Saturday, 4 March 2017 : Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of St. Casimir (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the healing which God is offering to all of us His people, which He had made by offer through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came into this world in order to become the salvation for all the people, and become healing for all those who have fallen into the sickness of sin, the disease of our souls.

The message which the Lord our God had announced to all in today’s readings is that all of us ought to change our lives, and reorientate them towards the Lord, so that if we have once committed sins and wicked acts, we must stop them immediately, no longer disobeying the Lord and His laws, and instead, beginning to follow Him and obey His ways, in all the things we do in this life.

God is merciful and loving, and He wants each and every one of us to be saved and freed from the torment of our sufferings because of our sins. He wants all of us to receive grace, peace and blessings because we have found our way to Him, and no longer are lost in the darkness of this world. That is why He had given His mercy and love so freely through Christ, through Whom He gathered all of us to Himself.

However, many of us do not realise that it is we ourselves who have been stubborn and resistant to God’s mercy and love. We have not been willing to welcome God’s mercy in our hearts, and all of these is because of first of all, our human pride and ego, refusing to believe that we have erred or committed a mistake in our lives. We are not willing to allow God to come in and transform our lives, just because we have too much ego and cannot bear others to see that we have humbled ourselves.

That was exactly what happened to the Pharisees and the elders, the teachers of the Law and the chief priests. Many of them criticised Jesus for having embraced and walked among the tax collectors and prostitutes, and even calling some of His disciples from among them, one of whom was Levi, whose calling was part of the Gospel we heard today. Jesus called Levi from his tax collector post, and he willingly left behind everything in order to follow Him.

Those tax collectors had been hated and resented by the population as a whole, because especially upon the instigation of the Pharisees, they had been seen as traitors of the nations and the people, having worked with their Roman conquerors and helping them in administrative works such as the collection of taxes, resented by the people as a whole.

But many of them were aware of their status and their sins, and when God called them through Jesus His Son, they responded in kind and turned away from their sinful ways, as Levi had done, and followed Him wholeheartedly. They followed Him and were saved because of their sins, and because they humbled themselves before God, fully knowing of their sins and unworthiness, unlike that of those who have accused them.

The same mercy and love have been offered by God to all, but while those who accepted God’s mercy were forgiven, those who refused to acknowledge their sins had not received His mercy. They have haughtily thought that they were worthy of God but they have overlooked their own sins. They thought that they were without blame, but they failed to recognise their own shortcomings and sins. In this manner, those tax collectors and sinners they had ridiculed came before them in attaining God’s salvation and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we need to understand from today’s Scripture readings is that, no one is truly beyond God’s forgiveness and ability to forgive, unless they themselves reject being loved and being forgiven by God. God extended His love and grace to all, without any exceptions, and therefore all of us need to respond in kind, doing what we can in order to love Him back, and devote ourselves to Him.

This season of Lent is a very good opportunity for us to reevaluate ourselves and our lives, whether we are ready to continue moving forward in our path towards God’s grace and salvation, or whether we need time to reevaluate and rethink the direction of our lives. It is a good time for us to heed the examples of the holy saints and the holy people of God in the ages past, who had lived a righteous and worthy lives, as examples for us to emulate and follow.

St. Casimir of Poland for example, the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, is an exceptional role model for our faith. He was a royal prince of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, and eventually became its crown prince after the death of his elder brother. However, despite his noble and high position in life, St. Casimir was renowned to be a person filled with humility and compassion, known for his charity and love for the poor, and for his pious works and devotions to God.

He led a life wholly committed and dedicated to the Lord, and showed others by example on how they ought to be faithful to their Lord and God. He inspired many others in following his footsteps and after his early death at the age of twenty-five, many people continued to venerate him and follow on his examples in their lives, imitating the holy saint for his exemplary life and piety.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on our own lives today and henceforth, and remembering what St. Casimir had done, let us all open our hearts to the Lord, allowing Him to enter into them and thus transforming us from dirty and unclean vessels into worthy and glorious vessels of His Presence. Remember that God Himself has chosen to reside in us, and therefore, all of us need to turn away from our sins and embrace God’s mercy and love. Sin no more and follow the Lord in all that we say and do.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us and our resolve to be ever more faithful to Him. Let us all throw far away our pride and arrogance, our human resistance and weaknesses, that we will not end up like the Pharisees who rejected God’s love and mercy, but instead be like Levi and the tax collectors, who humbly repented their sins, and were gloriously transformed by God’s love. May God bless us all always. Amen.

Saturday, 4 March 2017 : Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Luke 5 : 27-32

At that time, Jesus went out, and noticing a tax collector named Levi, sitting in the tax-office, He said to him, “Follow Me!” So Levi, leaving everything, got up and followed Jesus.

Levi gave a great feast for Jesus, and many tax collectors came to his house, and took their places at the table with the other people. Then the Pharisees and their followers complained to Jesus’ disciples, “How is it that you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

But Jesus spoke up, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I have not come to call the just, but sinners to a change of heart.”

Saturday, 4 March 2017 : Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 85 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Listen, o Lord, and answer me, for I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my life for I am God-fearing; save Your servant who trusts in You.

Have mercy on me, o Lord, for I cry to You all day. Bring joy to the soul of Your servant, for You, o Lord, I lift up my soul.

You are good and forgiving, o Lord, caring for those who call on You. Listen, o Lord, to my prayer, hear the voice of my pleading.

Saturday, 4 March 2017 : Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Memorial of St. Casimir (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Isaiah 58 : 9b-14

If you remove from your midst the yoke, the clenched fist and the wicked word, if you share your food with the hungry and give relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the dark, your night will be like noon. YHVH will guide you always and give you relief in desert places.

He will strengthen your bones; He will make you as a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins will be rebuilt, the age-old foundations will be raised. You will be called the Breach-mender, and the Restorer of ruined houses.

If you stop profaning the sabbath and doing as you please on the holy day, if you call the sabbath a day of delight and keep sacred YHVH’s holy day, if you honour it by not going your own way, not doing as you please and not speaking with malice, then you will find happiness in YHVH, over the heights you will ride triumphantly, and feast joyfully on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of YHVH has spoken.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Brethren in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Casimir, the patron saint of arts and youth. St. Casimir was once the heir apparent to the kingdom of Poland, but he died before he succeeded to the throne as king. Nevertheless, he was revered as a saint and holy man of God because of his exceptional character and good deeds which were recognised by the people, who looked up to him and his character.

Today, the readings told us about the importance of our faith and our devotion to the Lord and His ways. And St. Casimir showed us how to be truly devoted to the Lord, not just in words but also in concrete and actual deeds. St. Casimir was known for his humility despite of his position and influence, as the crown prince of the kingdom.

St. Casimir grew in his devotion and faith to God as he grew in life. He was renowned at the end of his life, of his piety and exemplary devotion, which was evident in his works and charitable acts to the poor in the society. He took great responsibility and took it seriously, and worked hard for the good of those whom he had worked for.

He was powerful and great, and he has great influence, and yet he remained humble and unassuming. And that is the kind of faith and devotion that we should also have, brothers and sisters in Christ. We have to be obedient to the will of God, and listen to His words. And most importantly is that we have to act, and act in full devotion, offering ourselves in love to God, by our love for one another.

Reject all of the corruptions of this world, and reject all the temptations that assail us and attempted to change us for the worse. Let us all follow God and His laws, and not disobeying Him in any way. Be like St. Casimir in his devotion. Our faith must be true and genuine, and it must be an active faith, one that is based on strong foundation of love and action.

Be humble and be righteous, those are the things expected by the Lord from us. Let us not harden our hearts or close our minds against the Lord and His love. Instead, open wide the doors of our heart, that the Lord may be able to come in, enter and speak to us, so that we may know His will, and keep faithful to His commandments.

Let us all, brothers and sisters in Christ, renew our faith in God, that our faith will be made stronger, and that we may live always in God’s grace. Let us all never be separated from God or be outside of His salvation and love. Let us walk humbly with God and serve Him with all our strength, just as St. Casimir and many other saints had done throughout the generations.

May the Lord bless us, give us strength to be faithful to Him at all times, and may He be with us at all times, and let us never be separated from Him and His love. God be with us all, always and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 10 : 28-31

Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.”

Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward. I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life.”

“Do pay attention : many who are now the first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3c-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.