Saturday, 21 August 2021 : 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to listen to the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly, to be righteous and good in all things, and not just paying lip service to the Lord. We should have real and genuine love, devotion and desire to follow the Lord, and to look upon good role models that we may walk in the right path and not lose our way to temptations and allures of the evil ones.

In our first reading today, we heard the story of Ruth, one of the ancestors of king David of Israel, who was in fact not counted initially among the Israelites as she was a Moabite woman that belonged to the neighbouring nation of Israel called Moab. But she followed her mother-in-law, an Israelite named Naomi back to the land of Israel after losing her husband, and she was accepted among the Israelites, as Ruth insisted to follow Naomi and accepted the latter’s God as her own God.

Ruth helped Naomi and encountered Boaz, one of Naomi’s relatives, who came to like Ruth and through what we have heard in our first reading today, they eventually married each other, by God’s blessings and guidance, and Ruth came to bear Boaz’s son, called Obed. Obed was the grandfather of king David through his father Jesse, who was Obed’s son, and Ruth’s grandson. Therefore, one of the ancestors of the greatest historic kings of Israel hailed from among the pagans, who willingly accepted the Lord and became one of His followers.

Compare this to our Gospel passage today in which we heard about the Lord speaking to the people and His disciples regarding the attitudes and behaviours of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. He spoke to them regarding how those people were outwardly pious and prayed aloud in synagogues, making show of their faith and piety in public places, as most of them did, but they did so for the wrong reasons, as they were led by their vanity and human desires to seek glory and fame rather than true love and faith in God.

The Lord highlighted this as an irony to show how those people who claimed themselves to be faithful and pious, and who liked to look down on others, on those they deemed to be unworthy and sinners, like the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and foreigners and pagans. And yet, Ruth, the pagan Moabite woman, had greater faith than they were, as she embraced the Lord wholeheartedly and was so devoted to her mother-in-law even though she had no reason to do so, as her husband and Naomi’s son had passed away.

This is therefore a reminder for all of us not to have just an external and superficial faith, like that which many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had. And neither should we behave in the way they did, by looking down on others whom they deemed to be inferior and less worthy of God than themselves. That is not what we should be doing as Christians. On the contrary, we should be good role models of our faith in our own actions, in everything we say and do, so that all who see us and witness our works may know the Lord through us.

That is why today, we should look upon the good examples set by Pope St. Pius X, whose feast we are celebrating this day. Pope St. Pius X, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto to a poor family in what is now northern region of Italy, and as he joined the seminary to become priest, he worked hard, and was known as a priest to be both humble and dedicated to his mission, in reaching out to the poor and the needy, and in his works to restore the churches and to advance proper education for the youth.

Eventually he was made a chancellor and rector of the local diocesan seminary, where he worked more wonders in reforming the Church administration and priest formation, and served as caretaker for the local Diocese of Treviso before being chosen as the Bishop of Mantua by the Pope. As bishop and then later on as Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice by the Pope’s appointment, Pope St. Pius X, Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto continued to do his best for his flock, in reforming the Church and in reaching out to them.

Cardinal Sarto was elected as the Successor of St. Peter as Pope Pius X, in which capacity, he immediately embarked on serious reforms, particularly against the dangers of heresies of modernism and other irregularities of the faith, began the reform the Canon Law and making important changes to the liturgy and sacred music, placing the Gregorian Chant back in its proper place as the primary form of Church music in liturgical celebrations.

Lastly, Pope St. Pius X was also remembered for his important reforms in lowering the age of the First Communion, that younger children could receive the Lord at a younger age when they have been prepared and are spiritually ready. That is why Pope St. Pius X is also known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, in his drive to allow more to receive the Eucharist, both at a younger age and also in the encouragement of frequent partaking of the Eucharist, while previously the people only received the Lord in few occasions throughout the year.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having seen the faith and examples of Pope St. Pius X, let us all be inspired to follow his path and dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, that we may indeed be inspirational in our own way of living, that we may be truly faithful to the Lord in all things, in words, deeds and actions, and not just being superficial or misguided like many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law as we discussed earlier.

May the Lord be with us all through this journey of faith, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the resolve and strength to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our might. May God bless us all in our every efforts and endeavours, now and always, and help us to persevere through. Amen.

Saturday, 21 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 23 : 1-12

At that time, Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have sat down on the chair of Moses. So you shall do and observe all they say; but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say. They tie up heavy burdens and load them on the shoulders of the people, but they do not even lift a finger to move them.”

“They do everything in order to be seen by people : they wear very wide bands of the Law around their foreheads, and robes with large tassels. They enjoy the first places at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and they like being greeted in the marketplace, and being called ‘Master’ by the people.”

“But you, do not let yourselves be called Master, because you have only one Master, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, He Who is in heaven. Nor should you be called Leader, because Christ is the only Leader for you.”

“Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. For whoever makes himself great shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be made great.”

Saturday, 21 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear YHVH and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots, will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears YHVH. May YHVH praise you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Saturday, 21 August 2021 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ruth 2 : 1-3, 8-11 and Ruth 4 : 13-17

Naomi had a well-to-do kinsman, Boaz, from the clan of her husband Elimelech. And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to pick up the left-over grain in the field whose owner will allow me that favour.” Naomi said, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went to glean in the fields behind the harvesters. It happened that, the field she entered belonged to Boaz of the clan of Elimelech.

Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Do not go away from here to glean in anyone else’s field. Stay here with my women servants. See where the harvesters are and follow behind. I have ordered the men not to molest you. They have filled some jars with water. Go there and drink when you are thirsty.” Bowing down with her face to the ground, she exclaimed, “Why have I, a foreigner, found such favour in your eyes?”

Boaz answered, “I have been told all about you – what you have done for your mother-in-law since your husband’s death, how you have gone with her, leaving your own father and mother and homeland, to live with a people you knew nothing about before you came here.”

So Ruth was taken by Boaz and became his wife. YHVH made her conceive and give birth to a son. The women said to Naomi, “Blessed be YHVH Who has provided you today with an heir. May he become famous in Israel! He will be your comfort and stay in your old age, for he is born of a daughter-in-law who loves you and is worth more than seven sons.”

Naomi took the child as her own and became his nurse. And the women of the neighbourhood gave him his name, saying, “A son has been born for Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, who was David’s father.

Friday, 21 August 2020 : 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, today all of us continue with the Scriptural discourse on the renewal of our lives by God, and the call which God has given to each and every one of us to be His followers. He has shown us that to be His disciples, we must all follow Him and obey His Law, and if we are faithful in doing so, then in the end, a new and glorious life with God will await us in the end.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, we heard about the great vision of Ezekiel in which the prophet saw a great valley filled with immense amount of dry bones, symbol of death and destruction. And then God showed Ezekiel a great miracle, as those dry bones came together and were made whole again with muscles and sinews, with skin and came back to the human forms recognisable by man. And last of all, God gave those bodies the breath of His Spirit and the entire valley which was just earlier on filled with multitudes of dry bones, were then full of innumerable multitudes of the living.

Through this wonderful vision God wants to reveal to the prophet Ezekiel that through Him, all of us mankind are to receive new life and glory, free from death, which is the consequence of sin, and which in turn is the consequence of disobedience and unfaithfulness. The Lord therefore led His people into new life, new existence and new hope in Him, as He will forgive them all their sins, cleanse them from their faults and corruptions, returning them to the state of grace they were meant to be before the coming of sin.

However, if we are looking forward to this, then we must also be aware that we must follow God’s path, entrust ourselves to Him, obey His will and His commandments. And this means that we must listen to Him and fulfil His Law, as we heard in our Gospel passage today in which the Lord Jesus answered a Pharisee who asked Him, “Which of the commandments of God is the greatest among them?”, and the Lord succinctly summarised the whole Law into two main and most important Law for us.

And that is first and foremost for us to love the Lord, our God with all of our might, with all of our capacities and capabilities, and with every possible opportunities. And then, we should also show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we love one another generously, show genuine concern and care for our fellow brethren, and we should reach out to those who need our love so that we help one another to grow ever stronger in love and devotion to God.

It is when we know of God’s love that we may also love Him, and this is why it is important that we practice genuine love in our own lives, in loving one another and showing God’s love in every moments of our lives. Today, we also have a great role model and example, whose faith may inspire us all to be more faithful and to love God with ever greater devotion. As we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Pius X, also known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, let us remember his life and the many good and inspiring examples that he has set.

Pope St. Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto in Riese in northern Italy, in a large family of many children. His family was poor, but his parents valued education for their children, and thus, the young Giuseppe went to school each day, walking a long distance every day to reach his school. While his family were poor, but they were happy and faithful to God. The young Giuseppe studied Latin and eventually advanced further in his studies, and was ordained a priest and became the chaplain and parish priest of several parishes.

It was told how the future Pope St. Pius X helped to restore the dilapidated and poorly managed parish, causing many parishioners who had lapsed from the faith to return, thanks to his efforts and dedication in reaching out to those who were in need of guidance and those who who have been lost to the temptations of sin. He did his best to bring education to the poor and the marginalised, likely remembering his own hardships in attaining education in his early years.

He also spent a lot of time ministering and preaching the faith to the people with carefully crafted homilies and sermons, and spent a lot of time in catechising the young, which was told to be so popular that he had to begin evening classes in addition to his daytime classes as they were all fully filled up. For his energy and enthusiasm, his dedication and hard work, his Bishop appointed him as Chancellor and entrusted him with many important work in the diocese.

Eventually he was appointed and ordained as the Bishop of Mantua in northern Italy, in which capacity, he continued to minister passionately to the flock of the Lord placed under his care. He also remained a filial son to his parents, and after his father died, helped to take care of his aged mother, who managed to see her own son honoured and entrusted with the position of the Patriarch of Venice and also elevated to the Cardinalate by the Pope. When his elderly mother passed away, it was her son, Cardinal Sarto who presided over her Requiem.

Even as Cardinal, and later on as the Supreme Pontiff and Pope, Pope St. Pius X remained humble and ever dedicated to his work, in reaching out to the poor and the less fortunate, to the education of young children and to the spiritual growth of the Church and the faithful of all ages and backgrounds. And as Pope he was deeply loved and remembered for his many reforms, in his institution of liturgical reforms especially in the encouragement and expanded use of the Gregorian Chant as the primary sacred music of the Church.

Pope St. Pius X also lowered the age for the reception of Holy Communion that children can be taught to love God and brought closer to Him from the youngest possible age, with proper preparation and catechesis, which is why he is also widely known as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist. He also opposes the heresy of modernism, in attempting to change Church teachings to suit the changing world, and championed the return to the true faith and to restore all things in Christ as how his motto, ‘Instaurare Omnia in Christo’ shows us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius X has shown us all how we should live our lives with faith, loving God first and foremost, and also loving our fellow brothers and sisters, our parents, our brethren, our family and relatives, our friends and even strangers, all those whom we encounter and interact with. Are we able and willing to live as genuine Christians from now on if we have yet to do so, following in the footsteps of Pope St. Pius X, holy man and servant of God?

Let us all trust our lives to the Lord, and allow God to bless our lives that each and every one of us may grow ever closer to Him and that we will grow ever more righteous and committed in faith, from now and always. Amen.

Friday, 21 August 2020 : 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 assembled together. One of them, a lawyer, questioned Him to test Him, “Teacher, which commandment of the Law is the greatest?”

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. The second is like it : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and prophets are founded on these two commandments.”

Friday, 21 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 106 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Let the redeemed of YHVH say this, those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

Some strayed in the wilderness and were lost, far away from the city. They wandered about hungry and thirsty, their lives ebbing away.

Then they cried to YHVH in anguish, and He rescued them from their distress. He led them by a straight way, to a city where they could dwell.

Let them thank YHVH for His love and wondrous deeds for humans. He quenches the thirst of the soul and satisfies the hunger of the heart.

Friday, 21 August 2020 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 37 : 1-14

The hand of YHVH was upon me. He brought me out and led me in spirit to the middle of the valley which was full of bones. He made me walk to and fro among them and I could see there was a great number of them on the ground all along the valley and that they were very dry.

YHVH said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord YHVH, only You know that.” He then said, “Speak on My behalf concerning these bones; say to them : Dry bones, hear the word of YHVH! YHVH says : I am going to put spirit in you and make you live. I shall put sinews on you and make flesh grow on you; I shall cover you with skin and give you My Spirit, that you may live. And you will know that I am YHVH.”

“I prophesied as I had been commanded and then there was a noise and commotion; the bones joined together. I looked and saw that they had sinews, that flesh was growing on them and that He was covering them with skin. But there was no spirit in them.”

So YHVH said to me, “Speak on My behalf and call on the Spirit, son of man! Say to the Spirit : This is the word of YHVH : Spirit, come from the four winds. Breathe into these dead bones and let them live!” I prophesied as He had commanded me and breath entered them; they came alive, standing on their feet – a great, immense army!

He then said to me, “Son of man, these bones are all Israel. They keep saying : ‘Our bones are dry, hope has gone, it is the end of us.’ So prophesy! Say to them : This is what YHVH says : I am going to open your tombs, I shall bring you out of your tombs, My people, and lead you back to the land of Israel.”

“You will know that I am YHVH, o My people! When I open your graves and bring you out of your graves, when I put My Spirit in you and you live. I shall settle you in your land and you will know that I, YHVH, have done what I said I would do.”

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.”