Friday, 24 April 2020 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures speaking to us about the great providence of God for His faithful ones, as He has always been with those who are by His side, trusting in Him and having faith in Him. God has shown His kindness and love, for His disciples and followers, as well as for all those who hunger for His love and presence.

In our first reading today, we heard about the deliberations and the debate among the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, many of whom wanted to have the Apostles of the Lord Jesus killed and destroyed for their continued efforts and works, fearlessly opposing the threats and prohibitions placed against them on preaching about the truth of Jesus and His teachings. Then one of the Sanhedrin, the much respected Gamaliel stepped up and put forth his arguments before the Council.

Gamaliel’s argument was so sound and his wisdom respected that the whole Council allowed themselves to be persuaded, and those who earlier on cried out for the death and destruction of the Apostles were appeased. Gamaliel was essentially saying that there had been many false Messiahs and prophets that had come and gone even within just the past few years then, and he argued that as long as those came not from God and rather from man’s own power, they would be doomed to fail. However, if Christ had indeed come from God, then no matter what the Sanhedrin tried to do, or would try to do, it would never stop the work of God, and even that could end up making them to go against God and His will.

There was indeed much wisdom in the words of Gamaliel, and truly, we can see just how wonderful God had been, for He worked even through the respected Pharisee Gamaliel, to bring sense to the angered and emotional Pharisees and many of the members of the Sanhedrin, whom in their blind hatred, jealousy and anger against the Lord Jesus, His works and teachings, and all of His Apostles and disciples, almost caused them to strike at the Lord’s followers with malice and force. This is a great example of God’s providence.

In our Gospel reading today then, we heard of the many hungry people who were wth Jesus, listening to the Lord and waiting on Him. The Lord noticed that they were all very hungry after not having food for a few days and thus asked the disciples to buy and obtain food to feed all of them. But the disciples said that with such a massive number of people it would be impossible to feed all of them and would require a lot of money that they most likely did not have there and then.

It was then that the Lord showed forth His might and power, His love and compassion for His people, taking the loaves of bread and fishes, blessing and breaking them up, distributing them to feed all the five thousand men and many thousands more of women and children miraculously with much leftover food to spare. Again, we have seen here how God provided for His people, took good care of them and showed His compassion and love for all of them, when they were in great need.

How about us then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We are all part of the beloved family of God, His beloved children and people, who will also enjoy the fullness of His love and compassion. We must have that faith in God and put our trust in His providence and love. Unfortunately many of us did not realise God’s love and providence towards us, and we ended up being distracted by the many temptations and desires present in this world. We seek our support and strength instead from all these worldly sources and not from God.

Let us instead seek the inspiration from our holy predecessors, especially that of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a holy priest and servant of God, and also a courageous martyr of the faith in defence of the true faith and against heresies. St. Fidelis was a teacher turned a Capuchin monk and priest, who was very involved in the efforts of Counter-Reformation, converting many thousands who had been lured into the falsehoods of Protestant reformation back then in what is now Switzerland.

The great successes of St. Fidelis and his other compatriots made him many enemies, who wanted to stop the works of St. Fidelis, threatening his safety and life on many occasions. But St. Fidelis continued to push on regardless, fearlessly and with great courage, continuing to speak the truth and reach out to those who have been misled and misguided by the falsehoods of the false heresies. He trusted fully in God and did his very best to complete the missions entrusted to him by God.

In the end, St. Fidelis had to face martyrdom in his constant defence of his faith, attacked and killed by soldiers who tried to force him to renounce his faith. Even in his death, St. Fidelis continued to inspire others, and it was told that the Protestant minister who participated in St. Fidelis’ martyrdom was touched by his courage and faith that this minister rejected publicly heretical experience and chose to return to the true faith and the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, after we have heard all these good and wonderful examples of God’s providence and how His own people responded with faith, are we able to do the same with our own lives? Are we able to put our trust in God and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to His love and wonderful providence? Let us all spend some time to reflect on this, and let us all strive from now on to be more faithful to God in all the things we do.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us and give us the strength and courage to carry on living our lives as faithful and devout disciples of the Lord. May God be our guide as we continue to walk down this path and journey of life in faith. Amen.

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