Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to hear the discourse of the works of the Apostles from our first reading, which for the duration of Easter is taken from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. In that, we heard how St. Paul and St. Barnabas went to the mostly Greek population of the Eastern Mediterranean cities, preaching about the Lord and His salvation.
But the people misunderstood their teachings and the miracles they performed before the people of the city. Many of them thought that the Greek gods such as Zeus and Hercules themselves have descended down to earth and graced them with their presence. This was how the gods in the Greek mythology often behaved, and the people thought that St. Paul and St. Barnabas were indeed, gods.
That was why they brought sacrifices and offerings before them, as if they were gods, and worshipped them. The two Apostles were enraged at what they had seen, and they indignantly stood up for their faith before those who misunderstood their intentions. They rebuked the people by saying that they were man and mortals just as they were, and not gods as they thought those two were.
Nonetheless, the people still misunderstood the intentions of the Apostles, and later on, upon the instigation of some of the enemies of the Lord, the people would rise up against them and struck at the two Apostles, leaving them almost dead. But God was with His faithful servants, and they continued on their mission work, travelling from place to place to preach about the one and true God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we look more closely upon what the two Apostles had done, they truly remained faithful to their Lord and Master, despite what must have been a great temptation to be adored and praised, more so as a living god who came amongst the people. Who would not be tempted by such a situation? Surely everyone would be tempted. However, the two faithful servants resisted the temptations.
Many of the people refused to believe in the teachings of the Apostles because they were stubborn, thinking that their way of life and their intellect are superior to whatever the Lord has brought them through His Apostles and disciples. That was why many of the pagans stubbornly refused to listen to St. Paul and St. Barnabas, because they refused to let them to show them the way to the truth, and they preferred to remain as they were, living in ignorance and sin.
That was why many of the Jewish people and their leaders were also stubborn in their opposition against the Lord and His disciples. That was because of their pride and stubborn minds and hearts, which refused to let the Lord’s truth to enter and make its works among them. They shut the doors of their hearts and minds tight against the teachings of the Lord and against the words of the disciples, persecuting the Church in the process.
Yet, the Lord never ceases His efforts to reconcile these people, by sending them one after another, messengers and disciples to call them to repentance, from the time of the Apostles to our present day. Such was His great love for us sinners, that He wants each one of us to be reconciled to Him. One of such great servants was Pope St. Pius V, one of the great and holy successors of St. Peter, who presided over a period of great reform in the Church, completing the Council of Trent, which removed sinful practices and excesses from the Church.
Pope St. Pius V reigned as the Supreme Pontiff and the Vicar of Christ for the entire Church at a particularly difficult time when the Church was assaulted from both the inside and from outside. From inside, corruptions and wickedness have pervaded among the clergy for many years and decades prior to the reform, and these were stamped out by the reforms of the Council of Trent, which Pope St. Pius V courageously enforced strongly.
From the outside, the Church was assaulted by the forces of the protestant heresy, which threatened the souls of many of the faithful, as well as by the forces of the pagan Turks, attacking the Church and Christendom from the east. But Pope St. Pius V worked hard to coordinate an effort to counter all these threats, sending out many missionaries especially the Jesuits to counter the heresy of the so-called ‘reformation’, and assembling a great alliance to fight the forces of the Turks, that eventually triumphed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the saints and the Apostles, and also the courage and faith of Pope St. Pius V should have also inspired each and every one of us as Christians to be fully devoted to God. Let us all do whatever we can in our actions, and do our best to preach the Good News and the truth of God to our fellow brothers and sisters. Indeed, there will be challenges as we have seen what happened to the Apostles, but remember, if we do nothing, then they will fall into damnation.
May the Lord be with us all, that we may be more courageous and faithful as true and living Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit in all of our actions and deeds. May the Lord bless us all, and all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.