Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of both the sufferings and joys we will likely experience as part of the Church, as the disciples and followers of Christ. There will always be both successes and challenges that are part of our lives as Christians, as those who profess the faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as Our Saviour and King. But that should not dampen our spirit or desire to serve Him wholeheartedly, as each and every one of us have to trust in Him and not be afraid because He will always be by our side.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the farewell that St. Paul spoke to the assembled faithful in Ephesus, before he was to embark on his final journey, his final mission by heading willingly to Jerusalem. St. Paul knew, by the wisdom and knowledge given to him from the Holy Spirit, that this trip to Jerusalem would be the beginning of his final mission, as he would be arrested and tried by the forces of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, and set off the chain of events that would lead to his martyrdom in Rome.
St. Paul was not deterred by the challenges, trials and sufferings that he might have to face. He has suffered quite a few times earlier on as he faced rejection and opposition by quite a few of those who refused to believe in God, the Jewish authorities and their supporters as one of the many examples. Of course he also encountered a lot of successes as well, that due to his tireless works and ministry, he had managed to spread the word of God, His Good News and truth, to more and more people, establishing firm foundations of the Church and faith in numerous places, including that of Ephesus, which we heard of today.
As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus as He prayed to His heavenly Father asked that all those who believed in Him ought to be protected and taken care of, that none of those whom He had gathered, those who have listened to the truth of God and received His grace and love, will be lost again from Him. Those same people to whom St. Paul and the other Apostles and missionaries had evangelised to, were these same flock and people that Christ had gathered to Himself, through His Church.
To all of the faithful, the Lord had entrusted the mission to reach out and to evangelise to more and more people, those who have not yet known Him and His truth. He has given His guidance and strength to us all, through His Holy Spirit, that He has sent and bestowed to His Apostles and disciples, and through them, through the Church, to each and every one of us, we have received this same Holy Spirit that strengthens us and gives us the courage to do what is necessary to accomplish the missions that He has given us.
We must not be afraid of the challenges and trials that we may have to face, and instead we have to be inspired by the dedication showed by St. Paul the Apostle, and many other saints who have given their all in order to make the Lord better known by those who have not yet received His truth and love. We have been given the same blessings and courage, the same gifts of the Holy Spirit as what the faithful servants of God had received, but the question is, are we willing to follow their examples?
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned early Church Father and philosopher who was once a pagan but then after a fateful encounter with a wise old Christian man, came to know of the Lord and His infinite wonders, and then he chose to become a Christian afterwards. He established a well-known school of philosophy in Rome, gaining quite a few followers, many among whom also decided to become Christians. Through his writings, it was told that he managed to get the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, another famous philosopher, to end the persecution of Christians by the Roman state.
While later on St. Justin would be arrested and martyred together with some of his followers, after a dispute with another philosopher who then incited the authorities to arrest him, St. Justin showed us through his works and interactions, with pagan philosophers and even with the Emperor himself, that it was indeed possible to be fully faithful and committed to God and yet also live in harmony as a law-abiding member of the community and the state. In fact, it was this harmonious coexistence that often gave rise to various opportunities at evangelisation of the faith.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the passages of the Scriptures today and the examples set by St. Justin the Martyr, by St. Paul and all the other saints, whose life and dedication we know of, let us all therefore commit ourselves and strive to do whatever we can, in whatever capacity and opportunities presented to us, that even in the smallest things we do, we may glorify the Lord by our lives, and show to everyone the truth of His love and grace, and bring more and more of our fellow brethren to share in the same salvation and grace that we enjoy in Christ. May God be with us always and bless us in our every good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.