Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the Scripture readings chosen for this day, the Lord wants to remind us through His Church that the reality of us being Christians, believing in Him and following His path through our lives is one of struggle, where challenges and trials, opposition and even persecution are likely part of our journey as we proceed on with faith. We cannot escape from this reality, and we have to endure it as best as we can as faithful Christians.

In our first reading today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans placed it very bluntly before us, the reality of how God and sin are standing on the opposite ends of each other. If God is all good and righteousness, then sin is all evil and wicked, and sin is the disobedience against God and caused by our rebellion against His will. And while sin on one side brings about corruption and death, on the other hand, God brings about purification and life.

St. Paul made his assessment and comments to the faithful and the Church in Rome in the context of how Rome being the centre and heart of the whole Roman Empire was the place where paganism and its practices of all kinds were at the most numerous and common. St. Paul spoke out against those evil practices which saw hedonistic celebrations and even human sacrifices practices in some pagan rituals, all the corrupt and wicked practices of men.

And being in Rome, those faithful people of God were constantly under difficult conditions, being exposed to the pagan practices and customs all the time, all around them. They were also required by law to treat the Roman Emperors as if they were divine and offer sacrifices to them and the pagan gods. Disobedience can mean terrible suffering and persecution, and even death and martyrdom.

But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had spoken and revealed to His disciples as we heard it ourselves in our Gospel passage today. The Lord plainly spoke of how His coming into the world would not herald an era of peace and harmony unlike what some people would think, as at that time many among the Jews thought that the Messiah would come and restore the glorious kingdom of Israel of old and bring peace to the whole land.

Instead, God revealed that His coming would instead bring about divisions and challenges for those who are faithful to Him, wherever they are and in whichever time period they belong to. And this has been proven right again and again throughout the long history of the Church, even to this present day, to varying degrees of difficulties. Some encountered great opposition, suffering and even martyrdom from those who are close to them, caused by their own friends and families.

Many of the holy martyrs of the Church had to go up against opposition from their loved ones, their own family members and friends, not counting all the others who are against them and their enemies. And this kind of persecution and rejection of our Christian truths and values still remain even to this present day where all around the world, opposition and challenges to our Christian faith, teachings and practices of the Church remain and even growing strong and intensifying.

In our world today especially there is a great rise in secularism and in apathetic and even hostile attitudes against the Faith, with more and more people succumbing to this apathy and ignorance of God’s truth and love. Many people sought satisfaction and joy in worldly things and ambitions, in the pursuit of power, glory, fame and material goods and wealth. And God’s ways are increasingly being forgotten and pushed aside in our communities.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how then do we react to all these things happening around us, all the pressures for us to conform to the general norms and ways of the society that increasingly overlooked, has forgotten and abandoned God for the pagan and ungodly idols of this world, the idol of worldly desires, the idol of human pride, the idol of wealth and fame, the idol of pleasures of the body and mind among many others?

Today all of us should look upon the examples set by one saint whose feast we celebrate today, the famous founder of the Claretians religious order, St. Anthony Mary Claret, a holy bishop and a dedicated servant of God. St. Anthony Mary Claret was a holy and pious man, dedicated in his service to his flock and the people, renowned for his good sermons that drew people from afar. He spent many hours ministering to them and spending a lot of time especially in the confessionals.

He helped to organise the works of the Church in the places he has been assigned to, and he dutifully did all that he had been entrusted to do, including being the confessor to the then Queen of Spain among many others. He wrote extensively on the matters of the faith and placed great emphasis on the growth and development of Christian education and upbringing among the people of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see, St. Anthony Mary Claret dedicated his life to God, stood by Him and walked down the path He has shown us all as well. He certainly did not have it easy, sacrificing countless hours to minister to the people and definitely having faced rejections and oppositions from time to time. Are we able to imitate his good examples in life and his good faith in our own lives?

Let us all stand by God and renew our faith and commitment to Him, and let us draw ever closer to Him so that we may grow ever deeper in our love for Him and dedicate ourselves to His cause from now on. Let our every words, actions and deeds bring greater glory to God, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 49-53

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what anguish I feel until it is finished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on, in one house five will be divided : three against two, and two against three.”

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the man who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of YHVH and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 24 October 2019 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Romans 6 : 19-23

You see, that I speak in a very human way, taking into account that you are not fully mature. There was a time, when you let your members be slaves of impurity and disorder, walking in the way of sin; convert them, now, into servants of righteousness, to the point of becoming holy.

When you were slaves of sin, you did not feel under obligation to righteousness, but what were the fruits of those actions, of which you are now ashamed? Such things bring death. Now, however, you have been freed from sin and serve God. You are bearing fruit, and growing in holiness, and the result will be life everlasting.

So, on one side is sin : its reward, death; on the other side, is God : He gives us, by grace, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened yet again to the continuation of the discourse of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, of which part is our first reading today. In that passage, we heard of how God has revealed His truth to the people, whom He called from among the many nations, to be considered and marked as His own people.

We heard how St. Paul told the people of the great privilege that all of them have received, the revelations of God’s truth which many in the past and previous generations have not had the chance or even had a glimpse of the truth. The people of Ephesus, made of many different peoples from different backgrounds, origins, racial and culture groups, have received the same truth that has been given to the other Christians in many other places, and there was no prejudice in the truth of God.

This has to be understood in the context of the dynamics of the people and the populations of the area, which as mentioned, were made of Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. The Gentiles, the name of group which consisted of first of all the Greeks who predominated in that region, and also the Romans, who were relative newcomer to the region, having received newly gained privilege from their position as the master and lord of most of them

And all of them, including that of the Jews, each and every one of us mankind are often tempted in our hearts and minds. We are tempted to be self-righteous, and by extension of that, selfish and proud, looking down on others, and thinking that we are better and more righteous and just in our ways. This caused rifts, conflicts, disagreements, infighting and jealousies, distrust and unhappiness among the people, among the members of the Church.

In the Gospel today, all of us listened to the word of God in the Scriptures in which He related to us the parable of the stewards and the master who returned suddenly to his household from a journey. In that parable, we heard about the stewards who were entrusted with the caretaker role of what their master possessed, and if the steward slacked in doing his obligations, and instead, became swayed and influenced by the worldly temptations, satisfying his own human desires, then he would be caught unaware when the master came back suddenly.

And these distractions include what St. Paul had written in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth. We are often too preoccupied by our own prejudices and worldly desires, that we forget about God and about what being a Christian is truly about. We forget that being Christians, is first and foremost about love, understanding, being compassionate and filled with concern for others, and not being self-righteous and proud in our behaviour and attitudes towards others.

Unfortunately, that is how we exactly behave towards each other, as we often have that pride in us and the desires, for worldly power, for money, for influence, that more often than not, influence the way we live our lives and how we act towards one another, even within the Church communities and within our own Christian way of life. We end up creating divisions, conflicts and struggle for power and influence, which in the end, bring about pain and suffering, and even causing people to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, probably we should reflect upon the life and examples set by St. Anthony Mary Claret, the saint whose feast day we celebrate today. St. Anthony Mary Claret was the founder of the Claretians, a religious order which has many members in various parts of the world today. He was a Spanish priest, and later on bishop, remembered for his many good works for the sake of the faithful.

Despite his many good works, he faced oppositions and persecutions, from all those who refused to listen to his preaching and teachings. He had to flee into exile from all the machinations of his enemies, and faced all those oppositions many times throughout his life. And yet, St. Anthony Mary Claret remained strong in his faith, and devoted his life to the greater glory of God, reforming the Church and the community of the faithful through his works.

For example, St. Anthony Mary Claret helped to reform the Church in the area of Cuba, then under the rule of Spain, and within just a short period of time, he managed to reorganise and reform the Church and the community in such a way that many people repented from their sinful ways, and many become reconciled to God. Many more people came closer to the Sacraments and became more genuine followers of Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we should gain inspiration from the good works and the commitment shown by St. Anthony Mary Claret, that instead of acting in ways that bring about division, pain, suffering to our fellow brethren, we should instead turn towards God and persevere in faith, in ways that St. Anthony Mary Claret had done throughout his life.

Let us have a renewed zeal in God and devote ourselves even more closely to God, and listen to His will, that we may draw ever closer to Him and be able to find our way to His saving grace and the eternal life and glory promised to us. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 39-48

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Pay attention to this : If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, did You tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, finds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.”

“But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he does not know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.”

“The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2018 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Ephesians 3 : 2-12

You may have heard of the graces God bestowed on me for your sake. By a revelation He gave me the knowledge of His mysterious design, as I have explained in a few words. On reading them, you will have some idea of how I understand the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to past generations but only now, through revelations given to holy Apostles and prophets.

Now the non-Jewish people share the Inheritance; in Christ Jesus the non-Jews are incorporated and are to enjoy the Promise. This is the Good News, of which I have become a minister, by a gift of God; a grace He gave me, when His power worked in me.

This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones : to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the Church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In Him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings tell us that as Christians, all of us must always be vigilant and be ready for the Lord, as He will indeed come again just as He has promised to us His faithful ones. And when He comes again, it will be at a time we least expect, and many of us will be caught unprepared.

And if we do not take heed of the Lord’s reminders, we may end up at the wrong side when the Lord judges all of creation. Do we want to be counted among those whom God will reject and condemn? If that happens to us, we will only have regret with us and by then it will be too late for us to change anything.

We have to realise that God has given us every opportunities available in each of our lives, giving us the chance to be righteous and do what is good in our lives. He has shown us the way forward, and yet, many of us have not followed in His footsteps. Instead, many of us continue to dwell in the darkness and refuse to come into the light, by doing what is sinful and wicked in God’s sight.

Sin is the great disease affecting all of us mankind, and sin is the fruit of disobedience against God. Ever since Adam and Eve, our ancestors had sinned by their disobedience against God and followed instead the devil’s words, sin had become a part of mankind’s history, corrupting all of us by its wicked nature.

But God Who loves each and every one of us did not want us to fall into damnation in hell, for the very simple reason that He loves us dearly. He created us for a single purpose, that He may love us and may share the perfect love He has in Him, that all of us may also be like Him in everything, and forever may enjoy the heavenly bliss of our God.

That is why He sent to us our Redeemer, in Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, through Whom He gave us the only way out of our predicament. For without Christ, all would have perished because of their sins, and all would have fallen into the eternal damnation in hell. It was the loving sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus on the cross which had brought us a new hope, the hope of salvation and forgiveness for our many sins and trespasses.

As mentioned in the first reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Christ has become the New Adam, as compared to the first and old Adam. By His perfect obedience He has shown us how each and every one of us should act in our lives, fully attuned and in full obedience to God’s will, just as Jesus was obedient to His Father, even unto accepting death on the cross.

While from the old Adam we have been corrupted by sin, from the New Adam, that is Christ, we have received the hope of eternal life. As such, if we want to have a way forward in this life, we must reach out to the Lord and seek His salvation. And how do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by turning ourselves from the path of sin towards the path of God, by obeying Him and following His examples in our own lives.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians also known as the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a religious order of people devoted to God, following the vision of their founder, who was a great preacher and priest, spending time preaching and teaching about the faith to the people of God. Many people followed him and listened to his preachings, and were converted.

He did not have it easy, as there were many who were not pleased at his works, and thus opposed him. Yet, St. Anthony Mary Claret did not let these to trouble him, and continued to work among the people of God, and even when he was appointed as Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba. In his new capacity, he expanded the missionary efforts as well as establishing numerous infrastructures such as seminaries for the proper education of priests, as well as hospitals and schools for the benefit of his flock.

By seeing the examples of St. Anthony Mary Claret, we see just how in many things all of us Christians can follow from the examples of this holy saint, both for our own good and for the sake of our brethren. We should turn away from sin, repent and change our ways, doing what God wants each one of us to do in our lives, and then help one another in our path towards God.

May the Lord help us and bless us in our journey, that we may be thoroughly converted to the cause of the Lord. May He empower and give us all the courage needed to say no to sin and to the temptations of the devil and the world. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and receive from Him the promise of eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)

Luke 12 : 35-38

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open the door to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide-awake when he comes.”

“Truly, I tell you, he will put an apron, and have them sit at table, and he will wait on them. Happy are those servants, if he finds them awake when he comes at midnight or daybreak!”