Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to how our Lord taught us Himself, how we should pray, and in the first Reading, we also learn how we should become, or what are the things expected from us as the children of God and as His disciples. The two prophets, Elijah and Elisha are the ones mentioned, and they and their actions ought to be our model of the faith.
And in relation to all of that, I would like to bring your attention to the saints whom we are celebrating today, the Saints of the Vietnamese persecution of the faithful, also known as the Vietnamese martyrs, led by the Vietnamese priest, St. Philip Minh. They consisted of the laity and the religious, all thoroughly dedicated to the cause of the faith.
They all faced persecution for their faith and for their work in testifying and proclaiming that faith to others around them. As we know, Elijah and Elisha the prophets faced many difficulties in their mission, as we can read from the two Book of Kings in the Bible, how they had to go from town to town, and even having to exile themselves in foreign lands at times, when their lives were in considerable danger through being opposed to the king and the people’s wickedness.
St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs lived through different periods of time spanning several hundred years, but they all faced similar opposition and persecution against their faith, when many were asked to choose between recanting their faith in Christ and live or to abandon and forsake Christ in exchange for their lives.
The Vietnamese monarchy and the government, ran by strongly Confucian-influenced officials and nobles viewed the faith in Christ as an aberration in the society and as a great and terrible threat to the unity of the nation and to the authority of the Confucian-run government. Hence, the officials and the Vietnamese Emperor officially went on a great persecution and opposition against the faith and the faithful.
Yet, the faith made great progress in Vietnam, and even it still does until this very day. Persecution against the faith and the faithful still continues even to this day, under the atheist and anti-faith Communist government in power, and yet the faithful continued to go on in their daily struggle and remain true to their faith in the Lord.
The Vietnamese martyrs showed us a great example of how we should treasure and live our faith meaningfully, for they had been tortured and forced to recant their faith, and yet they persevered on, and they did not give in to the demands and the offers of their executors and torturers. They chose to remain faithful and continued with their evangelisation of the faith, be it through their work or through their death, that they bring more and more souls into salvation and into knowing God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that we should seek martyrdom or be confrontational about the faith, but instead it means that we should not take our faith for granted, and we have to be active and genuine in living our faith. We have to realise that in having and in keeping this faith, we will find ourselves often standing in opposition to the values and ways of the world, because we belong to the Lord. Remember, as Jesus Himself said, that this world hated Him and therefore it would hate us too.
Our faith life will inevitably meet challenges and difficulties along the way, some of which had happened to the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well as to St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs. The question now is, are we able to follow in their footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord and walking in His ways at all times, despite the challenges and difficulties?
Let us from now on reflect on this, and on the lives and actions of the prophets and the martyrs, that we may reflect on our own lives and actions. Let us hope that we may change for the better, and grow stronger in our faith, that our faith may be genuine and filled with love, both for God and for our fellow men. God bless us all. Amen.