Monday, 9 July 2018 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and 119 Companions, Chinese Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the messages of hope mentioned in the Scriptures, both from the prophet Hosea in the Old Testament, as well as from the Gospel passage showing us the healing of the woman with the haemorrhage or bleeding issue and the returning of the dead daughter of the synagogue official to life by the Lord Jesus.

In the first reading, the prophet Hosea was speaking in the context of the time, when the northern kingdom of Israel to whom he had been sent to by God, was beset by its enemies and was on the verge of destruction and annihilation. And the people living there had nothing else to depend on, for their pagan idols and gods did nothing to help them, for those were merely handicrafts of man’s hands, and no earthly power could help them.

But the Lord promised His people through His prophet Hosea, that if only that they would turn away from their sinful ways and repent sincerely from those wickedness and disobedience, then they would once again become His people and receive the fullness of His protection, love and grace as they once had before. Ultimately, the Lord loves us all, and by no means that He wants to see us destroyed.

That is why, in the Gospel passage today, He showed compassion to the old woman suffering from the bleeding problem. He had pity on her, and seeing her great faith, and the perseverance and the courage she mustered, despite the dangers she might have to face in order to reach out to the Lord, and the doubts and fears on her heart. She had faith and trusted in the Lord while many of her fellow countrymen did not have the same faith.

Similarly, while many people laughed at the Lord Jesus and mocked Him when He said that the little girl, the synagogue official’s daughter was only sleeping, Jairus, the official, remained faithful and trusted in the Lord’s ability to raise up his daughter, even back from the death. Indeed, as we have heard from the Gospel, the Lord Jesus did indeed restore his daughter to life, and the Lord’s promise to His people was upheld.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in all of these, we can easily witness how we mankind have both the capacity to doubt as well as to be faithful. We have been given free will and wisdom by God, to discern carefully and to make choices and decisions, whether we want to follow Him and love Him, or whether we prefer to walk on our own path and distance ourselves from Him.

Are we therefore taking the concrete steps necessary for us to seek the Lord and find His healing, mercy and forgiveness? Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that each and every one of us have to make a decision in our lives, and before it is too late, let us all wholeheartedly and sincerely turn ourselves towards the Lord, following the examples of the woman with bleeding and the synagogue official.

And today, we also celebrate the feast of the Holy Chinese Martyrs, those who have been persecuted because of their Christian faith in China, particularly those who were martyred during the late era of the Qing Dynasty China and the vicious Boxer Rebellion just over a century ago. It was indeed very difficult for one to be a Christian at that time, since the government was not in favour of Christianity, and looked at the Christian missionaries with great suspicion.

Many of the Christians, both the local converts and the missionaries, both local and foreign ones, had to endure difficult trials, go into hiding and practicing their faith amidst persecution, enduring prison and even summary execution at the hands of their enemies. They lived in a particularly troubled and difficult time, and yet, many of them persevered in their faith, regardless of the challenges they faced.

Many of them were martyred, but they died with courage and conviction, knowing that they were sinners who were trying to seek the Lord with all of their hearts, like the woman with haemorrhage and like Jairus, the synagogue official. They had faith in God, and they remained true and anchored on that faith which they had, to the very end. And although they suffered, but as the Lord promised all of His faithful ones in our first reading today, their rewards will be great.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we follow in their footsteps and walk from now on, faithfully in Christ’s ways? May the Lord be with us, and may He continue to guide us towards Him, that we may embrace Him fully and continue to grow closer in our relationship with Him. Let us always remember God’s love and His everlasting providence, every moment of our lives. May God bless us all. Amen.

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