Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are both reminded of the fact that temptations are always around us and they will always threaten to sever us from the connection of love which is between us and our God. St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Galatia rebuked the people severely, after their unfaithfulness and submission to their human desire and the pleasures of the flesh, abandoning what is good for what is wicked and evil.
And the rest of the readings, including the Gospel as written by St. Luke mentioned how God is like our Father, who cared for us and loved us so much, that He would indeed give us all many things that we need, and we have nothing to worry about or fear, for our God will be with us and guide us. What we need is to have faith in Him, and put our trust completely in Him, rather than in the worldly things which the evil one is trying very hard to impose upon us.
But many of us do not know how to ask God our Father for what we need. Instead, as we grow, we become more and more affected by the world and all its corruptions, resulting in us becoming like a spoilt child, crying and causing wreckage all around us whenever what we want is not fulfilled. Thus is the same with our attitude in life, and how we live our faith life.
Just like the faithful in Galatia at the time of St. Paul, we often let go of our restraint and faith, taking pleasure in indulging ourselves with the goods of the world, with the pleasures of the flesh, so that we who were once good and faithful, had been defiled by the darkness of the evils we had committed. This resulted in us being separated from the grace and love of God, and if nothing is done, we will indeed come under great threat of damnation before us.
Therefore, what Jesus wanted to tell His disciples, and as well as what He wants to tell us through them, is that we ought to follow the Lord, not just with empty lip-service or superficial faith, but also through real and concrete devotion, filled with the acts of faith. And in that faith, we ought to listen to God, and know what our Lord and loving Father wants from us. He cares for us, and He will love us and bless us if we devote ourselves completely and entirely to Him, turning away from our ways of sin and evil.
Today we celebrate the lives of two great saints, whose life may indeed inspire us on how we ought to live out our faith. They are St. Denis, whose name is the patronymic for the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, France today. St. Denis and his companions in faith were martyred approximately at the time of the reign of the Emperor Decian of the Roman Empire in the middle of the third century after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, St. John Leonardi, also known as St. Giovanni Leonardi is an Italian priest who lived during the Counter Reformation era in Italy, where he was a crucial member of the efforts of the Church to reclaim countless souls from the heretical and misguided lead of the so-called ‘reformation’ by the Protestant heretics and schismatics. He also founded a community of the faithful, in which he led the effort to strengthen the foundations of their faith, by living in good devotion to the Lord and to His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. John Leonardi devoted himself to the education and guidance of youths and many others, so that they might find their way towards the Lord, through sincere and devout commitment to prayerful life and loving acts to others, so that by such cultivation of good deeds and efforts, those whom St. John Leonardi had touched may find the salvation of their souls in God.
Meanwhile, St. Denis was the evangeliser sent by the Pope in Rome to the faithful and the community of the people in Gaul, the Roman province now known as France, where he was sent with several other priests and preachers to bring many souls to the Faith and salvation in Jesus Christ. During his ministry there, the Roman Emperor at the time, Emperor Decius, carried out an Empire-wide persecution of the faithful, in what was later known as the Decian persecution, where many martyrs of the Faith were born.
St. Denis and his companions were arrested, rounded up and imprisoned, before they were brought for execution for their faith and for their evangelising works. St. Denis was beheaded, but even so, even after he was beheaded, he was able to walk holding up his own separated head on his hands, and continued to walk, speak and preach the word of God until a few kilometres away from his execution place. This miracle of the speaking head after beheading, or cephalophore was widely witnessed and reported by contemporaries.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we see in their examples, the love and devotion which God has for all those who put their trust and faith in Him, that these people who depended on Him will not be disappointed. They will be blessed and bountiful will be their reward, just as St. Denis received through his perseverance and martyrdom, a just reward of heavenly glory and eternal life, as well as St. John Leonardi, through his works and devotion towards the salvation of souls.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep always in mind that we need to preserve this faith which we received from God, and follow the Lord in all things, casting away all of the pride within our hearts, all of the wicked and unworthy desires for the pleasures of the flesh, so that we, as the children of God, may find our way to the Lord, our Father, and gain salvation in Him, He who loves us all and wants us reunited with Him.
May Almighty God, our Father, continue to watch closely over us, protect us from the assaults of Satan and his angels, and guide us through towards eternal life in Him. God bless us all. Amen.