Wednesday, 3 November 2021 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on our lives in this world as Christians, as those who belong to the Lord and who have been called to live a good and devout life worthy of God. We are all called to do what is right according to the Law and the commandments of the Lord, distancing ourselves from evil and wicked deeds and things that may end up leading us into our downfall and destruction in hell.

In our first reading today taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in the city of Rome, we heard the Apostle speaking to the faithful through his letter regarding the commandments of God, the Law that God has placed in our midst to govern us and how we ought to be living this life in obedience to God. We have to do as commanded by the Lord, to love Him first and foremost above any other things, and to love one another in the same way that we love ourselves.

St. Paul mentioned this in his Epistle to remind the people of God there in Rome of their obligation as Christians to love, loving God and loving one another. Otherwise, they will not be truly faithful to the Lord and whatever faith they had will be meaningless and empty. For in another occasion, St. Paul also said that, we may have received many gifts, talents and abilities, the gift of speaking in tongues, of prophecy and even miracles and healing, but unless we have love in us, then everything we have is meaningless.

Love indeed lies at the centre of our faith and existence as Christians, as the Law of God and the rules and regulations set by the Church are all meant to help and guide us in our journey towards the Lord, to help us in redirecting our attention to Him, to love Him and to be able to show that love which God Himself has shown us, in our lives and in how we interact with one another. As Christians, we are all called to love and love generously, to show care and concern, compassion and love to everyone, and especially to those who need them the most.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, as we heard the words of the Lord speaking to His disciples, we heard how He told them what it truly means to become His disciples. He told them that they ought to be ready to leave everything behind, every attachments, every other desires and put the Lord and His cause first and foremost, or else, we may get our priorities wrong. However, we must not interpret this as the Lord is asking us to leave behind our family members and relatives, our loved ones. God did not call us to be people who are irresponsible.

On the contrary, what He wants us to do is to reorientate our lives and change our focus from one that is centred on ourselves to one that is centred in God. Our families and relationships should also be framed in the presence of God and His path, and that is essentially how we lead a more wholesome and holy Christian life. We have to live our lives with true love, love for God and love for our fellow brothers and sisters, and not just selfish love and desire for ourselves and our own needs and wants.

The Lord then went on to speak regarding the plans one ought to go through before building a house, and the considerations and plans that kings must have prepared before they marched out to meet other kings for war and battle. What the Lord meant with this is that, all of us have known what is due for us at the end of the journey, and therefore, we are all called to discern carefully how we are to live our lives from now on. Are we going to continue living our lives in the manner as wretched and sinful as they may be, or are we going to embrace the Lord and His path?

We know that following the Lord will also likely include plenty of obstacles and challenges, and many occasions where we may have to make sacrifices and endure the trials and tribulations of being faithful to God, of standing up to our Christian faith and remaining resolute in living our Christian calling in each and every moments of our lives. But it is possible for us to do this if we put our faith and trust in God, and allow Him to lead us in the path that we traverse through life.

And we should also follow the great examples of our holy predecessors, the saints, holy men and women of God who are our role models in faith. Today, in particular we celebrate the feast of St. Martin de Porres, who was a renowned religious and member of the Dominican Order as a lay brother. He was renowned for his great personal holiness and dedication to the Lord, his care and love for his fellow men and women, especially all those who have suffered oppression and prejudice just as he himself had experienced and suffered from.

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima in Peru as the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman with his freed slave, and as a mixed race or mestizo person, he was accorded like many others a second class treatment below that of those with European descent or came directly from Europe, the latter of which which had the highest prestige and position in the society. He lived his early life in poverty, and as a descendant of the Native Americans, he was barred by law from becoming full member of the religious orders, although he desired to become a priest and religious.

As such, St. Martin had to beg the Dominicans to be allowed to join as a lay brother, who dedicated his life from then on to do the many works of the Order, supporting the religious brothers and the community. It was a lot of hard work, and was sometimes looked down upon by the members of his own community and by the priests, some of whom looked upon his descent and ancestry with disdain, as well as the illegitimacy of his birth.

Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres dedicated himself all the harder to serve his community, and he dedicated himself to the Lord all the more, especially in the Blessed Sacrament. He ministered to the poor and the sick as part of his works, and for many years, cared for many of the people in his community, as well as within the Dominican religious community. His dedication and faith eventually earned him great respect and support by the time of his passing. Many attributed miracles to him and his tomb also exuded great fragrance and other signs of holiness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if St. Martin de Porres had been able to commit himself and his life despite his difficult background and conditions, to love the Lord and also to love his brothers and sisters, even those who despised and made his life difficult, then why can’t we, most of us with much better condition than he was, dedicate ourselves in the same way too? Are we too complacent and lazy to follow in the same path that this holy saint had walked? Are we not courageous and faithful enough to follow the Lord in the same way?

Let us all discern our path in life carefully then, so that all of us may hence learn to live our lives with greater devotion from now on. May God be with us always and may He guide us and strengthen us so that we may be more willing to follow Him with ever greater sincerity, just as St. Martin de Porres had shown us, in being true and genuine Christians as we should. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 14 : 25-33

At that time, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, “If you come to Me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not follow Me, carrying his own cross, cannot be My disciple.”

“Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you : ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

“And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become My disciple, if he does not give up everything he has.”

Wednesday, 3 November 2021 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 4-5, 9

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears YHVH, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

He is for the righteous a light in darkness; He is kind, merciful and upright. It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty.

He gives generously to the poor; his merits will last forever; and his head will be raised in honour.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Romans 13 : 8-10

Do not be in debt to anyone. Let this be the only debt of one to another : Love. The one who loves his or her neighbour fulfils the Law. For the commandments : Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not covet, and whatever else, are summarised in this one : You will love your neighbour as yourself.

Love cannot do the neighbour any harm; so love fulfils the whole Law.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as Christians we should be humble and obedient just as Christ Himself, as the Son had been obedient to His Father’s will, and how He had carried out everything perfectly as how it was supposed to be. And therefore we are all reminded of the Lord’s calling in our lives to be faithful and obedient to Him.

St. Paul reminded all of us the faithful of the Lord’s own dedication and obedience to His Father in his Epistle to the Philippians, referring to how Christ was willing even to empty and humble Himself of His glory and divinity, to assume the humble appearance and status of a slave, to bear the burden of the many sins and faults of the whole world, suffering the most grievous pain and humiliation out of His love for us.

In our Gospel today, we heard from the Lord Jesus a reminder and also a rebuke to all of us for our frequent lack of faith, our refusal to listen to God and obey Him. Through a parable, the Lord told the people about the reality how many of them were too busy with many preoccupations, distractions and temptations to notice the Lord’s calling and what they were supposed to do in their lives. Instead of listening to God and answering His call, they all chose to walk down their own path, into error and sin.

This was represented in the Gospel passage today in the parable, as those guests who had been invited to the a great man’s banquet, and yet refused to come because of their various excuses, all the things that they used as reasons why they could not come to the banquet, such as that they were busy with their lives, their own pursuits in life, their various preoccupations. In the end, their places were given to the others whom the man chose to invite instead.

In the same way, the Lord has also generously invited us all to enter into His heavenly kingdom, to embrace fully His grace and love. However, more often than not, we mankind tend to ignore Him, His calling and His patient persistence in reaching out to us. We refuse to acknowledge and even appreciate His love and compassion, His care and desire to be reconciled with us.

Instead, we allowed ourselves to be tempted and persuaded. We allowed the devil to have a free reign and for him to twist our minds and priorities. We turned away from God and His ways, and end up becoming more and more selfish, wicked and shut off away from God. And unless we realise this mistake that we have often made, we will end up deeper and deeper into trouble.

Therefore, today all of us are reminded that as Christians we should follow the path and examples set before us by the Lord Himself in His obedience. And today, in addition, we also have the good examples set by the saint whose memory we remember and celebrate, namely that of St. Martin de Porres, a holy religious and member of the Dominican Order, from Peru in the New World, from a time when many among the natives and the mixed-race peoples there were being prejudiced against and had difficulties living their lives as they should.

St. Martin de Porres was born into poor condition, from a family of mixed descent from the natives and African slaves through his mother, and as an illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman. He had to endure lots of hardships early in life, and despite his desire to join the religious life, particularly the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans, St. Martin de Porres had a great obstacle as all those who belonged to the slaves, natives and mixed-race were barred from joining the religious orders as full members.

That was why although St. Martin de Porres eventually joined the Dominicans as a Third Order member, as a laybrother, he was never ordained a priest. Nonetheless, despite all the hardships and prejudices that he had to face throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres remained firm in his faith and conviction, and he obeyed faithfully the Lord’s commandments and the precepts of the Dominican order. He served his community and the people with zeal and commitment.

St. Martin de Porres was remembered for his great love, care and concern for the poor and those who were suffering, just as he himself had understood and experienced suffering, prejudice and difficulties in life. He cared for the poor and the sick, and when a terrible disease was spreading through the community, he even travelled long distances to care for those who were suffering. He obeyed his superiors who were against his efforts, although subtly, he did remind them that the precepts of obedience should also not overtake the precepts of charity.

Throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres had exhibited great faith in God and the values of what a true Christian is like and is supposed to be. He has shown us all how each and every one of us should live up to our faith as Christians. Are we willing and able to follow his good examples, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to follow the examples of faith and obedience showed to us by this courageous and loving saint of God?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us always constantly remind ourselves of our Christian mission and calling, to obey the Lord, our Father and Master, and let us all follow Him and His examples, as well as the good examples set by our holy predecessors, especially today as we recall St. Martin de Porres and his holy life. Let us all serve the Lord with a new faith and zeal from now on, and strive to love Him, and love our neighbours with ever greater commitment from now on. May God be with us and bless us all in our every good endeavours and efforts. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Luke 14 : 15-24

At that time, upon hearing the words of Jesus, one of those at the table said to Him, “Happy are those who eat at the banquet in the kingdom of God!”

Jesus replied, “A man once gave a feast and invited many guests. When it was time for the feast, he sent his servant to tell those he had invited to come, for everything was ready. But all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘Please excuse me. I must go and see the piece of land I have just bought.'”

“Another said, ‘I am sorry, but I am on my way to try out the five yoke of oxen I have just bought.’ Still another said, ‘How can I come, when I have just got married?'”

“The servant returned alone, and reported this to his master. Upon hearing his account, the master of the house flew into a rage, and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly, into the streets and alleys of the town, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'”

“The servant reported after a while, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out, but there is still room.’ The master said, ‘Go out to the highways and country lanes, and force people to come in, to ensure that my house is full. I tell you, none of those invited will have a morsel of my feast.'”

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Psalm 21 : 26b-27, 28, 29-30a, 30c-32

I will fulfil my vows before all who revere You. The lowly will eat and be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord will praise Him. May your hearts live forever!

The whole earth will acknowledge and turn to the Lord; the families of nations will worship Him.

For dominion belongs to YHVH and He reigns over the nations. Before Him all those who rest in the earth will bow down, all who go down to the dust.

My soul will live for Him. My descendants will serve Him and proclaim the Lord to coming generations; they will announce His salvation to a people yet unborn, “These are the things that He has done.”

Tuesday, 3 November 2020 : 31st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Philippians 2 : 5-11

Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had : Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the entrusting of ourselves and our lives to God, how we should allow God to work through us and not to be worried about many things and concerns in life. St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Philippi stated this clearly, that in everything he did, he did it for the sake of Christ, his Lord and Master.

But St. Paul also mentioned how he was torn between dying and living in Christ. What he meant must be understood in the reality of being Christians at that time and era, when being Christians often meant that one must be ready to suffer, to endure persecution and prison, and even to die for the sake of their faith. St. Paul lived through the beginning years of the great persecution of Christians by the Jews, and later by the Romans, when countless Christians would perish because of their faith.

To die for the faith would be painful, but at the same time, it also released the person from the kind of suffering that they had to endure for the sake of their faith. And because the Lord promised that all those who remain faithful to Him will receive eternal life and glory with Him in heaven, then it is actually something that the early Christians looked up towards, as they sought to escape the brutal persecutions and pains inflicted on them.

But St. Paul chose to remain strong and to endure the persecutions daily, instead of openly desiring and seeking for martyrdom, as his intention was such that, if all the Christians were to perish and without showing endurance, then there would be few if not none of those who would be available to serve as witnesses of faith, and there was a great need of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord at that time, to bring the word of God and His truth to the people, many of whom who are still ignorant of the truth, living in sin and darkness.

And unless they had someone to bring the truth to them, those poor souls would have remained in darkness, and therefore, would have fallen into the eternal damnation in hell, if not for the courageous and hard works of St. Paul and the many other disciples and followers of Christ. These brave and faithful servants of God placed their love and concern for their fellow brothers and sisters ahead of their own selfish desires.

Why is that so? That is because it is very easy for us to fall into the temptation of seeking only our own salvation and personal glory, and not minding or caring about the needs of others in our midst. That is just exactly how the Lord Jesus rebuked those who sought first places in banquets and events through His parable in the Gospel today. Those people sought personal honour and glory, as how many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did, and in the end, the Lord said that they would be disappointed.

As Christians we are called to be humble and selfless, in how we live our lives and in how we serve the Lord through our actions and deeds. We should not allow the pride and desire in us to take over us and control our way of life. Instead, we should follow the examples of the Apostles, the many disciples of Christ of the early Church, the saints and martyrs, who willingly let go of their personal desires and pride, in order to serve God with all their hearts.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Martin de Porres, a Peruvian native American saint, who was a lay member of the Dominican religious order. He was noted for his great piety and sanctity, and in his great dedication to the service of the poor in his community. He lived simply and with great humility, having to endure poverty himself since his early age. He was unable to join the Dominicans fully because of the law of the time that discriminated against the native population of the New World, the Americas where St. Martin de Porres lived and worked in.

Nonetheless, St. Martin de Porres gave his all in the service to God, and devoted his whole life to serve the needy and the sick, caring for them without regards for his own personal comfort and without the desire to satisfy his own personal desires and ego. He cared for many of the sick during a great epidemic that struck the city of Lima in Peru, helping many of those who suffered to endure through their sickness with dignity and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples of St. Martin de Porres, in his dedication to the Lord, and his love for his fellow men, in his humility, that he did not let pride and greed to distract him from the path towards God’s salvation. Let us all reexamine our own lives, and find ways in which we can make a difference, by turning ourselves ever more wholeheartedly to the Lord.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our path, through the good examples shown unto us by his glorious saints, especially St. Martin de Porres, whose exemplary life and actions we ought to adopt as our own. May God bless us always in all of our endeavours and good works. Amen.

Saturday, 3 November 2018 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 14 : 1, 7-11

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus had gone to eat a meal in the house of a leading Pharisee, and He was carefully watched.

Jesus then told a parable to the guests, for He had noticed how they tried to take the places of honour. And He said, “When you are invited to a wedding party, do not choose the best seat. It may happen that someone more important than you had been invited; and your host, who invited both of you, will come and say to you, ‘Please give this person your place.’ What shame is yours when you take the lowest seat!”

“Whenever you are invited, go rather to the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, ‘Friend, you must come up higher.’ And this will be a great honour for you in the presence of all the other guests. For whoever makes himself out to be great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised.”