Monday, 19 October 2020 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, Priests and Martyrs, and Companions, Martyrs, and St. Paul of the Cross, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the Lord’s generous love and providence, all that He had done for our sake, in caring for us and giving us our freedom and for bringing us out from our fated destruction. The Lord has called on all of us to have faith in Him, to put our trust and also be humble, as much as we can.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus on the Lord and how His love for us has rescued us from the depth of darkness and destruction, liberating us from the fate that we ought to have suffered because of our sins and disobedience against Him. God has given us this wonderful gift thanks to His enduring love for each and every one of us.

And therefore, we are reminded that we have been saved by God’s grace and love, and not by our own might and achievements. But for those who argue then that we are saved by faith alone then they must realise also that faith without any actions and deeds done in accordance to that faith is truly an empty, meaningless and dead faith.

And we shall also then be judged by our inaction, which is tantamount to committing sins of omission. Whatever it is, we have to follow the path that the Lord has set before us and have genuine faith in Him, living our lives virtuously and being centred on God. This is not something that can be easily done as there would definitely be plenty of temptations and challenges in our path and journey.

One of the most common temptations is that of pride and desire, as we heard the warning from St. Paul in our first reading today and also in our Gospel passage today through the parable the Lord used to teach His disciples and the people on the futility of worldly desires and pursuits, and the foolishness of human desires and greed, as well as pride and ego. In that reading, we heard about a rich and powerful man who owned a vast holding and earned plenty of harvests from his vast farmlands.

We heard how the man worried and wondered how he were to store all the things he had gained, and planned to build even larger barns and storehouses to gather more worldly wealth and possessions, thinking that he had secured his future completely and that he had nothing to fear from. This was the fault of his pride and ego, as well as his greed that he was oblivious and unable to recognise his own limitations and mortality.

And the Lord through that parable showed clearly all these, by showing how the life and death of man are completely in the hands of God. And no one could ever know the exact time and moment of the ending of one’s earthly life and existence. For all the wealth, glory and power that man had gathered as according to the parable, all of those would have amounted to nothing and are meaningless, as none of them would end up following the man to the afterlife.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded this day that as Christians we must lead a life that is filled with faith and devotion to God, free from the corruption of ego, pride, greed and earthly desires in our hearts and minds. And we can look upon the good examples set by our saints whose feast day we celebrate today, the Holy Canadian Martyrs or the North American Martyrs, the martyrs St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues, holy Jesuit missionaries of North America, as well as their companions in martyrdom.

St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues were the members of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus that had been instrumental in Counter-Reformation and were also involved in missionary works. In that particular area, St. John de Brebeuf and St. Isaac Jogues ministered among the native populations and tribes of North America, spending much time and a lot of effort in reaching out to the pagan tribes and preaching the Good News of Christ to them.

As those tribes lived in some of the least hospitable and difficult conditions known to men, St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and other missionaries had difficult time trying to adjust and to minister to the people, which was further compounded and made difficult by the reluctance and opposition by some of the native tribes against the efforts to evangelise among them by the Christian missionaries. There were misunderstandings and even conflicts, and also disagreements between the tribes that converted to the Christian faith with the other tribes.

Yet, despite all of these, the missionaries dedicated themselves wholeheartedly, and devoted their time and effort to minister to the people, both caring for them and providing for them, especially spiritually. In the end, amidst all the hardships they encountered, they were attacked by those who misunderstood the intentions of the missionaries, and they were tortured, made to suffer and eventually killed. Nonetheless, the seeds of faith they had spread and nurtured by their efforts remained strong and became the source of the Christian faith among many of the people for generations onwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, those missionaries laboured in terrible conditions, had nothing on themselves, and had nothing else but God’s providence and guidance. They entrusted themselves completely to the Lord and allowed Him to lead them through the path that He has led them through. Are we as Christians, able to follow in their footsteps, and be inspired by their faith and courage to live their lives with genuine faith?

Let us all carefully discern this, and see in which way each and every one of us are able to commit ourselves to the Lord, in our every moments and actions. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, strengthen ourselves with faith, and walk faithfully and virtuously in the Lord’s presence, that our every efforts and works will be for the greater glory of God. St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues and all the martyrs of North America, holy servants of God and courageous defenders of the Faith, pray for us all. Amen.

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