Monday, 6 February 2017 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard of the work of God’s love, which He had done out of love for all the things which He had created. In the first reading today, taken from the familiar passage of the first part of the Book of Genesis, we heard about the account of how God created the entire universe, that from nothingness that was before creation, God made the whole universe, all of creations complete with all the creatures.

God did not create the whole universe, with all of the objects, things both living and non-living without a reason. That reason was love, for He Himself is love, and is in perfect harmony and love in Himself. He existed in perfect harmony and love within His most Holy Trinity, but then, He wanted to share that love. And therefore, He created all things, including us all mankind because He wants to love each and every one of us.

He did not create us to allow us to perish in the darkness and in damnation of hell. But it was because of our ancestors’ and our own disobedience and refusal to listen to Him that we have been separated and sundered from His love and grace. He has made all things good and perfect, but it was our refusal to obey and to embrace His love that had brought evil upon this world.

Yet, despite all of that, He never gave up on us. Had He not loved us, or hated us for what we have done, then God would have pulled away His love and grace from us. Just as easily as He had created us, He could have destroyed us utterly as well, for after all, He is God, the Almighty God of the whole universe. But He did not do so, and that is because of His love. He loves each and every one of us so tenderly that He is willing to give us a chance.

That was why He continued to work on us mankind throughout time, sending His servants and prophets to call us back from the darkness and therefore to return into His light. He called many times for mankind to abandon their ways of sin and evil, and to return to the truth and the righteousness of God. And to that extent, He also promised that He would send us all a Saviour, Who would deliver us from all of our sins and troubles, and He did fulfil that promise perfectly, through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

In the Gospel today, we witnessed and heard how Jesus and His disciples went from place to place, and many came to Jesus wanting to be healed from their afflictions, both that of the body and that of the spirit. He healed them, cured them from the diseases that affected their flesh, and He cast out demons from them, making them healed both in body and spirit, and be reconciled with God.

He urged them to repent from their sins and called them to a life of righteousness, to be forgiven by God and to live a life of virtue and upright nature, which is what He had commanded His Apostles and disciples to continue in this world, so that even after He had left this world, His works would still continue to go on and save more souls, the proof of the love of God Who willingly suffered for our sake and Who willingly endured the cross for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we commemorate the memory of those who have followed in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, those who have received the same calling and ministry as the disciples of our Lord had. Today we remember St. Paul Miki and his companions, who were the faithful servants of God, martyred in the land now known as Japan, at the time of the great persecution of the faithful there approximately four centuries ago.

At that time, the Church and the faith grew rapidly in Japan, as many missionaries came to that land making use of the opportunity of the open door policy of the Japanese government at that time, consisting of many local warlords, who welcomed the Europeans who came to trade, and at the same time, carrying with them missionaries seeking for the conversion of souls.

Many people, both the commoners and the nobles alike were attracted to the faith for various reasons, but many of them genuinely came to believe in the message which the missionaries had preached, about the Lord our God Who loves us all so much, about the state of our sins and our fate of damnation, and how God wanted to save us all by calling upon Himself all peoples from every nations to come and to approach upon the Throne of His mercy.

Many were baptised and became ardent Christians, including St. Paul Miki and many others. They openly practiced their faith and preached it to many others, who also were then convinced to repent their sinful ways and be converted to the faith. The faith and the Church there was rapidly growing, and its outlook was great. But no sooner that the changes in the political scenes happened, that the Christians soon found themselves in trouble.

For the new government of the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan became increasingly suspicious and hostile to the influence that the Christian faith had on many people in the Japanese society. There were increasingly more and more persecutions of the faithful, and more and more people found it difficult to practice their faith openly, out of fear of the authorities.

But there were many of those who refused to be daunted by the challenges presented to them, and continued to do the good works which had been started in them. Many of them, including St. Paul Miki and his many other fellow brethren in faith were arrested, and were made to choose between staying on in their faith and facing certain death, or to abandon and reject their faith in God, by the act of stepping on images of the Lord and crucifixes, and live.

St. Paul Miki and his many companions in the faith did not comply with the offer of the authorities. They would rather serve the Lord Who loved them even though they knew that they would suffer great persecution, torture and eventually death. They would not choose the comforts of the world to save themselves but at the cost of betraying the Lord and therefore losing their souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the examples of St. Paul Miki and his many fellow companions, we should learn to follow the Lord as they had done, filled with faith and commitment. We should love Him in the same manner as they had done, that is with all of their hearts. After all, God had loved us all so much, that even though we have sinned, but He was willing to forgive us.

May the Lord strengthen in us our faith, and may He awaken in us the strong desire to love Him and to devote ourselves to Him. Let us all help one another to grow ever closer to God, and to grow in our faith, love for God and love for one another. May we all become worthy and good servants of our Lord, in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles and the holy saints of God, St. Paul Miki and his companions. God bless us all. Amen.

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