Wednesday, 19 October 2016 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the Scripture passages telling us firstly about the works of St. Paul the Apostle who was called by God and was sent to preach the Good News of God into the foreign lands to the pagan peoples who have yet to hear the Good News, and who have yet to know the identity of their true Lord and Saviour.

He has worked among them and preached among them the Good News, calling them to conversion and to understand the will of God for them. God helped him and guided him along the path, and in doing so he has been like the good and hardworking steward that Jesus our Lord mentioned in the Gospel today, where He praised the actions of the good steward who was committed to fulfil the work he was entrusted with by his master.

This was contrasted with the lazy and wicked servant whose actions were not what his master wanted from him. The lazy and wicked servant was not forthcoming with his works, and he thought that when the master was not around, he could do whatever he wanted and nothing would happen to him if he did not do as what was expected of him.

Unfortunately the master came back unexpectedly and he found out that the lazy servant had been neglecting his works, and he had therefore become unworthy of his position, and thus, the master sacked him and punished him heavily, while he praised and graced the good servant who did his work admirably, and this is a reminder to each and every one of us, we who are God’s people, His servants and followers, that we should not neglect what the Lord had entrusted to us.

And what is that brothers and sisters in Christ? What is it that God entrusted to us? It is the mission of evangelisation, to preach the Good News to our brethren, to one another, to all those who have yet to receive and to hear the Good News, all those who are living in sin and corruption of their darkness and wickedness, that all of these may be saved and may be freed from the evils that beset them and be brought into eternal life in God.

Many of us Christians are not aware of this mission which God had entrusted to us through His Apostles and His Church. We are all called to continue the works of the Apostles, continuing the good works that St. Paul had started, the labours and hardships he had encountered which we have heard in our first reading today. We may have thought that their works were completed, but in reality, there are always more work out there to be done.

Perhaps we should look at the examples of the holy saints whose feast we are celebrating today. This day we celebrate firstly the feast of the martyrs of North America, namely St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, and their many companions, fellow priests and missionaries, as well as many laymen who died defending their faith and in their mission to spread the Good News in the region now known as Canada and the rest of North America.

These missionaries, who were members of the Jesuit order, went from France to the wild lands and unexplored territories known now as Quebec and Canada, working and preaching among the local American Indian populations, introducing them to the Lord Jesus and to His salvation. Their work was not easy, as although there were some of the Indian populations who listened to them and converted to the Faith, but there were many others who refused to believe and were hostile to the missionaries and their efforts.

Nevertheless, these brave and courageous missionaries did not let the difficulties and challenges to overcome them, and despite all the mounting challenges facing them, they persevered on and continued to minister to the people whom they have called from the darkness. But several of them were martyred as they were captured and tortured by those tribes who refused to believe in Jesus and in His salvation.

Eventually the rest would be martyred as they were caught in between conflict among the worldly powers as well as between the Indian tribes, but their missionary works and pioneering examples served as examples for many generations of Christians in that region and in other parts of the world alike. Many more missionaries were to perish and to suffer in their attempt to evangelise to the people living in ignorance and darkness, but their contributions had saved countless souls and helped to establish the Church in various places.

St. Paul of the Cross meanwhile was an Italian priest and mystic, who was a simple man devoting himself to a life of service to God and to His people, and he was very devoted in his prayer life to God, and established with many other similar-minded companions, the congregation of the Poor of Jesus, devoting their time and efforts to live in a life of poverty and commitment to God, while teaching many others how they can become closer to God.

He established many communities devoted to contemplative life to God, and through his many visions received from the Lord, St. Paul of the Cross shared with many of his followers and others about these revelations and through his many writings and works, he gave to them and also to all of us, the insight into how we ought to follow the Lord and walk in His ways.

The examples from these holy saints and all the faithful predecessors who have walked and laboured before us should be inspirations for us all to follow, that by walking in their footsteps, we may be able to draw closer to God ourselves, and at the same time, also help to bring one another especially those who have lost their ways, that we all may find our way to God together and receive the fullness of His grace together. May God be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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