Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that as Christians we must distance ourselves from all sorts of wickedness and unworthy behaviour that kept us away from the Lord and which can become a scandal for our faith, the Church and to the Holy Name of the Lord Himself. The Lord has told us all to follow His path, and He has taught us all how we should live our lives, in accordance to His Law and precepts. And that is how as Christians we are expected to be the beacons of God’s truth and love, distancing ourselves from the darkness that often corrupted us and prevented us from seeking His light.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Proverbs, we heard of how God reminded His people that they should not do what is wicked and evil in the sight of God and man alike, and they are called to act fairly and justly towards one another. Each one of them are called to be honest in their actions and dealings, and not to cheat or do bad things on others for our own selfish desires and for our own benefits. Each one of us are called to be caring and compassionate, to be concerned and committed to one another, to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those who have shared with us the same gift of God’s graces and blessings.
In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded us all through His parable to His disciples, in which He used the metaphor of a lighted lamp to show how nothing that is hidden that shall not be uncovered, and how one’s true intentions will come to be known by God and men alike. This is a reminder how each one of us are called to be genuine in our actions, and not be hypocrites, who pretended to care for others and be faithful, but in truth had no place for God in our hearts and minds. As the Lord Himself said, that there is no place by His Presence, for all those who have not been genuine in their faith and love for Him. That is why unless we are genuine in our desire and efforts to follow the Lord, then we can easily end up falling into the wrong paths of damnation and ruin.
Each one of us are therefore called to abandon our wicked ways and our sinful nature, all the attachments we had on the worldly matters and desires, all of which often became great obstacles in our path towards God and His salvation. We are reminded to reject the temptations of worldly things, and to refuse the advances of Satan and his allies, all of whom are always hard at work in trying to subvert us and turn us away from God and His salvation. We have to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and do what He had commanded us to do, and not merely paying lip service and doing things from appearances. We have to commit ourselves to the Lord and dedicate our actions to Him.
How should we do it, then brothers and sisters? All of us should follow the good examples set by our predecessors, all those who have lived their lives worthily in the path of the Lord. We should not follow the wrong guidance and we should not heed the sweet lies and falsehoods of the evil ones. We have to reject their path that will lead us down to ruin. We have to raise up and remain faithful to the Lord in all of His teachings and truths. We have to be exemplary and inspirational in all of our actions and dealings so that we may be the beacons of God’s light to the people whom we encounter in this world, our fellow brothers and sisters and all those who seek the Lord and His truth.
Today, the Church and all the faithful celebrate the Feast of St. Januarius, one of the most renowned early Church fathers and saints, whose blood’s miraculous liquefaction has always been the subject of great devotion from many especially from the faithful from around the region of Naples and southern regions of Italy, where St. Januarius was once the bishop of. St. Januarius himself was the Bishop of Benevento in southern Italy as mentioned, and he was remembered for his great dedication to his flock, to the faithful people of God, serving the people faithfully when he and his people faced intense persecutions for their faith.
It was told that St. Januarius and his flock suffered during the reign of the infamous Roman Emperor Diocletian who instituted the last of the great persecutions against the Church. He hid some of his fellow Christians and protected them from harm, at the cost of his own safety. He was arrested, persecuted and tortured, and eventually was charged and condemned to death, being beheaded for his faith and dedication to God, remaining faithful to the very end. The miraculous relic of his blood that still performs its miracles every year to this day serve to remind us of the great courage of this great man of God whose life should become our source of inspiration and strength.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with our renewed faith and courage, inspired by the examples and faith showed by St. Januarius, holy man and servant of God, who dedicated his whole life to bring glory to God and salvation to his fellow brothers and sisters. Are we willing and able to do this, just as the Lord wants it from us? Are we willing to live our lives worthily so that our every words, actions and deeds become testament and witnesses of our Lord’s truth and Good News, of His love and kindness, His compassion and mercy? Let us all do our best to serve the Lord from now on with faith.
May the Lord continue to strengthen and guide us all, and may He empower us and encourage us to walk ever in His path, and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.