Thursday, 19 October 2017 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the Sacred Scriptures all of us are reminded of the love which God has shown us mankind, by wanting to forgive us from our sins and trespasses. All have sinned and fell from the grace of God, and should have merited them all destruction and damnation, according to St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Rome.

Yet, the Lord still loves each and every one of us, for if He has not loved us, He would not have created us in the first place. He created us so that all of us, each and every one of us may experience His love and compassion, and share in that love. God Who is all perfect and filled with perfect love has no need for us or for our love, and yet because He wants to share that love with us, that is why He created us.

And because He has created us out of love, despite of our downfall and sinfulness, He still wants us to be freed from our bondage to sin, because He hates and despises our sins, but not us as human beings personally. As long as we are still capable of being forgiven, God will forgive us many times. But this also require from each one of us the commitment to repent from our sins and leave behind our sinful past way of life.

Yet, this is definitely easier said than done, as there are many who are adamant and stubborn in their refusal to leave behind their way of sin. The Lord Jesus used the example of the people of Israel who in the past refused to repent and to listen to the message and the words of the prophets sent to them by God. They hardened their hearts and became angry at the prophets, seizing them, torturing them and ended up killing many of them.

In the same manner, as Jesus compared it with, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were adamant in their refusal to believe in Jesus. They continued to walk in their path of sin, of pride and haughtiness, of human greed and desire. There were lots of temptations, of power, of worldly glory and the pleasures of the flesh that prevented many from being able to commit themselves to the cause of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is an important lesson for each and every one of us, reminding us that we must not be complacent in how we live our lives in faith. And we must be aware of just how much suffering that sin can cause us, because sin makes us to be separated from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And it is easy for us to lose our way and to be tempted as the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and their ancestors had been tempted.

To be a true Christian, many of us must truly live in accordance with our faith, and believe in God wholeheartedly, often through our very actions and deeds in life. We often make compromises with the world and its ways, so that we can live comfortably without worry, but by doing so, we allow ourselves to be swayed away from God’s righteousness and into the path of our downfall through sin.

Today, let us all reflect on the lives of the holy saints and martyrs whose feast we celebrate this very day, first of all the Holy Canadian Martyrs and then St. Paul of the Cross, a holy priest of God. The Holy Canadian Martyrs were brave and courageous missionaries, all of them were Jesuits, belonging to the Society of Jesus, who went to the uncharted and new lands of what is now known as Canada in the New World.

The Jesuit missionaries travelled through very difficult terrains and went from villages to villages, enduring difficulties through various weather conditions in the wilderness to proclaim the Good News of Christ to the people who were still pagans and unbelievers at that time. Some of the people were willing to listen to them, and gradually many of them gave themselves to be baptised and were converted.

Yet, there were many others who refused to believe in God, and they made life very difficult for the courageous Jesuit missionaries. Eventually, they arrested and tortured the missionaries, and made martyrs out of them, much in the same way as what we have heard happening to the prophets sent to the people of Israel in the old times. The sins of mankind and their stubbornness made them to refuse to listen to the truth.

But does this stop the Church and God’s servants from trying to bring those who were stubborn towards the truth and salvation in God? No, in fact, it only spurs them all the more, trying to save the souls of as many as possible, many of whom were misguided by their lack of understanding about our faith and about the Lord our God. That was what St. Paul of the Cross was doing in his life, working for the greater good of the people of God.

St. Paul of the Cross was remembered for his work in founding the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or also known as the Passionists. Through his works and dedications, he called many people to be thoroughly converted to the Lord, to turn away from their mistaken and misguided way of life, and be penitent throughout their days of life. He was also committed to a life of charity and work among the people of God, and their works had inspired many more people to join in his efforts and be converted to God’s cause.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, all of us should follow the footsteps of our holy predecessors, and not those who refused to listen to God and repent from their sins. There will indeed be difficulties and challenges, as those who went before us would have known and understood. But we must persevere, and we must realise that it is not just us who need to have a change of heart and conversion, but even more so, those around us also need the same conversion.

It is through our works and participation that we will be able to help our brethren on their way towards the Lord, following the examples of the Holy Canadian Martyrs and St. Paul of the Cross. Let us all renew our commitment to God, and to serve Him through our actions all the days of our lives. May God be with us always and may He empower us to be true Christians always. Amen.

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