Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Gospel and the Scriptures, urging us all to obey the Law and the commandments of God, as how He had given all these to us as the instruments and helpers for us all as we walk on this path towards salvation and eternal life. He has given all of them to us so that these may guide as we encounter challenges and difficulties on our way.
And yet, as we heard from the Book of Proverbs, our first reading of today, we saw how many people persisted in their wicked ways and refused to follow what the Lord had instructed and shown them. And that is because in their hearts, they do not have the Lord in their hearts. They were so full of themselves and their ego that they did not see how much God had done for them and blessed them in their lives.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are expected to live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, devoting ourselves to God and all the things that He had taught us to do. And just as Jesus said, those who have done the will of God, He will consider as His brothers and sisters. Why is this so? That is because He Who is God has made Himself to be a Man like ourselves, so that all those who have obeyed the Lord as He had obeyed His Father may be like Him in all things, and be worthy to be considered as His brethren.
And perhaps, the best example for that obedience is our Lord Himself, Who have obeyed the will of the Father to the very end. He was willing to shoulder the burden of the cross, so that by bearing that cross, on which has been laid the burdens of our sins, we may be saved from certain death and destruction due to those sins. He is our Good Shepherd, Who truly loves us and cares for us, showing us the love and concern with which He guides us to the right path.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should also heed the examples of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the many other holy saints and martyrs, who have suffered and died defending the faith in the land of Korea. These saints were missionaries and local Christians who have endured difficulties, tribulations, oppressions and persecutions in their faith and in their belief in God.
At that time, the government of Korea was very hostile to the Christian faith, openly opposing the evangelisation of the faith in its territory, and were very staunch in their stance against the missionaries of the faith. And many of those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between great suffering and pain or to recant their faith and return to their old beliefs.
But amidst this very difficult and turbulent time, many brave and courageous members of the faithful, together with the missionaries stood up against the tide of persecution, and became living examples of how faith should be like in us Christians. They refused to abandon the Lord and their faith in Him, and even while knowing that such a stance would lead to great difficulties and persecution, they pressed on nonetheless.
And in particular St. Laurent Imbert, a French missionary appointed as the first Bishop of Korea, as the Vicar Apostolic there, was exemplary in his actions, which showed many the same example as Christ Himself had shown the world. At that time, as the persecution of the faithful and the Church intensified, the authorities were trying to destroy the Church by striking at its leadership. St. Laurent Imbert, the Bishop of Korea and his priests were then hiding from the authorities.
An offer went out from the authorities, that if the bishop and the leading priests were to surrender themselves, then they would spare the rest of the faithful from further persecution. While this was most likely a trap, and no guarantee could be ensured from trusting the words of the authorities, St. Laurent Imbert nonetheless decided to surrender himself, while encouraging his fellow priests to do the same.
In doing so, as was explained in his writings, St. Laurent Imbert had followed the example of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. Jesus said that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, and there, St. Laurent Imbert laid down his life for the good and the benefit of the flock entrusted to him by God. He showed us all by action, true Christian love, devotion and commitment, both to God and to His people, his fellow men.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too should follow in the footsteps of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the saints and martyrs of Korea, all of whom bravely and courageously defended their faith even with their life. They have lived truly as Christians, and showed the meaning of commitment, faith, and true love for God and for their fellow men, by their unfailing faith and devotion.
Let us all imitate them in their examples, and be brave and courageous in our faith as well. Let us all not be intimidated by the challenges of this world, but instead put our full trust in the Lord, knowing that God will always be with all those who are faithful to Him, for He will always love us all, and will never abandon His beloved ones to the darkness. May God bless us all, always. Amen.