Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, our first reading today, about the state of the Church in its early days, when the Apostles were out and about, going from places to places, to visit the communities of the faithful and to preach to more people about the Lord and His Good News.
At that time, the Church was under great pressure by those who sought to have it destroyed, as persecutions came up against the faithful from various quarters, especially from the Jewish authorities and the Pharisees. Many of the faithful had to hide themselves or hide their affiliation to the true faith, out of fear of the Jews and their authority.
But at the same time, the Church was then constantly growing despite all the challenges it encountered. More and more people came to believe in the Lord and His teachings. They were willing to endure the challenges and difficulties they met along the way, even as the difficulties and challenges continued to increase in number and diversity.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord was with His Church and He did not let His Church to go alone on its way. Ultimately, He was always by the side of His Church and all of His faithful ones. God is never far away from His people, as He loves each and every one of us, whom He has created out of love, to be with us and to share His love with us.
For God is our Shepherd, our loving Good Shepherd. He has led us, His flock, His Church throughout the journey of these lives we have in this world. He has always shown each and every one of us the way forward, to walk in the path of grace and righteousness, that we will not end up falling into the wrong path and fall prey into the grip of Satan and his allies.
God has always been with us, and He is always ever loving and ever patient towards us, regardless of our disobedience and constant stubbornness. Nonetheless, we should be aware how we have this tendency to be swayed by various factors and things that keep us away from the true path towards the Lord and His salvation. And this tendency is caused by our predisposition and vulnerability to sin.
We need to realise just how vulnerable we are to the threats that are constantly always around us, trying to strike at us when we are least ready and aware of those threats. Satan has always been active at work, trying to snatch us from the hands of God and into his hands. Indeed, God has saved us and delivered us, bringing us together into His flock. However, we must still be ever vigilant, lest these ‘wolves’ try to snatch us, the ‘sheep’ when we are least prepared.
That is why we need to strengthen ourselves and deepen our relationship to God, that we may resist the lies, the falsehoods, the wicked temptations and false promises that Satan and his allies have put in place along our path in order to bring about our downfall. That is why there is a need for us to remain true to our faith and keep our trust in the Lord at all times.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all also follow the examples and walk in the footsteps of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a devout and committed servant of God, a Capuchin friar and preacher, by whose devotion and works, as a great teacher and confessor, many people were converted from the heresies which had arisen at the time, back into the true faith. However, his enemies also grew in number and they increasingly opposed him and his works.
St. Fidelis refused to be intimidated by all those threats and all the risks he had to face, and he continued to do his works among the people, placing the needs of his flock, the faithful ones of God entrusted under His care, above that of his own personal needs and desires. To this end, St. Fidelis eventually was martyred in great faith at that time. And even in death, St. Fidelis was able to convert the very people who had caused his martyrdom, who repented from their mistakes and turned towards God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, therefore, we are called to reflect on our lives and on what we need to do as Christians in our own respective lives. Are we able to do what our predecessors, such as St. Fidelis had done? Are we able to devote our time and effort for the Lord, by leading a righteous and good life, founded on faith? Let us all be shepherds and guides to one another in faith from now on.
May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us on our journey of faith, that in everything we do, as we must do our very best to be ever faithful and to be ever more committed in our faith to God. May God bless us all. Amen.