Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us regarding the trust and faith that we must have in the Lord, because even with all the trials and challenges that we may have to face in this world, the Lord is surely with us and He will never abandon us, and He will guide and lead us down the right path, as long as we are willing to follow Him wholeheartedly. The Lord has also called His servants and those among us whom He had chosen to be the ones to care and minister to the needs of the Christian community as we heard in our Scripture passage today from the Acts of the Apostles.
In that first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the conflict that occurred in the early Church in the group called the Hellenists, which signified one of the earliest groups within the early Christian community, a division that was bound to happen due to the diverse nature of the first Christians and the community built by the Apostles. As detailed elsewhere in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, there were disagreements, divisions and even conflicts between the early Christians who still considered themselves part of the Jewish community and hence vigorously practiced and even pressured others to follow the Jewish practices, and the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people who became believers, and yet there were also the Jewish converts who were sympathetic to the Gentiles and desired to accommodate them, and those were the Hellenists.
Unfortunately, it was likely that those divisions and disagreements between the various parties led to the discrepancy in the distribution of goods and others to the Christian families and communities. As such, the Apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit decided to appoint several men who were tasked with the care of the community, making sure that all of the faithful and their needs are taken care of. These seven holy men dedicated by the Apostles would become the first deacons of the Church and hence became the institution of the Order of Deacons or the Diaconate.
Through those deacons, most renowned of which was St. Stephen, who would become the first martyr of the Church, the love of God and His providence were shown to all the people, as those deacons reached out to the people of God, ministering to them and caring for their needs. They were also at the forefront of the works of evangelisation and in facing the various peoples that they had been sent to, which in the case of St. Stephen resulted in him being persecuted and was then stoned to death by those who opposed him and the Christian faith and truth that he had been speaking about.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord appeared before His disciples in the middle of a great storm in the sea of Galilee. They were in their boat, amidst all the storm and the winds, the waves and others, when the Lord appeared to them while walking on the water. The disciples were all frightened but the Lord reassured them that it was indeed Him that they had seen. The Lord then calmed the storm and the waves to the astonishment of the disciples. And through this, we had seen how God would not leave His beloved ones alone, and He would always take good care of them.
In that Gospel passage we see the symbolism of the Church through the disciples and their boat in the midst of the storm. The boat is the representation of the Church, with the disciples representing all of us the faithful people of God. The storm and the waves represent the many trials and challenges facing the Church, all the opposition, persecution and difficulties that we as the faithful may encounter in our lives as Christians. But we must not be afraid as the Lord will always be with us and He will never abandon us in our time of need. God will always be by our side no matter what.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that we have the calling and mission to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters, committing our lives to the good works entrusted to us through the Church. We are all the successors of the Lord’s disciples and the ones who are tasked to be His witnesses in our world today. Each and every one of us by our calling have been entrusted with the mission to preach the Good News of God’s salvation to more people all over around the whole world. As His witnesses and disciples we are called to proclaim His light and hope amidst our darkened world.
Today, we should draw inspiration from one of our holy predecessors, namely Pope St. Pius V, a great and dedicated leader of the Church who led the Church and all the faithful during a particularly difficult period of time in the Church history. He was prominent in his role in the Ecumenical Council of Trent and also his contributions before he even became the Pope and thus leader of all Christendom. He led the Church during the crucial years in which it was fighting both internal divisions and the changes and instabilities caused by the Protestant heresy and falsehoods, among other political conflicts, as well as the external threats from the forces of the Ottoman Turks threatening to conquer the lands of Christendom.
Yet, Pope St. Pius V persevered through all those challenges and entrusted himself and the Church to the Lord. He led the Church to implement the many important reforms and changes made at the Council of Trent, and helped to enforce its decrees on the many segments of the Church, rooting out the corruptions and excesses within the Church, while restoring many of the people who had been misguided and misled by falsehoods back into the truth of God in the Church. He also helped to assemble the great Christian alliance that managed to win a great victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples set by Pope St. Pius V and the many other holy saints, holy men and women of God, let us all continue to strive to be faithful to God, to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. Let us all do our best, in whatever way we can, to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and to proclaim His truth and love in our various communities, even through the smallest things we say and do in our lives. May God bless us all and may He empower each one of us to be faithful to Him, now and always, evermore. Amen.