Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the readings from the Scripture which we heard about the suffering of the faithful and the resurrection from the dead into eternal glory of heaven. And this is apt considering that today we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs who perished during the harsh persecutions against Christians in Vietnam.

In the first reading today, we heard about the moment from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when at the end of time, holy witnesses of God came into the world to preach the truth about God, and many would not listen to the words that they said in their midst. Those witnesses were given power and authority to oppose those who were against them until the time when the great enemy, the devil is to rise up and destroy those faithful servants of God at the end of their ministries.

The wicked people rejoiced at the death of the two servants of God, and continued to walk in sin, not repenting from those sins that they have committed. But God will not abandon those who have been faithful to Him, and after three days, in the same manner as He Himself has risen from the dead, He raised the dead servants into glory, and they rose to heaven at the plain sight of those who had rejected and persecuted them.

This is related to what has happened throughout the history of the Church, of the challenges and persecutions that occur in various parts of the world, and at different periods and times in the history of the Church, when the faithful were subjected to varying persecutions and oppressions, be it from individuals, or from state governments and holders of power and authority.

Many missionaries and followers of Christ have encountered difficulties and challenges, rejections and oppositions throughout their ministries in the attempt and effort to preach the truth and the word of God among the people who have not yet heard of them. They had to suffer prison, torture, indignation, and even death just because of their determination and commitment to remain faithful to the Lord.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs as mentioned, celebrating the memory of those who have perished through the many years of persecution of Christians in the land of Vietnam. There are both missionaries and local Christians amidst these martyrs, whose life and stories spanned over a century of the history of the early years of Christian faith in Vietnam.

At that time, the state government of Vietnam viewed the Christian faith with great suspicion, and suspected the missionaries to be agents of Western influence and of their effort to colonise their country. As a result, they placed strict regulations and restrictions on the propagation of the Christian faith among the local population, and persecuted the Christian communities harshly.

Yet, the Christian communities continued to grow, and many more local populace converted to the faith despite the strong oppression and persecution by the government. That is because the Christian faithful held fast to the promise that God has made in today’s Gospel passage, when the Lord Jesus reiterated what He meant by the resurrection of the dead, when those faithful departed will be raised once again to life, to enjoy forever the eternal glory with God.

The saints and martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions resisted the sufferings and the many temptations through which the enemies of the Lord wanted to lead the Christian faithful to abandon their faith. Putting their trust completely in God, they did not fear the pain of death and chose rather suffering and death rather than to abandon their hard-won faith and commitment to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect on our own lives, on our actions in life thus far on whether we have been truly faithful to God in everything, or whether we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by the temptations and to be intimidated to give up our faith and the Christian way of living. We need to reflect on this, so that we may be able to find our way to the Lord, and follow in the footsteps of the holy martyrs.

Let us all ask for the intercessions of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, that we may continue to strive to reach righteousness in God, to be able to courageously stand up for our faith amidst trials and tribulations we face. May the Lord be with us always, and may He be our guide in everything we do, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the Angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when He called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 11 : 4-12

These are the two olive trees and the two lamps which are before the Lord of the earth. If anyone intends to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths to devour their enemies : this is how whoever intends to harm them will perish. They have the power to close the sky and hold back the rain during the time of their prophetic mission; they also have the power to change water into blood, and punish the earth with a thousand plagues, any time they wish.

But when My witnesses have fulfilled their mission, the beast that comes up from the abyss will make war upon them, and will conquer and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie in the square of the Great City which the believers figuratively call Sodom or Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. And their dead bodies will be exposed for three days and a half to people of all tribes, races, languages and nations who will be ordered not to have them buried.

Then the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, congratulate one another and exchange gifts among themselves because these two prophets were a torment to them. But after those three and a half days, a Spirit of life coming from God entered them. They them stood up, and those who looked at them were seized with great fear. A loud voice from heaven called them, “Come up here.” So they went up to heaven in the midst of the clouds in the sight of their enemies.

Friday, 23 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us on the importance for us to keep our faith alive in our lives, by listening to what the Lord has reminded each and every one of us today, particularly in what we heard in our Gospel passage today, on the moment when the Lord Jesus drove out the merchants and money changers from the Temple of God.

In that passage, we heard of what the Lord did when He saw all the corruptions and wickedness that were present amidst the people of God, all their corrupt dealings with money and cheating of the Temple visitors and pilgrims, for their own selfish benefits and other corrupt purposes that were totally unbecoming of the place as the location for divine worship and praise.

That is why the Lord chased them all out of the Temple for their blatant wickedness and refusal to follow the Lord’s commandments. And this is actually symbolic of what we need to do with our own lives. The Temple is referring to our own bodies, hearts, minds, and all of our whole beings. That is because God Himself is truly present in us, through His Spirit and the Body and Blood which He has given to us through the Eucharist.

And because God Himself is fully present in us, within us and in our midst, then each and every one of us must be truly exemplary as God’s Holy Temple and House. Otherwise, through our actions, by our disobedience of God’s commandments and by our failure to obey the Lord’s will, through our sins, we are putting wickedness and sin in the midst of this Temple of God, that is our body and being, much like the merchants and money changers that corrupted the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

God loves each and every one of us, brothers and sisters in Christ. And that is why, He is doing so much in order to bring us back to Himself, calling on us to change our ways and to repent from our sins. However, all of the wicked things and evil deeds we perform in our lives are things that have no place in God’s presence. For God is all good, and disobedience through sin is a great obstacle in the midst of our efforts to reach out to God.

Today, we should reflect on our every actions in life, and see if we have truly been faithful to God or whether we have veered off on the way in our journey towards Him, by the many temptations present in this life. We should think and reflect on all these things, and perhaps also take note of the examples shown by two saints, whose feast day we celebrate today, that is of Pope St. Clement I and St. Columban.

Pope St. Clement I was the Pope and leader of the Universal Church during some of its earliest years, as one of the first successors of St. Peter the Apostle, the first Pope. It was told that St. Peter himself consecrated Pope St. Clement I as bishop, and later on, the latter succeeded the second successor of St. Peter as Pope and Bishop of Rome. And Pope St. Clement I was remembered widely throughout the Church at that time and later on, as an influential Church and Apostolic father, the first among many of those who would continue the good works began by the Apostles in the building of the Church.

He wrote extensively to the various Church communities at the time, some of which were preserved as the collective writings of the Church fathers, and he helped to continue the growth and the stabilisation of the Church at the time, and many of the latter Church fathers and communities looked up to the piety and the good examples set by Pope St. Clement I in following Christ. He was martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan, during one of the many Christian persecutions.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Columban, a holy man and abbot of the Church, who was an Irish missionary noted for his great many works among the regions of what is now France and Italy, establishing many monasteries and communities in those regions. At the same time, St. Columban also helped to evangelise the faith among the people, especially among those who have not followed the Lord in the right manner, affected by fallacies and heresies of the time.

St. Columban inspired many people through his works, and by his monastic rule, the Rule of St. Columban, mirroring the more famous Rule of St. Benedict, many people turned towards God and reorientate their lives towards God through prayer and upright life. Some of them joined the monasteries St. Columban founded, and many others became missionaries as how St. Columban was.

Today, by looking upon the examples set by these two holy and devoted servants of God, Pope St. Clement I and St. Columban, let us all turn towards God with a renewed love and faith for Him, and let us always be mindful, that we are all the Temples and Houses of God’s Holy and Real Presence, and as such, we should strive to be holy and free from sin, and repent from those sins if we have indeed fallen into the temptations and sins.

May God be with us all in this journey, and may we continue to devote ourselves and become ever closer to Him, day after day, in our every lives. May God bless us all and our good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 23 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr and St. Columban, Abbot (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Luke 19 : 45-48

At that time, Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And He said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!'”

Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill Him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to Him and hanging on His words.

Friday, 23 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr and St. Columban, Abbot (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Psalm 118 : 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

Your law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

How sweet are Your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your statutes are my heritage forever, they are the joy of my heart.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.