Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the readings from the Holy Scriptures telling us first about the chains and fetters that bound the nations, the peoples, their rulers and their kings, which had become obstacles in the path of their acceptance of the Lord, His truth and His teachings. People had conspired against the Lord and His Messiah, plotting against the good works which He had done in this world.
And thus, that was why there were so much opposition against Jesus, against His works and all that He had taught to the people. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law always constantly sought to undermine the good works of Jesus at almost every available opportunity, even to the point of setting up traps hoping that He would fall into the trap, and therefore they would be able to accuse Him of wrongdoing.
The chief priests and the elders of the people also opposed Jesus, because they feared that Jesus had become too great an influence, providing an alternative voice for the people to follow, a new authority that rivalled the power and authority of the chief priests and the elders, or the Sanhedrin. They would not want this ‘Upstart’ to take over their roles and duties, and they did not want Jesus to outshine them in the eyes of the community.
Hence, they did all they could in order to seek fault with Jesus, oppressing Him and making Him an outcast in the society. Even though He had performed all sorts of miracles as foretold by the prophets and the messengers of God, marking Him as the One Whom God had promised to be the Messiah or the Saviour of the world, but many of the people refused to believe in Him, exactly because of the chains and fetters that prevented them from doing so.
And what were these fetters and chains? I was speaking in figurative terms, brothers and sisters, that these things which held back those who opposed the truth and the good works of Christ and His disciples, were the sins of man, the pride present in our hearts, the greed, desire and cravings we have for the many sorts of enjoyable and tempting things in this world, be it pleasures of the flesh and the body, be it money and material possessions, or even fame and renown among others.
Many had hardened their hearts against the Lord because of these, and as a result, when He came, showing them His truth, not only by words but also through miraculous and wondrous deeds, they still stubbornly refused to listen to the Lord, Who also wanted to call them to repentance and salvation. Remember, brethren, that Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for all of us, all of us sinners without exception. He died even for His enemies and those who cried out for His death.
And that was why in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles today, we heard how St. Peter and the other Apostles of the Lord showed the people what they needed to do in order to become true disciples of the Lord. First of all, they need to leave behind their past way of life, their sins, their prejudices, their hard-heartedness, their arrogance, their hatred and anger, as well as any other things that had become the various obstacles preventing man from truly being able to reach out to the Lord.
They prayed for the Holy Spirit to come upon the people, and upon receiving the Holy Spirit with an open mind and heart, the people of God received courage and new hope. They have been transformed by the Lord and became new people, new men and women, abandoning behind their past ways of life, and embracing their newfound faith in God. This is in fact, what the Lord Jesus spoke about when He told the faithful Pharisee, Nicodemus, when he came to meet Him in secret at night, about the need for the people to be reborn in the Spirit.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are therefore called to a genuine conversion and change in our lives. If we have not abandoned and rejected sin and all sorts of wickedness which we have used to do in life, then now it is the best time for us to do so. We have to always keep in mind that God loves each and every one of us, even though we are sinners, but He does not love or condone our sins. Sin is abhorrent to Him and is in fact what caused us to be sundered from the fullness of His grace and love.
Today let us all look at the examples of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, the holy saint whose feast we are celebrating. He was a Capuchin friar and priest, who was a renowned figure in the Counter-Reformation era. At that time, many people had been misled by the confusion and by the falsehoods of the ‘reformation’, which led to the people falling away from the path towards the Lord’s salvation, living their lives in sin and in debauchery, even for those who are within the Church of God.
St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen was a very important figure who helped countless souls finding their way back to the Lord and helped to reconcile many people, both within and outside the Church to return to the grace of God. He preached to many people and taught them the truth about God, encouraging them to repent from their sins. He was renowned for his personal humility and zeal, and many flocked to him to confess their sins before God.
There were great opposition against St. Fidelis, just as there were opposition against Jesus and His disciples. There were people who were not pleased that St. Fidelis had managed to gain numerous converts and still many more people who were coming to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the Lord through His Church. His life was threatened and challenges were made against him, and yet, St. Fidelis placed everything in the hands of God and entrusted everything to Him.
The courage and the commitment with which St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen had lived his life in faith should become a source of great inspiration for all of us Christians. We should also walk in his footsteps, and from now on, promise the Lord our God that we will remain true to Him, and abandoning our past way of sinfulness and wickedness, we will turn ourselves wholeheartedly towards Him and will obey Him in all of His will and commandments.
May the Lord bless each and every one of us, and may He strengthen in us our faith, so that in all the things we say and do, in every breath we take, we will always proclaim the glory of God by our actions and deeds, and through us, more people may come to see the truth of God and be saved as well. May the Lord be with us, now and always. Amen.