Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to God’s reassurance and promise to His people, through His Apostle St. Paul, who in our first reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Ephesus, mentioned how those who have accepted the truth of Christ, have been chosen from among the nations and all the people, to be God’s own people.
And because they have been chosen, God would be with them, despite the challenges and difficulties they might face in their lives, and despite the pains and sufferings that they had to endure. This was reiterated by the Lord when He told them what is on our Gospel passage today. He told them that they should not fear or worry about the one who could only harm them in the body but has no power over the soul.
What the Lord meant was that, even though the difficulties and challenges might be great and seemingly insurmountable, but in the end, despite the challenges and pain, the hardships that the world was piling up upon them, but they must not stumble on the way or fall into the trap of temptation of the devil. The evil one does not desire the salvation of us mankind, and therefore, he is always trying his best to lure us away from God’s path by all means.
Many of the disciples and followers of Christ during the years of the early Church, during the time of the persecution by the Jewish and Roman authorities chose to give up their faith in place of safety and good treatment by the world. They chose to leave behind the sufferings that they endured when they adhered to the Christian faith, because of various reasons, either because they could not leave their family behind, or because of the same family that pressured them to abandon their faith, or the community which ostracised and persecuted all those who believed in God.
It was truly not an easy time to be a Christian, unlike many of us in the present day who are taking our faith for granted, living in the comfort and security of our own, often flourishing Christian communities. Thus, we have to understand the circumstances in which those Christians in the early Church, and in fact, even in our present day, where there are still our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution and difficulties just because they believe in the Lord.
But we must not give up our faith, for to give up in order to gain the temporary respite of the world, the pleasures of life and the comfort of the lack of persecution, oppression and rejection, and worldly acceptance, is for us to abandon for eternity the salvation and eternal life that God offers only to those who remain true to Him and keep their faith in Him alive even in the midst of the darkest times and moments.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us all look upon the examples of some of our holy predecessors, first of all, the Holy Canadian Martyrs, the Jesuit priests and missionaries who strove through the harsh conditions of the then wild lands of Canada, where winters were very cold, the wildlife vicious and living conditions harsh, on top of the opposition from the pagan tribesmen especially those who refused to accept the truth of the Scriptures.
There were those of the natives who were willing to listen to the Lord’s words and truth. They converted to the faith and became among the first Christians in that wild and harsh land. They established parishes and mission stations among the native peoples, and more and more came to believe in God despite the challenging times and circumstances. But they were attacked by those natives who opposed the missionaries’ efforts to evangelise to them.
That was where the Holy Canadian Martyrs, St. John Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and their companions suffered martyrdom for their faith. They suffered greatly before they died, and they defended their faith to the end, even protecting those natives who have believed in the Lord and became the followers of Christ. They refused to abandon those sheep whom the Lord had entrusted to be their flock, to be under their care.
Meanwhile, today we also mark the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, who was a holy priest of God, who was the founder of the Passionists, a religious order of those who would want to dedicate themselves in a life of prayer and love towards God, by means of prayer and by charitable works among the community. St. Paul of the Cross emulated the good example for his brethren, in his generous works of mercy, his tireless efforts at evangelisation and in delivering the truth to the people.
St. Paul of the Cross showed us all how we ought to live our lives, filled with love for God and His people, just as the Holy Canadian Martyrs had also done, in their selfless and courage love for their flock, for those whom the Lord had called through them. These holy men of God have shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians, to be men for God and men for others. And we should put our trust in God in all things, that as long as we are faithful, God will always bless us and protect us in our journey of faith.
Let us ask the Lord for His guidance, and for strength and courage, that we may continue to live in faith, devoting ourselves from now on for the sake of God’s greater glory. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and seek to love Him with ever greater devotion, day after day from now on. And may God continue to bless us all in our deeds and in all that we do. Amen.