Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the joy that will come to us as disciples and followers of our Lord, even if we may have to encounter hardships, trials and challenges along the way. We must realise that as we walk along this path shown to us by God, we are never alone, and God will always be with us, guiding us and strengthening us on our way, helping to get through whatever persecutions and oppositions that we may have to endure as we continue to be faithful and dedicated Christians, in each and every days of our lives.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, the story of St. Paul and his continued ministry and journey is recounted to us, as he went on to the region of Achaia in what is now modern day Greece. Back then, he had encountered significant persecutions and hardships, had been plotted on and arrested on several occasions, attacked by his opponents and enemies, and was left almost dead in some of those instances. But God was with St. Paul and his companions, and we heard in our reading today that the Lord continued to encourage and strengthen St. Paul as he continued his missionary work.

In Achaia, St. Paul would encounter even more opposition and challenges to his mission, as the local Jewish community, likely siding with the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin against St. Paul and the Christian missionaries, plotted to have him arrested and punished. They made all sorts of false accusations against him, much like how the Lord himself was treated when He was rejected, persecuted, arrested and eventually condemned to death. St. Paul suffered similar persecution, but fortunately the Roman governor was not convinced by the Jewish community and did not arrest St. Paul. St. Paul was free then to continue with his mission there and elsewhere.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus encouraging His disciples as He told them that while they would have to face persecutions, sufferings and challenges but there would be time when they would enjoy a reprieve and time of gladness in the end, when their sufferings will end and everything will be good once again, and the Lord will never abandon His faithful ones, as they will always be precious to Him, no matter what. Hence, the disciples should continue to put their trust in the Lord and allow Him to guide them wherever He would send them to, just as how St. Paul followed the Lord and continued his missions regardless of the challenges that he faced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard in our Scripture passages today should remind us all as Christians that we have been called to follow the Lord and to do His will, to carry out the mission of evangelising to the people. We often have doubts and reservations in doing so, or are ignorant of the calling and the vocations that we have been called to by the Lord. Many of us as Christians have been idle and passive, not living our faith in the way that we should live them. Hence, that is why we should herd these callings and also the examples as shown by St. Paul and the other faithful servants of God.

Today, we also mark the occasion of the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, a dedicated servant of God, a courageous missionary and bishop who has spent many years as missionary in England to establish the Church and its structure and foundation there. His examples and good works should and can inspire us all to follow the Lord in the same sense. St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent from mainland Europe by Pope St. Gregory the Great, another great saint of the Church, to reestablish the Church in England after over two centuries that it was ravaged by the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and the Church there was isolated from the rest of Christendom.

St. Augustine of Canterbury laboured for many years in England, establishing a firm foothold for Christianity in southern and eastern parts of England, becoming the first bishop of the See of Canterbury. He converted many of the pagans and even their kings to the Christian faith. St. Augustine spent all those years ministering to the faithful and many others, despite the hardships and challenges that he had to face from those who refused to believe in the Lord. His good works and all that he had done for the sake of God and His Church should inspire each one of us to do the same as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember the glorious memory of St. Augustine of Canterbury, his actions and works, and St. Paul and the other servants of God, let us all continue to commit ourselves to the Lord in our own ways, and endeavour to live actively our Christian faith from now on. We should no longer be just idle onlookers or to be on standby mode anymore. As Christians we are all expected to follow the Lord faithfully and to spend our effort and time to glorify Him more and more each days, now and always. May God bless us all and strengthen us that we too may do great things like what the saints had done, for the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Amen.

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