Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the faithful servants of God who worked hard to spread the Good News and the faith in the region now known as Vietnam. One of them was St. Andrew Dung-Lac, one the first local Vietnamese priests who with many of his fellow Christians, missionaries and priests were put to death and endured great sufferings for their faith in God.

At that time, the regime of the Vietnamese Empire was led by staunchly anti-Christian party, who viewed the faith with an extreme suspicion and dislike, and they were mistakenly seen as collaborators to the foreign forces, and therefore gained the instant opposition from those who were in power. The missionaries and those who helped them were facing great difficulties and were threatened with suffering and even death.

Yet, they did not fear and neither did they back down from the mission which had been presented to them, which is the conversion of souls and redemption of sinners, by the means of evangelisation. And by their hard work and dedication, they had gained many converts to the faith, who themselves had to endure great persecutions and difficulties, as the authorities tried very hard to stamp out the growing Christian community.

And from the local communities rose even more devoted people who took up the cross and the calling of the Lord, joining the sacred order of priesthood as St. Andrew Dung-Lac had done. Many others helped the work of evangelisation in various ways, as priests or religious or the laity. The faith grew and spread quickly, and many more souls were saved, but this brought even greater persecution against them.

And thus that was how many of these faithful were forced to choose between life and death, in either continuing to serve the Lord faithfully and die or to recant their faith and reject their Lord and be allowed to live. Many of the faithful chose to be faithful and remained true to their Lord and Master despite all the threats made against them. And thus they met their end with courage and joy in martyrdom, knowing that their reward in God is great at the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the Vietnamese Martyrs of the Faith, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his many companions in faith, the religious, priests and missionaries and even the faithful among the laity should become inspiration for each and every one of us Christians living today, as the reality of persecution and opposition by the world and all those opposed to our salvation in God is indeed true and real.

Yes, even today many of our brethren in faith still suffer the daily effects of rejection, ridicule and persecution by the world, by worldly authorities and all those who do not seek to see us be saved by the Lord Jesus, and many even had to risk their lives in practicing their faith, and often have to practice their faith secretly under the pain of death, and yet they often face the challenges with courage and commitment to God.

We should help one another, brethren, supporting those who are in need of our help. We should pray for one another, and ask the Lord to help and guide us through these turbulent and uncertain times. We should not fear or give in to the demands from those whose intent is our destruction, as we have to hold fast to the promise God made to all those who remain true and faithful to Him, that to them, He will grant the true joy of having everlasting life with Him.

And God is forever faithful and completely trustworthy, brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike us mankind who can be unreliable and untrustworthy. We can put our trust in God without fear or doubt. Now, what we need to do is, look at our own respective lives, look at our actions and deeds, and then think of what we can do and contribute in order to bring ourselves closer to God, fulfilling His will and desires.

May the Lord help and guide us, and may through the intercessions of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the holy Vietnamese martyrs, we may grow ever more committed in living our lives filled with faith, and thus in the end of the days, we are worthy to share with them the eternal kingship and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again as King to rule over us forevermore. May God bless us all. Amen.

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