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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Titus 3 : 1-7

Remind the believers, to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, and to be ready for every good work. Tell them to insult no one; they must not be quarrelsome, but gentle and understanding with everyone. We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient and misled. We were slaves of our desires, seeking pleasures of every kind. We lived in malice and envy, hateful, and hating each other.

But God, Our Saviour, revealed His eminent goodness and love for humankind, and saved us, not because of good deeds we may have done, but for the sake of His own mercy, to the water of rebirth and renewal, by the Holy Spirit poured over us through Christ Jesus, Our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs, in hope of eternal life.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 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 we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all about the importance of keeping ourselves open to the Wisdom of God through His Holy Spirit, by which His presence and truth enter into us and transform us in the manner that is perhaps incomprehensible to the world and to the norms of the society where we are living in. Yet, it is something that is necessary for us as we grow in our faith.

And it is also an important reminder to each and every one of us that all of us living in this world have been entrusted with the responsibility and the duty of being witnesses of Christ in our daily living with faith, as we are all visible to each other through our actions and our deeds. If we do not live our lives with faith, essentially we are turning ourselves away from God and from His truth and wisdom.

Unfortunately, many of us often succumbed to the temptations of this world, the temptation of power, of fame, of worldly material goods and prosperity, of glory and human praise and adulation. Many of us chose therefore to trust in our own strength and wisdom, and ended up falling into the trap that the devil and our tempters have put in place to make us stumble in our journey of faith.

And the devil knows how to manipulate and trick us well, and the greater the power and responsibility we have, the more that we will be tempted to stray away from the path of the Lord. Power indeed corrupts, as the people says, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is in our human nature, our predisposition and desire for power, for pleasures and happiness in life, for joy of this world that made us vulnerable to the temptations to sin.

That was why the Lord Jesus rebuked His opponents, likely referring to the Pharisees and the elders and the chief priests as He spoke out against those who have misled the children of God into the wrong path. And all of that was caused by their preoccupation with maintaining their prestige, power, influence and authority in the society that led them to their haughty and misled attitudes.

Therefore, after having discerned about what we have just discussed, we can see how that all of us are called to serve the Lord and follow Him in His way of truth. However, following God requires us to be open to His truth and wisdom as I mentioned, and we have to be humble and lay down our pride, or else it will be difficult for us to resist the temptations to follow instead the path of the devil, that is the path of worldliness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we can get some inspirations from the saint of today, a renowned saint whose life is truly exemplary before God. St. Martin of Tours was one of the early bishops of Tours in what is now southern France, at the years of the waning of the Roman Empire in the west, about a century after the toleration of Christians through the Edict of Milan. St. Martin of Tours came from a noble background and was an officer in the Roman army before he had a change in life and became eventually the Bishop of Tours.

It was told that on one occasion, on a cold night, as St. Martin rode along on his horse, he saw an old beggar by the roadside suffering and without anything to cover himself from the cold temperature. St. Martin, moved by what he saw, took his sword and cut part of his centurion’s cloak, and gave the cloak to the old beggar to be a comforter and protector in the midst of the cold condition.

That very night, the Lord appeared to St. Martin and revealed that the old beggar was none other than God Himself, and showed him how he had done a truly blessed action by his humility and generosity for the least and the poorest, which reminds us of what the Lord Jesus said, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we are doing it for the Lord Himself. Through that and all other experiences, St. Martin of Tours eventually decided to leave the military and deepen his spiritual life instead, becoming the Bishop of Tours by the support of his flock.

St. Martin of Tours was truly dedicated in his service as the shepherd of his flock, dedicating his time and efforts to take care of the needs of his flock, in particular their spiritual needs. He was a champion of the true faith amidst several heresies that were rampant at that time, protecting his flock from the false teachings and helped to guide them down the right path, leading by example through his own virtuous life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow the good examples set by St. Martin of Tours? We ourselves can follow in his footsteps and do what he had once done in our own respective lives. What we need is the humility and the desire to resist the many temptations present all around us, and also the desire to love God with all of our heart. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Martin of Tours, that God will strengthen our faith through his prayers. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 11 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 17 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.”

“Listen carefully : if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”