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.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the Scripture passages we received today, some of us might have some questions and we wonder why for example St. Paul spoke of how it seemed that the end of the world and the time of judgment and the Lord’s coming was at hand, and also what the Lord Jesus said to the disciples, in His series of the Eight Beatitudes, blessings to those who have done what the Lord wanted them to do.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians and the Church there, a reminder for all the faithful to remain faithful, to keep the commandments of God, to remain virtuous and good in all things and not be tempted by their worldly desires and other things that can lead them down the path of sin. St. Paul exhorted them to do all these in light of the earlier discourses for the past week from this same Epistle, with regards to the increasingly lax morality and discipline among the faithful.

Thus, as we heard the seemingly strange words from St. Paul, we are reminded that in the context of what he intended for the people, that is to turn away from their sinful ways and increasingly corrupt ways, he reminded them how the Lord Jesus Himself did say that the time of His coming and the time of Judgment and reckoning will come to a surprise to everyone, as no one would have expected the Lord’s moment of truth when it comes.

This, coupled with the general belief among the early Christian communities that the Lord would indeed come again soon, perhaps within a human lifetime, generated that idea among some that it is perhaps best for people to remain chaste and free from sin, for virgins to remain pure rather than to fall into sin, to avoid things that could lead them down the slippery path into eternal suffering.

While this was indeed not accurate, as in the end, no one but God alone knows the time of His coming, but the essence of that call to holiness remains true for all of us. Do we want to allow ourselves to be controlled by sin, by the many temptations that we face in life, and which will lead us to our eventual downfall in exchange for mere momentary pleasure and joy in life? Or do we rather resist and oppose these temptations, and remain firm in faith in God?

And when the Lord spoke of His Beatitudes to His disciples and followers, He was praising those who are persevering in faith and dedicating themselves to serve the Lord with faith. But He was not in fact against or condemning the rich, powerful and mighty. Rather, through His words, He has reminded us to keep ourselves from being too attached to the many comforts we have in life, that we end up falling into immoral and wicked ways, into temptations and sin, and therefore into eternal damnation.

Today, we are called to be more disciplined in life, to be more dedicated and committed in faith, to turn towards God with ever greater faith, with each and every moment. And in doing so, we can draw inspirations from our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Peter Claver, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Peter Claver was a great priest and missionary who is remembered for his great commitment to the mission among the people he worked with in missionary area.

He was especially remembered for his care and concern for the oppressed, for people who were deprived of their livelihood and even basic human rights and respect, at a time when slavery was still rampant and prejudices among the people for those who were considered lesser races and beings were very common. St. Peter Claver laboured hard in order to oppose all these injustices he saw happening all around him, and protected and cared for the people in the best way he could.

St. Peter Claver spent a lot of time amongst the slaves to whom he ministered to over the years, doing his best to gain them their freedom and their human rights, and at least to give them better livelihood, spreading the faith to them and protecting them from injustices and harassment. He lived among them and stayed with them, and was always humble in heart, in appearance and in deed.

Through all his years of ministry, St. Peter Claver encountered plenty of opposition and challenges, but he did not allow all these from stopping or preventing him in his mission and in his love and compassionate care for the downtrodden and the oppressed. In this way, he is the epitome and example of what the Lord had mentioned in the Beatitudes, as the blessed ones who lived in accordance with the way of the Lord, and are shining beacons of hope and light amidst our darkened world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on all these and be better Christians from now on, in deeds and in faith, that we may follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Claver, in serving God with devotion and in obeying Him, in remaining good and righteous, pure and free from the taints of sin and to keep ourselves worthy at all times, that when the Lord comes again as He promised, we will be brought into eternal and true glory with Him. May God bless us always, and help us in our journey of faith. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Luke 6 : 20-26

At that time, looking at His disciples, Jesus said, “Fortunate are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Fortunate are you, who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Fortunate are you, who weep now, for you will laugh.”

“Fortunate are you, when people hate you, when they reject you and insult you and number you among criminals, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. Remember, that is how the ancestors of the people treated the prophets.”

“But alas for you, who have wealth, for you have been comforted now. Alas for you, who are full, for you will go hungry. Alas for you, who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Alas for you, when people speak well of you, for that is how the ancestors of the people treated the false prophets.”

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 44 : 11-12, 14-15, 16-17

Listen, o daughter, pay attention; forget your father’s house and your nation, and your beauty will charm the King, for He is your Lord.

All glorious as she enters is the princess in her gold-woven robes. She is led in royal attire to the King, following behind is her train of virgins.

Amid cheers and general rejoicing, they enter the palace of the King. Forget your fathers and think of your sons, you will make them princes throughout the land.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

1 Corinthians 7 : 25-31

With regard to those who remain virgins, I have no special commandment from the Lord, but I give some advice, hoping that I am worthy of trust by the mercy of the Lord.

I think this is good in these hard times in which we live. It is good for someone to remain as he is. If you are married, do not try to divorce your wife; if you are not married, do not marry. He who marries does not sin, nor does the young girl sin who marries. Yet they will face disturbing experiences, and I would like to spare you.

I say this, brothers and sisters : time is running out, and those who are married must live as if not married; those who weep as if not weeping; those who are happy as if they were not happy; those buying something as if they had not bought it, and those enjoying the present life as if they were not enjoying it. For the order of this world is vanishing.

Sunday, 19 July 2020 : Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 13 : 24-43

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Jesus offered them another parable : “The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast that a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise.”

Jesus taught all these things to the crowds by means of parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet : I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.

Then He sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 13 : 24-30

At that time, Jesus told the people another parable, “The kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a man, who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep, his enemy came, and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, the weeds also appeared. Then, the servants of the owner came, and said to him, ‘Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'”

“He answered them, ‘This is the work of an enemy.’ They asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’ He told them, ‘No, when you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together, until harvest; and, at harvest time, I will say to the workers : Pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them; then gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Sunday, 28 June 2020 : Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Kings 4 : 8-11, 14-16a

One day Elisha went to Shunem, and a rich woman invited him to eat. Afterward, whenever he went to that town, he would go to her house to eat. The woman said to her husband, “See, this man who constantly passes by our house is a holy man of God. If you want, we can make a small upper room for him, and place a bed, a table, a chair and a lamp in it. So when he comes, he may stay and rest.”

One day when Elisha came, he went to the upper room and lay down. So Elisha said to Gehazi, “What can we do for her?” The young man answered, “She has no children and her husband is now old.” And so Elisha said to him, “Call her.” The young man called her; and as the woman stood by the door, Elisha said, “By this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”