Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the truth as revealed by the Lord, and which we have heard through the Church, having been passed down through the Apostles, and from the Apostles to their successors. And we call ourselves as Christians, because we believe in the message of truth which Christ, Our Lord Jesus Christ, delivered into this world.

Unfortunately, as we can see in both the Acts of the Apostles and in the Gospel today, there were many of those who were skeptical and who refused to believe in the truth that Christ had brought into this world, and this included initially even the Apostles themselves. They failed to believe at first, how He is truly the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.

They failed to see this truth at first, even though the Lord Jesus had stated it plainly from the beginning to them, and even though they have directly experienced and witnessed God’s miraculous works through Jesus, as no one else had ever done before. They saw how He had turned water into wine, healed and opened the eyes of the blind, loosened the tongues of the mute and opening the ears of the deaf, feeding five thousand and four thousand men and more with just a few loaves of bread and fishes.

And then, they saw how He even raised people who have been dead back into life. He raised Lazarus from the dead after four days, and all who saw these miracles were astonished. Yet, equally many of those who had seen these miracles, were also the ones who would later on condemn the Lord Jesus to death, death on the cross when they were instigated by the Pharisees and the elders of the people.

In the Acts of the Apostles, as St. Paul and St. Barnabas went around many cities and towns in the Eastern Mediterranean area, they preached about the Lord, the Saviour of this world. Many of the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, mostly Greek and some Romans, believed in their teachings and came to convert to the Christian faith. Some of the Jews also believed in them, and they enthusiastically welcomed them and asked them to preach to them.

However, there were many of those who refused to believe, some among the Gentiles because they saw the efforts of the Apostles as an affront to their traditional pagan gods and way of life. While there were quite a few among the Jews who believed in the lies spread by the elders about the disciples having stolen the body of Jesus and therefore spoke lies about the resurrection of the Lord.

Thus, they persecuted the Apostles and rejected their message, chasing them out of their town. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why with all the challenges and difficulties that the Lord and His disciples had faced throughout their work? These were all caused by our stubbornness, mankind’s pride and hardened hearts. The enemies of the Lord had many reasons to oppose Him.

They wanted to preserve their earthly influence, status and authority, and they saw the Lord as a great threat to all that they have accumulated for their own benefit. Now, these were the same things which faced the followers of the Lord, whose memory we remember today. St. Peter Chanel, missionary to the Oceanian islands of Wallis and Futuna, and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, founder of the Montfortians.

St. Peter Chanel was a missionary who went to the islands to evangelise to the people living there, who have not yet heard of the Lord and His truth, much like St. Paul and St. Barnabas who went to faraway places in the past. Many came to believe in the Lord through St. Peter Chanel’s works, and even the son of the king of the island came to believe, and asked to be baptised as a Christian.

The king was furious and did whatever he could to prevent that from happening. When that failed, he sent his son-in-law to murder St. Peter Chanel, and thus, eventually this courageous servant of God was martyred. Yet, his martyrdom proved to be fruitful in the end, as eventually, most of the people embraced the Christian faith, and even his murderer converted to the faith as well and repented his sin.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort was renowned for his effort at preaching and evangelisation, as well as commitment to the Catholic education of youths. Yet, he did not have it all easy during his ministry, as he had his share of opponents, who disagreed with him and refused to listen to him. He was assaulted and even poisoned before, all for his hard work in preaching the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what each one of us must realise is that God will always His enemies and all those who disagree with Him. And definitely, these will also be against us if we are faithful to the Lord and His ways. But are we going to side with those who oppose the Lord? Or are we going to stand up for our faith as St. Paul had done? The choice is ours to make.

Let us all pray therefore, asking the Lord for faith, that we may truly be able to believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not be swayed by the falsehoods of this world, or by the sweet lies of Satan and his tempters. Let us all pray also for strength and courage, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we may follow faithfully in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, in their courage and outspokenness, in preaching the truth and standing up for their faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith, that we may always draw closer to Him, day after day, and receive from Him the gift of eternal life. May God bless us all. Amen.

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