Thursday, 22 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we continue to approach the end of the current liturgical cycle, we listen to more and more apocalyptic readings from the Scriptures that speak about the coming of the end times, from the revelations of St. John the Apostle, to the accounts of the Gospel recounting the moment when the Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of all the things that would happen to that city.

First of all, the first reading today from the Book of the Revelations of St. John we heard about a vision that St. John received of the heavenly kingdom, in which, a Throne was surrounded by multitudes of Angels and elders, and a Scroll was laid on the Throne, which no one was worthy of opening. Within that scroll lies the truth of God and the salvation of all mankind. And in the end, only the Lamb of God, Who has sacrificed Himself, was worthy to open the scroll.

All of the elders and the Angels worshipped the Lamb Who came to take His rightful place at the Throne, and proclaimed His glory and majesty, by all the things and deeds He had done, through His loving and selfless sacrifice on the Cross. He is a King, Who has come into the world in order to save His beloved people, but the same people whom He wanted to save, many of them refused to believe in Him, rejected His message of truth, and in the end, put Him to death on the cross.

The reading from this Book of the Revelations, coupled with what we heard on the lamentations of the Lord for the heinous things that in therefore present us with the realities of our faith, that there would be persecutions and challenges awaiting all those who are speaking the truth and bearing what the Lord Jesus Himself has brought into this world, that is, the message of His salvation for us all.

The lamentations which Jesus made over the city of Jerusalem are linked to what the people of Israel had done to the prophets and messengers of God throughout history, in how they rejected God’s truth and revelations, persecuted the prophets and messengers of God, exiling them and even killing them for speaking the truth. The people hardened their hearts and minds, and refused to believe in the message of truth.

This presents to us how persecution and martyrdom have been part of our faith for countless years, how the faithful had to endure various challenges and difficulties in order to remain true to their faith. Throughout the history of the Church, innumerable martyrs have been made due to the persecution of Christians by various groups and authorities, including St. Cecilia, whose feast day we are celebrating today.

St. Cecilia is one of the most famous of the saints and the martyrs of the Roman persecution era, as the patron saint of musicians. St. Cecilia was a devout Christian and made a vow of virginity to the Lord. But despite that, her parents forced her to marry Valerian, a pagan nobleman. She continued to devote herself to the Lord nonetheless, and managed to persuade her husband to let her remain chaste and virgin, and showed him the proof of what she said, and an Angel appeared to her husband.

In the end, even her husband became a believer and was baptised as a Christian. But that was a particularly difficult time to live as a Christian, when Christians throughout the Empire were going through a particularly brutal and vicious persecution. That is why St. Cecilia and her family went through martyrdom for remaining faithful to the Lord despite the sufferings they had to go through.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to reflect on our own Christian living. Have we been probably too complacent or too lax in how we live up our lives in faith? Have we been true witnesses of the Lord in how we conduct our actions and in how we lived our lives? What we heard from the Scripture passages today and from the life of St. Cecilia should inspire us to be more active in living our faith, in devoting our time, effort and attention to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us all, and may He continue to remind us to be faithful to Him, each and every single moments of our life. May God be with us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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