Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 26th 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are reminded to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and not be easily swayed by sins and disobediences. Each one of us should not be ignorant of our calling and mission to be good and dedicated disciples and followers of our God. To all of us, we have been entrusted with the mission and calling to serve the Lord in whichever opportunities and chances that He has presented us with, and all of us as Christians have been called to do the will of God at all times, to be His faithful followers and disciples, becoming the beacons of His light and truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job the words of Job, a suffering man of God who was struck by many unfortunate losses and calamities because Satan was testing him before God to see if Job would abandon his faith in God and betray the Lord. But Job remained firmly faithful to God and refused to be swayed or coerced by Satan’s efforts, and even when his own wife and friends blamed him and told him to abandon the Lord, he also refused to do so. Nonetheless, he did suffer and despaired, thinking of just how insignificant he and his human nature was before God.

What Job spoke of in our first reading today essentially pointed out the limitations of our humanity and our mortal existence. He spoke of the greatness and the glory of God, and how everything happened in this world by God’s will, and nothing can happen in all unless it has been willed by God and unless God had deemed it right to happen. God had dominion over all things and over all of our lives, and we must realise just how small and insignificant we are in truth as compared to the greatness and the vast majesty of God, Who rules over all the whole entire Universe and over all existence.

In essence, Job reminded us all that God Who is our Lord and Master has control over all things, and truly, if we are able to put our trust in Him, there is nothing that we have to worry about. God will provide as long as we do our best to live our lives in accordance with His will, and He will help and guide us in our journey through life. We have to follow Him and entrust ourselves to His cause, and allow Him to guide us down the way. We all have to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and not be distracted by the many other attachments and temptations of the world. Otherwise, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, we may not be truly worthy for the kingdom of God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples regarding their calling and mission, and responsibilities as one of His disciples and followers. He laid it clearly to them how being His followers will often mean that they had to leave behind the comforts of the world, the attachments to their many worldly matters, just as He Himself, the Son of Man, did not even have any place or home to lay His head on. What the Lord told those whom He called to be His disciples, is that in following Him, they have to put their whole attention and focus on Him, and not to let the distractions of the world to be obstacles in the path of their journey towards God and His salvation.

Often times, we allow our preoccupations and attachments to the world to put God aside, ignoring Him and His call for us to follow Him. We often put our many worldly matters, preoccupations, considerations and other things as excuses why we cannot follow the Lord with all of our commitment and heart. When we always make excuses like this, then it is little wonder if we can be easily swayed or tempted, persuaded or coerced to abandon the path that the Lord has shown us in exchange of the path which we may find to be more agreeable or more convenient to us. It is always about us, about our selfish desires and wants, and not about what we should do as a follower of God.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of the saints, St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, a great servant of God and martyr of the faith, as well as the Holy Martyrs in Japan, St. Lorenzo Ruiz or St. Lawrence Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, as well as his companions in martyrdom who perished during the intense persecution against Christians in Japan back then. Hopefully the examples shown by these saints and martyrs can become inspiration and good examples for all of us in how each and every one of us ought to live our lives as Christians from now on, in doing God’s will and in obeying His commandments, and in staying true to our faith, and our respective mission and calling in life as Christians.

St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia was the Duke of Bohemia during the Middle Ages, who was renowned for his great faith in God, his dedication for his people and hard work, committing himself for the betterment of his realm and people. He helped the development and expansion of the Church, which flourished greatly during his reign. He also encountered opposition particularly from the ones who still subscribed and followed the pagan faith of their ancestors, and who plotted with the Duke’s brother, Boleslav. That culminated with the assassination and murder of this holy and devout man of God, out of jealousy, rivalry and politics.

Meanwhile, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions were persecuted greatly by the Tokugawa Shogunate government in Japan, who severely persecuted the Christian missionaries and local Christian converts at that time. Thousands were arrested, tortured and martyred, and many others were forced to choose between abandoning their faith and live, or to remain firm in their faith and perish in great suffering. St. Lorenzo Ruiz himself was not in Japan then intentionally, as he was on the run from those who accused him wrongly of murdering someone. He was on the refuge on a Spanish ship loaded with missionaries bound for Japan, which was then closed to all foreigners and missionaries.

As he ended up in the midst of the intense persecutions of the Christian faithful at that time, St. Lorenzo Ruiz did not give up his faith, even when he was forced to do so, amidst the most painful torture and treatment that he was made to go through. Many other of his fellow Christians also endured the same kind of fate, and many among them all including St. Lorenzo Ruiz chose to suffer and die rather than to betray and abandon the Lord. And in their courageous life and dedication to God, each and every one of them, just as St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia had shown us, have inspired us all to live our lives ever more worthily and with ever greater commitment as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best to live our lives faithfully from now on, so that in our every actions, words and deeds, we will be good witnesses of the Lord and the bright, wonderful beacons of His light and truth. May God be with us always, and may He continue to bless us in our every efforts and good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, holy men and women of God, martyrs of the Church, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 26th 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 : 57-62

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples went on their way, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

To another, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said to Him, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 87 : 10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15

I spread out my hands to You, I call upon You every day, o YHVH. Are Your wonders meant for the dead? Will ghosts rise to give You thanks?

Is Your love and faithfulness remembered among those gone to the netherworld? Are Your wonders known in the dark; Your salvation, in the land of oblivion?

But to You, o YHVH, I cry for help; every morning I pray to You. O YHVH, why do You reject me; why do You hide Your face?

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 9 : 1-12, 14-16

Then Job answered : “Very well I know that it is so. But how can a mortal be just before God? If one were to contend with Him, not once in a thousand times would He answer. His power is vast, His wisdom profound. Who has resisted Him and come out unharmed?”

“He moves mountains before they are aware; He overturns them in His rage. He makes the earth tremble and its pillars quake. He commands the sun, and it does not shine; He seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the skies and treads on the waves of the seas. He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and every constellation. His wonders are past all reckoning, His miracles beyond all counting.”

“He passes by, but I do not see Him; He moves on, but I do not notice Him. If He snatches away, who can stop Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’ How then can I answer Him and find words to argue with Him? If He does not answer when I am right, shall I plead with my Judge for mercy? Even if I appealed and He answered, I do not believe that He would have heard.”

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all presented with the reminders for us to remain faithful to God and obedient to Him. Each one of us are expected to commit ourselves to His cause and to follow Him wholeheartedly, giving our whole lives and attention, focusing our hearts and minds on Him, and dedicating our time and efforts to His cause. All of us should be genuine in our faith and way of life so that we may be truly exemplary and worthy of the Lord, despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to face amidst that path of following the Lord.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Book of Job the beginning of a series of discourse from this servant of God named Job, who was well-known for being one struck down by Satan and afflicted with all sorts of maladies and unfortunate occurrences and events, and yet remained faithful to the Lord despite all of that. We heard how God and Satan had a conversation in which the latter made a bet that should he strike down at Job and his belongings, and eventually even at his own body and physical being, then Job would abandon the Lord and defy Him. But God knew Job well and He knew that Job would always be faithful.

Historically, there was little evidence that Job ever actually existed, and consensus amongst Biblical scholars and archaeologists are that Job was actually a figurative person probably based on some real stories and experiences, who was highlighted and told in order to show us the importance of perseverance in faith, and how God would not abandon His faithful ones even amidst the greatest of challenges and trials. God will always remember all of His people, and all the more so for those who have shown their faith to Him. It may be that we have to suffer for a time and for some moments, but in the end, we shall be triumphant together with God.

Regardless whether Job was actually historical, existent or not, we should heed the message of what we have heard from the Book of Job and based on what more we knew about Job and his story. God always loves all of His people, and He has always shown His love and care in ways that we may often even not be aware of. The Lord wants us to know that we always have Him by our side and despite the challenges that we have to face, we can always depend on Him and trust in Him. Unfortunately, often time it is we who abandon Him and ignore Him, and put our trust in everything else but the Lord.

That is why in our Gospel passage today, we heard the words of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples, which serve as a reminder that all of us ought to seek the Lord with genuine faith, like that of little children coming towards the Lord. Those little children came to the Lord with true and genuine faith, unadulterated and unaffected by worldly ambitions, desires and other things that often distracted us from our path towards God. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by those who seek our downfall and destruction, and we have to heed the Lord’s words, His calling and all that He had done for our sake.

The Lord called on all of us to be humble and to free ourselves from all sorts of worldly temptations and delusions, all the false treasures and corruptions often present all around us, and remaining faithful to God. Job was able to remain faithful to God despite the many calamities he had encountered, in the numerous material and personal losses that he had to endure, all because he trusted in the Lord much more than he trusted in the powers, wealth and might of the world. He trusted that God Who had given him everything, had the right to take everything back from him, and that God would take care of him and all that he needed. That is, brothers and sisters, the faith that all of us should have as well.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, holy martyrs of the Church, who were persecuted and tortured for their faith in God during the great persecution of the Church and Christians by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to Church tradition and martyrology, St. Cosmas and St. Damian were twin brothers who were also physicians, and were renowned for their loving care for the poor and the sick, as they were known not to take any payment for those who were sick and yet were unable to pay for the medical fees and services. They were popular because of their skill as healers, and this eventually led them to be arrested by the authorities.

Despite their many efforts to try to persuade, coerce and force St. Cosmas and St. Damian from abandoning their faith in God, even with temptations and riches, the authorities were not able to sway the two physician brothers and they could not force them to recant their faith and reject God. And hence, after a period of torture and suffering, eventually each one of them were subjected to capital punishments and were martyred for their faith. The examples and inspiration shown by St. Cosmas and St. Damian truly still inspired many all around the world even to this day, for their faith and dedication to the Lord. We too should be inspired by their examples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves ever more to the Lord from now on, dedicating our lives to serve Him and to walk in His path, becoming great beacons of His light and truth in our world today. Let us all not be swayed by the temptations of the world, but instead do our best to strive and glorify God by our every actions, words and deeds, to be faithful to Him like what St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Job the faithful man of God, and many others of our holy predecessors. May more and more people come to know the Lord through us, and may more and more souls come to the salvation and eternal glory in God through our faithful witness and actions. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

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.

Monday, 26 September 2022 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (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 all presented with the words of the Lord reminding us to do the will of God and not to fall into the path of sin and wickedness. Again and again we have constantly been reminded of the dangers of sin and the temptations to sin. Unless we are vigilant and put our conscious effort to reject sin and evil, more often than not we may find ourselves stumbling and falling yet again because we are unable to resist the strong pull and allure of sin which can drag us down the path towards damnation and downfall.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of Proverbs, we are all reminded that the Lord values our actions and obedience to His Law, commandments and will more than our sacrifices and offerings. The Lord honours and blesses the just and the righteous ones, all those who have obeyed His will, followed His ways and dedicated themselves to His cause by their real actions and works, instead of just merely paying lip service or making profession of faith. And yet in our way of life and actions, we are often full of actions that are contrary to God’s teachings and truth, as we often follow the whim of our desires, our pride and ego, the norms and ways of this world among others.

The Lord said that those who were haughty and wicked, who oppressed the poor and the weak, all those who were selfish and proud, and thinking only of fulfilling their own selfish and wicked desires, all of these will not flourish with Him, and will not have part in any of His inheritance and graces. The Lord made it clear that all of us as Christians are called to distance ourselves from wicked ways, and embrace wholeheartedly instead the path of righteousness and justice, of all the good things that the Lord Himself had taught us to do. God had taught us His ways, and showed us all how to live our lives in the right manner, and it is in the end, up to us whether we want to follow Him or to follow our own path.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the words of the Lord when the people told Him that His family members, His mother and other relatives were waiting for Him. The Lord then told them all that His brothers and sisters, His mother are all those who listen to the Lord and do His will. While at a glance it might seem that the Lord had been rude to His mother and family, but in truth, the intention behind those words uttered by the Lord Jesus is that, each and every one of us are equally beloved by God, and all of us who do His will, who are righteous and just, virtuous and good, upright and faithful, all of us will share the fullness of God’s love, grace and compassion. And we should look upon our glorious and holy predecessors how we ought to be just doing exactly that.

Today the Church celebrates the memory of the great martyrs and all those who had given their lives for their faith in the region of Korea, as part of the Feast of the Holy Martyrs of Korea, namely St. Andreas Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang among the many other local Christians of Korea who were persecuted for their faith, as well as foreign missionaries such as St. Laurent Imbert, the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, St. Jacques Chastan and many others who had travelled far and wide, to come to the far peripheries of the world and spread the Good News of God to all those who have yet to hear of Him, and who suffered for His sake.

At that time, the state and the government of Korea was highly hostile and suspicious of Christian missionaries and the Christian faith, considering them all as unwanted foreign influences that could potentially bring harm to the state. To that extent, the state carried out intense official persecution much alike what happened during the time of the Roman Empire in the early Church. The Christian missionaries had to operate in secret, in fear of repercussions from the officials and the authorities, and many of the Christian faithful, both the missionaries and converts alike suffered because of their persistence and perseverance in remaining true to their faith in God despite the oppressions.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first local convert Catholic priest in Korea, whose parents were themselves converts, and his father was martyred for his faith. St. Andrew Kim Taegon eventually chose priesthood as his path and finally returned to Korea after years of ministry and studies, during which time then he ministered and preached to his native Koreans about the Lord, having to deal with the intensifying persecution from the government authorities. He was martyred together with thousands of the other Christians who refused to abandon their faith, as he was tortured and beheaded, enduring glorious martyr’s death for the Lord.

Then, I would also like to share the story of St. Laurent Imbert, who was the first Apostolic Vicar to Korea, as the first bishop to establish the nascent hierarchy of the Church in that land. St. Laurent Imbert was a member of the Paris Foreign Missions society or the M.E.P., who together with the other missionary priests clandestinely ministered to the faithful and grew the Church during those difficult years. And it was told that when the officials demanded that he and the other priests surrendered themselves in exchange for the safety of his faithful flock, he willingly surrendered himself and asked his fellow two other priests to do the same as well, saying that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’, remembering what the Lord Himself, our Good Shepherd, had done for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the numerous stories of great wisdom and courage from the martyr saints of Korea should inspire us all to live our lives worthily and to do our best to glorify the Lord by our lives, actions and works. Each and every one of us should follow God’s will and obey His Law and commandments. Let us all no longer distance ourselves from Him or be ignorant of Him calling on us to follow Him in our hearts and minds. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us all each day, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, Martyr, St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 19-21

At that time, the mother of Jesus and His relatives came to Him; but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. Someone told Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside and wish to meet You.”

Then Jesus answered, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”