Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyr)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Jesus is our promised salvation, the One whom the prophets had been proclaiming about. He is the descendant of David, the One to inherit for eternity the kingdom that had been given to His forefather, to be the king of not just Israel, but over all the world, and indeed, as the Lord Creator of all, as the King of all creations.
He is also the descendant of Adam, the first man, and as a new Man, the Son of Man, becoming the new Adam, the first One to rise from the dead and into glory. Just as Adam had fallen into temptations of Satan, the evil one, with his wife, Eve, then Christ had broken hold of evil over mankind, the descendants of Adam, by being the faithful One, the One who held on true to His faith and love in God, even unto death.
Yes, for through Jesus, the new Adam, mankind had been liberated, ransomed with the price of the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Himself. That is the price He had paid for the sake of our salvation and liberation from slavery of sin under Satan. That ultimate sacrifice He had done at Calvary, to die on the cross for the sake of all mankind, is the sign of Jonah that He had promised to show the people, who so stubbornly demanded Him to show a miraculous sign.
Yes, brethren, demanding Jesus to show them a sign, while what they have experienced while they were with Him, especially the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who had always tailed Jesus wherever He went, and tried Him with questions and traps they had laid for Him. They have seen what Jesus had done, and had heard His teachings, and yet they did not believe, or rather, refused to believe in Him or in what wonders He had done.
The sign of Jonah is the reinforcement of what had happened to Jonah, when he tried to escape from his prophetic responsibility, to bring the judgment of God to the city of Nineveh. His escape ship was struck with a vicious storm, and he had to throw himself into the sea so that the ship would not sink. God sent a big fish, a whale, to swallow and protect Jonah in its belly for three days. That is what had happened to Jonah, and precisely what Jesus had shown the people of God.
Jesus Christ Himself was taken away from the world, that after His death, He went down into hell, not as a condemned one, but instead as a triumphant and conquering One, as One who liberates those who had been imprisoned unjustly by the evil one, delivering them from the darkness of the hell and this world into the light of heavenly glory. For three days, He was hidden from the world, just like Jonah who was in the belly of the fish for three days.
And just as Jonah who had been freed from the belly of the fish and went on to continue his ministry to Nineveh and its people, and after realising the benevolence and merciful nature of God, understanding that the people of Nineveh was not punished because they were repentant and regretful of their past sinful ways, so did Jesus bring about salvation and forgiveness for all those who had shunned their sinfulness and embraced Him as their Lord and Saviour.
This is the fundamental core of our faith, one that we have to keep uphold strongly throughout our life. We must never forget that our Lord had died for us and given up His life so that we may live and not suffer death eternal in hell, for He had freed us from bondage to Satan and bring us into new life of holiness and true joy.
Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Callistus I, also known as St. Callixtus I, one of the first Popes and therefore one of the early leaders of the Universal Church. Pope St. Callistus I faced many difficult experiences in his life, and even more so during his ministry as the successor of St. Peter, as the leader of the Universal Church. There were oppositions and persecutions from the pagan Romans and their Emperors, and life was truly difficult. There were also oppositions from within the Church, with rival factions and disagreements threatening to split the Church apart, especially over treatment of lapsed Christians and forgiveness given unto them when they decided to return to the Church.
Yet, Pope St. Callistus I persevered through these tribulations, and led the people of God through those difficult times, enduring oppositions after oppositions, and led the people of God back to God, reconciling themselves with one another. Pope St. Callistus dedicated himself to the cause of Christ even unto his death, his martyrdom in the defense of his faith. In that, he had upheld the faith that he had in Christ, in the One who had Himself persevered through numerous trials and oppositions, and death so that all of us may be saved.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us then commit ourselves ever more devotedly to the Lord our God who had given His all for our sake, that we will not abandon Him, and truly believe wholeheartedly in His Passion, in the suffering and death He had endured for the sake of us all. And may Pope St. Callistus I pray for us and intercede for our sake before the Lord Jesus, our loving God and Father of all. God bless us all. Amen.