Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 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 listened to the words of the Scripture showing us the parable which the Lord Jesus used in teaching His disciples, on the workers in a vineyard, whom the landowner called in various times throughout the day. Some of the workers worked right from the beginning of the day while others started their work later and some still worked just at the very last hour.

This parable in fact shows us how the Lord works with us and through us, and how in our lives each and every one of us have been called by God to serve Him and to be with Him doing His will and walking in the path that He has shown us. And that is why in the parable, each and every workers mentioned in fact represent all of us mankind, the people of God whom He had called to follow Him, just as the vineyard owner, representing God, called all the workers to his field.

That vineyard is representing the world we are living in today, the world that God has created and is His dominion. When the owner of the vineyard called on the workers to work in his field, that is representative of how God called us all as Christians to be His stewards and representatives in this world, doing our good works and committing ourselves to the care of this wonderful creation He has given and blessed us with.

That is because as Christians, all of us have been called by God and entrusted with many things, especially to bear witness of the truth of God in this world, among His people, the people of many nations and races. We are called to be witnesses of our faith in God through our everyday actions and deeds, through our words and interactions with one another, especially with those who have not yet known God.

God has called us all at different points of time in our lives, and He never ceases to call on us even if we have not responded well to His call. That is why just as the vineyard owner went again and again into the town calling on more people to work in his vineyard, thus the Lord also called on us mankind to follow Him, again and again without cease, wanting us to follow Him and to walk in the path He has prepared for us.

And with regards to the ending of that work, when the vineyard owner gave each workers the same amount of pay, a silver coin, regardless of the time when each worker started their job or how long they have done the job, this is in fact showing us all that God has called us all to share in the same inheritance and glory which He has promised us and treated us all equally without distinction or being biased. All of us are equally beloved by Him.

That is why the workers who grumbled because they expected to receive more payment for their longer working hours were mistaken, because they did not work for genuine reasons but rather with the expectation to receive more than others. They were looking for the earthly rewards and not for the true reward of God, that is immeasurable. This is why the Lord Jesus mentioned about this matter as part of His parable, to remind us all His disciples that we do not seek for earthly glory, happiness and treasures in God, but rather the true happiness of life, that is our salvation and graceful existence with God.

Today we celebrate the feast of a holy, dedicated and courageous servant of God whose life and examples can be great inspiration for us all as Christians in how we should live out our lives with faith and how we ought to commit ourselves and dedicate ourselves to God’s service for each and every moments of our lives. Pope St. Pius X lived and reigned as Pope and leader of the Church just over a century ago but his passion in loving the Lord and in serving the Church and the faithful was truly inspirational.

He was born into a poor peasant family background, as Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, in a large and poor family in northern Italy. Young Giuseppe felt the calling of God during his formation and education years, and eventually became a priest with the support of his family. As a priest, the future Pope worked hard in the parishes and in the community of the faithful, patiently ministering to the needs of the poor and the underprivileged in the midst of the community. He ministered to the sick and the dying and all the faithful, caring for them spiritually and physically.

Eventually he was made the Bishop of Mantua in northern Italy and then as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, signifying the great contributions which this holy man of God had done over the many years of his courageous and dedicated service for the greater glory of God and for the benefit of the faithful. Then, in the year of Our Lord 1903, he was elected the Supreme Pontiff, Pope and leader of the Church, and during the eleven years of his pontificate, Pope St. Pius X vigorously laboured to serve the people of God.

He was remembered as the Pope of the Eucharist for his determination to push the practice of frequent Holy Communion for the faithful and for the age of the First Communion to be earlier, so that the faithful may become more attuned to the Lord and grow to be more faithful through the more regular reception of the Holy Eucharist. He also worked hard in opposing the heresy and sin of modernism among the faithful, persevering against the forces trying to subvert and lead the people of God into sin through the temptation of worldliness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to live our lives with faith as what Pope St. Pius X had shown us? Are we able to love God and to do His will with all of our hearts as we should? There will be challenges and difficulties along the way, but rest assured that the Lord will reward us in the end for our faith, not with the glory and happiness of this world, but with true happiness and joy of His saving grace that surpasses all earthly joy and pleasures. May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He strengthen us to live ever more courageously in faith as Pope St. Pius X and many other saints had done. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 20 : 1-16a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This story throws light on the kingdom of heaven : A landowner went out early in the morning, to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay each worker the usual daily wage, and sent them to his vineyard.”

“He went out again, at about nine in the morning, and, seeing others idle in the town square, he said to them, ‘You also, go to my vineyard, and I will pay you what is just.’ So they went. The owner went out at midday, and, again, at three in the afternoon, and he made the same offer.”

“Again he went out, at the last working hour – the eleventh – and he saw others standing around. So he said to them, ‘Why do you stand idle the whole day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ The master said, ‘Go, and work in my vineyard.'”

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wage, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ Those who had gone to work at the eleventh hour came up, and were each given a silver coin. When it was the turn of the first, they thought they would receive more. But they, too, received one silver coin. On receiving it, they began to grumble against the landowner.”

“They said, ‘These last, hardly worked an hour; yet, you have treated them the same as us, who have endured the heavy work of the day and the heat.’ The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I have not been unjust to you. Did we not agree on one silver coin per day? So take what is yours and go. I want to give to the last the same as I give to you. Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Why are you envious when I am kind?'”

“So will it be : the last will be first.”

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Judges 9 : 6-15

Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak of the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king. When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!”

“The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to sway over the trees?'”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 : 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 listened to the words of God against the king of Tyre, which He delivered through the prophet Ezekiel. The city of Tyre was famous since the ancient times, thousands of years ago, as a rich and powerful city, to be exact an island city populated by the Phoenicians, a seafaring and merchant-based people, who colonised many trade centres throughout the Mediterranean.

The city of Tyre, its people and king were all fabulously wealthy, and they had all the resources and worldly materials that people at that time desired. In addition, the city’s strategic and highly defensible position, being an island protected by the sea around it, and with a powerful navy easily supported by its immense wealth, the city of Tyre became a very proud city, ambitious and haughty. It was the epitome and symbol of worldly power, pride and greed.

This is related to what the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel passage today, which is a continuation of what we heard in yesterday’s Gospel about a young, rich man who came to the Lord asking how he could attain eternal life. The Lord Jesus asked him whether he had done and obeyed the commandments and laws of God, and he responded that he did.

But when the Lord asked him to sell everything he had and follow Him, the young man immediately hesitated and left in great sorrow, as he could not bear to part with his immense wealth and material possessions. Then the Lord in today’s Gospel passage explained how it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, by using the comparison to a camel, pointing out how it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

What the Lord Jesus had told us in the Scripture passage, is however, not a condemnation or rejection of the rich. The Lord our God loves every single one of us, whether we are rich or poor, strong or weak, or by whatever parameter it is that we often measure ourselves against each other with. What the Lord intended to tell was that, the wealth and riches of the world are themselves not the issue, but it was how we mankind often misuse these, or in how we live our lives according to these things.

What I mean is that, many of us are often so preoccupied with these worldly and material goods, that we end up being overcome by greed and desire, and we end up doing things that are wicked and unjust, and against God’s laws and commandments, in order for us to gain more of these tempting things and worldly attachments. And this is the great obstacle that lies on our path towards God’s salvation and grace.

Many of us are unable to resist the temptations brought by all these worldly and material allures of our flesh and mind. We are surrounded by so many of these temptations, and the world only makes it worse by continually bombarding us with materialistic advertisements, actions, and persuasions among many others. That is why, as Christians, all of us are called to make our stand, to resist the temptations that will come our way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Pius X, holy Pope and Successor of St. Peter, who was the Supreme Pontiff approximately a century ago. He was remembered for his great holiness and piety, and for his great dedication towards the betterment of many of the faithful. He was born into a poor family in northern Italy, and chose to follow the calling to be a priest, eventually rising to be a bishop and later on the Patriarch of Venice.

But even though Pope St. Pius X rose in prestige and worldly power, he remained humble and true to his commitment to the Church and the faith. He worked hard and spent his time ministering to his flock, living austerely and devoting himself to a life of prayer and service to God. Pope St. Pius X was always concerned for those who have been entrusted to him, and later on as Pope, he was remembered for extending the reception of Holy Communion to people of younger ages, and for the reform of the Church music.

All of these were meant to get the faithful to be more involved in the Church, and by the repositioning of the Gregorian Chant as the primary form of worship music in the Church, he helped to reestablish and strengthen the sense of the sacred in the divine worship, and strengthened the Holy Mass as the centre and heart of our Christian faith. And Pope St. Pius X was also always striving for peace among the countries of the world, at that time enduring rising tensions. He died a broken man when the first World War broke out.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to imitate the zeal and courage which Pope St. Pius X has shown throughout his life, as well as his humility and desire to serve the Lord with all of his heart and with all of his might. Are we able to do all these? Let us all throw away all of our pride and arrogance, and learn to be humble in life.

Going back to the story of the mighty city of Tyre at the start of our reflection today, that city would be conquered and thrown down by Alexander the Great, destroyed and razed to the ground. It would never again regain its greatness and power, and would eventually be forgotten and overlooked by subsequent generations. This happened to all other great powers who boasted their might and power.

All of these remind us that in God alone we are able to put our complete trust and not in worldly things, all sorts of wealth, power, prestige, fame or glories, all of which are temporary and can be destroyed at any time. Let us all therefore from now on, renew our commitment to live faithfully, to spend our time and effort to draw closer to God with each and every passing day. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 23-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you : it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe Me : it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

On hearing this, the disciples were astonished and said, “Who, then, can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and answered, “For human beings it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter spoke up and said, “You see, we have given up everything to follow You. What, then, will there be for us?”

Jesus answered, “You, who have followed Me, listen to My words : on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you, also, will sit, on twelve thrones, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for My Name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold, and be given eternal life. Many who are now first, will be last, and many who are now last, will be first.”

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 32 : 26-27ab, 27cd-28, 30, 35cd-35ab

I said I would scatter them afar and blot out their memory among humankind, but I feared the enemy’s boasting, lest the adversary misunderstand.

And say : ‘We have triumphed, the Lord has not brought this about.’ They are a senseless and undiscerning nation. Had they wisdom, they would have known.

For how could one or two men put to flight a thousand or ten thousand, unless their Rock had abandoned them, unless their Lord had given them up?

Their day of calamity is at hand, and swiftly their doom will come. The Lord will give justice to His people and have mercy on His servants.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 28 : 1-10

The word of YHVH came to me in these terms, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre : You are very proud and self-satisfied : ‘I am a god, I sit like a god in the heart of the sea.’ Yet you are man and not a god; would you hold yourself as wise as God? You consider yourself wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you. Your wisdom and know-how have earned you a fortune, gold and silver flowed to your treasury.”

“Clever in trade, you became wealthy and, as your fortune increased, your heart became prouder. But now, YHVH has spoken to you, to the one who is like God : I am bringing foreigners against you, the most feared of all the nations. Their sword will challenge your wisdom and debase your refined culture. They will bring you down to the pit and you will die in the depths of the sea.”

“Will you be able to say ‘I am a god’ when your murderers are killing you? You are a man and not a god. You will die the death of the uncircumcised and perish at the hands of aliens, for I have spoken – word of YHVH.”

Monday, 21 August 2017 : 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 God was with His people throughout their time in the land granted to them by God. But the people of Israel had not always been faithful, and they lapsed again and again into sin, disobeying God and His commandments. They worshipped the pagan gods and idols of their neighbours, Baal and Ashtaroth, and they abandoned the God Who had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and cared for them with His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why is that so? The people of Israel had settled down in the land of Canaan, after the long journey of the Exodus, staying at a land blessed by God, rich and overflowing with milk and honey, where each of the agricultural products and crops the people grew produced rich harvests. They lived in a state of grace and joy, and they enjoyed the many good fruits of the world. But that led them to become decadent and then made them to drift away from the path of the Lord.

The Israelites had with them the laws and the commandments of God, and yet, they eventually failed to remain faithful to those laws and commandments. Why was that so? They had those laws, and they had the leaders, the priests and the elders to guide them to the path of God through the interpretation and obedience to those laws. But those laws would be of no use if the Lord was not truly in the hearts and minds of the people.

That is because if the people did obey the laws and the commandments, but if they did not truly live in accordance to those commandments and believe in them in their hearts wholeheartedly, that was why they easily fell into the temptations of the devil. They were easily swayed by worldly things, and the allures of pagan worship that included revelry and worldly pleasures thus attracted them. They found it too difficult for them to obey the strict commandments of God.

That is what the Gospel passage today has also told us, as it showed us the moment when a young man met and asked the Lord Jesus, about what he ought to be doing in order to receive eternal life. He has obeyed all the laws and commandments of God, as prescribed through the laws of Moses, and further explained and enforced by the Pharisees and by the teachers of the Law.

However, it is indeed possible for someone to obey the Law and at the same time, not truly having a strong commitment and devotion to God. When the Lord Jesus told him that he ought to let go of all the things he had and possessed, and gave them for the sake of the poor before following Him, the young man became very sad and dejected, and he walked away in sorrow. Why is that so? Because to him, his material possessions and wealth worth to him so greatly, that he was not able to be separated from them, even just the thought of it sorrowed him so.

How many of us are like him, brothers and sisters? How many of us are incapable of separating ourselves from our worldly possessions and concerns, ending up in us sacrificing our relationship with God. We end up being so preoccupied with our work, with our pursuit for worldly glory, fame, money and all those things, that they ended up becoming the new idols in our life, like that of Baal and Ashtaroth that deceived and swayed the Israelites to the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have to turn away from all these temptations and false idols of our life. We may think that as Christians we believe in God and worship Him. Yet, if we spend so much of our time trying to accumulate these worldly possessions, and adore them so much, is it not that we have made them to be idols that we worship besides God?

It is important for us all to learn to put aside all these distractions, and we can perhaps learn from the examples of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, that of Pope St. Pius X, the holy Pope and saint, known also as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, for his great dedication to the Lord and for his attempts to bring the Lord in the Eucharist closer to the people, by allowing people at a younger age to receive Him.

But Pope St. Pius X was also remembered for his dedication to the people, as well as his dedication to his family. He was a dedicated parish priest for many years, and he helped many people to overcome their problems and brought them back to the Lord. And as a bishop and later as the Patriarch of Venice, he continued to devote himself to the people, caring for them and remaining humble in all things.

Despite his privileges and position, he never tried to accumulate power, glory and fame upon himself, but instead, he continued the devote himself to do the works of God, and continue to bring glory to God. And he did not forget the kindness of those who were dear to him, especially to his mother, whom he cared for even unto the day of her passing.

Pope St. Pius X encouraged the faithful to have a strong faith and devotion to the Lord, encouraging them to seek for personal holiness in their lives. He encouraged and promoted the traditions of the faith and ensured that the people of God would be able to grow closer to their Lord by returning to the true teachings of the Church, which he ensured by the reformulation of the laws of the Church and the establishment of the first ever Canon Law of the Church, to weed out the excesses of the Church and the faith, and to return to the true faith of their forefathers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius X and the other holy saints and martyrs of God have lived their lives in commitment to the Lord, devoting all of their efforts and works to bring glory to God. There will indeed be lots of opposition, challenges and temptations when we do so, as we walk in the path of God. There will be plenty of moments when we will be pulled to the left and right, even by those who are dear and close to us, tempting us and even pressuring us to abandon our journey towards the Lord.

Our holy and devoted predecessors have experienced all of these, and so we are likely to experience them as well. Shall we now heed these examples, the piety and devotion which the holy saints, especially Pope St. Pius X had shown? Let us all walk in their footsteps, and throw away from our lives, the false idols of human greed, money, possessions, worldly fame and glory, and let us all reorientate ourselves and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord. Pope St. Pius X, pray for us, that all of us will be forgiven by God and be brought into His ever loving embrace. Amen.

Monday, 21 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 16-22

At that time, it was then, that a young man approached Him and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? One, only, is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”

The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honour your father and mother. And love your neighbour as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these commandments. What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow Me.” On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.