Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Holy Scriptures, which told us about when Jesus foretold the great destruction that was about to befall the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God there, because of the wickedness of the people who lived there. Then in the psalm we heard of the songs of joy and exultation which came from all of creation to praise the Lord who is to come to save His people.
And in the first reading we heard about the warning and prophecy of what is about to come in the future, at the end of times, when the Lord deems it is time for the ending of the world as we knew it. When everything is at hand, what had been said in the Scriptures, will be completely fulfilled. There are two meanings of the reaping of the earth in the first reading today from the Book of the revelations of St. John.
The first one is related to the parable of the fig tree where the Lord rebuked the fig tree for having bore no fruit, and it withered, and also to the parable of the sower, where the seeds sown in a rich and fertile soil grew to such an extent that they bore a thirtyfold, or a sixtyfold, or a hundredfold return in bountiful fruits and products. Therefore, this means that at the time, when the Lord’s chosen ones had been completed in their fullness, and in the fullness of their faith, He will come again.
The time is not known to us, and only He who knows it all, has control over it. We who have been chosen and we who chose to put our faith in Him has therefore one task for ourselves, that is to live faithfully and genuinely in our love for Him, so that through our actions, we may be filled with such goodness and grace, so that we bear the fruits of love, that is the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We are the grapes of the Lord, sown with love by our Lord Himself, the vineyard owner. The angels are His servants, who will go forth into the world to reap whatever can be reaped on the day of the harvest. If we do not bear fruit within us, then when the time of reckoning, that is the harvest time, comes, then the angels will find no fruit in us, and we will end up as useless plants.
What is our fate then if that is the case? Our fate will therefore be to share the fate of Satan and his angels, who had been the first ones to disobey the Lord and His will, bearing themselves no good fruit in them. And the same goes if the fruits we produce are rotten or no good at all in quality. No vineyard owner would like to have bad or rotten grapes as his harvest produce, and these will be thrown into the fire to be destroyed, lest they contaminate the good grapes. Hence, the same will happen to us, at the Last Judgment.
The second meaning of the reaping of the earth in the first reading today, is that the grapes when they are pressed, they produce rich liquid that if we look at the most commonly used grapes at the time, the red variant, produce a deep red grape juice, which if we look at it, does look like blood. And this is another meaning of the reaping of the earth at the end of time.
If we read in another part of the Book of the Revelation of St. John, we will see a passage on the Mother Harlot, the great Babylon, seated on the beast, which represent the evil forces and all the wickedness of this world and whoever it is that do not have faith in the Lord. The harlot was drunk with the blood of martyrs, and the anger of God was very great against the world because of that.
That means, when the wickedness of the world was such, and the persecution of the holy martyrs was such that their blood cries out to the Lord for justice, then the Lord will heed their call, and at His appointed time, come to judge and destroy all the wickedness in this world. This is therefore related to the first interpretation of the meaning of the reaping of the world by the angel. In what way is this so?
It means that, just as Jesus warned of a great tribulation would soon befall Jerusalem, its destruction and the mayhem it would cause, that would only be a precursor and a brief insight into what will happen when the Lord is about to come again, just as St. John has seen them all in his revelation. Nations will fight against nations, and many will be misled by the forces of evil, seeking to turn us away from the way of the Lord and to worship and serve the devil instead.
In this therefore, the temptation will be great for us to turn from being a good and faithful vine, producing good and sweet grapes, into one corrupted and sickened by diseases, namely the disease of sin, which cause us to produce bad and rotten fruits instead. And the persecution of those who believe in the Lord will be growing more and more, greater and greater, and at times, even our lives and our blood will be at stake.
It is therefore a reminder for us, that first, we have to be thoroughly and completely faithful to the Lord, without doubts or second thoughts. We cannot serve both the Lord and the devil, and if we are to serve the Lord, we have to take our clear stand with Him, regardless of what the world may do to us for doing so. Do not fear the world, for it can only harm our body temporarily, but they cannot touch even a single bit of our soul, which is eternal.
Then, it is also a reminder that if we follow the Lord and remain faithful to Him, everything will not be easy or happy all the time. Difficulties and challenges will surely come our way, but if we are resolute and dedicated in our faith, then be assured, brothers and sisters, that we will be well taken care of by the Lord, and our reward is very great in heaven.
Today, we remember the memory and celebrate the feast of a great martyr and saint, whose example may help us to strengthen our own faith and effort to defend it, in the face of the difficulties and challenges presented by this world. The saint of today is St. Catherine of Alexandria, a holy virgin and martyr of the faith, who died heroically defending her faith and the Lord, as well as her purity, from the corruptions of sin and the world during the last of the great persecutions of the Faith by the Roman Empire.
St. Catherine of Alexandria was born a noble lady, the daughter of the rulers or governors of Egypt, a wealthy and influential province of the Roman Empire. Her beauty, wisdom and skills were such that, many people were her suitors. However, St. Catherine, who was a convert to the faith in her youth, was to dedicate herself and her love only to One, and that One is the Lord.
St. Catherine devoted herself to perpetual and perfect virginity, maintaining her purity, by offering herself totally and completely to the Lord, as a spiritual bride of the Lord, rejecting all the offers of all those who pursued her, even though she was showered with gifts of wealth, riches, power, influence, fame and many others. Eventually, even the Emperor himself, Maxentius, who would later perish against the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, was also taken in by her beauty, but he failed to persuade her as well.
It was told that St. Catherine tried to persuade Emperor Maxentius to stop the persecution of Christians and to make him to see the errors of his ways of idol worship and to embrace the true Faith. The Emperor was not persuaded and he tried to employ several pagan philosophers to debate with her, and instead, those philosophers were persuaded and some joined the Faith.
Eventually St. Catherine of Alexandria was martyred, suffering terribly for defending her Faith and the truth, but in doing so, she had stood up for her faith, and brought witness and testimony to the truth, that inspired even others and brought others to salvation. She is our role model, brothers and sisters, as her actions in life is the example of what we should do in this life, to gain righteousness in God’s sight.
Therefore, with the intercession of St. Catherine of Alexandria, let us all renew our commitment to the Faith, strengthening our resolve to love and serve the Lord in all things, so that we may be true disciples of the Lord, rejecting all the falsehoods of Satan and his allies. Their lies and temptations are plentiful, cunning and wicked.
Remember what our Lord said in the Gospel today, that there will be lots of false prophets and false leads, and if we are not careful, we may fall into the traps of the devil. Let us therefore be courageous to live fully in the Lord, and at the same time, be vigilant and careful in all the things we do, so as to avoid committing sin and falling into damnation. God bless us all. Amen.
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