Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the continuation of the prayer of Jesus for His disciples, for all mankind and for the world. Jesus made clear to all of His disciples of the truth about all things on Himself and all the things that He had come into this world for. He made clear to all mankind that it is through Him all salvation will come from, and no one can reach the Lord other than through Himself.
God has given all to His Son, Jesus Christ, that in Him can be found hope and redemption. And it is this that we believe in and treasure as our faith. Jesus has given His all in order to save mankind, which was His mission upon coming into the world. Despite the difficulties and the challenges that He faced, He obeyed the will of the Father perfectly and thus bring glory to God and redemption to mankind.
Today’s readings are both about those who are about to face danger and peril, and in both cases, indeed they would face a violent death in the end. As we know and heard, Jesus in the Gospel today was praying for His disciples, and He did this during the time after the Last Supper just before He went through His Passion and suffer for our sake, and died on the cross.
In the first reading, St. Paul also showed his anguish, having been accused and resisted by many of those whom he had been sent to work with, and he was also about to be judged in Jerusalem, after having been arrested and sent back for judgment by the authorities. We know that eventually St. Paul would appeal to the Roman Emperor and asked to be judged in Rome, where he would eventually meet his end, by beheading on the order of the Emperor Nero, who instigated the first official persecution of the faithful and blame them for the fire of Rome.
But both of them did not fear the persecution and death they were to face. Instead, they welcomed death openly without fear, and they continued to work for the Lord’s sake all the way till the end. St. Paul continued to minister along his way to Rome, converting many to the Lord, including those in Malta and in Rome itself. And Jesus as we all know, healed the severed ear of the servant of the High Priest, Malchus, and He forgave those who condemned Him to death, on the cross itself.
This is an attitude and a way of life which we all should emulate in our own lives, that is to truly bring about a genuine and living faith in each one of us. We have to be like St. Paul and Jesus in their mission that they carried in complete faith to God the Father. And today, we celebrate the feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, holy men who did not fear or hesitate to defend their faith unto death, and worked for the sake of the Gospel.
St. Charles Lwanga was born in what is today modern day Uganda in south-central part of Africa, and he was born into the then kingdom of Buganda, which still practiced animism and abhorrent practices, especially wicked sexual practices and perversions prevalent at that time, particularly those committed by the king of Buganda himself.
St. Charles Lwanga had quite a high and significant position in the court of the king, and while the whole court and country was made to reaffirm their paganistic beliefs and cast out Christianity, which when this happened just about one and a half decades ago, the faith of the One True God began to enter into Buganda and converted many to the true faith.
St. Charles Lwanga himself secretly converted to the faith and through his works in secrecy, he managed to convert many people, especially many convicts and others who then joined the true faith together with St. Charles Lwanga. But the end came for him, when he chose to stand by his faith, when the king’s sexual perversion and debauchery went bad and by persuading the victims of the king to adopt the faith and resist the king’s influences, St. Charles Lwanga and some others were punished and tortured, and were finally executed.
St. Charles Lwanga stayed faithful to the end, and publicly showed his faith to others, and even praying over his executors as they tortured him, hoping that they too will be baptised and receive the faith as he had done. His faith and devotion to the faith was truly commendable, and we too should be inspired by what he has done.
Our faith must be strong and vibrant, and we cannot be idle. We have to stand fast by the Lord’s side and not be afraid of rejection or persecution by the world or others disagreeable to our faith, that is those who are still in the darkness of Satan and the world. Let us all be courageous, and be inspired by St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, the Ugandan martyrs, in their faith, so that we may grow ever more worthy of the Lord and be righteous before Him.
May God be with us all, and may St. Charles Lwanga intercede for us together with his companions in heaven. May God help us all. Amen.