Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are brought to attention of the sufferings of the followers of Christ just as the Lord Himself had suffered at the hands of those who opposed Him and refused to believe in Him. And because of this, we have to keep our faith in God strong and keep up our hope in Him even as we face trials and challenges in this life.

The Lord wants us all to be strong and to keep the faith, and because of that He has constantly reassured us through His servants, the Apostles and the saints, whose lives become our inspiration and strength, that we may continue to follow Him with zeal. And today, in particular, we recall the glorious life and inspirational faith of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, holy bishop of the Lord and martyr of the Church.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was a monk of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a few hundred years ago, at the time when the Christian faithful were divided between those who obeyed the Pope and are in communion with him, both the Roman Rite and the ones following the Eastern Orthodox communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

By that time the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople had been separated due to the Great Schism for over five hundred years, and the sum of mutual distrust, political circumstances and greed by others involved in the matter led to increasingly distant and hostile relationship between the two sides, and consequently, the faithful also ended up becoming ever more divided and hostile against each other.

St. Joseph Kuntsevych was a monk who eventually rose to the position of leadership within the Church as an Archbishop. At that time, a significant majority of the local Ruthenian population in the region now known as Belarus and Ukraine sought to be reconciled with the Pope led by the Metropolitan of Kiev and other bishops, who worked towards reconciliation that culminated in the Union of Brest.

Through that Union many communities of the faithful were led by their bishops and the clergy into full communion and reconciliation with the Pope and therefore becoming once again a member of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, this did not mean that the reunification of the Church occurred smoothly, as there were significant opposition from some segments of the faithful, both the clergy and laity alike.

It was in that situation that St. Josaphat Kuntsevych became a leader and shepherd for his flock, despite the rising tensions and clashes between those who were supportive of the Union and those who opposed the Union. He had the difficult job of trying to resolve the tensions and differences between the feuding factions of the faithful. Nonetheless, he dedicated himself as best as possible and did what he could to steer the faithful through to the right path despite the challenges.

And this was also accompanied by his personal holiness, exemplary conduct and life, constantly mortifying the flesh and resisting the temptations to sin. Nonetheless, amidst the rising sectarian tensions and violence eventually it led to the martyrdom of this faithful and holy man of God, as the townspeople who were opposed to the Union with the Pope rose against St. Josaphat and attacked him, tortured him and threw his dead body into the river.

As we can see from this case, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych showed us that being faithful to God is often not an easy task and is likely to be a challenging journey. But we must not lose hope or faith in God as the Lord will be with us, guiding us in our journey together towards Him. We must remain faithful, no matter what challenges we may encounter, that when the Lord comes again, we can confidently say that we have kept the faith, and will be worthy of His eternal glory.

May God bless us all and guide us, strengthen us in our journey that we may draw ever closer to Him, with each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

The Lord sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Philemon 7-20

I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand : I will pay it…. without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favour for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the important traits of God’s chief servants and the leaders and elders among the communities of the faithful, then named as overseers and elders. They were the ones who would in time become the first bishops of the Church, as those who were entrusted with the responsibility over the faithful in a certain geographical area.

In what St. Paul shared to St. Titus in his Epistle to him, he mentioned the characteristics of those who are to be chosen as bishops to lead the Church of God, to build up the foundations of the Church in the areas where at that time, it was still growing rapidly. St. Titus himself was also a bishop of the Church, one of the first among those whom the Apostles including St. Paul appointed as their successors in the government and management of the Church.

The bishops must have good qualities of the faith and also in leadership by example. They could not be those who were corrupt and wicked in their ways, or else the faith and the Church would be scandalised. They must be men of good character and showed great commitment to the Lord, which are important traits that all those who are serving the Lord ought to have in their lives and in their ministry.

These are important requirements for those who were called and chosen to be the good shepherds imitating the examples of the one, true Good Shepherd of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And they were given enormous responsibilities, that involves the very fate of many souls of man, which if not carefully and correctly managed, could cause those souls to be lost to God forever.

That was what the Lord Jesus mentioned when He said in the Gospel that, those who caused scandal for the faith, the Church and the faithful by their actions were truly not deserving of the Lord and His grace, for by their actions, deeds and maybe words, they have caused others, especially the vulnerable ones like children and others, to fall away from the faith, or to suffer the consequences of the former’s actions.

And sadly, this is what has happened in our Church throughout its long history, and even to this very day. There are scandals facing the Church, its priests, even bishops and the leaders that caused discomfort, pain and suffering among the members of the Church and the faithful, and this has caused some among the faithful to lose faith in God and His Church, and left the true faith behind.

Today, we ought to pray for the Church, for us all the faithful who believe in God, the members of His Church, and especially also for all those who have been called and chosen to become the shepherds of the faithful, that is the priests and bishops. Let us all pray for them, that they may remain faithful and committed to the service of God, and not to be tempted by Satan, the great enemy, who no doubt is trying to destroy the Church and us by attacking and tempting the holy priests and bishops.

We pray that they may have the courage to live up to their faith and calling, and following in the examples of the holy Apostles and martyrs, and especially today we celebrate the feast of a holy servant of God and courageous martyr of the faith, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, who was an Eastern Catholic bishop living during the contentious time when the foundations for the Eastern Catholic churches were made, at the time when some of the prelates from the breakaway Eastern Orthodox Church wanted to restore communion and unity with Rome and the Pope.

Thus, historically, through the Union of Brest in the year of Our Lord 1596, some of the Eastern prelates and priests declared their obedience to the Roman Catholic Church, the true Church of the Apostles and the Church of God, together with a number of the faithful. But tensions and problems did not end there, and in fact, they began to foster and create difficulties for those who have decided to reunite with the Roman Pontiff.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was counted among these courageous prelates who as the bishop and Archeparch in the Ruthenian area of the church, among which there were still many who refused to accept the reunion with the Roman church, and hence, it gave St. Josaphat a lot of problems and difficulties, each of which he took upon patiently and with great faith. In the end, he faced martyrdom in the hands of angry mob who refused to believe in the truth of God.

But his courage and perseverance should be an inspiration to each and every one of us, and especially for those who have been called and chosen to the holy orders. Therefore, let us all pray together as one Church, calling upon God to be with His Church, to protect us and to guide us in our journey, that we will remain faithful and strong despite the challenges we may encounter on our way. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.”

“Listen carefully : if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Titus 1 : 1-9

From Paul, servant of God, Apostle of Christ Jesus, at the service of God’s chosen people, so that they may believe and reach the knowledge of truth and godliness. The eternal life we are waiting for was promised from the very beginning by God Who never lies, and as the appointed time had come, He made it known through the message entrusted to me by a command of God, our Saviour.

Greetings to you, Titus, my true son in the faith we share. May grace and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I left you in Crete because I wanted you to put right what was defective and appoint elders in every town, following my instructions. They must be blameless, married only once, whose children are believers and not open to the charge of being immoral and rebellious.

Since the overseer (or bishop) is the steward of God’s house, he must be beyond reproach : not proud, hot-headed, over-fond of wine, quarrelsome or greedy for gain. On the contrary he must be hospitable, a lover of what is good, wise, upright, devout and self-controlled. He must hold to the message of faith just as it was taught, so that, in his turn, he may teach sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today it is highlighted to us another virtue in our faith life, that is the value of humility and gratitude in our lives, and how important these are in shaping our lives. For the Lord our God, who loves us so much, had decided to forgive us our sins and show His mercy to us sinners, even though more often than not, our sins were such that they should have been unforgivable as they were so wicked in nature.

As mentioned in the first reading today, taken from the letter of St. Paul written to Titus, while he was in captivity in Rome, mankind were once foolish and misguided, and we were once wholly submissive to our desires and our human needs, that we always seek to better ourselves and find what is good for ourselves, even at the expense of others.

It is difficult for us to obey others, and already it is difficult for us to obey the earthly authorities who made their presence and authority felt, and thus not to say about the authority of our Lord, whom many of us failed to notice in our lives. We are fearless and not repentant of our rebelliousness, because we did not recognise the Lord who is around us and within us, and who is watching everything that we do in this life.

It is therefore difficult for us in our nature to look beyond ourselves, and for many of us, pride and arrogance has walled us in, into ourselves as our desire feeds our pride and that pride further feeds our desire, in a vicious cycle that never ends, and eventually uncontrolled, it will lead to a great danger for us. We will not be able to do the will of God if we continue to remain and linger within this darkness within ourselves.

The Gospel today shows how Jesus healed ten lepers, who sought for His help, and He told them to show themselves to the priests, as was written in the Law, on how they ought to show their purity to the priests before they could be admitted back into the society. God’s power worked along the way, and they were healed while on the way to the priests.

Yet, this was where the behaviour of the one Samaritan who was healed, differed greatly from the other nine, who was also healed. The nine lepers was healed, and they joyfully realised that fact, and gladfully went on their way, presumably and most likely, to return to their old lives, and resumed whatever it was that they had lost. Meanwhile, the Samaritan also realised that he was healed in body, but unlike the other nine, he turned back, knowing who it was that had made him clean once again.

The Samaritan turned back and returned to the Lord Jesus, who praised Him for His faith, and said how his faith had made him whole once again. It is because of his faith that he recognised how Jesus has the power to make him clean, and he had placed his full trust in God, and not in himself. This is the attitude many of us had to adopt and emulate, and we have to abandon our ways, which are more often than not, like the other nine who rejoiced and did not give thanks to God.

How many of us in our lives, and in our daily actions forget to give thanks to those who helped us in various ways? And how many of us in fact, in total lack of gratitude and appreciation even caused pain to those who have helped us, or asked even more from them to satisfy our ever-growing desires? It is difficult indeed for mankind to resist such temptation, as we always try to grab at things beyond our means, and we complain when we cannot obtain them.

It is often that we need the grace of humility, temperance and satisfaction, at what God had given and provided us with His love. In the psalm today, the famous and renowned psalm on the Good Shepherd, we are shown how the Lord is our Good Shepherd, who leads us away from danger and darkness, and providing for us in all that we need, so that all of us who believe in Him, will not be disappointed, but gain eternal life and happiness.

He guides us on our way, so that we may not lose our path and fall into darkness. This very life we have, and all the goodness we have in it, are all the blessings of the Lord, and we ought to be grateful and thankful for that love. Yet, do we realise how often it is that we complain against the Lord, when things seemingly did not go our way? How often is it that we are angry at the Lord for seemingly not fulfilling what we have asked for?

We have to therefore, learn from the faithful Samaritan, the people who were often marginalised and ostracised by the Jews as being pagans and unbelievers, as barbarians unworthy of salvation. And yet, it was the Samaritan who humbly sought Jesus to give Him thanks for having healed him from his leprosy. The Jews, just as the other nine lepers, failed to do so.

We should emulate the example of the Samaritan, seeking God’s love and mercy at all times, and realising the love which He has for us, our Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. And today, we have the example of another shepherd, a holy saint, martyr and bishop whose example we should indeed follow. This is St. Josaphat the martyr, also known as St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, a Bishop who lived in the early modern time Lithuania during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was a bishop whose see was reunited with the leadership of the Roman Pontiff, the Pope, after it had been separated for many hundreds of years due to the Great Schism between the Western and Eastern Christianity. As such, St. Josaphat had a very difficult time in managing his flock, as many of them remained loyal to the old and rebellious ways, and refuse to follow their bishop and shepherd in obedience to the Vicar of Christ.

Nevertheless, St. Josaphat remained faithful and devoted, working tirelessly to serve God’s people, even serving those who were openly in rebellion against him. He preached to them the word of God and urged them to remain faithful, and also to follow the teachings of the true Faith. In the end, however, those who were opposed to St. Josaphat rose up and murdered him in cold blood, throwing his body in a river.

The body of St. Josaphat was recovered and brought with honour to Rome, where it received the honour of being buried at the hallowed ground of the Basilica of St. Peter. Later on, with the intercession of St. Josaphat himself, his archenemy, a rival bishop who set up his position in direct opposition to St. Josaphat, repented his sins and was reunited with Rome.

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych the martyr and faithful bishop, let us all work together as one people, one Church of God. Let us help one another, in union with our bishops and those whom the Lord had placed over us, as representatives of His authority, so that we may learn of humility and obedience to God’s will.

Let us all pray to the Lord, that He will grant us grace, to diminish in our pride and desires, and grow stronger in our humility and desire to seek the Lord. Let us learn to obey fully the will of God and seek the fullness of His eternal love and mercy, like the Samaritan leper who was healed from his afflictions, giving thanks to God for that love shown to him, and was praised by the Lord for his faith. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/11/wednesday-12-november-2014-32nd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-josaphat-bishop-and-martyr-first-reading/

Psalm : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/11/wednesday-12-november-2014-32nd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-josaphat-bishop-and-martyr-psalm/

Gospel Reading : 

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/11/wednesday-12-november-2014-32nd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-st-josaphat-bishop-and-martyr-gospel-reading/

Thursday, 24 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the admonition, almost to the point of lamentation, on why the people of God, whom God had loved so much, did not appreciate that love and refused to budge and listen to the kind words of the Lord, offering hope and comfort. God had done so much for men, as we all may testify and witness in how He cared for His people throughout the Scriptures, and yet they rejected His love.

But the Lord is not someone who would just leave sinners like that once His approach had been spurned. In fact, He tried many times and sent reminders after reminders to tell mankind, both how much He loves us, and also how He gave us chance after chance, which we either ignored or cast aside in our pursuit for the goodness of the world. We have tasted the corruptions of this world, and into sin, where we have fallen into.

Our hearts and minds are corrupted with the darkness of sin, and our beings are filled with darkness that prevents us from seeing the light and living in the light. We are truly the creatures of darkness, unlike the children of the light we all ought to become. And precisely as it had been written in the Scripture reading today, how we trust rather in the leaking faucet and pipes, that is our own flawed strength and feeble foundations, over the strength of the everlasting spring of God’s power.

We are easily tempted, and too easily bribed by Satan who offered the sweetest of his treacherous lies and temptations. He has all of his forces arrayed against us, tempting us daily that we may eventually falter along our path towards salvation, and be dragged together with him into the hellfire. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be vigilant and be solid in our faith, that we have a strong defense against whatever it is that the devil is using against us.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Sharbel Makhluf or St. Charbel Makhluf, a renowned Maronite saint, who lived just over a hundred years ago in today’s Lebanon. St. Sharbel Makhluf is a holy man and a deeply devoted person to God, who was born to a devout Christian Maronite family, a group of Christians that has dwelled for a very long time in Lebanon area since the days of the early Church, and which remained loyal to the authority of the Apostles even though many others had apostasized.

St. Sharbel Makhluf joined the religious life and devoted his life entirely to God. He was truly a role model for the faithful, and his life was an example for all to see. His life might have been relatively uneventful, and he dedicated all of his time to God. However, upon his passing from this world to the heavens to be with God, miracles came abound from his body and his grave. This is a mark of favour by God, showing how much He blessed those who are with Him and who devoted themselves to Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, should we not follow the examples of this great and yet humble saint of God? In his life, St. Sharbel Makhluf had shown us that it is perfectly possible for us all to be faithful servants of our God, provided that we set our sights, our attention and our hearts on Him alone. If we do these things, certainly God will bless us just as He had once blessed St. Sharbel Makhluf.

Let us all therefore seek God in this life, and devote ourselves ever more to our loving God. God wants nothing other than our love and devotion, just as He Himself had first been devoted to us. Let us no longer spurn His love, but with great humility, ask Him for His grace and forgiveness, that we may once again enjoy the fullness of His love. God be with us all. Amen.