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 we must not be ignorant of what we are all called to do as Christians in our daily living, and to heed the signs of the times. For each and every one of us as Christians, we are all called and expected to make good use of our lives and all the talents, abilities, opportunities and all other things that the Lord had granted us, so that our lives may be truly fruitful and worthy of God. We must not be idle in our lives or worse still, act in ways contrary to our beliefs, as what unfortunately many amongst even us Christians have done, and are currently doing in our lives. To do so is truly unbecoming of our Christian identity, and is truly a scandal of our faith, which is something that many amongst us have to account for in the end.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the moment of the final defeat of Satan, the great enemy at the end of time, and the ultimate triumph of God and the faithful over all those who have long persecuted the holy people of God. The Lord will triumph over all evils and all the forces of the wicked, and that vision of St. John saw of this great victory and the final defeat of evil serves to encourage all the faithful people of God who at that time had been facing a lot of struggles, trials, challenges and persecutions, having to endure prison, and even martyrdom for their belief and faith in God. Many, like St. John himself, had to suffer because they believed in God and refused to worship the pagan gods and idols, or the Emperors, who back then were often regarded as divine.
All the things that St. John witnessed in his heavenly vision became source of hope and encouragement for the Christians all over the world who were persecuted for their faith. St. John the Apostle witnessed how the mighty forces of the devil met their deserved end and defeat, crushed and conquered by the might of God, and God will come to save His people, just as He has once saved the people of Israel from their enslavement in Egypt and from the tyranny of the Pharaoh. Also highlighted in today’s passage of St. John’s vision is the occasion of the Last Judgment, when all the people, living and dead, all will be assembled before God and face their final and eternal fate, be it that their names are listed in the Book of Life and hence worthy of God, and therefore worthy of enjoying the eternal bliss and joy with God, or whether their names are not found in the Book of Life, and will be cast out into eternal darkness and oblivion, to suffer for eternity.
In the relatively short Gospel passage we have heard from today, the Lord reiterated this again, as He reminded all of His followers that the coming of the time of reckoning can be anytime, and while no one will know or have known the exact time and occasion of when it will happen, but the signs from the Lord are clear. And anyway, regardless whether the coming of the Day of Last Judgment is imminent or not, we must always be ever ready to welcome the Lord when He comes again, and it means that we should always be ever prepared in everything we say and do. In all things we must always be filled with the zeal, passion and faith to live our lives faithfully as is expected of us as Christians, and not to allow temptations of the world to distract or even mislead us down the wrong path. We must be careful or else before we realise it, we are already deep in the path towards damnation and destruction.
Clearly, as we heard from all these passages from the Scriptures, we are all being reminded as we have been in these past two weeks towards the end of the current liturgical year, of how important it is for us to remember to always put the Lord as the centre and the focus of our lives and existences. We should not replace Him with other focuses or pursuits which we may have or desire. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is exactly what happened to us Christians, as we are often easily distracted and tempted to succumb to the allures of worldly comforts and pleasures, to all of our greed and ambition, our pride and ego. And all of these can lead us to our ultimate downfall if we are not actively resisting those temptations and pressures, as well as striving to live our lives in a most genuine, Christian manner as we have been called and expected to do in our lives.
Today, we mark the occasion of the Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of the great saints of the Church and one of the most renowned martyrs of the faith. Hopefully by reflecting upon her lives, actions, examples and faith, we may find inspiration and strength to dedicate ourselves and our own lives to God in the way that this holy woman of God had done. St. Catherine of Alexandria was the daughter of nobleman or a Roman governor in the land of Egypt, during the years of the final persecutions against Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his fellow co-Emperors and successors. One of those, Emperor Maxentius conducted intense persecutions against Christians in his domains, and St. Catherine went directly to the Emperor to rebuke him for his actions and cruelty against Christians.
At that time, such an action definitely merited death penalty, not only because St. Catherine was a Christian but she dared to rebuke the person of the Emperor, who by the time had become very feared and powerful position. Yet, this holy woman of God fearlessly defended her faith before the Emperor and others, and not even many pagan philosophers, the best of the best assembled by the Emperor to debate her can best her in wisdom and understanding, and she utterly trounced them through God’s wisdom and power. St. Catherine also resisted the temptations of power and worldly comfort herself when the Emperor, who was mesmerised by her beauty and eloquence, tried to woo and persuade her to become his bride. She chose to suffer and die in martyrdom than to betray her faith and principles.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us hence strive to do our best to obey the Lord and His commandments, as well as putting Him as the centre and focus of our lives. Let us all be genuine in being faithful to Him and do whatever we can to live our lives, in even the smallest things and actions we do, in accordance with His will, His Law and commandments. As Christians we have been called to love God first and foremost, and then to love our fellow brethren in the same manner without distinction or prejudice. Hence, let us try our best to do that, so that by our faith made manifest and alive through our actions and works, we may truly be deemed worthy by the Lord on the Day of Judgment, and receive from Him the promised everlasting life and joy. May God bless us all in our every works and efforts, for His greater glory. Amen.