Friday, 11 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord contained in the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the coming of the end of days, and the end of our own worldly existences just as this current liturgical year is coming to an end. We are also reminded that each one of us as Christians are expected to walk in the path that the Lord has shown to us, to be righteous, just and good as He has taught us to do. And that is our Christian mission and obligation that each one of us have been entrusted with, and we should not forget that, as we carry on living our lives from now on henceforth. We must be good role models for each other and show others how we should follow the Lord our God.

In our first reading today, we heard of the Epistle of St. John the Apostle, the reminder that God loves each and every one of us, and that same love ought to be shown by all of us as Christians, as God’s followers, as His people and children. It is the love which God has for us that made everything possible, and we have hope exactly because of this love. We should have deserved destruction and damnation because of our sins and disobedience against God, and yet, by God’s mercy, love and compassion, we have been given the hope out of our current conundrum and trouble, and we have received the assurance of liberation and salvation from evil, sin and death, all those things that sought to dominate and drag us down to the path towards damnation.

St. John the Apostle spoke to the people of God through his Epistle regarding the commandments and the laws that God has given to each and every one of them. Those laws and commandments teach us to love in the manner that God has loved us first, for us to love others generously, caring for the needs especially for those who are in need of more help and love. Unfortunately, in many occasions throughout our human history and also even within the history of the Church and our Christian faith, many among us have not truly practiced this way of life as the Lord wants us to. We preferred to think of ourselves and our selfish desires, greed, pride and ego instead of caring for others and loving those around us. This is what had become a serious obstacle for so many people in following God truly and faithfully, because they put themselves and their desires before serving God.

St. John also warned the faithful of all those who spread false messages and false ideas contrary to what the Lord Himself had taught and shown us, all those who sought to subvert the messages of truth to their own benefits and desires, to achieve their own ends and goals. At that time, there were all those who sought to change the teachings of the Lord as passed down through the Apostles, as it would also be throughout the history of the Church. Heresies and false teachings had sprung up all the time, causing many of the people of God to be led astray and turn their backs against God and His truth. They gave in to their temptations and refused to listen to God, His Good News and truth. The Lord has reminded us all to remember His love for us, that we may also embody the same love in our own actions.

The Lord Himself has shown us the perfect examples, of Him reaching out to the worst of sinners and all those who had been shunned by the other people, like the tax collectors, the prostitutes and all those who were ostracised because they were diseased, sick, and possessed by evil spirits among others. He did not hold against them their sins, but extended His loving mercy and compassion, reaching out to them, walking among them, and journeying with them, to love them all most tenderly despite the fact that it was them who had earlier on abandoned Him and betrayed Him first, preferring to walk in the path of sin rather than to walk in the path of His righteousness and truth. And that way, God has always been so patient in loving us, that He sincerely and truly desires to be reconciled with us all, despite our many sins.

That was how and why, He decided and willingly took upon Himself the weight and burden of His cross and sufferings, to be rejected and abandoned, betrayed and struck down by the world, and by all those who hated and persecuted Him, so that by His suffering and death, He obeyed His Father’s will most perfectly, and showed unto us the perfect example and manifestation of His love for each and every one of us. He Himself had once said that, there is no greater love than for one to lay down his or her life for a friend, and there, the Lord Himself willingly endured all the sufferings and laid down His life for our sake, that through Him, all of us may be saved and have the sure hope of eternal life and happiness with Him. He endured the most painful and humiliating death, that we may be spared our fated destruction and enter into eternal life.

And why do we have to keep this in mind? That is because God has loved us so wonderfully, that He has generously reached out to us with love. Yet, if we continue to reject and resist Him, then in the end, it is our rejection and refusal for God’s love and mercy that will condemn us to eternal suffering and damnation. Our Gospel passage today is clear, that the Lord Himself reminded us all how the time of reckoning and judgment can come just at any time. Unless we are ever vigilant and ready, and careful in how we live our lives, then we may end up falling down this path towards sin and evil, towards destruction and damnation. We have to be careful as the temptations of worldly desires and greed can indeed be very strong, and even many among the righteous had been tempted and fell from grace because of that.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why we should heed the good examples set by our holy and devout predecessors, and especially today we honour St. Martin of Tours, a great saint and man of God whose feast we are celebrating this day. St. Martin of Tours was once a Roman centurion or army captain, who was a renowned soldier and who was also a devout Christian during the times when Christianity was already widespread and no longer persecuted in the Roman Empire. St. Martin of Tours was also famously known in one particular occasion when he encountered the Lord disguised as a poor, old man in the middle of a cold season, without anything to cover or protect himself from the cold. In that occasion, St. Martin did not hesitate and took his sword to cut his centurion’s cloak in half and gave that half to the poor man to protect himself.

That very night, in a vision, St. Martin saw the Lord revealing Himself before him, as the old man holding the piece of cloak that he had cut from his own cloak earlier on. Ever reminded of this appearance of God among the poor and the weak, the less fortunate and the old ones, St. Martin was deeply affected and touched, and eventually, he left the army behind, and was also elected by the people’s acclamation and support as the Bishop of Tours in the southern region of what is now France. St. Martin of Tours dedicated himself wholeheartedly as the shepherd to his flock in Tours and cared for them most tenderly and generously, showing us all what it means for us to love as genuine Christians and showing the love of God through our very actions and deeds, in all of our interactions. He also resisted those who tried to bring about the falsehoods of their heresies to confuse the people, and he was very active in opposing the efforts of the heretics in spreading their falsehoods.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours, in loving one another, especially the unloved ones, the poor and the weak, those who are sick and dying, and those who are ostracised and without anyone to care for them. Let us all walk therefore always ever more faithfully in the path that God has set before us, ever remembering His love for us, and doing the same henceforth to Him and to our fellow brethren, in obedience to His Law and to His will. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 11 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.”

“So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose himself, but whoever gives his life will be born again.”

“I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding corn together, one might be taken and the other left.” Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 11 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the law of the Lord.

Blessed are they who treasure His word and seek Him with all their heart.

I seek You with my whole heart; let me not stray from Your commands.

In my heart I have kept Your word, that I may not sin against my Lord.

Be kind to Your servant, that I may live to follow Your word.

Open my eyes that I may see the marvellous truths in Your law.

Friday, 11 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 John 4-9

I rejoiced greatly on meeting some of your children who live in accordance with the truth, according to the command we have received from the Father. And now, I ask you, Lady – I write to you not a new commandment but that which we had from the beginning – I ask you : let us love one another.

This is love : to walk according to His commandments. And this is the commandment : that you walk in love as you have learnt from the beginning. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ Who came in the flesh. They are impostors and antichrists.

Take care of yourselves that you do not lose the fruit of your labours, but receive a perfect reward. Everyone who goes beyond and does not remain within the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we all heard about the coming of the Wisdom and the Kingdom of God into our midst, as we heard from the Book of Wisdom about the Wisdom of God and how God’s Wisdom is present in our midst, and then the Gospel passage from the Gospel of St. Luke in which the Lord spoke to the Pharisees regarding the coming of the kingdom of God and about how He was to suffer rejection and death.

In our first reading today, as we listened from the author of the Book of Wisdom, we heard the beautiful exposition and explanation of what God’s Wisdom is all about, and how God’s Wisdom is and has been present all around us, sent by God into our midst, to dwell in us and to stay within us. To us, it has been revealed that the Wisdom of God has passed down to us through the Holy Spirit, which is present in all life and creation, but we have received the fullness of His gifts through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

The Wisdom of God has entered into our hearts, but as mentioned in the Book of Wisdom passage, that God’s Wisdom dwells only in the hearts of those who are holy and just, which means that those who allow God to lead their lives and entrust themselves to Him, listening attentively to His words and truth, then the Wisdom of God will make itself evident through us and our actions, and with the Wisdom of God guiding us in our path, we will be able to walk more faithfully in the way of the Lord.

Through God’s Wisdom, our actions, words and deeds can be sanctified and made to be in accordance with the will of God. And if we prefer to follow our own path or consider things using our own intellect, power and understanding, then very quickly we may end up in the wrong path, as we are likely going to do things that are contrary to the way of the Lord, such as that done by many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law at the time of the Lord’s work and ministry.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord and some of those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often doubted the Lord and questioned Him and the validity and authority of His works. In that particular occasion, the Lord was questioned regarding the coming of the kingdom of God as they wanted to see signs and wonders associated with the coming of God’s kingdom. Although He could perfectly do something, but the Lord refused to indulge their lack of faith and stubbornness. They had seen many miracles and wonders, and yet still refused to believe.

The Lord then also reiterated that the kingdom of God is not so much as a place or something to be revealed by signs and wonders, as that of the interior disposition of the people themselves. The Lord stated before those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law that the kingdom of God was already present in their midst there and then, and yet, they still failed to recognise it. And why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because of their stubbornness in refusing to listen to God, in closing their hearts and minds against God and His truth.

If only that they have the humility and the willingness to look beyond and overcome their ego, pride, greed and ambition, they could have realised the truth that they have been looking for. The Wisdom of God eluded them because they trusted much more in their own human wisdom, power and intellect, preferring to believe in their own ideas and thoughts, than to believe in the truth of God, no matter how unbelievable that may seem to them.

That is why, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, today we are also called to reflect on our own lives. Have we spent our lives thus far resisting to believe in God and in His Wisdom? Have we closed ourselves off from the truth of God and from the providence of His Wisdom? Our pride and arrogance often became obstacles and barriers in our path towards God. These things often prevent us from reaching out to Him and finding our way to Him. Unless we resist the temptations to indulge in them, then we will likely fall into sin.

Today, that is why we should be inspired by the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours, a renowned bishop in Tours in what is today southern part of France, who was formerly an army centurion in the Imperial Roman Army. St. Martin served in the Roman army and was noted for his great character, his care for his subordinates and his charity for the poor and great faith. He was an exemplary character even from the days before he became the Bishop of Tours.

In a well-known story, when he was still an army centurion, St. Martin of Tours was travelling on a cold day when he saw a beggar by the roadside suffering from the severe cold condition, and without much hesitation, he cut his own officer’s cloak in half and gave that half to the beggar to protect him from the cold. And then, later that very night, in a vision, St. Martin saw the poor beggar who revealed himself to be the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He praised what St. Martin had done, which reminds us of the Lord’s own words that whatever we do for the poor and for the least among us, we do it for the Lord.

St. Martin of Tours later was unanimously elected by the people as the new Bishop of Tours and he was chosen because of his great faith and the respect that all the faithful from all backgrounds had for him. The people entrusted him with the leadership over the diocese, as a selection provided by the Wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit. He would go on to become a great bishop and shepherd his people in Tours. He also dedicated himself to resist and oppose the heretical teachings and other threats to the faithful and the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on the examples and the life set before us by St. Martin of Tours, the most faithful servant of God. Let us all be inspired by his generosity, faith, love and courage to live his faith in accordance to the truth of God, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Wisdom of God, through the Holy Spirit that God has bestowed on us. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”

Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175

O YHVH, Your word stands forever, firmly fixed in the heavens.

Your faithfulness lasts throughout the ages – as long as the earth You created.

Your ordinances last to this day, for all things are made to serve You.

As Your words unfold, light is shed, and the simple-hearted understand.

Favour me with Your smile and teach me Your statutes.

Long may I live, to sing Your praise, may Your ordinances always be my help!

Thursday, 11 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Wisdom 7 : 22 – Wisdom 8 : 1

Because Wisdom, who designed them all, taught me. In her is a spirit that is intelligent, saintly, unique, manifold, subtle, active, concise, pure and lucid. It cannot corrupt, loves what is good and nothing can restrain it; it is beneficent, loving humankind, steadfast, dependable, calm though Almighty. It sees everything and penetrates all spirits, however intelligent, subtle and pure they may be.

Wisdom, in fact, surpasses in mobility all that moves, and being so pure pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; nothing impure can enter her. She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of God’s action and an image of His goodness.

She is but one, yet Wisdom can do all things and, herself unchanging, she renews all things. She enters holy souls, making them prophets and friends of God, for God loves only those who live with Wisdom. She is indeed more beautiful than the sun and surpasses all the constellations; she outrivals light, for light gives way to night, but evil cannot prevail against Wisdom.

Wisdom displays her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things rightly.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded to give thanks to God for all of His love, mercy and kindness towards us through the words of the Scripture we have just heard earlier on. We heard these in our first reading today, in the Epistle written by St. Paul the Apostle to his protege and brother bishop St. Titus, as well as in the Gospel passage today in the story of the healing of the ten lepers by the Lord Jesus.

In our first reading today, St. Paul wrote to St. Titus on some reminders for the Christian communities and the faithful, as part of his many Epistles or letters addressed to the different communities, urging all of them to keep their faith in Christ firmly and hold onto whatever the Lord had taught them through His Apostles and not fall into the wrong paths. The Lord through St. Paul is reminding all of us here to be good and righteous, to follow His laws and commandments faithfully.

This was what St. Paul spoke of in today’s segment of his Epistle, saying that while once we had been selfish and corrupt in the ways of the world, foolish and disobedient against God, but through Christ, God’s beloved Son sent into this world to be our Saviour, we have been called into a new life and existence that is holy and good, through the path that He has shown us and which He now calls us all to follow.

Through that passage, we can see how God has showed us all His love and grace, in His desire to save all of us from eternal damnation and lead us into a new, eternal life. He does not want us all to perish and end up in eternal darkness, and therefore, He showed us His most genuine love and compassion, one example of which we have heard in our Gospel passage today in the healing of the ten lepers by the Lord Himself.

In that occasion, we have ten lepers who because of their condition had to stay outside the community as in accordance to the laws of God revealed through Moses. This Law came from the time of the Exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites were living together in tents in close proximity to one another. At that time, as the people came into frequent contact with each other, both in their persons and possessions, a disease like leprosy were deeply feared, and therefore, to prevent an outbreak, those who contracted the disease were forced to live outside the community until they were healed.

Those ten lepers who came by the Lord Jesus were those who suffered the same fate, being excluded and forced to live away from their community, from their families and loved ones, to wander in the wilderness until they were proven to be healed and made whole. They sought the Lord to heal them from their sickness, and the Lord told them to go and see the priests as prescribed by the Law. By right, they could only go to see the priests once they had been completely healed, which at that time they were obviously not healed yet.

Nonetheless, all of them did as the Lord asked them to, and went on their way to see the priests. By their faith they were saved and healed, and along the way, they were healed from their leprosy and became whole again. They noticed what had happened to them, and they went off very happy and joyful for what had happened to them. However, out of all ten lepers, only one of them remembered the Lord and came back to see Him and thank Him for all that He had done for him.

And that man was a Samaritan, an important fact to notice at that time because the Jews often considered the Samaritans as pagan and godless people who worshipped idols and were wicked in their lives. Yet, as we have seen here among other instances throughout the Gospels, it is clear that Samaritans were no different from the Jews, and God made it clear through this occasion that His love and mercy is for everyone who seeks Him.

The question now is, have we loved God as we should? Have we thanked Him for all of His kindness to us? Or have we been like the other nine lepers who were so happy for the healing that happened to them and forgot to give thanks to God? We really need to spend some time reflecting about this and our lives, and how we should proceed onward in life as good and dedicated Christians through our actions and deeds, and not just by mere words or formality.

Today, we all should look up to the good examples set by our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Martin of Tours, a holy saint and man of God, who dedicated much of his life serving the Lord and the needs of his flock, as the Bishop of Tours in what is today southern part of France. St. Martin of Tours was once a career soldier, a high ranking army soldier or a captain of the guard, who became a Christian early in his life against the wishes of his own parents.

He became a military man following the family tradition as his own father was a veteran army officer. But his career in the military did not last long as his Christian faith and calling eventually led him to pursue his vocation and becoming a full-time follower of Christ through his discipleship of St. Hilary of Poitiers, another great saint of the time. St. Martin had difficulties earlier on in his calling and ministry due to the opposition and challenges from the Arians who had divided many of the Christian communities of the time.

Nonetheless, St. Martin continued to dedicate himself, his effort and time to care for the people in the community, until he was acclaimed by the people and the clergy in Tours who had been impressed by his faith and life, as the Bishop of the Diocese. He was nonetheless reluctant to be a bishop that according to some tradition, he was hiding from his own consecration as bishop. Despite this, as a bishop, St. Martin committed his life fully to serve the people and worked hard to proclaim the Christian faith and oppose the heresies and false teachings that misled the people unto the wrong paths in life.

St. Martin dedicated his whole life to God, and his holiness is seen even early in life when he was still a soldier as told by many traditions that he met a beggar on a cold night, and he immediately cut his own military cloak in half to give the other half to the beggar that he might cover himself and not be cold. That very night, the Lord HImself appeared to St. Martin wearing the half-cloak and telling him how he had such a great faith, that at time, despite merely being just a catechumen, not even baptised as Christian yet, but he had already lived so virtuously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow the good examples of St. Martin of Tours in our own respective lives. Let us all dedicate our lives for the greater glory of God and for the genuine love of our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us all be good and virtuous Christians, and be thankful of all the love that God has extended to us, appreciating His mercy and kindness, and love Him back with greater zeal and commitment from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 11-19

At that time, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, and as He entered a village, ten lepers came to meet Him. Keeping their distance, they called to Him, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus said to them, “Go, and show yourselves to the priests.” Then, as they went on their way, they found they were cured. One of them, as soon as he saw that he was cleansed, turned back, praising God in a loud voice; and throwing himself on his face before Jesus, he gave Him thanks. This man was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus asked him, “Were not all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Did none of them decide to return and give praise to God, but this foreigner?” And Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go your way; your faith has saved you.”