Saturday, 12 November 2022 : 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 we heard from the Scriptures the words of the Lord reminding us of the great love of God that He has shown and bestowed upon us, as our loving Father and Creator. We can really trust in the Lord and have faith in Him because He alone truly cares for us so deeply, that He still patiently awaits us and reaches out to us from time to time, no matter how long it has been since we listened to Him and how we have constantly disobeyed Him from time to time again. The Lord wants each and every one of us to be once again reunited with Him, by our reconciliation with Him and our rediscovery of the path of righteousness that He has led us into.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. John the Apostle speaking to the faithful all around Christendom, calling on all of them to provide for one another with love and care, especially for the missionaries who went from places to places in spreading the Word of God and His Good News of salvation. At that time, early Christian missionaries travelled from place to place without much support and help, save that from God and His strength, and also from the kindness and generosity of the people whom they were visiting, including that from the local Christian communities that had by then been established. Without these support and help, the early Christian missionaries would have indeed found it difficult for them to carry out their mission efficiently.

For they were up against many difficulties and challenges, and also persecution by both the Jewish authorities, the Pharisees and elders, the chief priests, as well as the local governors and the Roman authorities among others. Yet, those missionaries carried out the will of God and continued to labour hard for the sake of their fellow brothers and sisters, because they embody the love of God and His kindness and mercy, just as He has shown us all earlier on. Thus, just as God has loved us all and showed us His love and kindness, thus, we too should be loving and kind, caring and helpful to one another. Those missionaries shared the love of God with their fellow brethren, to those who have not yet known God’s love, and especially those who have been lacking in love.

Therefore it is just right that we support them in whatever way we can, and not only that, but in our own lives and actions, in our every words, actions and deeds, we should show this same love to one another as well, or else we are no better than hypocrites, who profess to believe in God and yet do not act in the manner that is compatible to that belief, or even outrightly contradictory in nature in our way of living of our lives. Unless we make the conscious effort to live our lives in accordance with God’s will, and ask the Lord for His guidance and strength, then we will end up having a lot of challenges and difficulties in going through this journey of faith through life. Sometimes we also do not realise that all that we need, is actually just to ask God for help.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord used a parable to highlight this to His disciples and to all of us. He spoke of an evil judge who was wicked, proud and arrogant, and feared no one, even God, and yet, that evil judge was bound and persuaded to give in to the persistent demands made by an old woman, who kept on looking for him and persistently sought him to settle her case and issues, and she was so persistent that despite the wicked judge fearing no one, even he was compelled to do as the old woman asked and desired, if only because by doing so, he would be spared from the woman’s ever continued and incessant demands on him to settle her case in court. By using that example, the Lord wanted to make it clear to us, that if the old woman could make the evil judge to turn towards her, all the more then the Lord, Who loves us dearly, will listen to us, if we call on Him.

However, many times we find that we do not call on Him, or seek Him, and for many reasons at that. Many among us do not know God well, and we do not have that close and intimate relationship with Him, and He is not the One we turn to first. Instead, we turn towards the many worldly means all around us. We end up depending on those things instead of on God, and some among us also feared God more than we love Him, because we are afraid that He will punish us for our sins. Again, all of these show that we do not truly know God well, as if only that we know Him well, then we will know and realise just how beloved and how fortunate each and every one of us have been, to be blessed as such with God and His love.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is important for many of us is that we need to open our hearts and minds, our whole beings to God’s love. It is precisely because many of us have been so self-centred, selfish and proud, filled with ego and greed, giving in to the temptations all around us that we were unable to recognise the love of God present in our midst, and we are also therefore devoid of that love in our own lives and actions. If only we can learn to love the way that God has loved us all thus far, we will truly be transformed and changed, no longer the wicked creatures of our worldly attachments and desires, but truly becoming worthy people and children of God, a people filled with God’s love, light and hope.

Today, we should all be inspired by the examples set by St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, the saint and martyr whose feast we are celebrating. His great examples in being faithful and loving to God, faith in Him, and also his love and care for his flock, those people entrusted to him by God, all should inspire us all to become better and more dedicated disciples and followers of God ourselves. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was the Archbishop of Polotsk over the territories in what is now Belarus and parts of northern Ukraine, where back then there were divisions among the faithful people of God between those who were in Communion with the Pope in Rome and those who were in rebellion against the authority of the Vicar of Christ.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was one of the bishops who led the faithful who wished to reconcile themselves to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope and restore the unity of the Church, as part of the efforts known as the Union of Lublin. However, that reunification of the churches did not solve all the problems and divisions that existed, as quite a few among the clergy and the people resisted the efforts at reunification, and struggle to maintain their divisions and independence. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych laboured hard to minister to all of his flock and bridge the differences among his flock, including reaching out to those who resisted the efforts of reunification. He continued working hard despite all the opposition he encountered, and which led to his martyrdom as the mob rose up against him and murdered him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be inspired by the faith and good examples set by St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, and learn to love more generously in our lives, to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters with love, and to love our God with all of our hearts, our strength and our efforts. Let us all be courageous in asking the Lord for help too when we need it, for His guidance and strength, power and encouragement. May the Lord be with us all and be with His Church, so that all of us will always grow ever more in faith and love in Him. May God bless our good works and efforts, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 12 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my opponent!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Saturday, 12 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness, he is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.

Saturday, 12 November 2022 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

3 John 5-8

Beloved, you do well to care for the brothers and sisters as you do. I mean those coming from other places. They spoke of your charity before the assembled Church. It will be well to provide them with what they need to continue their journey, as if you did it for God.

In reality, they have set out on the road for His Name without accepting anything from the pagans. We should receive such persons, making ourselves their cooperators in the work of the truth.

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.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 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 are reminded of just how fortunate all of us are to be the servants and followers of God because each and every one of us are truly precious in His eyes, and we are the most beloved and wonderful of all His creations. As mentioned in the Book of Wisdom from which our first reading was taken from today, although we may have been punished for our sins, but ultimately, immortality and eternal joy is what we have been destined for.

And it is also mentioned how the souls of the just are in the hands of the Lord, and He will surely never let us down, for if He can be so generous in mercy and compassion on all those who have disobeyed and sinned against Him, giving them opportunities one after another and patiently calling on them to return to Him, all the more He will bless and love all more abundantly those who love Him and serve Him. That is why we should really be thankful and grateful for God’s love.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus used the parable of a servant to illustrate this more succinctly, as He compared the relationship we have with God with that of a servant and his master. At that time, as was common, any servants must obey the commands and expectations of their masters, and they had to do whatever they were told to do, as part of their job and duty, or else they would be punished or fired from their employment.

Therefore as all of us are God’s servants and followers, we ought to do what we are called to do as our obligation and duty to Him, and all the more because our Master is truly a loving and caring Master Who is always ever concerned for our well-being and Who went out of His way to ensure our safety and our salvation from the destruction we should have suffered from because of our sins and wickedness.

Unfortunately, many of us had preferred to remain in sin because we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the many temptations of this world which caused us to fall deeper and deeper into sin and into paths that led us away from God. And the devil and all of his forces are always ever active in trying to strike at us, persuading, coercing, tempting and pressuring us to walk down the path of sin and to disregard and abandon our responsibilities as God’s followers and people.

And amidst all these darkness, we should seek the sources of light, our inspirations in life, by looking at those who have been faithful in their lives and actions, our holy predecessors who showed us the way forward in faith, in their tireless dedication and commitment to God, in their righteousness and in their willingness to suffer and even to die for the sake of their Lord and Master, for their faith in Him.

Today, we have St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, the great martyr of Church and Christian unity, who was a bishop of the Church in what is now Ukraine, during the time when some members of the splintered and divided Church began to seek reconciliation and reunion with the Holy Mother Church. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was one among those bishops belonging to the Eastern Orthodox communion seeking to return to the embrace of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under St. Peter and his successors.

Through the Union of Brest which was affirmed in the year of Our Lord 1596, several bishops and their flock rejoined the Mother Church, as what would become eventually the many Eastern Catholic Churches today. Unfortunately, there were quite a few communities and their leaders who were against reunification and reconciliation, and these caused bitter troubles and difficulties for the Christian faithful and their leaders including that of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych.

Regardless of the challenges and the oppositions he had to face, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych worked tirelessly among the people of God, enduring the difficult challenges and committing his time and effort to serve the Lord as a faithful servant and disciple. His efforts managed to gain converts among those who still resisted the efforts at reunion and reconciliation. Nonetheless he still faced significant resistance and eventually, he was murdered by his enemies.

The courage and faith which St. Josaphat Kuntsevych showed us all amidst persecution and challenges of the world both remind us of the obstacles that we as Christians will encounter in life of being faithful to God and also encourages us to follow in his footsteps in serving God just as he has done. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God and love Him with ever greater faith and zeal from now on. May God bless us all and be with His Church, and unites all those who believe in Him in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 7-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner’? No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.'”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'”