Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about two people who are saying goodbyes to their respective loved ones, praying and asking God for His protection and providence on those whom they loved. In our first reading today we heard St. Paul reminding the elders of the faithful in Ephesus and praying over them before he left them for the last time, and in our Gospel passage we heard of the Lord Jesus praying over His disciples just before He was about to embark on His Passion.
St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles passage today reminded the elders to be watchful and to be careful in the management of their flock, especially against those who espoused heretical and wrong teachings of the faith, that they would not let all those people to mislead the faithful and causing divisions in the Church, and he also reminded them of God’s providence and love for His faithful ones, commending them to God’s love and care.
And St. Paul showed his dedication and commitment to the cause to which God has called him to, as he said how he sought neither reward nor monetary compensation for all that he has done. He did everything for God and dedicated himself wholly to His cause, and this came from the background of his great and many sufferings, in all the things he had been made to endure throughout his many years of ministering and working among the people of God.
What St. Paul had said to the elders of Ephesus, the joy he expressed to them even as he was about to leave them for his final journey, was exactly what the Lord prayed for in today’s Gospel passage, as He Himself was about to embark on His Passion, enduring bitter and most painful suffering and rejection, the massive burden of the Cross and all. The Lord prayed to His heavenly Father, that even as He was about to leave them, they would not be left without a new joy that God would give them.
What is this joy, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the joy of love, of knowing that while once there had been bitter divisions and conflict, God has triumphed in gathering all those whom He loved, to be part of His Church, to gather as the body of Apostles and believers together, saved by the power of God, by the very action of sacrificial love and the perfect giving which Christ in our Gospel passage today, was about to do for His beloved ones.
Remember how St. Paul mentioned in today’s first reading that ‘happiness lies more in giving than in receiving’? This was exactly Christ has done for us. He was so filled with joy in the ultimate gift He was about to give them, the gift of His boundless love, and by Whose actions, all of us were about to be saved from death and eternal destruction. It was God’s everlasting and infinitely great love for each and every one of us that made everything possible.
Indeed, Christ had His agonising moments just after that time, when He prayed in the Gardens of Gethsemane. His humanity agonised the great and unimaginable sufferings that He had to endure, but His perfect obedience to His Father’s will, and ultimately, His wonderful love for each and every single one of us surpassed everything, all sorrow, all hesitations and all fears. He embarked on His sacrificial love journey, took up His Cross with joy, the joy of knowing how because of that, many of us were about to be saved.
That was the same joy and courage that St. Paul had when he said his farewell to the elders of Ephesus. He reflected the joy and strength that Christ had shown, because St. Paul knew that in whatever he himself was about to do, he was about to give a wonderful testimony of his faith and dedication even to the very end, even to his martyrdom and death. And he was joyful because everything he was about to do would become the source of joy and strength for countless generations of Christians to come.
That was the joyful feeling of knowing how many people would be saved because of our own faith and commitment to God. And today, we celebrate the feast of yet another famous and faithful saint, a holy woman and martyr who dedicated her life to God. St. Lucy, also known as St. Lucia of Syracuse was a faithful woman who consecrated and dedicated her life to God, promising her complete fidelity and virginity to God.
But her mother, not knowing of her commitment wanted to arrange her to marry a wealthy young pagan man. St. Lucy instead convinced her mother instead to donate generous sums of her own family’s property and wealth to the poor, revealing to her the revelations and power of God through another saint and martyr, St. Agatha. But the pagan family was furious and denounced the actions of St. Lucy before the authorities, at a time when Christians were persecuted terribly for their faith.
St. Lucy was made to suffer and was tortured, forced to make sacrifices to the Emperor but she refused to do so. The governor tried to defile her sacred virginity in a brothel, but miraculously no one could make her to move when they were about to do so. Eventually, they tried to burn her on the stake and yet it also did not work, and finally, they killed her by putting a sword through her throat. To the very end, St. Lucy endured in her faith and was joyful in accepting her death, because by her very examples and actions, many would also come to believe in God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to follow in the good examples of St. Lucy, St. Paul the Apostle and Christ Our Lord Himself, in their joyful service of the Lord. Let us all live our lives from now on filled with faith and dedication to God in everything. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.