Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the readings taken from the Scripture remind us about the sufferings and challenges that we may and indeed will encounter as those who believe in God and walk in His path. He did not mince His words when He Himself told His disciples as we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as He asked them of who did they think that He was for them.
And as St. Peter courageously declared, he stated that he believed that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah of God, the One Whom the people had waited for a long time for their salvation and liberation as promised by God. And the Lord said before all of them how He would suffer and would have to go through great pains and tribulations, trials and difficulties as He did what He had to do in order to bring about the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.
But as He said that, He also showed them encouragement and hope, because not only that He would suffer and die in humiliation and pain, but in the end of it all, He would rise again into life, and through that glorious resurrection, He would complete once and for all what God has promised all of His faithful and beloved ones. God showed His people that in the end, He will triumph and all of us will share in His triumph and glory.
And this is also echoed in what we have heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Haggai, in which God reassured Zerubbabel, the heir of David and governor of Judah, and also Joshua the then High Priest in their efforts of rebuilding the land of Israel and their cities, and in particular the Temple of God in Jerusalem. He reassured them all that despite the challenges, oppositions, pains and sufferings they had to face, God would be with them.
And all of these were in the context of how at that time, the memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were still fresh in the minds of most of the people, and it was indeed a very humiliating and painful memory for most if not all of them. The memory of suffering and exile for many years must have been terrible for them all to endure. But God wanted them all to know that no matter what, He would be with them and in the end, God will bless them always.
This is what each and every one of us must understand and realise as we carry on with our lives. Indeed, to live with faith will entail suffering, challenges, many obstacles and persecutions that will be in our journey, but we must not lose sight at the focus that we must have, at the end of our journey, where God will be with us and bless us with true happiness and joy that He has always intended for each and every one of us, His beloved ones.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the faithful servant of God who have dedicated his whole life to the service of God. And this was despite the challenges and difficulties that he had to endure throughout his life, and his story can be inspiration for all of us to follow as well. St. Vincent de Paul can lead us to the path towards God and it begins from his early life in which he had to endure much difficulty.
Throughout his early years and education, he had to encounter much bitterness around him and troubles, including murder and infighting among those who were within his circle. And then later on, he was abducted by pirates and was enslaved, and had to endure several years in suffering as a slave. But by the grace of God, his piety and faith led him to eventually find freedom when his last master who was a Christian repented his wayward path and returned with St. Vincent de Paul who then gained his freedom.
St. Vincent de Paul would then go on to become a priest and worked hard in ministering to the faithful, caring for them and showing great compassion especially to the poor and to the less fortunate, remembering that he himself had once suffered the same humiliation and suffering. He founded several religious congregations, and his name until today is still remembered for his great charity and outreach to the poor, inspiring many others to be charitable and show love for those who are suffering and less fortunate.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all also reflect on this and think about how each and every one of can walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lord Himself. Suffering and pain, challenges and trials are part of our faith and our lives as Christians and we cannot run away from them. But St. Vincent de Paul and ultimately, the Lord Jesus Himself endured those sufferings with love for God and for mankind. In the end, God is always ever faithful, and as long as we remain true to our faith, we will be triumphant in the end.
Let us all draw closer to God and put our trust in Him. Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, and seek to glorify Him with all of our every words, deeds and actions. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us in everything we do. Amen.