Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all about the importance of keeping ourselves open to the Wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit, by which His presence and truth enter into us and transform us in the manner that is perhaps incomprehensible to the world and to the norms of the society where we are living in. Yet, it is something that is necessary for us as we grow in our faith.

And it is also an important reminder to each and every one of us that all of us living in this world have been entrusted with the responsibility and the duty of being witnesses of Christ in our daily living with faith, as we are all visible to each other through our actions and our deeds. If we do not live our lives with faith, essentially we are turning ourselves away from God and from His truth and wisdom.

Unfortunately, many of us often succumbed to the temptations of this world, the temptation of power, of fame, of worldly material goods and prosperity, of glory and human praise and adulation. Many of us chose therefore to trust in our own strength and wisdom, and ended up falling into the trap that the devil and our tempters have put in place to make us stumble in our journey of faith.

And the devil knows how to manipulate and trick us well, and the greater the power and responsibility we have, the more that we will be tempted to stray away from the path of the Lord. Power indeed corrupts, as the people says, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is in our human nature, our predisposition and desire for power, for pleasures and happiness in life, for joy of this world that made us vulnerable to the temptations to sin.

That was why the Lord Jesus rebuked His opponents, likely referring to the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests as He spoke out against those who have misled the children of God into the wrong path. And all of that was caused by their preoccupation with maintaining their prestige, power, influence and authority in the society that led them to their haughty and misled attitudes.

Therefore, after having discerned about what we have just discussed, we can see how that all of us are called to serve the Lord and follow Him in His way of truth. However, following God requires us to be open to His truth and wisdom as I mentioned, and we have to be humble and lay down our pride, or else it will be difficult for us to resist the temptations to follow instead the path of the devil, that is the path of worldliness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we can get some inspirations from the saint of today, a renowned saint whose life is truly exemplary before God. St. Martin of Tours was one of the early bishops of Tours in what is now southern France, at the years of the waning of the Roman Empire in the west, about a century after the toleration of Christians through the Edict of Milan. St. Martin of Tours came from a noble background and was an officer in the Roman army before he had a change in life and became eventually the Bishop of Tours.

It was told that on one occasion, on a cold night, as St. Martin rode along on his horse, he saw an old beggar by the roadside suffering and without anything to cover himself from the cold temperature. St. Martin, moved by what he saw, took his sword and cut part of his centurion’s cloak, and gave the cloak to the old beggar to be a comforter and protector in the midst of the cold condition.

That very night, the Lord appeared to St. Martin and revealed that the old beggar was none other than God Himself, and showed him how he had done a truly blessed action by his humility and generosity for the least and the poorest, which reminds us of what the Lord Jesus said, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we are doing it for the Lord Himself. Through that and all other experiences, St. Martin of Tours eventually decided to leave the military and deepen his spiritual life instead, becoming the Bishop of Tours by the support of his flock.

St. Martin of Tours was truly dedicated in his service as the shepherd of his flock, dedicating his time and efforts to take care of the needs of his flock, in particular their spiritual needs. He was a champion of the true faith amidst several heresies that were rampant at that time, protecting his flock from the false teachings and helped to guide them down the right path, leading by example through his own virtuous life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours? We ourselves can follow in his footsteps and do what he had once done in our own respective lives. What we need is the humility and the desire to resist the many temptations present all around us, and also the desire to love God with all of our heart. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Martin of Tours, that God will strengthen our faith through his prayers. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.”

“Listen carefully : if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 138 : 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-10

O YHVH, You know me : You have scrutinised me. You know when I sit and when I rise; beforehand, You discern my thoughts. You observe my activities and times of rest; You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is formed in my mouth, You know what it is all about, o YHVH. From front to back You hedge me round, shielding me with Your protecting hand. Your knowledge leaves me astounded, it is too high for me to reach.

Where else could I go from Your Spirit? Where could I flee from Your presence? You are there, if I ascend the heavens; You are there, if I descend to the depths.

If I ride on the wings of the dawn, and settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand shall guide me, and Your right hand shall hold me safely.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 1 : 1-7

Love justice, you who rule over the world! Think rightly of God, seek Him with simplicity of heart, for He reveals Himself to those who do not challenge Him and is found by those who do not distrust Him. Crooked thinking distances you from God; and His Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish.

Wisdom does not enter the wicked nor remain in a body that is enslaved to sin. The Holy Spirit Who instructs us shuns deceit; it keeps aloof from foolishness and is ill at ease when injustice is done. Wisdom is a spirit, a friend to man, and will not leave the blasphemous unpunished, because God knows his innermost feelings, truly sees his thoughts and hears what he says.

For God’s Spirit has filled the whole world; and He Who holds together all things, knows each word that is spoken.

Monday, 4 November 2019 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures we are called to be generous to one another just as our Lord Himself has first been very generous to us from the beginning. He has always been generous to us, in providing for us all that we ever need in life and in giving us first of all the gift of life as well as then many opportunities for us throughout life to be reconciled to Him.

Despite our constant and persistent disobedience, rebelliousness and wayward behaviours, we have always received the fullness of God’s mercy and compassion, as He loves us all very much and wants us to be saved and freed from our fated destruction. By our sins we have been made unworthy of God and we should have faced destruction and eternal damnation if not for God’s enduring love for us.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard the Lord exhorting His disciples and the people to be generous in giving, to be kind and loving to one another, by using the analogy of giving a feast or dinner, in which the custom of that time and I am sure which we are still doing today is that we invite all those who are close and dear to us, and we expect our invitation and kindness to be repaid in kind.

Take for example our current wedding and feast traditions. When we are hosting a banquet, in quite a few cultures and traditions we are expecting the guests to bring gifts or put in their monetary contributions to show that they are contributing to the expenses that we have incurred in hosting and preparing for the banquet and celebrations. But then, if our guests do not give us as what we expect them to give, we then end up feeling bitter and unappreciated.

Then this precisely brings us to wonder about why we even bother to invite the guest we have invited in the first place. Did we invite them because we care about them and we also know that they care about us too and are important to us? Or have we instead thought of our guests and invitees as mere means to an end, or as a return in investment and as something that we can gain from for our own benefits?

That is why many of us mankind failed in building up good and meaningful relationships in our lives. We often do not realise that we have put our selfish desires, our pride and greed ahead of the needs of others. That is why many of us have not been sincere in living our lives with faith, and many of us have hurt one another, or manipulated each other just so that we can benefit and gain from whatever we want.

This is where we need to look at the Lord’s generosity again as He continues to give and very generously give, even after He has already given so much for us all these while. And we must not forget that He has given us the ultimate gift in His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom He sent into this world in our midst, that He willingly bore the heavy burden of our sins and suffered for our sake on the Cross, that by His suffering and death, by His ultimate loving sacrifice, He can give us the everlasting reprieve from sin and death.

Today, we also should reflect on the example and life of St. Charles Borromeo, whose feast we celebrate this day. St. Charles Borromeo was a holy man, a dedicated bishop and Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church who as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan and one of the most prominent and important leaders of the Church of his time was a crucial and very important figure in the Counter Reformation and also the reforms of the Church and the faithful.

Although he was a very high ranking and influential prelate, St. Charles Borromeo remained humble and dedicated himself to the service of the Church, avoiding the corruptions and scandals that affected many other members and prelates of the Church of his time. In fact, he was known to enforce strictly his reforms aimed at rooting out all the vices and bad practices of the Church within his Archdiocese and encouraging similar developments elsewhere.

St. Charles Borromeo gave his all in service both to God and also to the flock whom he had been entrusted with, dedicating himself, his time, energy and efforts to care for the needs of the faithful and in purifying the Church from all sorts of corruptions and wrong practices. He shows us just what a faithful Christian can do, in being generous with his efforts to love God, just as God has generously loved us first.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Are we willing to be generous in using our time and efforts for the good purpose of the Lord? Are we willing and able to dedicate ourselves with faith, doing our best to serve Him and be generous with our love towards one another? Let us all challenge ourselves to love ever more and to be more faithful all the days of our lives from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 4 November 2019 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 14 : 12-14

At that time, Jesus also addressed the man who had invited Him, and said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends, or your brothers and relatives, or your wealthy neighbours. For surely they will also invite you in return, and you will be repaid.”

“When you give a feast, invite instead the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Fortunate are you then, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the upright.”

Monday, 4 November 2019 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 68 : 30-31, 33-34, 36-37

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. His people shall dwell in the land and possess it. The children of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His Name will dwell in it.