Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures we have heard about how God has revealed to us the greatness of His love and all that He has planned for each and every one of us. He wants us to know that no matter what challenges and difficulties, tribulations and trials we may have to face, as long as we remain true to our faith in Him and as long as we continue to do His will, we have nothing to fear.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, there were two main message that the Lord revealed to the people through Zechariah. First of all, it was a reminder of the punishment and consequences due to the sins which the people of God had committed at that time, and how their livelihood, their cities, represented by Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed by their enemies.

And yet, God also revealed to them the second of His intentions, and that is the salvation which He promised to them all, despite of their sinfulness and rebelliousness, how He would redeem them and gather them back from the nations, and how many more people will come to glorify God and praise His Name. This is a revelation that God’s love for us all is so great that despite our sins and wickedness, He is still willing to love us and forgive us our trespasses.

This is where I want to bring our attention to the Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus spoke clearly before His disciples on the matter of how He would be betrayed to His enemies, and made to suffer for all of mankind’s sake. It was one of the several reminders and revelations which God had made to His disciples on the upcoming of His own Passion, suffering, death and eventually resurrection.

In what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, we have heard just how great God’s love is, that the ultimate proof of this love He has for us, is none other and nothing less than what He Himself has willingly done for us, by taking up the Cross willingly, and bearing for our sake, all of the punishments, consequences and terrible sufferings that we should have endured because of our sins.

Christ bore those sufferings willingly, to be betrayed and rejected, to be humiliated and treated far less than what befits any human being, to be oppressed and tortured, to be ridiculed and made to bear the burden of the Cross, all because of His great and undying love for each and every one of us. Every single one of us mankind are precious to God, and therefore, even though we have disobeyed Him, but His love for us brought Him to reach out to us and call us to redemption through Him.

Therefore, because God has been so faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us, and because He has devoted Himself so thoroughly for our sake, and provided for us so great a gift and path towards forgiveness and redemption, we should be grateful and therefore, endeavour and do our best to follow the path which Our Lord Himself has shown us, to be righteous and faithful in all things.

And today, as we celebrate the feast day of saints whose lives were truly holy and great in faith, we should then be inspired by them and gain the courage and the zeal to live our lives with greater faith and devotion to God from day to day, gradually so that we will draw ever closer to God. Today we celebrate both St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, a holy martyr of the faith, and also the Holy Martyrs of Japan, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions.

St. Wenceslas of Bohemia was the Duke of Bohemia during the early years of Christianity in Bohemia, a region now known as Czechia. He was a great ruler and a noble man in action and deed, caring genuinely for his people and supporting the Church and missionary works wholeheartedly. Opposed against him and his efforts were the pagan nobles and forces who remained against the Christian faith, and those plotted with the brother of the saint, eventually led to his assassination.

St. Wenceslas died as a martyr defending his righteous faith and total dedication to the Lord and His good works among the people. His righteousness and just rule inspired so many other people not just at his age and time, but even more so down throughout the centuries. His courage and zeal and incorruptibility inspired many other rulers and those in positions of power on how to be a good Christian ruler.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz, also known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a Filipino who fled to Japan when he was wrongly accused of murder. He boarded a ship that was bound for Japan, and reached there at a time when the Christian faith, once abundant and freely practised and growing rapidly, had been persecuted greatly by the change in the authorities’ mindset and opinion of the Christian faith.

St. Lawrence Ruiz, together with many Christians in Japan at that time suffered because they had to endure rejection, oppression and painful sufferings being under constant threat of arrest from the authorities. Many were martyred and killed for their refusal to abandon their faith. St. Lawrence Ruiz himself, together with missionaries and local Christians were executed with painful methods in Nagasaki, but they all refused to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now having heard of the inspiring faith and lives of St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, as well as St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions, the Martyrs of Japan, how can we follow in their examples? How can we live our lives with faith just in the manner they have lived theirs? Let us think about this and let God transform our lives just as He had done so with those faithful saints and martyrs we are commemorating today. May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, always. Amen.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Jeremiah 31 : 10, 11-12ab, 13

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock.

For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror. They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings.

Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Zechariah 2 : 5-9, 14-15a

Raising my eyes again, I saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered, “I am going to measure Jerusalem, to find its width and its length.”

As the Angel who spoke to me came forward, another Angel met him and said, “Run and tell this to that young man : ‘Jerusalem will remain unwalled because of its multitude of people and livestock.’ For this is the word of YHVH : I, Myself, will be around her like a wall of fire, and also within her, in glory.”

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people.”

Thursday, 28 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the times of difficulties and challenges facing those who are faithful to God. In the first reading we heard of the ruination of Israel and its Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Babylonians. The prophet Haggai reprimanded the leader of the people, Zerubbabel, for having neglected the rebuilding of the Temple and therefore, House of God.

At that time, the people of Israel have just returned from their exile in Babylon and dwell once more in the land of Israel. It was a time of recovery and healing from the sorrows and sufferings they have encountered during the time of their exile. They have been restored to their ancestral land, and they have regained the hope in life, for God Himself has rescued them and liberated them.

Then in the Gospel we heard of the fear that king Herod of Galilee had, after having heard of the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus, Whom he mistakenly thought to be St. John the Baptist, risen from the dead. For he himself had arrested the good saint due to his opposition to his adultery with Herodias, his brother’s wife, and he had also ordered the execution of the messenger and servant of God, and he himself have witnessed that death.

Yet, even though king Herod mistook Jesus for St. John the Baptist, but all of us Christians believe that death does not have the final say over us, and therefore, even though St. John the Baptist had suffered and died, but through his holy death, as a defender of the faith and the truth, St. John the Baptist had deserved and indeed had received the eternal glory which the Lord our God has promised to all those who are faithful to Him.

In what we have heard from these two Scripture readings, one from the Old Testament and another from the Gospel, we can see how God does not abandon all those who are true in their faith to Him, and ultimately, He will reward their faith with everlasting happiness and true joy, which no other can give. This is what each and every one of us must know, so that in our lives, we may always strive to glorify God and to persevere in faith regardless of the difficulties, challenges and temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of many great martyrs and saints, who have given their lives for the greater glory of God, dying in the defence of their faith, so that even though they might have lost their lives for the sake of God, they shall regain them again from the Lord, and their rewards are truly great in the world that is to come.

First of all, St. Wenceslaus is the patron saint of Bohemia, a region now known as the Czech Republic. He lived during a time when the Christian faith gradually became accepted throughout the country, as the old pagan faith and ways faded in the face of the true faith. Yet, there were still many oppositions against the Christian faith, and St. Wenceslaus as the Duke and ruler of Bohemia worked patiently to continue to establish the foundations of the Christian faith, and ruled his people with justice.

Yet, those who were opposed to the rule of St. Wenceslaus banded together and with the support from his brother, who desired power and the rule of the realm, and they murdered this just and righteous ruler for their own selfish gains. Nonetheless, the bravery, faith and commitment of St. Wenceslaus have inspired many others, just as St. John the Baptist remained true to his mission even unto imprisonment and death.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz or Lorenzo Ruiz was the first saint who hailed from the Philippines. He was wrongly accused of murder, and took refuge in a ship that brought him the land of Japan, at that time in the midst of a great persecution of the Church and the faithful. He and his many fellow Christians refused to betray the Lord and abandon their faith, and they were persecuted and tortured as a result.

Through grievous torture and painful suffering, he and his fellow companions in martyrdom refused to let go of the firm assurance of salvation from the Lord. They remained strong in their convictions, and they died giving praise and glory to God, knowing that while their earthly lives ended, God will glorify them and give them a new life that will never end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us should heed the examples of these holy saints and martyrs, and we should dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the same manner. It does not mean that we have to go through martyrdom and die in suffering or agony as they had been subjected to, but instead, it means that all of us must be aware that to be Christians, it will often mean that we will end up facing challenges, sufferings, rejections and oppositions, and we must remain strong in our faith to overcome all these.

For the Lord is forever always faithful to His people, and He wants only that each one of us remain faithful in Him as well. Let us all dedicate our time and effort from now on for the greater glory of God, and let us ask for the intercession of the holy saints and martyrs, our examples. St. Wenceslaus, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and companions, martyrs of Japan, pray for us! Amen.

Thursday, 28 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 7-9

At that time, king Herod heard of all that Jesus and His disciples had done, and did not know what to think, for people said, “This is John, raised from the dead.”

Others believed that Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets, had come back to life. As for Herod, he said, “I had John beheaded. Who is this Man, about Whom I hear such wonders?” And he was anxious to see Him.

Thursday, 28 September 2017 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to YHVH a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name; and make music for music for Him with harp and timbrel. For YHVH delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night, on their couches, let the praise of God be on their lips. This is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!