Saturday, 6 February 2021 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the narrative of the Lord as the Good Shepherd of all the faithful and as the One to guide all the people towards the salvation and eternal life found in God alone. Through Christ, the Lord has gathered all of us to Himself, and He has done this for us so that each and every one of us may be saved, and not fall into eternal damnation.

The Lord offered Himself as the worthy sacrifice and also acting as the High Priest in offering this gift that through His offering all of us receive the assurance of eternal life and true happiness, a joy that is everlasting and true, no longer burdened by the chains of sin. He has done all of these out of love for us, because He has seen how wretched we have been in our condition just as exemplified by our Gospel passage today.

In that occasion, the Lord saw how the people who were gathered to listen to Him were like sheep without a shepherd, without a guide and without a proper direction in life. He showed them the path towards His salvation and taught them even when He and His disciples were tired and exhausted. He dedicated Himself, truly like the Good Shepherd He is, patiently caring for the people entrusted to Him, loving them and showing them the true face of God’s love.

We have seen how God loved us so much that He willingly gave everything for our sake. Do we then appreciate the love He has shown us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Many of us often forget about God and we only remember Him when we need something from Him or require assistance from Him. When things are good for us, and when everything is fine, we quickly forget about Him and carry on living our lives in the same way and routine, again and again.

As Christians, all of us are called to live our lives with God at the centre of our lives and existence. We should do our very best to dedicate our actions and our daily living to glorify God at all times, to the very best of our abilities. We are all called to be inspiration for one another, to be exemplary in how we lead a Christ-like life, to be filled with love for God and to be filled with love for our fellow brothers and sisters.

The Lord has called us all to follow His example as the Good Shepherd, to show love and care for one another, and to be genuinely compassionate towards those who need our help and attention. He wants us to live up to our Christian calling and be genuine Christian at all times, dedicating ourselves to serve God and to stand up for our faith whenever it is necessary. That is how we inspire others to follow the Lord and be faithful as well.

Today, all of us celebrate the memory of the great saints, St. Paul Miki and his companions, the Holy Martyrs of Nagasaki, the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan. At that time, the Church in Japan had been going through a period of very rapid expansion that saw hundreds of thousands of people converting to the Christian faith. However, the initially supportive authorities began to be wary of the rapid expansion and powerful influence of the Church, and the then Regent of Japan, Hideyoshi Toyotomi began to persecute Christians throughout the realm.

St. Paul Miki was among those who were arrested for their faith, and they were tried and condemned to death in Kyoto, the then Imperial capital of Japan and the seat of the Regent. St. Paul Miki and his companions were forced to undergo the most painful journey from Kyoto to Nagasaki, halfway across Japan on foot, a distance of almost a thousand kilometres, to the place of their martyrdom. Perhaps the authorities hoped that some among them would give up and abandon their faith.

On the contrary, St. Paul Miki and his companions, the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs took courage in God and sang the glorious hymn ‘Te Deum’ in praise of God throughout their journey, thanking and glorifying God as they marched towards their deaths. They remained faithful to the very end and faced martyrdom with courage, receiving from the Lord, their Divine Master and Good Shepherd, the crown of true and everlasting glory and happiness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of our holy and devout predecessors? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the good cause of the Lord and to spend the time and effort to proclaim the greater glory of God through our own lives, our actions and deeds? Let us all reflect on this and discern in what way we can live up to our Christian calling, in following the call and example of Our Lord, our Good Shepherd and Master. May God continue to guide us and bless us abundantly in all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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