Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to believe in the Lord wholeheartedly and to entrust ourselves to His cause and works, to follow Him without doubt and hesitation, and to give ourselves in every opportunities and chances to be the dedicated followers of Our Lord. We have to listen to Him and not to allow the devil, Satan, to tempt us with his lies and falsehoods that can lead us down the wrong path in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the continuation of the discourse from the Epistle of St. James, in which the Apostle spoke of the importance for Christians to heed the Lord’s words and commandments, His desire that all of them love one another and treat each other equally without prejudice and discrimination, unlike what had always frequently happened at that time, in a world filled with a lot of inequality and injustice, greed and worldly desires, ambition and ego, all of which had led to plenty of suffering and misery in our communities.

As Christians, all of us have been taught to love one another with sincere and genuine love, without prejudice and without discrimination. All of us have been taught to see each other as fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Whom we have shared in His suffering and death, and have received the sure promise of eternal life and salvation. All of us have to follow the examples of Christ in how He loved all of us without exception, and in how He loved even the most marginalised and the poorest among us, reaching out to us and even to all those who have persecuted Him.

In our Gospel passage today we then heard of the time when the Lord asked His disciples regarding Himself, considering the many speculations that must have arisen back then from all that He had done, all the miracles He had performed and all the great wisdom and truth of God which He had spoken to the people themselves, and which the disciples themselves had witnessed, heard and experienced directly. And they gave various answers, including that of a prophet, a holy man of God, and with St. Peter saying that He is the Messiah, or the Saviour that God had promised to His people.

Then the Lord revealed that yes, while He is truly the Messiah, but He would have to suffer rejection and to be persecuted, by the same people that He has been sent to. This must have been taken with a lot of surprise and consternation by the disciples and followers of Jesus who must not have taken nicely to the idea, as many among them if not most would have expected to have Jesus to be the liberator of the people of Israel, to be their King and Saviour, free from the tyranny of the Romans and any other powers. And thus St. Peter pulled him aside and protested strongly against the Lord for saying such things.

That was when the Lord then rebuked Satan who was likely trying to persuade the Lord to stop His efforts and trying to convince Him not to do as what He was supposed to do, in trying to tempt Him with power and worldly glory. The Lord would have none of it and He told the devil to get away from Him, not allowing Himself to be tempted by the common temptations of this world. He had been tempted and tested by Satan before, and He had prevailed, and that time was not to be any different from the previous occasions in which He was tempted.

Through this, the Lord wants us to know that in following Him we have to discard the old attitudes of our past, sinful lives, and instead, we should embrace the truth and love that God has shown us, dedicating ourselves to follow Him wholeheartedly, doing whatever we can to serve Him in every opportunities available to us so that we may inspire all those who have witnessed us and our actions, knowing that through those, we may become faithful witnesses of Our Lord’s love and all that He had done for us, to suffer the Cross for us and to endure the worst of sufferings just so that we may persevere and gain assurance of an eternity with Him. And Satan tried hard in vain to prevent this from happening.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us should follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors as we celebrate their feast day today, namely the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order. These seven holy men of God, known by their names of Bonfilius, Alexis, Manettus, Amideus, Hugh, Sostene and Buonagiunta of Florence. All of them found each other in a bond of spiritual friendship which then grew on and having received a vision from the Blessed Mother of God, they were resolved to leave behind everything and followed God, marking the foundation of the Servite Order.

The seven holy founders worked hard and dedicatedly through the Order of the Servites, caring for the poor and the needy, those who were abandoned and without any proper attention and care. They all were dedicated with the care for the physical and material needs of those people, of whom the Lord Himself had said to us, that we have to show love and care for the least of our brethren, to the poor and those who had no one to love them and care for them. The seven holy founders of the Servites did their best within their capacity to care for these people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow the examples of our holy predecessors, the great saints especially the Seven Holy Founders of the Servites Order? Let us all be inspired by them and strive to do whatever we can to glorify God through our lives. May the Lord continue to watch over us and help us to persevere through the many challenges in life so that each and every one of us can always remain faithful to Him and be dedicated to the path that God has shown us, and easily tempted and swayed by the evil one. Seven Holy Founders of the Servites, pray for us. Amen.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 8 : 27-33

At that time, Jesus set out with His disciples for the villages around Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He asked them, “Who do people say I am?” And they told Him, “Some say You are John the Baptist; others say You are Elijah or one of the prophets.”

Then Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” And He ordered them not to tell anyone about Him. Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. He would be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus said all this quite openly, so that Peter took Him aside and began to protest strongly. But Jesus turning around, and looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as people do.”

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify YHVH; together, let us glorify His Name! I sought YHVH, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, YHVH hears and saves them from distress.

Thursday, 17 February 2022 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

James 2 : 1-9

My brothers and sisters, if you truly believe in our glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, you will not discriminate between persons. Suppose a person enters the synagogue where you are assembled, dressed magnificently and wearing a gold ring; at the same time, a poor person enters dressed in rags. If you focus your attention on the well-dressed and say, “Come and sit in the best seat,” while, to the poor one you say, “Stay standing, or else sit down at my feet,” have you not, in fact, made a distinction between the two? Have you not judged, using a double standard?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose the poor of this world to receive the riches of faith, and to inherit the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him? Yet, you despise them! Is it not the rich who are against you, and drag you to court? Do they not insult the Holy Name of Christ by which you are called?

If you keep the Law of the kingdom, according to Scripture : Love your neighbour as yourself, you do well; but if you make distinctions between persons, you break the Law, and are condemned by the same Law.

Friday, 17 February 2017 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all heard the proclamations of the Scripture reminding us not to follow in the footsteps of the proud, the arrogant and the haughty ones. In the first reading we heard about the story of the Tower of Babel, which was the place where God scattered all of His people because of their pride and arrogance.

In that passage, we heard about how mankind after the time of Noah had grown powerful, great and filled with many great things and riches of the world. Everyone spoke the same language since they were descended from Noah and his family, and all the people gathered together, having ambition in their hearts to surpass even the glory of God, plotting to build a great tower which height would reach out to heaven itself.

It was their pride that had become their undoing, as it had for Satan, who fell from his haughtiness, and became an example for all others who thought that they could become like God, or to be even greater than God. He wanted to surpass God and the other Angels, such was the pride and ambition in his heart, who had been created with great and unsurpassed beauty and might among the Angels of God, as Lucifer.

But Lucifer rebelled against God, and disobeyed Him. And he was defeated, and was humiliated and cast out of heaven. Such was his fate because of his pride, and such was therefore also the fate of those others who followed in his footsteps, the people who tried to build up the great tower of Babel. They were scattered and confused in their language, as a reminder that no matter how great, mighty and powerful we are, our power and might are nothing if we are not with God.

It is what the Lord wanted us all to remember, even as we now continue to live our respective lives here on earth. He Himself has come into this world in order to show us the way. Many kings and lords of this world were powerful, proud of their power, intellect, achievements and greatness, but He, Who is the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords, came into this world humbly, not flaunting to others His might and power, even though His power is true power, and His might is real might.

He came into this world to humbly work the works that His Father has entrusted to Him to do, that is the salvation of this world. He bore the burden of the cross for our sake, His people, that by all of His sacrifice, He might save us all from the hopelessness and despair because of our sins, and from all the sufferings caused by our disobedience against God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should also heed what our Lord Jesus had said in the Gospel today. He said that it is better for someone to lose one’s life and lose other things for the sake of the Lord, rather than for someone to try to save his or her life, and at the cost of his or her own soul. It is a kind reminder by our Lord that to be His disciple, we often will need to make sacrifices, and also to endure rejection and opposition from others.

Are we as Christians ready to take up the challenges and the crosses of our life together with Jesus? Are we ready to follow in the footsteps of our Lord, be humble and be meek in all things, and not to be proud, arrogant or haughty just because of our human achievements, power and greatness? It is important that we should resist the temptations of our flesh, through which the devil is constantly trying to pull us into sin.

Let us all follow in the footsteps of the seven Holy Founders of the Servite order. These seven men were people of exceptional piety and devotion to the Lord, and each of them were committed to serve God’s people, and for that reason, they established the congregation of the Servites. They led others into a life of poverty, simplicity and humility before God.

Many people were inspired to follow in their footsteps, to let go of their pride and their human ambitions, and instead endeavour to follow the Lord and be humble in all of their deeds. Let us all seek to be humble and to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord. Let us all spend our whole lives and all the things that we do, glorifying the Lord by our deeds.

May the Lord bless us all and all of our endeavours and works. May He remain with us always, and keep us all in His loving grace. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 February 2017 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Mark 8 : 34 – Mark 9 : 1

At that time, Jesus called the people and His disciples, and said, “If you want to follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it; and if you lose your life for My sake and for the sake of the Gospel, you will save it.”

“What good is it to gain the whole world, while destroying your soul? There is nothing more precious than your soul. I tell you : If anyone is ashamed of Me and of My words among this adulterous and sinful people, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the Glory of His Father with the holy Angels.”

And He went on to say, “Truly I tell you, there are some here who will not die before they see the kingdom of God coming with power.”

Friday, 17 February 2017 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 32 : 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and brings to nothing the peoples’ designs. But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design through all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – the people He has chosen for His inheritance. The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole race of mortals.

From where He sits He watches all those who dwell on the earth – He Who fashions every heart observes all their deeds.

Friday, 17 February 2017 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Genesis 11 : 1-9

The whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved from east, they found a plain in the country of Shinar where they settled. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them in fire.” They used brick for stone and bitumen for mortar. They said also, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven; so that we may become a great people and not be scattered over the face of the earth!”

YHVH came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of man were building, and YHVH said, “They are one people and they have one language. If they carry this through, nothing they decide to do from now on will be impossible. Come! Let Us go down and confuse their language so that they will no longer understand each other.”

So YHVH scattered them over all the earth and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there YHVH confused the language of the whole earth and from there YHVH scattered them over the whole face of the earth.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the story of Noah and how he and his family escaped the destruction of all the living together with the animals and creatures chosen to go with them on the ark they had created with the instruction from God. And in the Gospel today we heard about how Jesus chastised and rebuked His disciples for failing to see what He had done, which was essentially the manifestation of God’s love for mankind, by feeding those who were hungry with food and leaving them with satisfied stomachs.

Today’s readings talked about the mercy and love which God shows to all those who are faithful to Him and walk righteously along His path without diversion and corruption, those like Noah and his family, who feared God and loved Him, following His ways even though the rest of the world were following their own wicked and corrupted human ways and desires.

God regretted having created mankind, who was to be the greatest and most loved out of all His creations and yet, they failed when Satan tempted them and brought them to disobey the will of God. And as mankind carried on, tainted by sin, they continued to commit all sorts of wickedness that were born out of another sin which men had committed, that is the murder of Abel by his brother, Cain.

All the sins of mankind added up and indeed God’s patience has its limits. It is also a reminder for us all that God does not wait forever for us to continue to live in sin and ignore His love. Eventually all of us will die, brothers and sisters in Christ, at a time unknown to us. God alone knows the time and place where we are to die, and if we continue to sin before the Lord and refuse to change our ways until it is too late, then when the time comes, the share of the people who were destroyed by the Great Flood will be ours as well.

But God will show His mercy and love on those who listened to Him and who are righteous in their way of life, just as Noah and his family were. This is what God can promise us, and indeed if we are faithful, God will not disappoint us. His love will forever be with us and our descendants. He reminded us of these in the Gospel today as He spoke of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod, that is the corruption in these people which led mankind astray, the sins of pride and jealousy, of hatred and lust, and many others.

God will provide for all those who have put their trust in Him, and He will give them what they need, just as He gave the five thousand men and even more women and children, the food of bread until they are completely satisfied and even with spare to be collected. But more often that not, mankind trusts in their own devices and abilities, refusing to obey the Lord and walking down their own paths towards disobedience, rebellion and eventually destruction.

It is a lesson and reminder for us today, that we have to conform to the way of the Lord and discard all forms of our pride and haughtiness. There is still time for us, and while there is still time, it is crucial for us to find our way to the Lord as soon as possible before it is too late. And today we also celebrate the feast of the seven holy founders of the Servites, a religious order founded by the seven men who were once noblemen and merchants of the city of Florence.

The seven men left their family, wealth and possessions to retire in a religious and dedicated life to God in a mountainside. They left behind everything to give themselves in total commitment to the Lord, abandoning all forms of greed and human desire, and to bury all their pride and hubris, their prejudice and wickedness. And their example had become an example and inspiration for many others who followed in their footsteps.

It does not mean that we have to replicate what they had done and abandon everything we have in this life in order to dedicate ourselves completely to the Lord. Indeed, what they have done can be an option for us to follow on and what they have done set the example for many others to also lead a holy and devoted life free from sin. But what we all should do is truly to be true disciples of our Lord, and not believing just for the sake of believing or only pay lip service to Him, but with all of our heart and being let us love Him and follow His ways with all of our hearts.

May Almighty God be with us all and may He guide us in this life, so that we may free ourselves from the wickedness and sinfulness of this world, heeding His call and offer for mercy, that we may no longer be stubborn and hardened in heart, but become instead loving and caring towards one another. God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015 : 6th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Mark 8 : 14-21

At that time, the disciples had forgotten to bring more bread, and had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then Jesus warned them, “Keep your eyes open, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” And they said to one another, “He saw that we have no bread.”

Aware of this, Jesus asked them, “Why are you talking about the loaves you are short of? Do you not see or understand? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear? And do you not remember when I broke the five loaves among five thousand?”

“How many baskets full of leftovers did you collect?” They answered, “Twelve.” “And having distributed seven loaves to the four thousand, how many wicker baskets of leftovers did you collect?” They answered, “Seven.” Then Jesus said to them, “Do you still not understand?”