship and the properness in worship of the Lord, in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which we also celebrate today, but which in many places had notably dropped in terms of our ability to appreciate how important it is to properly worship the Lord.

This relates precisely to the reading of today, in which Jesus told His disciples a parable, which described the wedding feast organised by a king for his son, and how the guests whom the king had invited to the feast refused to come to the feast prepared for them. Those guests were given what they had deserved, and they were cast down.

And when the king invited new groups of people who were then invited to the wedding banquet, he found someone who was not wearing the garments appropriate for the wedding feast, and consequently he was thrown out of the banquet and cast into the darkness to suffer the penalty of his actions and his ignorance.

How is this relevant to us and our faith? Precisely because the Holy Mass is the wedding banquet of the Lord, when the Lord comes to be one with us and to dwell among us, none other than through His Most Holy Presence in the Eucharist, bread and wine transformed completely into the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And our focus should indeed be on the action of the guest who had come into the banquet not wearing the appropriate wedding garment. This in fact reflects on those among us, and many of us indeed, who did not take the celebration of the sacrifice of our Lord seriously. It reflects clearly on our part when we are not serious about our part in the celebration of the Holy Mass. And in particular, in the recent years, more and more abuses of worship and of the celebration has occurred.

How many of us would come to the Church properly dressed and with a proper heart and mind? That means, how many of us actually prepare ourselves thoroughly to attend the Holy Mass and participate with the fullness of our hearts? Many of us often did not do so, and conveniently ignored these, and ended up physically and spiritually unprepared to be with the Lord in the Mass. In this, we are no different from the person who attended the king’s banquet without a proper clothing.

The Mass is truly great and holy, because in it we celebrate the very sacrifice that our Lord had made that day on the hill of Calvary, when He was hung on the cross between the heavens and earth, and for what? For our sake, brethren, that is for our salvation. He died so that He may break us free from the bonds of death and destruction that await us and bring us into life. And in that, He offered Himself through the Body and Blood He gave us, which through His priests, who transformed the bread and wine into that of our Lord’s Body and Blood for us to receive and eat, and drink.

If it is the Lord Himself who is present in the Holy Mass, then why did we not worship Him? Why did we not respect Him? Why did we blaspheme against Him by our words and actions? And why did we ignore Him and attend to our own needs and to our own human arrogance? I am talking about how many people increasingly lost their focus, and especially in the Mass, and they end up not worshipping God and His love, but instead praising themselves.

This is evident from the rise of unorthodox and heretical practices in the Holy Mass, which in many places, particularly in the West, but also widespread in other places, of inappropriate actions by both the laity and the priests, who did not give glory to God through their actions, but instead glorify and praise themselves. The practices of ‘liturgical dance’, speaking in tongues, use of inappropriate music in the celebration of the Mass and many other liturgical abuses of the Mass, unlike the attitude of the man without a proper garment in the banquet.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great occasion of the feast of Pope St. Pius X, let us ask for his kind intercession and help, so that the Lord may strengthen the faith in us, and hopefully we may learn to know how to properly prepare and place ourselves in the worship of our great Lord and God. Let us all redirect our attention away from ourselves back towards the Lord. Let us all restore the solemnity and holiness in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Let us all work together to make our celebration of the Mass be truly heaven on earth, and get rid of any forms of abuses that still mar our spirit of celebration of this great banquet of the Lord.

May Almighty God guide us on our efforts, strengthen our faith and renew in us the love that we have for Him. Let us strive to make our worship a true worship once again, gaining inspiration from what Pope St. Pius X had once done for the good of the souls of the faithful. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 21 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 22 : 1-14

Jesus went on speaking to them in parables : “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A king celebrated the wedding of his son. He sent his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding feast, but the guests refused to come.”

“Again he sent other servants, ordering them to say to the invited guests, ‘I have prepared a banquet, slaughtered my fattened calves and other animals, and now everything is ready. Come to the wedding!’ But they paid no attention and went away, some to their fields, and some to their work. Others seized the servants of the king, insulted them and killed them.”

“The king became angry. He sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is prepared, but the invited guests were not worthy. Go instead to the crossroads, and invite everyone you find to the wedding feast.'”

“The servants went out at once into the streets and gathered everyone they found, good and bad alike, so that the hall was filled with guests. The king came in to see those who were at table, and he noticed a man not wearing the festal garment.”

“So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in without the wedding garment?’ But the man remained silent. So the king said to his servants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the dark, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

“Know that many are called, but few are chosen.”

Thursday, 21 August 2014 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart, give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.