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.