Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, celebrating this very important aspect of our faith that is central to our Christian beliefs. What is this central tenet and teaching, brothers and sisters? It is the belief that in the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Lord has appeared to us in the flesh and blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist at the Holy Sacrifice on the Altar. The bread and wine offered by the presider of the Mass has been turned into the Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood of the Lord.

This is the same belief that many of our separated brethren holding faithfully the Apostolic Tradition such as those in the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox churches also hold, as they all just like us, believe that the Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, in His complete presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, all entirely present in the bread and wine transformed in reality and matter into the matter and the nature of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. There are of course those who still deny this truth, claiming that the bread and wine are just merely symbolic or that they did not really turn into the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Some may come to think of that because although the bread in the Eucharistic host and the wine in the chalice remains in appearance, taste and our human recognition as bread and wine, but what is indiscernible by our human senses is the truth that by the same power and authority that the Lord has given to His Apostles, our bishops and priests who offered the bread and wine, had turned the bread and wine, by the Holy Spirit descending onto the gifts and offerings, they had been turned completely into the matter of the Body and Blood of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

All the early Church fathers and the Ecumenical Councils, the Apostolic traditions and others concurred that the Eucharist is none other and nothing less than the Lord Himself truly present in all completeness and perfection, not just merely symbolic or spiritually present as argued by those who reject this truth. We believe in the Doctrine of the Transubstantiation, which means exactly what I had just elaborated slightly earlier on, that the bread and wine has been completely transformed in matter and reality, fully and perfectly into the Body and Blood of the Lord, although in the appearance it is to us still that of bread and wine.

In fact there is an important parallel here to Our Lord’s own Incarnation in the Flesh, as He assumed the form and existence of Man. In what is another very important tenet of our faith, we believe that Jesus Christ, is both Man and Divine, having two natures that are distinct and different from each other, and yet are perfectly and completely united in His one Person, inseparable and indivisible. The world may perceive Him as a Man, and He did indeed appear as a Man, but in truth, He is fully Divine as well, as He showed His disciples at the Transfiguration and after He has risen from the dead.

Therefore, in a similar manner, the bread and wine although they have the appearance of bread and wine, and yet unmistakably they are fully by nature and reality, the very essence, matter and Body and Blood of Our Lord. However, it goes further that the bread and wine has also been completely transformed and are no longer just mere bread or mere wine. This is what we have seen, known, understood and acknowledged with the eyes of faith. We have received the truth from God, and we believed in it, and we put our faith in Him, because we believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

And this is where then we have to appreciate that the Lord has given us all an immeasurably great gift as He gave to us nothing less than His own Precious Body and Blood, to be shared amongst us and to be partaken as we become members of His Body, the Church of God. All of us who share in this Holy Communion are therefore said to be in Communion with one another, united as the visible Body of Christ, the Church, and those who have not partaken in this same Eucharist, are separated and sundered away from this Body of Christ, our separated brothers and sisters, some of whom did not acknowledge the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, yet, that is exactly what the Lord has told all of us, His people, plainly and clearly. In our Gospel passage today, as He gathered His disciples for His Last Supper with them, He told all of them as He broke the bread and offered it and the wine to the Lord, that the bread, is His Body, and the wine, is His Blood, plain and clear, concise and precise, never mentioning once that what He had done was just something symbolic or something that is not real. The same bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of the Lord at the Last Supper, which was not yet complete that night, is the same bread and wine at the Holy Mass transformed into our Lord’s Real Presence.

When He spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life before the assembled people, in one of His teaching sessions, He also referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, and explicitly and clearly mentioned that His Body is real Food, and His Blood is real Drink, and these things He spoke clearly and precisely too, without being ambiguous or figurative, and He clearly referred to all those who share in His Body and Blood that they will enjoy eternal life and will not perish, but live wonderfully with God forevermore. That moment is a foreshadowing of what would happen at the Last Supper and the Passion of the Lord.

The Lord completed His offering, of His own Body and Blood, as the High Priest representing all of us mankind, and at the same time as the Lamb of Sacrifice Himself, the Paschal Lamb, brought to the Altar on Calvary on Good Friday, the Altar of the Cross. And those who thought mistakenly that the Holy Mass is a repeat or reenactment of the Sacrifice of the Lord on the Cross failed to understand that at every single celebration of the Holy Mass, by all priests, bishops, and even the Pope, all of these are the very same Sacrifice that Christ has performed at Calvary, on the Cross that He had died on.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Altar on which the priests celebrate the Eucharist is the same Altar of the Cross on Calvary, and the same Body and Blood shed and given to us is the same sacrifice made two millennia ago, for all time and all occasions, the same offering and Sacrifice of the Lord, the Eternal High Priest, Who through His representatives, the ordained ministers, in persona Christi, or in the person of Christ, performed the very same sacrifice of Calvary at every single celebration of the Holy Mass, without exception.

When the Lord told His disciples ‘to do this in memory of Me’ it was not merely a memorial as how some misunderstood it. Instead, through that act, the Lord had authorised and empowered His disciples and their successors to be the priests ordained in His ministry, to be His priests representing Him in offering the most worthy sacrifice, the sacrifice of Our Lord Himself on the Cross. They are to perform the same offering and sacrifice of Our Lord that every Mass we are in fact celebrating and commemorating Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death for our salvation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, whether we have truly believed in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, in His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood that we celebrate every Mass, and which we share together as one Church, the one Body of Christ. Do we really appreciate God’s love given to us by the shedding of His Body and by the outpouring of His Blood? Remember that by His sacrifice, Our Lord has purchased us from our sins, and freed us from the certain destruction due to those sins.

If we truly believe in the Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, then why we have not given Him the respect and worship that He truly deserves from us? Why have we instead acted as if the celebration of the Holy Mass is just like a mere ordinary gathering, and worse still, with inappropriate and profane music and attitudes unworthy of God? And how many of us also turned up at the Holy Mass unprepared both in body and soul, being dressed inappropriately and unrepentant from our sins?

There had been comments by those who had not believed in the Lord’s Real Presence, His Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist precisely because as Catholics, we ourselves have not acted in the manner fitting the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. If only that we ourselves have behaved ourselves and acted appropriately, there can be so many more people who will be convinced of the truth and come to believe in the Lord and in His Real Presence as well. That is why, as Christians, we have to understand our faith well and we have to live up an upright and good life in accordance to our faith.

We have to remember the love that God has shown all of us by His coming into the world in order to save all of us and seal with us a New and Everlasting Covenant, one that will last forever, undoing the effects of our sins. The Covenant of God was sealed by none other than the outpouring of the Blood of the Lamb of God, Christ Himself, Who surrendered Himself in perfect obedience and suffering, so that through Him, and by His suffering and death we may experience and receive the sure promise and guarantee of eternal life in glory and true happiness with God.

Today therefore, on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, of Our Lord’s Most Holy and Precious Body and Blood, broken and shared with us, let us all reflect on Our Lord’s most generous and enduring love for us, and we should also reflect on our attitudes towards the Lord, truly present in His full Divinity, His presence in the Flesh in the bread and wine transformed into the essence and reality of His Being. Let us all truly profess faith in the belief of the Real Presence of Our Lord from now on, striving to do our best to glorify the Lord especially at every celebrations of the Holy Mass, where He is truly present before all of us.

And let us all also strive to make our lives holy and worthy, to be exemplary in our way of living, in the most Christian manner possible, that as we share in the Lord and receive Him in the Eucharist, we may truly be worthy to be the dwelling place of Our Lord, the Temples of the Holy Spirit, of His Real Presence entering into us and uniting with us, body and soul. May the Lord be with us always, through His Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood, that through Him we may be sanctified and made worthy, and in all things, we may become great role models and inspiration for one another. Amen.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 14 : 12-16, 22-26

At that time, on the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the disciples asked Him, “Where would You have us go to prepare the Passover meal for You?”

So Jesus sent two of His disciples with these instructions, “Go into the city, and there, a man will come to you carrying a jar of water. Follow him to the house he enters and say to the owner, ‘The Master says, Where is the room where I may eat the Passover meal with My disciples?’ Then he will show you a large room upstairs, already arranged and furnished. There, you will prepare for us.”

The disciples went off. When they reached the city, they found everything just as Jesus had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. And He said, “Take this. It is My Body.” Then He took a cup; and after He had given thanks, He passed it to them and they all drank from it.

And He said, “This is My Blood, the Blood of the Covenant, poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not taste the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.”

After singing psalms of praise, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 11-15

But, now, Christ has appeared, as the High Priest, with regard to the good things of these new times. He passed through a Sanctuary more noble and perfect, not made by hands, that is not created. He did not take with Himself the blood of goats and bulls, but His own Blood, when He entered, once, and for all, into this Sanctuary, after obtaining definitive redemption.

If the sprinkling of people, defiled by sin, with the blood of goats and bulls, or with the ashes of a heifer, provides them with exterior cleanness and holiness, how much more will it be, with the Blood of Christ? He, moved by the eternal Spirit, offered Himself, as an unblemished Victim, to God, and His Blood cleanses us from dead works, so that we may serve the living God.

So, Christ is the Mediator of a new Covenant, or testament. His death made atonement for the sins committed under the old testament, and the promise is handed over, to all who are called to the everlasting inheritance.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to Me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful. Truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s Son. You have freed Me from My bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice; I will call on the Name of the Lord. I will carry out My vows to the Lord in the presence of His people.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 24 : 3-8

Moses came and told the people all the words of YHVH and all His laws. The people replied with one voice : “Everything that YHVH has said, we shall do.”

Moses wrote down all the words of YHVH, then rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve raised stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. He then sent young men from among the sons of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks as peace offerings to YHVH.

And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins; and with the other half of the blood he sprinkled the altar. He then took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. They said, “All that YHVH said we shall do and obey.”

Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying, “Here is the blood of the Covenant that YHVH has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the word of God regarding love, the Law of God that is meant for us to know love and to practice that same love in our lives, showing it first and foremost towards God, and then showing that same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, just as God intended it for all of us. That is what is most important for us, to know that we are all creatures of love, created out of love by God Who loves us all very much, and then called to love in the same way.

The Lord showed us this in our first reading today from the story of Tobias and his meeting with Sara, who was to be his betrothed and eventually they were married to each other. Tobias was the son of Tobit, an Israelite living in exile in Assyria. While his father was afflicted by blindness, God sent the Archangel Raphael, having heard his prayers, as well as the prayers of Sara herself, who was beset by a powerful demon named Asmodeus. Asmodeus had killed all the seven men who had been married to Sara, and because of that she was shunned by those who thought wrongly that she was the one that killed all her previous husbands.

The Archangel Raphael showed Tobit the power of God by freeing Sara from her predicament and also showed how Tobit, his father would eventually be healed, although everyone then did not know that Raphael was an Archangel as he was in disguise in the form of a man. The demon Asmodeus was cast out and bound by the Archangel Raphael while Tobias and Sara were together, and no harm came to Tobias unlike all the previous occasions when Sara was with all of her previous husbands. It was there then that Sara’s family accepted Tobias and decided to give her to him as his wife.

Through this story we heard first and foremost God’s love for all of us His people, the love which He showed to Sara, who had been suffering under the tyranny of the demon Asmodeus. And then, we heard of the love that grew between Tobias and Sara, as they came to love each other, and this is a reminder for all of us to have love in us, to be genuine in caring for one another and to be centred in God in all things. Otherwise, we cannot call ourselves as Christians because without love we are not truly God’s people, for God is Love.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord as He was met by a teacher of the Law who wanted to know what is the most important commandment in the whole Law. Contextually, the teacher’s question need to be understood within the fact that there were plenty of different commandments, rules and regulations within the whole Law that was practiced and enforced by the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, such that at times indeed it may be difficult for them to understand why they had to do such a tedious work observing all the commandments and the complicated set of rules and regulations.

The Lord then revealed how all those rules and regulations were in fact mostly man-made, of man’s imperfect and even flawed attempt to interpret God’s Law, which resulted in the Law being misunderstood and even misused that instead of bringing the people of God closer to Him as intended, it made those same people more and more distant instead. How is that so? First of all, by imposing such draconian and strict set of rules, it made things difficult for many people to obey the Lord and people ended up just abandoning the whole faith altogether. And then, this led to the elitism among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who made use of the Law for their own selfish desires, and they ended up doing the Law and obeying it not for the right reasons.

That is why the Lord revealed the true intention of God’s Law, that just as we have heard in our first reading and discussed earlier, God loves each and every one of us. And He wants us to practice and show that same love towards Him and towards our fellow brothers and sisters as well, that we are generous in our love and in reaching out to those who especially have been ostracised, rejected and unloved. This is our true calling as Christians, to be a people beloved by God, filled with His love and be exemplary in our love towards each other.

Today, we celebrate the feast of saints whose life and devotion to God, commitment to the faith and love for one another should be great inspiration to all of us. St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, the Holy Martyrs of Uganda were courageous and faithful servants of the Lord, who were killed for their faith in Uganda, during the early years of Christian mission in that area. There were missionaries and local converts amongst the martyrs, all those who have given themselves for the service of God, and all those who remained faithful to the Lord despite the persecutions and sufferings they encountered.

At that time, Christian missionaries just arrived in Uganda, over the several years in which they ministered to the locals. Many among the locals welcomed the missionaries and many chose to become Christians, including that of St. Charles Lwanga, who was an important official in the court of the king of Buganda, the largest local kingdom. The king saw the increasing conversion to Christianity among his people as a threat to his own power and influence, and began to persecute Christianity throughout his realm.

All these became worse when the converts among the royal pages and courtiers refused to obey the king’s debaucherous desires and shunned his wicked actions. The king ordered all Christians in his court and also foreign missionaries to be rounded up and put to death, and the locals if they would not abandon their faith. St. Charles Lwanga and his companions in martyrdom refused to abandon their faith, and in prison, he even managed to convert some more people, before being martyred by being burnt alive after refusing again to abandon the Christian faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can see from this just how great the love that these martyrs had for the Lord and His laws, that they remained firm in faith despite all the trials and sufferings that they had to endure, and they also cared for one another, and just as shown how St. Charles Lwanga tried to persuade even more people to follow the Lord from the prison, shows how much he treasured others, that he would not want more people to fall into the depth of hell because of their sins.

Can we be faithful to the Lord just as these brethren of ours had been faithful? Can we commit ourselves in the same way that they had done in their lives? Let us all turn to the Lord with renewed conviction and hope, with dedication and commitment that all of us may grow ever more in love towards the Lord and may all of us be courageous in living our lives to the fullest in the most Christ-like way as possible. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 28b-34

At that time, a teacher of the Law came up and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is : Hear, Israel! The Lord, our God, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And after this comes a second commandment : You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these two.”

The teacher of the Law said to Him, “Well spoken, Master; You are right when You say that He is One, and there is no other besides Him. To love Him with all our heart, with all our understanding and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves is more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice.”

Jesus approved of this answer and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask Him any more questions.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Thursday, 3 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Tobit 6 : 10-11 and Tobit 7 : 1, 9-17 and Tobit 8 : 4-9a

When Tobit and Raphael had entered Media and were already approaching Ecbatana, Raphael said to Tobias, “Friend, we shall spend the night at the house of Ragouel. He is a relative of yours. He has no son, just an only daughter called Sara.

When they arrived in Ecbatana Tobias said to Raphael, “Friend Azarias, take me straightaway to our friend Ragouel.” So Raphael led Tobias to Ragouel’s house and they found Ragouel sitting by the door of the courtyard. They killed a sheep and served them numerous dishes.

After they had bathed and washed, as they were relaxing before the meal, Tobias said to Raphael, “Friend Azarias, tell Ragouel to give me Sara my kinswoman. Talk about what you were saying during our journey, that the matter may come about and be accomplished.”

Ragouel overheard the conversation and he said to Tobias, “Eat, drink and be merry tonight. You are the man who has most right to take Sara my daughter because you are my kinsman. Indeed it is impossible for me to give her to any other man but you, because you are my closest relative. But, my son, I must tell you the whole story. I gave her to seven husbands from among our kinsmen. They each died on the wedding night. But, for the moment, my son, eat and drink and the Lord will arrange things for you.”

Tobias said, “I shall eat nothing if you do not stop now and bring this matter to a conclusion.” Ragouel said to Tobias, “Take her from now on; I give her to you according to the Law of Moses and you have to understand that God Himself gives her to you. Receive your kinswoman, from now on you are her brother and she is your sister. She is yours from today and forever. Now God will bless you this night and may He give you both His mercy and peace.”

He called his daughter Sara and taking her by the hand, he gave her to Tobias as his wife. He said, “According to Moses’ Law, take her now and bring her to your father’s house.” And he blessed them. Ragouel then called Edna his wife; taking a sheet of parchment, he wrote down a matrimonial contract and they both affixed their seals.

Then they all began to eat. Ragouel called his wife and said to her, “My sister, prepare the other room and take Sara there.” Edna did as Ragouel told her and she took Sara to this room and Sara began to cry. Edna dried her daughter’s tears and said, “Have courage, my child, the God of heaven and earth will change your sorrow into joy. Have confidence, my daughter!”

When Sara’s parents had left the room and closed the door, Tobias got up from the bed and said to Sara, “Get up, my sister, and let us ask the Lord to have mercy on us and save us.” She got up and they began to pray, asking that they be given life. Tobias began like this, “May You be blessed, o Lord God of our fathers, and may Your holy and glorious Name be blessed forever. May the heavens and all creatures bless You. You created Adam and You gave him Eve, his wife, as a helper and companion, so that from these two the human race might be born.”

“You said : ‘It is not good that man should be alone, let Us give him a companion who is like himself.’ Now, Lord, I take my sister to myself in sincerity and love, not merely seeking pleasure. Have mercy on us and grant us a long life together.” Together they said, “Amen,” and returned to bed for the night.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture through which we are reminded of the powerful deeds of the Lord in saving His people as He heard the prayers of His faithful ones in distress, that of Tobit the righteous Israelite who suffered from blindness and other personal matters as well as Sara, the distressed daughter who was beset by a powerful demon. Both Tobit and Sara prayed to the Lord and sought His help in their most vulnerable moments.

And God answered them by sending one of His Archangels, Raphael into the world to help both of them and to show all of us the love He has for each and every one of us, as well as the guidance and providence that He has shown to us all along the way. Through the Archangel Raphael, God eventually rescued Tobit and healed his eyesight, while sending his son Tobias with Raphael to visit the family of Sara, who was the daughter of Tobit’s friend, Raguel. Raphael would then free Sara from the bondage by the evil spirit and deliver her from her troubles.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we listened to the story of the Lord and His confrontation with the Sadducees, who tried to question Him on the matter of the resurrection of the dead, which they staunchly refused to believe in, as part of their beliefs. The Sadducees were the powerful members of the Jewish community who held positions of great influence and belonging to the more secular and irreligious segments of the community. They were especially at odds with the Pharisees who were the spiritual guides of the community.

To a great extent, the Sadducees and their aversion to anything spiritual extended to their refusal to accept any form of life or existence after death, that there can be no resurrection of the dead, and they also refused to believe in spiritual beings such as Angels and spirits, which means that they really saw the worldly life and existence they had there and then as the only sole existence. As such, many of them tended to live in a hedonistic and worldly manner, swayed by their desires and temptations.

And they probably also referred to the case of Sara in the Scriptures, when they asked the Lord regarding the matter of resurrection from the dead, as Sara was already married to seven husbands before she met Tobias and Raphael, and all of the seven husbands had been killed by the demon Asmodeus who made her suffer. They used this example to highlight the question on who then the woman would have been legally married to in the afterlife, in the life after the resurrection since she had been married to all the seven husbands in the world, and then later on would also marry Tobias, the son of Tobit after she was freed from the demon.

Instead, the Lord said to all of them that their understanding of the Lord and the faith was flawed, and they were too fixated on worldly matters that they failed to understand what the life that is to come is all about. Indeed, in truth, they had also failed to appreciate what life is all about. They saw life from the perspective of worldly desires and wants, of human ambition and pride. This is why they failed to realise that their lives were not just about themselves or their own desires, but instead all are for the sake of glorifying God. In the world that is to come, everyone will be free of their corruption of sin, and will be in perfect harmony in God, where little desires for pleasures and worldly things no longer have meaning.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that without Christ and without the Lord’s guidance and providence, without His strength and grace, we are really nothing. We are great and wonderful because we have God by our side, and all that we are, we owe it to the Lord, Who is always constantly by our side, as He constantly sends out His Angels and Archangels, all of His forces to be by our side and to safeguard and protect us, even when we cannot see them directly. The example of how the Archangel Raphael appeared to Tobias and helped him and Tobit and Sara showed us that God is always with us, and the views of the Sadducees were wrong.

Today, all of us celebrate the feast of the holy saints and martyrs, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, both of whom according to the Church and martyr tradition were servants of God, a priest and an exorcist who were beheaded for their faith during the intense anti-Christian persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They remained faithful to the Lord and were committed to the mission that they had been entrusted with as servants of God, which was likely also how they ended up in martyrdom, arrested and then put to death because they refused to abandon or reject their faith in God.

Had they not believed in the Lord, in the resurrection from the dead and eternal glory that they have been assured with through their faith, they would not have been willing to suffer so grievously and to die for their faith. The Sadducees would have viewed their suffering and death as stupidity and folly, but that was because they themselves failed to see the truth and they were too engrossed in their own selfish desires to understand God’s truth and His intentions. St. Marcellinus and St. Peter through their courageous lives and martyrdom strengthened the faith of many of their fellow brothers and sisters, and many others afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? Do we trust in the Lord as our holy predecessors had done? Do we have the faith and are we able to commit ourselves knowing that God is always with us and He will always provide for us, for His faithful ones. If we are suffering now and are in difficulty, as Tobit and Sara had suffered, then we should seek the Lord and bring up our prayers to Him. God knows what we need, and sometimes we have to be patient, and persevere, as in the end, no matter what happens, God’s will shall be done, and we will triumph with Him. The outcome may not be according to what we want, but that is because God has a better plan for us.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with a renewed faith, and let us all seek Him with ever greater conviction and love Him more and more with each and every passing moments. May the Lord empower us with hope and strength, that we may always hold onto Him and remain strong in our devotion, regardless of the challenges we face through life. St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, holy martyrs and servants of God, pray for us! Amen.