Saturday, 5 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded yet again by the word of God written in the Sacred Scriptures that we should not allow ourselves to be controlled by money, possession, greed and all the materialistic culture which this world is espousing and spreading to all the people, lest we lose our path and focus, as God reminded us that we cannot be servant both to Him and to money.

First of all, it does not mean that we should sell off all our belongings and shun all forms of earthly possessions. Wealth, money and possessions are in themselves neutral in nature, as they are just tools that can be used either for good purposes or for wicked and selfish purposes. Wealth can be used to bring happiness and relief to others, when we are charitable enough to share what we have more with those who have less, but it can also lead to sorrow, pain and suffering when in our obsession for it, we caused harm upon others.

It is when we become enslaved and serve money and all forms of worldly possessions that we end up falling into the deep trap set up for us by the devil and all those seeking our destruction. These have enticed us to continue to desire for more of what we have, and even to jealously guard our possessions from others, thinking that we alone deserve to have what we have. That was the attitude shown by the Pharisees at that time, for which our Lord rebuked them.

As Christians, we are called to be less selfish and show more care and concern for our brethren in need. We cannot be closed off within ourselves or be selfish, not thinking about those brethren of ours around us, whose life can be helped even with just a small charity and compassion from us. And that is the challenge that we as Christians should take on, in how we can devote ourselves ever more to love and care for our suffering ones and for those who are poor and needy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the ways of this world are selfishness, pride, arrogance, greed and filled with ego, but the ways of the world are selflessness, humility, prudence and generosity, filled with love, care and compassion for our needy brethren. And this is the reality of what we should realise, that we have been given the means and the opportunities to do many good things, and we should therefore make use of these opportunities given to us.

After all, our true treasure, one that we ought to seek, is not in this world. We gain nothing by accumulating treasures of money, wealth, properties, buildings or any other worldly goods and standards of success. Many if not most of these are transient and temporary, and they can be destroyed by the forces of this world in the blink of an eye. Instead, our true treasure can be found in God alone.

And how do we build up this true treasure of ours? It is by showing charity, mercy and compassion to the sick, to the poor and the ostracised, to one another, giving ourselves out of love to those who need our love. It does not have to be always contributions of wealth, money or material goods that can bring about one’s happiness, but also our presence, filled with love and concern for those who need these.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all ready to take up this challenge? Are we ready to show care and love for our brethren? Are we willing to be selfless and to share our joy and blessings with those who have less or none? We are the ones whom God had empowered and blessed to be His children and His people, and thus it is just right for us to share these blessings and goodness with those who need them.

May the Lord bless us and keep us in His grace always. And may His love flourish within us, that filled up with His love and joy, we may always become source of joy and grace for all the peoples. God be with us all. Amen.

Saturday, 5 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Luke 16 : 9-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “And so I tell you : use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones.”

“So if you have been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and sneered at Jesus. He said to them, “You do your best to be considered righteous by people. But God knows the heart, and what is highly esteemed by human beings is loathed by God.”

Saturday, 5 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Psalm 111 : 1-2, 5-6, 8a and 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

His heart is confident, he needs not fear, he gives generously to the poor, his merits will last forever and his head will be raised in honour. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Philippians 4 : 10-19

I rejoice in the Lord because of your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me before, but you had no opportunity to show it. I do not say this because of being in want; I have learnt to manage with what I have. I know what it is to be in want and what it is to have plenty. I am trained for both : to be hungry or satisfied, to have much or little. I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me.

However you did right in sharing my trials. You Philippians, remember that in the beginning, when we first preached the Gospel, after I left Macedonia you alone opened for me a debit and credit account, and when I was in Thessalonica, twice you sent me what I needed.

It is not your gift that I value but rather the interest increasing in your own account. Now I have enough and more than enough with everything Epaphroditus brought me on your behalf and which I received as “fragrant offerings pleasing to God.” God Himself will provide you with everything you need, according to His riches, and show you His generosity in Christ Jesus.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today our Lord Jesus Christ presented to His disciples the story of the dishonest steward, whom the master fired over his dishonesty, and as we knew in this well known story, the steward began finding ways to preserve himself and ensuring his own well-being after he was fired, by using his skills and persuasion, in order to do even more dishonesty, which is the way that he was familiar with, to secure for himself a good life afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is then the point of this story? It is in fact a reminder for us that if we treat of ourselves as those who belong in this world, we will then act in ways acceptable to the world, in all of its tenets and ways, just as the steward, who served himself and his greed for money, did all sorts of dishonesty in order to ensure his life’s well-being. But then, although he may indeed secure for himself a comfortable life after, how about the accountability of all that he had committed?

Truly, the ways of this world can indeed make us go far in this earthly life. Many people are working very hard and even trying to outdo each other in order to secure for themselves promotion, fame, and praise from their superiors and underlings alike. They gathered for themselves much money, possessions, and even power and influence. All of these would indeed ensure that they have a good life in this world. But then again, what will all these worth in the world that is to come?

In the first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful and the Church in the city of Philippi in Greece, he spoke of us being transfigured, changed and transformed by Christ, as Christians who truly devote ourselves and put ourselves in the company of the Lord our God, obeying His ways and commandments. It is linked to what we have heard in the Gospel, that whoever live by the ways of the world, shall likely depend on these, but these while they are good for this world, they are not what can guarantee our salvation in the afterlife.

The ways of this world are often opposed and contradictory to the ways of our Lord. As such, what made us prosperous in this world may not bring us to prosper when the Lord calls upon us to return to Him and to give an account of our lives, of what we have done in that life. If we truly belong to the Lord, then surely we should have committed and done what the Lord had asked us to do?

Unfortunately, many of us are not even aware of what the Lord expects from us. Many of us think of our faith as something of a mere formality, and many of us do not even actively practice our faith! If our actions show that we are contradicting the teachings of the Lord, through our selfishness, through our lack of love and devotion to God, through our hatred and acts that brought about pain and sorrow, we have in fact desecrated the good and holy Name of our Lord.

We cannot be hypocrites in our faith, brethren, and neither should we be lukewarm or ignorant in it. Our faith must be real, genuine, filled with real action and commitment, that we all may then be truly be worthy of the Lord, and in accordance with what St. Paul said in his Epistle, that we should be transformed and changed by the Lord, that in all of our words, deeds and actions, we endeavour to bring glory to God.

And perhaps, in this matter, we should look at the example of St. Charles Borromeo, the famous saint whose feast we are celebrating on this day. St. Charles Borromeo, or San Carolus Borromeo was born into a very influential family of nobles, who at that time, a few centuries ago, had great influence and power in the society. As such, St. Charles Borromeo had been destined for great things from the beginning of his life.

As his relative became the successor of St. Peter and leader of the Universal Church as Pope Pius IV, St. Charles Borromeo at a young age was entrusted with great matters of the Church state and even was made as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, a practice common at that time. And yet, despite such privileges and such great influence wielded by his family and relatives, he lived frugally, with austerity and enforced strict spiritual discipline on all who worked with him and lived with him.

St. Charles Borromeo was very influential and impactful in his works in the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation, together with his contemporaries, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter Canisius and many others, resisting and combatting the evil influences of the so-called false Protestant ‘reformation’, the great heresy which had seized millions and many more of the souls of the faithful into damnation due to its lies and false teachings.

He helped the Church to reform its practices, and helped it to impose much stricter discipline on its teachings and ways, purifying the corruptions that had troubled it for many years previously. In the same manner, after he was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan, one of the most influential dioceses in the world, even then as it is today, he helped to enforce the reforms to renew and rejuvenate the faith against the heresies of Protestantism and against the excesses of the Church.

St. Charles Borromeo often led by example, living as what the Lord had taught him to do, and we should do the same as well. We should walk in his footsteps and follow what he had done, practicing our faith through real commitment and actions. May the Lord help us all to do so, and may He awaken in each one of us the strong desire to be truly faithful to our God. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Luke 16 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “There was a rich man, whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him, “What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service, for it is about to be terminated.'”

“The steward thought to himself, ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do : I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be people who will welcome me into their homes.'”

“So he called his master’s debtors, one by one. He asked the first debtor, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The reply was, ‘A hundred jars of oil.’ The steward said, ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write fifty.’ To the second debtor he put the same question. ‘How much do you owe?’ The answer was, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ Then the steward said, ‘Take your bill and write eighty.'”

“The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness : for the people of this world are more astute, in dealing with their own kind, than are the people of light.”

Friday, 4 November 2016 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White (Bishops)
Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.