Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops) or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we heard first from the Book of Genesis, the story between Abraham and Lot, and we heard about their disagreements and the conflicts between their employees and shepherds, who vied for the rich and fertile lands for their flocks and possessions. In the end, Abraham and Lot decided to part ways and divide the land among them.
God would then continue to guide Abraham, while at the same time also still watching over Lot, as we know in how Lot would later be involved in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham meanwhile would continue to grow in God’s grace, and he continued to remain faithful and obedient to the path and guidance that the Lord has shown to him. As the Lord called him, Abraham responded with faith and gave his all to follow his Lord and Master.
Then in our Gospel today, the Lord spoke to His disciples, with regards to the matter of how they all should seek what is holy and not to throw all those things because of the temptations that they might face along the way. He told them all that the path towards the kingdom of God is not one that is easy and simple. Instead, there would likely be plenty of obstacles and challenges that would face them as they proceed forward with faith.
All of these serve as reminders for all of us brothers and sisters, that we should not allow ourselves to be swayed by the many temptations and allures of worldly glory, fame, wealth and many other tempting desires that can lead us astray from our path and distract us from our focus and faith in the Lord. That is why today we should seek the inspirations from the saints, our holy predecessors whose memory we recall this day at their feast.
St. Paulinus of Nola was a bishop in the early Church, who was remembered and renowned for his great piety, steadfast faith in the Lord, and the dedication with which he devoted himself to the members of his flock. While he was born into an influential senatorial family, he chose to follow the Lord and leave behind everything, all the glory and all the opportunities that he had, and committed himself fully to the Lord.
St. Paulinus of Nola spent much time in furthering the studies of the faith, writing extensively on many matters of the faith, and he was also deeply involved in serving his community, spending the time and effort to reach out to more and more of the people in his community, and doing all that he could in order to bring more and more people to believe in the Lord. He devoted himself wholly to this calling, and this is something that we can be inspired from.
Then, we also celebrate the feast of the two courageous and holy martyrs of the ‘reformation’ in England, when King Henry VIII forcefully sundered the Church there from the Universal Church in personal pursuit of family matter and succession, in satisfying his ego and desire for dynastic success, which led to the painful splintering and division of the Church, which effects still lasted to this very day, even after hundreds of years.
Back then, St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were among the few who stood against the king’s corrupted desire and efforts to separate the Church in England from the Universal Church. St. Thomas More himself was the trusted Chancellor of the King, who enjoyed close confidence from the king, while St. John Fisher was the influential Bishop of Rochester and one of the preeminent bishop in all of England. He was eventually made a Cardinal for his faith and dedication to the Church.
All of the entire kingdom, all the people and especially the high officials had been made to obey the king’s new decision and ruling in breaking ties from the Pope in Rome, as well as for various other changes and actions that the king had decided and taken. This was often done so under the certain threat of suffering and death. Some would eventually abandon their faith in exchange for guarantees of safety and comfort in life, while many others remained faithful.
St. Thomas More remained faithful to the true Mother Church and opposed the king, even while knowing that such a choice and action could not only just cause him to lose his role as Chancellor, but that could very well end up with his death. Yet, he chose to remain faithful, and resigned his chancellorship rather than betraying the true Church and faith in God. He was arrested and imprisoned, and eventually was put to death, faithful to the end. The same fate faced St. John Fisher, who also courageously spoke out in defence of the faith.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by all these examples showed by our holy predecessors, and let us all follow their actions and faith, that we too may glorify the Lord by our lives, and be inspiration ourselves to many more other people, many of whom had not yet known the Lord, and are still living in the darkness of sin and ignorance of God’s truth. May the Lord continue to guide us, and may He strengthen our faith at all times, that we may walk ever more faithfully in His path. Amen.