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.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the calling and transformation which God has made upon us, as He calls upon us His people to follow Him and to do His marvellous works. In the first reading we heard of the story of what happened between Jacob and God, when he unknowingly wrestled against Him, and then in the Gospel we heard of the Lord’s call for more workers to harvest the harvests of the Lord.

In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, we heard of the encounter between Jacob and God disguised in the form of a Man. Jacob had just returned from the land of his forefathers where he spent many years in exile fleeing from his brother Esau, and over there, he managed to thrive and raised up a large family of his own. He was then on his way back to the land of Canaan, and when God came upon him, it was at the moment just before Jacob was about to meet his brother after many years.

Jacob was afraid that his brother was still very angry at him even after all those years and thus, sent his family and belongings ahead of him. It was then that God, disguised as a Man, struggled with him and wrestled with him all night long until the morning. And it was then and there that God renamed Jacob as Israel, as the one who struggled against God and survived. It was from that moment on that Jacob was known by his new name, a name that would become the name of an entire nation, of Israel.

In the Scriptures, name changes are always very symbolic and very important moments in a person’s life, as a name change indicates a profound change in a person’s direction in life, such as when God made a Covenant with Abram, changing his name to Abraham, and Sarai to Sarah when she has received the fulfilment of the promise of God of bearing a son, and of the Apostles themselves, Simon who received the new name of Cephas or Peter, and Saul who changed his name to Paul after his conversion.

Therefore, in the first reading today, God called on Jacob to be courageous and to put his trust in Him even as he was struck with great fear of expecting the vengeance of his brother. He called on Jacob to a new existence and a new life, and renewed the promise of the Covenant which He had made with his forefathers, a significant milestone in the life of Jacob, who from then on was known as Israel.

This is linked to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, as we heard of the works of the Lord Who went about healing the people, casting out demons and proclaiming the Good News. The Lord went around seeking His people to heal them and to make them whole once again, and He had pity on them when He saw them like sheep without a shepherd, and therefore, poured forth His love upon them.

The Lord is calling on each and every one of us as He sent out His disciples to the people He loved, to follow in their footsteps and to do what they have done, in reaching out to the people and to show forth God’s love in their midst. Just as God has reassured Jacob of His faithfulness and love, and just as the Lord Jesus showed His love to the people He held dear, therefore, all of us should be the bearers and witnesses of this same love to our fellow men.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, all of us celebrate the feast of many holy martyrs and saints who have given their very best in witnessing to the love of God among men, in standing up for their Christian faith and their commitment to the message of God’s truth, despite the tough persecution and challenges that they had to face. We commemorate today the memory of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his fellow saints, the Holy Martyrs of China.

Many of them were missionaries who came to China spreading the truth of God among the people, showing them the Good News and salvation of God, spreading the message of God’s love and mercy. And some among them were those who have accepted the truth and chose to become Christians, and paid dearly for their faith. The authorities and many of the people at the time viewed the missionaries and Christians with suspicion or even hatred.

And when in the various occasions, the local Christians and the missionaries were oppressed and persecuted, they endured great challenges and pain, suffering and torture just because they believed in the Lord Who has loved them and called them to salvation through Him. St. Augustine Zhao Rong, one of the first Chinese then to be ordained a priest, and many other of his companions in martyrdom, stood by their faith in God to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the devotion and commitment of these holy martyrs should inspire us in our own lives to love the Lord in the same way that He has loved us. For these martyrs were willing to suffer and even die for their faith because they knew of the Lord’s generous love and mercy towards them. And indeed, we should reflect on the fact that, if God Himself has willingly suffered, took up His Cross and die for our sake, then why should we not love Him all the more?

Let us all be inspired by the examples of our holy predecessors. Let us all turn towards God with all of our hearts and minds, and let us all commit ourselves ever anew to Him from now on. May the Lord be our Guide, and may He give us the strength and courage to live our lives ever more faithfully from now on. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Matthew 9 : 32-38

At that time, as the two blind men were going away, some people brought to Jesus a man who was dumb, because he was possessed by a demon. When the demon was driven out, the dumb man began to speak. The crowds were astonished and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He drives away demons with the help of the prince of demons.”

Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom; and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Tuesday, 9 July 2019 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7, 8 and 15

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; under the shadow of Your wings hide me. As for me, righteous in Your sight, I shall see Your face and, awakening, gaze my fill on Your likeness.