Friday, 20 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us to be pure in our faith and in our intentions in serving the Lord and in evangelising the Gospel of Christ. St. Paul in his Epistle to St. Timothy reminds us all to walk righteously before God and to follow Him wholeheartedly without being distracted by worldly temptations of glory, fame, wealth and possessions.

All of us must do our best to walk faithfully in God’s path, and persevere in this path even if we have to suffer persecution and challenges from all those who disagree with us and from those who rather believe in the falsehood of the evil one. As St. Paul mentioned in the same Epistle passage, there are many of those who are motivated and inspired by the love of money and the world, and they are powerful and numerous, but this should not discourage us from remaining true and faithful.

And on this day in particular we are reminded of the great inspiration shown by our holy predecessors who have suffered the same persecution and challenges for their faith in God. Today we recall the memory of the Holy Korean Martyrs, a multitude of saints and martyrs who have suffered and shed their blood for remaining true to God and refusing to renounce Him and their faith in Him.

During many years and decades, Christians and missionaries in Korea had endured terrible persecutions for their faith. Many were oppressed and chased to hiding for their dedication to the Christian faith. Many had to endure all the pain and suffering, and even being betrayed by their own families and close ones. And in particular the missionaries had to be very careful as they spread the Christian faith and preached the Word of God.

Many of those missionaries, both the local and foreign missionaries had to hide from the authorities who were hunting down on Christians and particularly on the leaders of the Church. St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang among many others were the local converts, some like St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon became priests and were martyred for remaining resolute in opposing the effort to make the Christians to renounce their faith.

And the foreign missionaries like St. Laurent Imbert among many others also suffered and gave their lives for the sake of the people of God and in remaining true to their dedication to God. They remained strong and true to their faith despite the challenges and troubles they had to face. St. Laurent Imbert in particular was remembered for his courage in stepping up to protect the flock entrusted under his care.

For St. Laurent Imbert was the Vicar Apostolic of Korea, the local ordinary and bishop then entrusted with the responsibility over the entire mission territory of Korea. He was therefore the prime target of the anti-Christian authority who wanted him to surrender or else the whole community of Christians would suffer even more. St. Laurent Imbert decided to surrender himself to the authorities and even encouraged two other priests to also give themselves up with the hope that the authorities would spare the rest of the faithful.

The martyrdom of St. Laurent Imbert, and also St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon and many others recognised throughout the long era of persecution in Korea reminds each one of us that being Christians have to be prepared for rejection and opposition from this world. It is not necessary that all of us must go through persecution, and the extent of persecution from one community to another, and from one person to another may be different, but in essence, the path to follow Christ will likely be riddled with obstacles and troubles.

That is why the Lord also said that in order to become His disciples we must be ready to take up our cross and follow Him. There will be challenges and difficulties along the way, the temptations and many things that will lure us away from His path. But we must always hold firm to our faith in God and dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, for in the end, while we may be disobedient and unfaithful, God will always be ever faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, especially the Holy Korean Martyrs whose memory we celebrate today? Are we able to turn towards God with renewed faith and commitment from now on, giving ourselves wholly from now on? Let us all be ever more faithful and be more dedicated Christians, and be ever closer and attuned to God, our loving Father and Creator. Amen.

Friday, 20 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 1-3

At that time, Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna; and others, who provided for them out of their own funds.

Friday, 20 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 48 : 6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers ring me round – those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?

For no ransom avails for one’s life; there is no price one can give to God for it. For redeeming one’s life demands too high a price, and all is lost forever. Who can remain forever alive and never see the grave?

Fear not, when someone grows rich, when his power becomes oppressively great; for nothing will he take when he dies; his wealth and pomp he will leave behind.

Though he praised himself in his lifetime, “All will say that I have enjoyed life,” he will join the generation of his forebears, who will never again see the light.

Friday, 20 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Timothy 6 : 2c-12

Teach and stress these things. Whoever teaches in some other way, not following the sound teaching of our Lord Christ Jesus, and true religious instruction, is conceited, and understands nothing. This one is crazy about controversies and discussions, that result in envy, insults, blows and constant arguments between people of depraved minds, and far from the truth. For them, religion is merely for financial gain.

In reality, religion is a treasure, if we are content with what we have. We brought nothing into the world and we will leave it with nothing. Let us, then, be content with having food and clothing. Those who strive to be rich fall into temptations and traps. A lot of foolish and harmful ambitions plunge them into ruin and destruction.

Indeed, the love of money is the root of every evil. Because of this greed, some have wondered away from the faith, bringing on themselves afflictions of every kind. But you, man of God, shun all this. Strive to be holy and godly. Live in faith and love, with endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith and win everlasting life, to which you were called, when you made the good profession of faith, in the presence of so many witnesses.

Friday, 13 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial or St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Word of God in the Scriptures the need for us all to be humble in our faith and to be aware of our own shortcomings and weakness, of our own vulnerabilities and unworthiness before God. And that is why, through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today we are called to examine our lives and our attitude all these while.

In the Gospel passage today we heard of the famous parable that the Lord Jesus used, the parable of the splinter and the plank in order to highlight why it is so important for us all to be in touch and to be aware of our own shortcomings and vulnerabilities, and to be humble despite the temptations to do otherwise. The Lord stated how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were behaving in the way as if they were focusing on the splinter in the other persons’ eyes while being ignorant of the plank in their own.

For the context of what the Lord had spoken to the people, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were those who took great pride in their privileges and the honour and respect that were given to them based on their knowledge and education background, their intellect and in depth knowledge of God’s laws and the customs of the Israelites, preserved through the many generations.

But in their preoccupation with status, glory and worldly fame, they ended up focusing on the wrong things in life. Many of them ended up guarding their status and fame with great jealousy, and when the Lord Jesus came into their midst, naturally they saw Him with great suspicion and anger, and tried their best to undermine and disturb His works and ministry among the people.

They also tended to look down on other people, especially all those whom they deemed to be unworthy and as sinners. They easily condemned those they deemed as sinners particularly the tax collectors and prostitutes, those who were suffering from diseases such as leprosy and also disabilities like blindness and paralysis. But amidst all of that, they forgot that they themselves were sinners too.

The Lord wanted to show all of us that we must first be aware of our own shortcomings and mistakes, our sinfulness and unworthiness before we are quick to point out those shortcomings in others. And that is why we should not be quick to judge with sinister and wicked intentions in our minds and hearts just because we think highly of ourselves or be too proud or be filled with too much of ego.

Rather, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to St. Timothy, part of our first reading today, all of us must have God as our source of strength and providence, as our backbone and pillar of strength. All of us should seek to put God first and foremost before all, and seek Him as the source of our faith and power that allow us to walk faithfully in His path despite the challenges and temptations to do otherwise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all then look at the examples set by a holy man of God, St. John Chrysostom, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople and a very influential leader of the Church and Church father in the early days of the Church remembered for his great sermons and teachings of the faith among the people against heresies and falsehoods.

And St. John Chrysostom was also remembered for his great stand and commitment to God in the opposition to the abuse of worldly power and human ambitions, serving God faithfully despite the challenges that he had to face throughout his life and ministry. He had to go through many years of trouble, both before and during his tenure as the Archbishop of Constantinople. But he did not give up or allow those challenges to prevent him from remaining resolute and true to his faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all today reflect on the courage shown by St. John Chrysostom and so many others of our holy and devout predecessors. Let us all look upon their inspirations and their commitment to God, and think of how we ourselves can be more faithful to God in each and every moments of our life. Let us all turn towards God with greater fidelity and with greater commitment and love from now on, and be ever closer to Him and be ever more filled with love in all things. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 13 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial or St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 6 : 39-42

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

Friday, 13 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial or St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to YHVH, “O YHVH, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I praise YHVH Who counsels me; even at night, my inmost self instructs me. I keep YHVH always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence, the fullness of joy, at Your right hand, happiness forever.