Saturday, 19 June 2021 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, the words of the Lord which reminded us of the need for us to trust in the Lord and to put our faith in Him, and not to worry about too many things, and not to be tempted by worldly temptations and desires, by all sorts of things that we are often tempted with, that we ended up losing our way and fall into the trap of sin.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, in which the Apostle spoke about his own experiences in ministering to the faithful and in proclaiming the truth of God and His Good News to the people, in how he encountered wonderful things and visions, signs and omens throughout his ministry, and that if he needed to boast, then he ought to boast of all the wonders that he had seen and witnessed, and not of himself.

And St. Paul also reminded the faithful that they should not allow themselves to be swayed by their pride and their ambitions, their desires and other considerations, lest they fall into sin. He reminded the faithful that the flesh is weak, and is always full of temptations by Satan, which he mentioned in our first reading passage today as a thorn in his flesh, which St. Paul instead used as a reminder for himself not to be swayed by worldly desires and temptations.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples first of all that they ought to make a stand and choose firmly between serving and following God or that of money, and they cannot serve both God and money, for sooner or later they will love one more than the other and despise the other one. He also reminded them all not to worry about their lives, or of any other worldly concerns and desires, for the Lord shall provide all that they need.

This is addressed to all of us, His beloved ones, who have often strayed from His path because we are too distracted by our personal ambitions and desires, our various preoccupations and all the temptations of worldly pleasures and achievements surrounding us. All these are serious obstacles that can prevent us from reaching the Lord and His salvation, and will cause us to end up falling deeper and further into the path of sin.

That is why, all of us today are called to reflect on our lives and our attitudes towards our faith, and whether we have been faithful to the Lord and trust Him with our lives and existence, or whether we have instead depended on our own strength and worldly means so far in life? We should not allow ourselves be deluded by the lies and deceptions of the devil who want to mislead us down the path of indulgence in our desires and all the concerns we have, in worldly things and matters.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to turn towards the Lord wholeheartedly, and we should focus ourselves on Him and not on the false treasures and false leads we have in life. We should learn to resist the many temptations present all around us that we do not end up walking down the wrong path. And today therefore, we should look upon the examples of St. Philip Minh and his companions in martyrdom, the saints whose memories we venerate and celebrate today.

St. Philip Minh is one of the many martyrs of the faith in Vietnam, who went through the period of harsh persecution from the state and the government, as the Vietnamese state at that time were highly suspicious of the Christian faith and its missionaries, and all those who were suspected and found to be Christians had to endure great difficulties and trials, as they were tortured and treated with worst sufferings to induce them to give up their faith.

Despite all these, St. Philip Minh and his fellow companions in martyrdom did not give up their faith and remained faithful to the end. They chose to remain true to their faith despite the sufferings that they had to face. They would rather remain firm in their belief in God rather than to give it up for the false assurances of worldly pleasures and satisfaction, one that does not last. They chose instead the promise and assurance of eternal glory and true joy with God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all willing to follow the examples of those holy saints and martyrs, our holy predecessors, in how they lived their lives, so that we too may be exemplary in our own way of life and that we may become inspiration to our fellow brethren? Let us all help one another to grow ever closer to God and to learn to trust Him more and more, dedicating ourselves to Him wholeheartedly, from now on. May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith, always. Amen.

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