Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures we have heard about how God has revealed to us the greatness of His love and all that He has planned for each and every one of us. He wants us to know that no matter what challenges and difficulties, tribulations and trials we may have to face, as long as we remain true to our faith in Him and as long as we continue to do His will, we have nothing to fear.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, there were two main message that the Lord revealed to the people through Zechariah. First of all, it was a reminder of the punishment and consequences due to the sins which the people of God had committed at that time, and how their livelihood, their cities, represented by Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed by their enemies.

And yet, God also revealed to them the second of His intentions, and that is the salvation which He promised to them all, despite of their sinfulness and rebelliousness, how He would redeem them and gather them back from the nations, and how many more people will come to glorify God and praise His Name. This is a revelation that God’s love for us all is so great that despite our sins and wickedness, He is still willing to love us and forgive us our trespasses.

This is where I want to bring our attention to the Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus spoke clearly before His disciples on the matter of how He would be betrayed to His enemies, and made to suffer for all of mankind’s sake. It was one of the several reminders and revelations which God had made to His disciples on the upcoming of His own Passion, suffering, death and eventually resurrection.

In what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, we have heard just how great God’s love is, that the ultimate proof of this love He has for us, is none other and nothing less than what He Himself has willingly done for us, by taking up the Cross willingly, and bearing for our sake, all of the punishments, consequences and terrible sufferings that we should have endured because of our sins.

Christ bore those sufferings willingly, to be betrayed and rejected, to be humiliated and treated far less than what befits any human being, to be oppressed and tortured, to be ridiculed and made to bear the burden of the Cross, all because of His great and undying love for each and every one of us. Every single one of us mankind are precious to God, and therefore, even though we have disobeyed Him, but His love for us brought Him to reach out to us and call us to redemption through Him.

Therefore, because God has been so faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us, and because He has devoted Himself so thoroughly for our sake, and provided for us so great a gift and path towards forgiveness and redemption, we should be grateful and therefore, endeavour and do our best to follow the path which Our Lord Himself has shown us, to be righteous and faithful in all things.

And today, as we celebrate the feast day of saints whose lives were truly holy and great in faith, we should then be inspired by them and gain the courage and the zeal to live our lives with greater faith and devotion to God from day to day, gradually so that we will draw ever closer to God. Today we celebrate both St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, a holy martyr of the faith, and also the Holy Martyrs of Japan, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions.

St. Wenceslas of Bohemia was the Duke of Bohemia during the early years of Christianity in Bohemia, a region now known as Czechia. He was a great ruler and a noble man in action and deed, caring genuinely for his people and supporting the Church and missionary works wholeheartedly. Opposed against him and his efforts were the pagan nobles and forces who remained against the Christian faith, and those plotted with the brother of the saint, eventually led to his assassination.

St. Wenceslas died as a martyr defending his righteous faith and total dedication to the Lord and His good works among the people. His righteousness and just rule inspired so many other people not just at his age and time, but even more so down throughout the centuries. His courage and zeal and incorruptibility inspired many other rulers and those in positions of power on how to be a good Christian ruler.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz, also known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a Filipino who fled to Japan when he was wrongly accused of murder. He boarded a ship that was bound for Japan, and reached there at a time when the Christian faith, once abundant and freely practised and growing rapidly, had been persecuted greatly by the change in the authorities’ mindset and opinion of the Christian faith.

St. Lawrence Ruiz, together with many Christians in Japan at that time suffered because they had to endure rejection, oppression and painful sufferings being under constant threat of arrest from the authorities. Many were martyred and killed for their refusal to abandon their faith. St. Lawrence Ruiz himself, together with missionaries and local Christians were executed with painful methods in Nagasaki, but they all refused to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now having heard of the inspiring faith and lives of St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, as well as St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions, the Martyrs of Japan, how can we follow in their examples? How can we live our lives with faith just in the manner they have lived theirs? Let us think about this and let God transform our lives just as He had done so with those faithful saints and martyrs we are commemorating today. May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, always. Amen.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the Angel who spoke to me came forward, another Angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I, Myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the readings taken from the Scripture remind us about the sufferings and challenges that we may and indeed will encounter as those who believe in God and walk in His path. He did not mince His words when He Himself told His disciples as we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as He asked them of who did they think that He was for them.

And as St. Peter courageously declared, he stated that he believed that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah of God, the One Whom the people had waited for a long time for their salvation and liberation as promised by God. And the Lord said before all of them how He would suffer and would have to go through great pains and tribulations, trials and difficulties as He did what He had to do in order to bring about the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation.

But as He said that, He also showed them encouragement and hope, because not only that He would suffer and die in humiliation and pain, but in the end of it all, He would rise again into life, and through that glorious resurrection, He would complete once and for all what God has promised all of His faithful and beloved ones. God showed His people that in the end, He will triumph and all of us will share in His triumph and glory.

And this is also echoed in what we have heard in our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Haggai, in which God reassured Zerubbabel, the heir of David and governor of Judah, and also Joshua the then High Priest in their efforts of rebuilding the land of Israel and their cities, and in particular the Temple of God in Jerusalem. He reassured them all that despite the challenges, oppositions, pains and sufferings they had to face, God would be with them.

And all of these were in the context of how at that time, the memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah were still fresh in the minds of most of the people, and it was indeed a very humiliating and painful memory for most if not all of them. The memory of suffering and exile for many years must have been terrible for them all to endure. But God wanted them all to know that no matter what, He would be with them and in the end, God will bless them always.

This is what each and every one of us must understand and realise as we carry on with our lives. Indeed, to live with faith will entail suffering, challenges, many obstacles and persecutions that will be in our journey, but we must not lose sight at the focus that we must have, at the end of our journey, where God will be with us and bless us with true happiness and joy that He has always intended for each and every one of us, His beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, one of the faithful servant of God who have dedicated his whole life to the service of God. And this was despite the challenges and difficulties that he had to endure throughout his life, and his story can be inspiration for all of us to follow as well. St. Vincent de Paul can lead us to the path towards God and it begins from his early life in which he had to endure much difficulty.

Throughout his early years and education, he had to encounter much bitterness around him and troubles, including murder and infighting among those who were within his circle. And then later on, he was abducted by pirates and was enslaved, and had to endure several years in suffering as a slave. But by the grace of God, his piety and faith led him to eventually find freedom when his last master who was a Christian repented his wayward path and returned with St. Vincent de Paul who then gained his freedom.

St. Vincent de Paul would then go on to become a priest and worked hard in ministering to the faithful, caring for them and showing great compassion especially to the poor and to the less fortunate, remembering that he himself had once suffered the same humiliation and suffering. He founded several religious congregations, and his name until today is still remembered for his great charity and outreach to the poor, inspiring many others to be charitable and show love for those who are suffering and less fortunate.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all also reflect on this and think about how each and every one of can walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and the Lord Himself. Suffering and pain, challenges and trials are part of our faith and our lives as Christians and we cannot run away from them. But St. Vincent de Paul and ultimately, the Lord Jesus Himself endured those sufferings with love for God and for mankind. In the end, God is always ever faithful, and as long as we remain true to our faith, we will be triumphant in the end.

Let us all draw closer to God and put our trust in Him. Let us all devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, and seek to glorify Him with all of our every words, deeds and actions. May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us in everything we do. Amen.

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 9 : 18-22

At that time, one day, when Jesus was praying alone, not far from His disciples, He asked them, “What do people say about Me?” And they answered, “Some say, that You are John the Baptist; others say, that You are Elijah; and still others, that You are one of the Prophets of old, risen from the dead.”

Again Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Then Jesus spoke to them, giving them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. And He added, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and be put to death. Then after three days He will be raised to life.”

Friday, 27 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 42 : 1, 2, 3, 4

Make justice, o God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; deliver me from the wicked and deceitful.

You are my God, my Stronghold, why have You cast me out? Why should I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the Altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre an harp, o God, my God.