Saturday, 12 November 2016 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard in the Scripture readings the about the need for us to seek the Lord without cease, asking Him for help on this journey of life we have in this world, as He made it clear through the parable of the evil judge and the old widow.

In that parable, the old widow continued to ask the evil judge to help with her case, and even though that evil judge continually refused to do so, but eventually, faced with an adamant woman who refused to back down, he relented and did so, even if that was to end the torment she was causing him.

From here we can see that God our Lord and Master will never abandon us on purpose and He will always take care of us because of His love, but it is often that we never ask for His help in the first place. In that parable, the evil judge relented to the old widow because of her persistent demands for him to oversee her case, and as Jesus said, that if the evil judge who did not care for her, eventually wanted to help her in the end, even though for different reason, then should not the Lord be moved to help us if we have asked Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all remember what Jesus said in another occasion, ‘Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you, and ask, and it shall be given to you?’ God our Father knows all of our needs and wants, He knows all the moments of our life, our every actions and deeds, all that we are doing in this world, but we ourselves need to be proactive in looking for Him, asking Him for His grace.

Too many of us are lukewarm with our faith, having our faith as just a passive observance, and for some of us, we are counted among the faithful even only on paper, meaning that while we call ourselves or label ourselves as Christians, but we do not truly believe in the Christian teachings and the ways of our Lord, and our actions and deeds are often contrary to what is expected of us Christians.

We live in a time when many of us think that faith is not important to us, and we can live in whatever ways we like, even if against the Lord’s ways. But do we realise that if we do so, we are actually bringing about scandal for our faith, for the Church, for our fellow faithful brethren and ultimately against the Lord? And the consequences for us will not be a light one.

Rather, let us today reflect on our actions and how we have lived our lives, and be inspired by what St. Josaphat Kuntsevych had done about four hundred years ago, the holy saint and martyr whose feast and memory we celebrate today. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was once a holy man and a bishop serving the faithful of the Eastern Orthodox communion, specifically among the Ukrainians and the Russians.

At that time, the churches in Eastern and Southeastern Europe has been separated from the Mother Church in Rome for approximately five hundred years, due to the schism and separation that happened because of the unfortunate disagreement and misunderstanding between the Church of the Eastern Christendom which was centred in Constantinople, and the rest of the Universal Church under the jurisdiction of the Pope in Rome.

As a result, the communion between the two sides broke down, and the Eastern churches did not recognise the Church of Rome as the valid Church, seeing themselves as the righteous successor of the Apostles. And much grief and bitterness arose between the two Churches because of the misunderstanding and the false division among them.

And this conflict is the most difficult in places where the two Churches meet and mingle, at the region now known as Lithuania, Belorussia and Ukraine. And this was where St. Josaphat Kuntsevych led his flock, and in the occasion where an olive branch was extended between the two Churches in the Union of Brest, St. Josaphat was among those bishops who agreed to come under the true leadership of the successor of St. Peter in Rome while preserving their unique Eastern Christendom traditions.

St. Josaphat worked hard two reunite the two factions among the sheep entrusted to him as their shepherd. There were much grief and numerous difficulties in this, and many resisted the decision to reunite with the Church of Rome, resulting in violence and destruction, in killing and murder, and in much pain for the Lord and for His Church.

But St. Josaphat did not give up and continued to persevere, calling all those who have walked the wrong path to repent and to return to the truth in the Church, and for which he was martyred, when those who refused to follow his example, attacked him and murdered him in cold blood, and threw his body into the river while ransacking his church, property and all of the faithful gathered in that place.

From the examples of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, we can see how we Christians should live our lives, filled with faith, courage and strength to live that faith genuinely and with devotion. And how do we do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by asking the Lord our God for His daily grace and help, that we feeble men may be able to live with zeal and strength, and with courage even when we are faced with great challenges against us.

Let us today therefore ask the Lord our God, through the intercession of the holy saint and martyr, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, that we may grow ever stronger and more devoted in faith, and let us also pray for the eventual union of the churches and all the faithful under the rightful jurisdiction of the Vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, Prince of Apostles, which is our Pope in Rome. May the Lord help us all, His beloved Church. Amen.

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