Tuesday, 3 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

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.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

John 17 : 1-11a

After saying this, Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may give glory to You. You have given Him power over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You entrusted to Him. For this is eternal life : to know You, the only true God, and the One You sent, Jesus Christ.”

“I have glorified You on earth and finished the work that You gave Me to do. Now, Father, give Me, in Your presence, the same glory I had with You before the world began. I have made Your Name known to those You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word. And now they know that whatever You entrusted to Me, is indeed from You.”

“I have given them the teaching I received from You, and they received it, and know in truth that I came from You; and they believe that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to You, and whom You have given to Me. Indeed all that I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine; and now they are My glory.”

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to You.”

Tuesday, 3 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 67 : 10-11, 20-21

Then You gave a rain of blessings to comfort Your weary children. Your people found a dwelling and in Your mercy, o God, You provided for the needy.

Blessed be the Lord, God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens! Ours is a God who saves; our Lord lets us escape from death.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Martyrs)

Acts 20 : 17-27

From Miletus Paul sent word to Ephesus, summoning the elders of the Church. When they came to Him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, how I served the Lord in humility through the sorrows and trials that the Jews caused me.”

“You know that I never held back from doing anything that could be useful for you; I spoke publicly and in your homes and I urged Jews and non-Jews alike to turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.”

“But now I am going to Jerusalem, chained by the Spirit, without knowing what will happen to me there. Yet in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that imprisonment and troubles await me. Indeed I put no value on my life, if only I can finish my race and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus, to announce the Good News of God’s grace.”

“I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you this day that my conscience is clear with regard to all of you. For I have spared no effort in fully declaring to you God’s will.”