Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, all of us are reminded that we must always stay firm in the Lord and in our Christian faith, and we should not allow ourselves to be swayed or to be deceived by falsehoods, lest the devil is trying as he has always been, in order to turn us away from God and in trying to persuade and coerce us to embrace the ways of the world, and distance ourselves from the true path.
All of us must realise that being Christians often mean that we have to make the most unconventional of choices and tread the most unlikely of paths, as we follow the Lord and speak faithfully of His truth, and the path going forward is not necessarily going to be easy or smooth for us. This is what the devil will try to capitalise as he will definitely try to persuade and coerce us to follow the easier, more logical and more profitable and fruitful way forward, luring us the path of God’s truth.
In our first reading today, we heard of the works of St. Peter the Apostle as he preached the truth of God in various places like Lydda and Joppa all around the land, strengthening the faith of those who have come to believe in the Lord and calling on many others to embrace the Lord. And it was during that visit to Lydda and Joppa that St. Peter showed just how unconventional and different our Christian faith can be, as he healed the paralytic man Aeneas in Lydda, and brought the faithful woman Tabitha back to life in Joppa.
Such things that happened truly are beyond ordinary comprehension and norms, and could not be explained by any human means or standards. The Lord has given His followers the authority and power to heal the sick and even to raise people from the dead through faith. And this is what we are all called to remember, that we must indeed have faith and trust in the Lord, in His providence and love, in His care and compassion to each and every one of us. We must believe in Him and all that He has done for us.
In our Gospel today, the Lord was abandoned by many of those who followed Him because He spoke to them the reality that He is the One Who would give them all His own Body and Blood, to be broken and shared among them, as the Bread of Life and the Salvation of all, through Whom all would receive the assurance of life eternal. But many would not open their minds to the Lord and few were willing to accept the hard truth, as they refused to accept that One like the Lord could have given them His own Flesh and Blood.
Yet, as we heard from our Gospel today and from those in the previous days, on this discourse of the Bread of Life, the Lord did not mince His words or soften it by euphemisms. Instead, He spoke plainly and clearly, highlighting that it is indeed through Him that God’s salvation would come, and by revealing Himself as the Bread of Life, He was giving them all advance premonition of what He would do at His Passion and death, when He chose willingly to accept suffering and death for the sake of our salvation and liberation from the bondage to the same sin and death.
And that is what the disciples of the Lord were preaching on, and what they were willing to suffer and die for in the mission which God has entrusted to them, following in the footsteps of the Apostles themselves, in the same Lord through which St. Peter had performed wondrous miracles as highlighted in our first reading today. Many saints and martyrs showed us all what it means to be true disciples of the Lord, in their exemplary lives, dedication and faith, in how they generously give of themselves for the glory of the Lord.
Today we celebrate the memory of one of those faithful saints, namely St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen. St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen was a priest who ministered to the faithful in many parts of Switzerland as a Capuchin friar, at the forefront of the Counter-Reformation efforts. St. Fidelis courageously and patiently spoke of the truth of the Lord against the Calvinists who rejected the truth of God, particularly in what the Lord Himself had stated it clearly today, of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist.
St. Fidelis ministered to the people faithfully and managed to gain a great number of converts, which angered the Calvinists who saw him as a great threat to their community and their misguided faith. As such they plotted against him and tried to find ways to destroy him. St. Fidelis himself according to tradition had known of what would happen to him, and surrendered himself to the Lord, entrusting himself completely into His hands, as Calvinist soldiers struck at him and murdered him when he refused to abandon his true faith.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, his faith and dedication to the Lord, and how he and many other saints and martyrs, from the days of the Apostles to this very day, we are all reminded that as members and parts of the Church each and every one of us also have the same share in the calling and mission entrusted to us by God. But are we willing to commit ourselves in the manner that the Apostles, the saints and martyrs, like how St. Fidelis had committed himself and his own life?
Let us all discern carefully therefore how we are to proceed on in this life, going forward knowing that we are all parts of the same Church and have upon us the same mission entrusted to us by God Himself, to be His faithful and courageous witnesses, through our own actions and deeds, by everything we do, even to the smallest things, within our own communities. May all of us be exemplary in our faith and life, that we may inspire more and more to come and to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Amen.