Friday, 20 January 2017 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr and St. Sebastian, Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of the new covenant which God had made with us all, His people, that is with all of mankind. And He had made all of these through the mediation of Christ, Who is the Mediator of the new covenant, by which all of us are to receive salvation and grace, because Christ Himself had done the amazing and unimaginable deed of laying down His own life for the sake of our salvation.

Through Him, God had placed into our hearts the truth about Himself, what He had revealed to the whole world about His salvation. He had sent us His Holy Spirit, through Whom the truth is placed into our hearts, so that all of us who have believed in Him, and received the Holy Spirit will understand fully what it means for us to follow the Lord our God, and to walk in His ways.

However, this is also where we need to take note how in the Gospel passage today, it was mentioned that Jesus called His disciples, the primary twelve members among them in particular. They are known as the Twelve Apostles, whose names we are certainly quite familiar with. They were called by Jesus, together with the other Apostles and disciples, to be His witnesses and helpers in the good works He was bringing into the world for our salvation.

Through this, we can see how God needs our help to continue His good works in this world, as the works He has started are certainly not yet complete. All these works are still ongoing, and there are even more things to be done. There are many people who have yet to witness and experience the truth of the Lord, and there are many others who have yet to receive the Good News unlike us.

The works of the Apostles, who preached and witnessed for the Lord are still ongoing, as we are the ones who are now called to be the modern day disciples and witnesses of our God and of our faith in Him. Through us God will make His truth known to all, that He establishes a new covenant with us, and by that we are altogether saved. It is up to us then to lead others, our brethren, to walk on this path towards God’s salvation and grace.

And how do we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? The saints Pope St. Fabian and St. Sebastian whose feasts we are celebrating today, had shown many others what it meant to be a disciple of Christ, and what are to be expected from us if we are to take His side and defend our faith in Him. They lived during times of great difficulty for the faith, when being a Christian meant that one could be prosecuted and arrested by the state, and persecution of the Church and the faithful were rampant.

Pope St. Fabian was the leader of the Universal Church and the faithful both across the Roman Empire and all Christendom, as well as in the city of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor at the time, the Emperor Decius was particularly hostile against Christians and their faith, and he ordered a distinctively brutal persecution against them.

As the leader of the flock of God, Pope St. Fabian did not fear the threat of persecution and suffering. Instead, he continued to minister courageously to the people of God, going from places to places and minister to those who need help. Eventually he was arrested and tortured, and as an example to all the other Christians, the Emperor Decius sentenced the faithful saint to death, and thus, in doing what he had been called to do, Pope St. Fabian met his end in glorious martyrdom.

Then, St. Sebastian was a soldier in the employ of the Roman Emperor, told to be a courageous man whose skill earned him a place in the contingent of the Imperial guardsmen. The Emperor at that time, Diocletian was also renowned infamously for his brutal persecution of the Christian faith and the faithful. All the Roman soldiers were ordered to offer sacrifices to the Emperor, who was then treated as a living god, and those who refused to do so were persecuted.

St. Sebastian courageously refused to offer sacrifices to the Emperor as ordered, because he stood by faithfully to his Christian faith. He refused to obey the Emperor’s orders even though he fully knew that doing so would bring about the wrath of the Emperor and would almost certainly mean his death. He did not want to compromise his faith and kept strongly to the faith which he had in the Lord.

And thus, by his courage, he was tortured and put to death, after a long and miraculous process where we were told that he was shot with arrows but did not die because of the Lord’s intervention, before finally he was martyred with a sword. Through their examples, Pope St. Fabian and St. Sebastian had shown us all that being a Christian require commitment and courage, and real action instead of inaction.

We, as the modern day successors of the Apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ should be role models for our brethren, and become genuine and real witnesses for Him, even though persecution, challenges and difficulties may come in our way to hinder us and stop us from doing whatever it is that we want to do for this purpose. Let us all pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that God will give us the courage and strength to do so.

Let us all follow in the footsteps of the holy saints and martyrs who had gone before us, and who have left behind their illustrious examples for us to follow. Let us all follow in the footsteps of Pope St. Fabian and St. Sebastian in their total commitment to the Lord and their courageous faith. And finally, let us all continue to pray for the unity of all Christians that all those who believe in God may come together and be reunited in the Church of Christ under the leadership of His Vicar, our Pope. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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