Saturday, 22 January 2022 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of the need for all of us to love the Lord and entrust ourselves to Him, and often times we will find that giving ourselves to the service of God would require making a sacrifice on our side, and believe in His loving kindness despite the trials, challenges and obstacles we may face in our respective journey through life.

In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard the tragic story of the defeat of King Saul and the forces of Israel at the battle of Mount Gilboa against the Philistines. The Philistines were a powerful neighbouring people of the Israelites who at that time were on the rise and were making attacks and raids deep into the lands of the Israelites causing untold sufferings and harm to the people of God.

The forces of the Israelites was defeated, King Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, David’s close friend, were killed. The sins committed by Saul and his disobedience against God eventually contributed to this loss, as his lack of faith in God meant that they lost the guidance and providence from God. The news of that bitter defeat was relayed to David, who as the one chosen by God and anointed as the new King of Israel, had been waiting anxiously for the news of what happened.

Certainly, David was devastated at the news of the loss of not just the king and the forces of Israel, but also his close friend, Jonathan, Saul’s son. He sang a song of lamentation for them, even for Saul, who had previously tried to harm him and plotted against his life because of his place as the chosen one to replace the former as King. David entrusted his fate to the Lord, and if we recall yesterday’s reading, of David sparing Saul and his men, and did not kill them despite having the perfect chance to do so, showed us just how much David trusted in the Lord, unlike Saul who disobeyed Him.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the curious passage from the Gospel, in which we heard about the Lord and His disciples performing their work, and they were so busy in doing their work that they had no time to rest at all and even eat, and they all became hungry. We heard how the relatives of the Lord took charge of Him and told the people, that He was out of His mind. That was because He spent so much time at work and His ministry, that He did not spend much time with His family.

The Lord and His disciples, whom He had called from diverse origins, all committed themselves to the calling and ministry that God had entrusted to them. In the Lord’s own words, we heard in another occasion in the Gospels how He had no place to lay His head, and He and His disciples often had to spend time in the wilderness, travelling from places to places in ministering to the people of God, and at times also evading the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who often shadowed and followed them.

This is a reminder for us that following the Lord isn’t always an easy and comfortable journey, and more often than not, we may be required to make plenty of sacrifices along the way. Those sacrifices were not without merit though, as everyone who had given themselves to the Lord and committed themselves to Him shall receive from Him the affirmation and assurance of eternal life and glory. They shall never be disappointed and they shall attain the grace of heavenly glory reserved for those who have kept their faith in God.

Today we celebrate the feast of a great saint whose faith and dedication to the Lord can inspire us to follow Him more wholeheartedly, namely that of St. Vincent the Deacon, a holy martyr of the faith. St. Vincent, also known as St. Vincent of Zaragoza, was a deacon in the Roman town of Caesar Augusta, the precursor of modern Zaragoza. He was serving the Bishop of Zaragoza and the flock of the faithful there during the difficult years of intense persecutions of the faithful under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

St. Vincent and the bishop among many other Christians were arrested as part of that great persecution, and he refused to burn the Sacred Scriptures as ordered by the Roman governor, and chose to stay faithful despite the certainty of death in doing so. He also rebuked the actions of the governor and affirmed that no amount of coercions or threats could change their minds, as they would rather choose to suffer and die rather than to disobey and abandon God. That was how St. Vincent was martyred, according to tradition, by burning on a hot gridiron.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all follow the inspiring examples set by St. Vincent the Deacon and many other of our holy and dedicated predecessors, and let us no longer be lukewarm in our faith but instead doing all that we can to follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, without fear and having full trust of the Lord, Who is always with us and journeying with us, even in the darkest moments of our lives. May God be with us all and may He bless all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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