Friday, 24 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings, we see a common theme between what we have heard from the Book of the Maccabees and from the Gospel passage according to St. Luke. In the first reading from the Maccabees, we heard an account of how the forces of the Israelites triumphed against their enemies, the Seleucids, and seized a very important place in Jerusalem, none other than the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

On that day, the victorious Jewish forces under the leadership of Judas Maccabees overthrew all that the Greek invaders had imposed on the Temple, the defilement and all the wickedness, all the pagan idols, altars and corruption which have been placed there by king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had wanted to eradicate the faith of the Jewish people by imposing on them the worship of the Greek pagan gods.

The old altar that had been defiled were corrupted, and it had to be removed and destroyed, to be replaced with a new altar, free from defilement of the pagan idols. That was what the victorious Jews did, and after the necessary preparations, they rededicated the Temple of God through great festivities and celebrations, which were highly symbolic as the sign of the overthrowing of the great oppression and persecution imposed on them by the Seleucid king.

Then, in the Gospel passage today, we listened to the well known passage, of how Jesus became angry at the state in which the Temple of God, the House of God His Father, has become, because it was filled with many merchants and money changers, with people plying their trade and worse still, cheating their customers by overcharging them and tricking them as they changed their money and purchased the sacrificial animals.

Thus, Jesus chased all of them out of the Temple courtyard with a whip, in His righteous wrath, and rebuked all those who had defiled His Father’s house, which ought to be a house of prayer and instead had been made into a den of robbers and wicked people. This act surely surprised even His followers, as if we see throughout the Scriptures, Jesus mostly used non-violence and peaceful means to spread His teachings.

But the Lord was rightful and just to be angry, as those people had desecrated the sanctity of His holy place by their actions, just as the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes had done with the pagan idols and wickedness placed on the altars of the Temple during the time of the Maccabees. It was in fact merely only less than two centuries before the time of Jesus, and the Jewish people had forgotten how they fought hard to reclaim their Temple and House of God, and toiled to rededicate it to God.

What is the significance of all these to us, brothers and sisters? Each and every one of us are God’s Temple, where God resides in this world. He Himself has given us all His own Precious Body to eat and Precious Blood to drink. As a result, God Himself in His real and holy Presence is present fully in each and every one of us, and we are in charge of each of these Temples, that is our Body and our whole Being.

St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth spoke of our bodies, our hearts and minds, and our whole being as the Temples of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, we ought to maintain their sanctity and holiness. We must not do things that compromise the sanctity of these Houses of God, ourselves or else, what the Lord’s anger had done to those wicked merchants and also the wicked forces of the Seleucids will befall us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not easy for us all to maintain this sanctity, as there are many temptations and challenges in life, which we will surely encounter on our way, and many of these will weaken our resolve to live a faithful life, that many of us failing to reach God’s salvation. But we should then heed the examples of our holy and dedicated predecessors in faith, especially those who we commemorate today, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his many companions in faith, martyrs of the Lord and His Church in Vietnam.

During those years, around two to three centuries ago, there were great works of evangelisation among the peoples in areas such as Vietnam and Korea. However, the government and the authorities were suspicious against the missionaries who were sent to preach the Gospel to the people, and eventually, persecution against Christians began, both towards the missionaries and to the people they converted.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac was among the first priests to be ordained from the local community, and he and his many companions had to endure great difficulties as they had to practice their faith in secret to avoid the authorities, and at the same time, they still had to minister to the faithful in many places. They persevered through, and when they were arrested and tortured, demanded to abandon their faith or die, they refused to do so.

To the very end, these saints and martyrs are our examples of how we should live our lives in accordance with our faith. We should not be lukewarm with our faith, but instead should try our best to be faithful, keeping ourselves obedient to the Law and commandments of God. There will indeed be trials and tribulations, but we should not give up to the demands of those who want us to abandon our faith and corrupt ourselves with sin.

Let us all therefore renew our commitment to the Lord and draw ourselves ever closer to Him. Let us put our trust in Him, for it is He alone Who is worthy of all trust, and through our steadfast faith in Him, God will reward each and every one of us bountifully at the end. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 23 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr, and St. Columban, Abbot (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Abbots)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continued with the discourse of the Maccabees rebellion in our first reading today, this time, we heard of how the representatives of the Greek Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to Modein, where the Maccabees family resided, and we heard how the family patriarch, Mattathias, firmly stood his ground and refused to obey the commands of the king, for them to abandon their faith in God and give sacrifices to the Greek gods.

As I mentioned in the previous days, the Jewish people were persecuted and were in a great danger because of their faith, which the Greek king wanted to eradicate, and it resulted in many sorrowful cases of those who were martyred, including yesterday’s story of a mother and her seven sons who refused to listen to the king’s commands and persuasions, and they were martyred one by one.

They would rather suffer for a while and then be worthy of God’s everlasting glory, rather than submitting to the king and enjoying a merely temporary respite of false happiness. That was why they resisted the pressure and the temptations to abandon their faith. All of those things however were not easily done. There were many during the time of the Maccabees who apostasised and abandoned their faith, in exchange of worldly safety and pleasures.

In the Gospel today, we heard about the lamentation that the Lord Jesus made about the city of Jerusalem, because He predicted what would happen to that city under the Roman rule just a few decades after Our Lord’s crucifixion. The city of Jerusalem would be destroyed in the year 70 A.D., by the Roman legions who were sent there to put down rebellion by Jewish zealots and hardliners who rose up against the Romans. The Temple of Jerusalem and the entire city were ransacked and toppled.

All of these, ultimately came about because those people believed not in the power of God, but in their own power, and trusted in worldly matters more than their faith in God. If many of the Jews at the time of the Maccabees surrendered to temptation and abandoned their faith in God, then during the time of Jesus, as Our Lord Himself mentioned, the people refused to believe in Him or listen to Him, and they rejected Him.

What is the lesson that all of us should take note of today? It is that we should expect if we remain faithful to the Lord and are active in living our faith as we should be, we may encounter difficulties and challenges from those who do not agree with our faith, just as what happened in the Scripture passages that we heard today.

Now we have to ask ourselves the question, are we willing to suffer and be persecuted for the sake of Our Lord, that for temporary suffering and pain, and yet, because of our faith, we merit the eternal glory and happiness with God? Or do we rather seek temporary respite and happiness, because we are accepted by the world through our rejection and abandonment of our faith?

Today, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. Clement I, one of the first Popes of the Church, as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the Bishop of Rome and therefore, as the most preeminent bishop and leader of the entire Church. Pope St. Clement I lived and reigned as Pope just a few decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Our Lord. He was known to be the first of the Apostolic Fathers, whose writings were highly significant for our faith even though they were not included in the Bible.

Pope St. Clement I wrote extensively and several of his letters and works survived until this very day. He was a very important leader of the early Church, guiding it through the difficult years that alternate between toleration of the Christian faith by the Roman authorities and persecution by the same authorities. He helped to guide the Church through those difficult times, and remained firmly anchored in his faith.

To this very end, he persevered in faith, and remained resolute in standing up to the truth, even amidst difficult times. He of course had the choice to abandon his hard work and enjoy respite from the world, all the persecutions he had to face. Yet, he chose to be with God. This is an example which all of us as Christians should also follow as well. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment to God, in all the things we do.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our endeavours. And may all of us draw ever closer to Him, that we will always endure whatever persecution and difficulty that we may encounter on our way to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the continuation of the story of the Maccabees rebellion against the Seleucid Empire as part of our first reading, and we also heard another story, from our Gospel passage, when Jesus told His disciples and the people about the parable of the silver pounds or silver talents according to the other Gospels.

In the first reading, we heard a particularly sad and tragic story of a family, specifically a mother with her seven sons who were arrested because they refused to abandon their faith and Jewish traditions, and were brought to the king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ordered that all the Jewish people in his kingdom must abandon their faith and belief in God, and instead, obey the king and follow his religious customs.

The mother and her seven sons persisted in their adherence to the faith, and steadfastly refused to follow and obey the king’s commands for them to do what were against the commandments of God. Even though the king offered the brothers many generous gifts and the lucrative promises of position, prestige and honour as friends of the king, they still refused to listen to him.

As a result, they were martyred one by one, and to the very end, to the last of the seven brothers, and then to the mother herself, they remained true to their faith in God, and they did not abandon Him by sinning and submitting to the temptations of worldly power and pleasures. They had become examples for all the other Jewish people of their time, of how they should live faithfully even in the midst of great persecutions and tribulations, and remain true to their faith.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke about the parable of the talents in which three servants were given different amounts of silver talents depending on their respective abilities as judged by their master. The master left for a long journey, and found that upon his return, two of the three servants had been investing the silver talents, and thanks to their hard work and acumen, they managed to double the silver talents attained in return.

On the other hand, the lazy servant who refused to do anything with the silver talent hid it, and returned it to the master exactly as how it was given to him. As a result, he was severely punished by his master for his laziness and lack of action, while the two servants who had worked hard with the silver given to them were rewarded and entrusted with the master’s great favour and inheritance.

Then, what is the lesson which we can learn from the Scripture passages that we have heard today? First of all, the silver talents that the master granted his servants, are representative of the faith which God, Our Lord and Master has granted to us, His people. And it is our responsibility and duty, that we use that faith, and live according to that faith, or else, like the lazy servant, that faith will do nothing good for us at all.

The mother and her seven sons in the first reading today showed their way of being faithful to God, remaining true to their faith amidst persecution and challenges, refusing to sin rather than earning the wrath of God. They showed all of us the inspiration of how to be true disciples of the Lord, that is by no longer being ambivalent or ignorant about our faith, and doing what the Lord had commanded us to do in our lives, that our faith is really alive and not merely a formality.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Cecilia, a faithful woman and a holy servant of God, who chose to die for her faith rather than to abandon her faith in Him, and she exemplified the true nature of God’s faithful disciples, that is complete and total surrender of oneself to the will of God. She gave herself and dedicated herself to God, and maintained a state of holy virginity despite being forced to marry a pagan nobleman, who she managed to convert to the faith through her zeal and piety.

She was martyred for her faith during one of the great persecutions of the faithful, choosing to remain faithful to God rather than to surrender to the temptation to sin, much like the mother and her seven sons from the time of the Maccabees. All of these have shown us, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we must be truly faithful to God, and this does not mean that we must lay down our lives like theirs, but we must give our all to God.

Let us therefore draw closer to God, and seek to be ever more faithful and dedicated from now on. Let us grow stronger in our faith, and learn from the examples of our holy predecessors, the holy saints and martyrs, St. Cecilia and many more, how to be ever true to our faith in God, and how to bear rich fruits of God’s grace, and be rewarded as the master rewarded his two diligent and hardworking servants in the Gospel passage today. May God bless us always, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. On this day, parallel to the presentation of her Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, which we celebrate on the second day of February, we see the venerable custom of the Jewish people, commanded by God in the Law, that all of the firstborn children of the people of God ought to be offered to God, to be sanctified before Him.

Through the Blessed Virgin Mary, God wanted to show all of His beloved people, His love and also hope for our salvation. Through her, the Saviour of this world has been born, the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man through His mother Mary. Mary indeed has been prepared especially for this role, as the Church and our faith believes that she was conceived without sin, immaculate and pure from the moment of her conception.

Why is that so? That is because she was to be the one who bear the Saviour in her womb, as the one who would bear the Master of all the universe Himself, Who is all good and perfect. She is the new Ark of the Covenant, and as the old Ark which is made of precious metals and materials, the new Ark was even better, as compared to the old Ark which was the product of man’s craftsmanship, the new Ark was God’s craftsmanship alone, as all of us have been made in the image of God.

And when Mary was offered at the Temple to the Lord, it also symbolises the complete surrender and dedication to God, which all of us mankind are supposed to be doing with our lives as well. Mary kept herself in the service of God all her life, and she obeyed Him and followed Him in what He wanted to do with her life. She listened to God’s will and allowed Him to perform His wondrous works through her life, the most important of which was her acceptance of the role to be the Mother of God.

In the Gospel passage today, Jesus was speaking to the people about who is truly His brothers and sisters, His mother and His family. At the first glance, it might seem that Jesus was rebuking His own family and His own mother no less, as they were looking for Him and wanted to speak to Him, and yet He apparently refused to even acknowledge them as His family.

Yet, in reality, He was using the opportunity to teach the people and to reveal to them, that because of Himself, Who has come into this world, as the Son of God born of the Virgin and became Man, all of mankind who share in the humanity of Christ have also been called to become God’s children. But many of us have been wayward and refused to obey Him, and instead, we follow other leaders and other ways, falling into sin in the process.

This is where Jesus showed us the way to go forward, that is the best way for all of us to reach out to Heaven. And it is none other than through Himself, by His sacrifice on the cross, which bridged the once unbridgeable gap between us mankind and God, and this way passes through His mother, Mary. Thus, the saying, ‘ad Iesum per Mariam – To Jesus through Mary’, which signifies that Mary, the Mother of Our God is the best and easiest way for us to reach out to the Lord and His saving grace.

When Jesus mentioned in the Gospel today, that those who listen to the Lord and obey His will and commands are considered to be God’s family, He was in fact pointing out that Mary, is the best embodiment of that obedience, for her entire life, as I have mentioned earlier, has been dedicated to God and His service. Mary is the finest example for all of us Christians to follow, on how to be true disciples and followers of the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate together today as the whole entire Church, with joy for the remembrance of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, let us all renew our conviction and commitment to live faithfully, and filled with sincere and wholehearted faith, that in each and every one of our actions, we will always be ever faithful to God, following the examples of Mary, in her obedience and commitment to God.

Let us all also devote ourselves and indeed, resolve to present ourselves to the Lord, even though we are sinners and unworthy, so that through our renewed commitment and effort we will draw ever closer to Him, and be eventually ready to receive His everlasting grace. May God bless us always, and may His loving mother Mary intercede for our sake always. Amen.

Monday, 20 November 2017 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s reading, we begin the discourse from the Book of the Maccabees, in which we heard how the king of the Seleucid Empire, king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, persecuted the Jewish people living in his territory, as the Holy Land was then under Seleucid rule, and he also tried to enforce the Greek customs upon the Jewish people.

The suffering and dilemma faced by the Israelites at the time was truly great, as they were forced to choose between obeying God’s Law and suffer to the point of death, or to abandon the customs of their ancestors and the Law of God and live, receiving great honours and favours from the king and his court. Many of the Jewish people at the time were unable to resist the temptation to avoid suffering, and they abandoned their faith.

The Greek king even led his forces to capture the Temple of God in Jerusalem, desecrating it and built pagan idols within its compounds. Many were forced to worship those pagan idols and abandon their old faith to God. And such were the Jewish people scandalised by the great sins committed by the king, yet, there were many of those who resisted and persevered through the difficult times.

And the ones who led them in resistance were the namesake of this book, the Maccabees family, led by their father, Mattathias, who refused firmly against the king’s order to abandon their faith in God. Led by his sons, the people of Judea would rise up against the king, and through the help and grace of God, through many difficult years, persecutions and further troubles, they succeeded and triumphed against their enemies.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord healed a man who was blind, who begged Him many times as He passed through near his place, that He might want to heal him from his blindness. He kept on trying and shouted begging for Jesus to have mercy on him, despite many people around him who told him to shut up.

Jesus had mercy on the man, and with His compassionate love, He healed the blind man from his affliction. In this we can see, as we relate it to the first reading, the story of the Maccabees rebellion, that God never abandoned His people. He is always ever faithful, even though we have often been unfaithful to Him. He always loved us no matter what.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there will be plenty of times when we will feel that we are alone against the world, and that no one is around to help us, and not even God. That is why we give up on God, give up on everything, on our faith and all else, and give up to the demands of the world, much as how many of the Jewish people gave up to the demands of king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who demanded that they abandon their God.

Let us remember what we have heard this day, and keep in our minds and our hearts at all times, that we are always beloved by God, no matter what. He is always around for us, and He will guide us and help us according to His will. Sometimes, yes, we did have to suffer for a time, but if we remain faithful, our reward in God will be great.

Shall we strive to look for eternal joy that we can find in God alone, and not in the temporary and illusory false joy that this world offers? Let us remain true to our faith, and commit ourselves, our whole lives to God, by doing what He has asked us to do in our loves. May the Lord be with us always, for we are all His beloved children, those whom He will bless and protect at all times, against all evils. Amen.

Sunday, 19 November 2017 : Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we heard from the Sacred Scriptures, the word of God reminding all of us Christians that each and every one of us must be active and dedicated Christians, meaning that we cannot be complacent and lukewarm in our faith, and more so, in how we live our lives according to that faith. This is what we must constantly remind ourselves, each and every days of our life.

In the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus spoke to the people and taught them with the well-known parable of the talents. In that parable, the Lord told them about three servants who were entrusted with silver talents, a lot of wealth for that time, and each of them were given different amount of talents by their master, who was about to go far away and was making preparations.

Through this parable, the Lord Jesus wanted to teach the people about the importance of being active and engaged in their faith, that they should not ignore what they have been called to do in their respective lives. The master who entrusted the silver talents to the three servants was none other than the Lord Himself, the Source and Master of all things.

Meanwhile, the servants represent all of us mankind, God’s people, who ought to follow Him and obey His commandments. And the silver talents represent the gifts, abilities, and indeed our specialties and talents in life, and just as the three servants have received different amounts of silver talents, we all know that all of us have been given different kinds of talents and skills.

Now, we have to discern what the servants had done after they received the silver talents, and understand how they relate to each one of us. The two servants who received five and two silver talents were hardworking, and immediately, after they have received the silver, they invested them and put them to good use, and thanks to their acumen and skill, they managed to earn double the amount of silver they have received.

Then, the lazy servant who had received one silver talent, did not do anything to the silver talent. He hid the silver and did nothing to it, until the time when the master returned to get an account of how his servants had been doing while he was away. This lazy servant represents all of us whom God had granted blessings, gifts, abilities, skills and talents, and yet, we refuse to do anything with them, or refuse to use it in the right manner.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us need to do what the Lord had asked each one of us to do, that is to invest the gifts which He has given to us. And how do we do that? We must not keep all the things we have received to ourselves, but instead, we should share the joy and blessings with our brothers and sisters in need. Otherwise, when the Lord comes again, He will condemn us just as the master punished the lazy servant.

That is the first lesson that all of us should take note of. We cannot ignore the plight of others who are around us, and we have to show them care, compassion and love. That is how we invest the ‘talents’ that God had entrusted to us. Have we all heard of the saying, that ‘joy that is shared is double the joy’ and ‘sorrow that is shared is half the sorrow’? This is what we need to take this phrase into our hearts, and understand its meaning.

Then, secondly, each and every one of us are called to be generous in giving of ourselves to each other, and not to be worried about giving too much. As mentioned in the parable of the talents, the one who had received five talents and did well with it to earn five more talents, was given even more. This means that, the more we have been given by God, the more generously we should be in giving and sharing our joys with each other.

We often think that if we give away our blessings, and part with our money and possessions, we end up losing and will have less happiness. However, in reality, if we are to build for ourselves immense wealth and possessions in this world, and we do not share it with others, selfishly keeping everything for ourselves, as what the lazy servant had done, then to the Lord, we will be considered as fruitless and lacking in faith. For Him, if we have done this in our lives, we will have no treasure in Him, no matter how much we have in this world.

None of these will be with us, on the day when the Lord calls us to Him, at the end of our lives or at the end of our time, at the judgment of the souls of all mankind, when the Lord will judge us based on our deeds. Do we want to end up like the lazy servant, who was severely punished and cast out because of his lack of faith and action, when he should have used whatever it was that the master gave to him, that it may bear fruit and profits?

Finally, last of all, we should take note that, even the one who was given only one silver talent was expected to have his returns. What does this mean? That means, we should not be hesitant or be prejudiced when we ought to be generous to others. It does not mean that we are poor, then we cannot be generous to others. There are indeed many sad instances around the world, where the poor are oppressing the poor, just so that they may be able to gain more for their living.

Let us therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as the followers of Our Lord, as Christians, heed the message of today’s Scripture passages, and be ever more generous and willing to share our joy with one another, and also to console those who are sorrowful, and care for those who have no one to care for them. Let us all show true Christian love in our actions and be genuine in our faith and dedication to the Lord. May God be with us always, and may He continue to bless all of our endeavours. Amen.

Saturday, 18 November 2017 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Papal Basilica of St. Peter and Papal Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of a Basilica)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church commemorates the feast of the dedication of the two Basilicas, of St. Peter and St. Paul, which together with the Cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) form the four Major Papal Basilicas in Rome, the most important churches in Christendom.

And the Papal Basilicas of St. Peter in Vatican and St. Paul Outside the Wall are in particular to the city and the Church in Rome, because both St. Peter and St. Paul were the ones who helped to establish the Church in Rome, the heart of the Roman Empire at that time, and became the important pillars of the early Church. As we know, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles, the leader of all of Christ’s disciples and Apostles, and the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Meanwhile, St. Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, the one who helped the Church to propagate the message of the Gospels to the non-Jewish people.

Thus, these two great Basilicas are tributes and monuments built for the memory of these two most faithful servants of God, who gave their all to serve the Lord, devoting their whole lives to the end, defending their faith and proclaiming Christ the Lord to all men. The sites chosen for the Basilicas were significant places, as where the Papal Basilica of St. Peter was built, was where St. Peter the Apostle most likely encountered his martyrdom, by being crucified upside down, and the site of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was where St. Paul stayed during his time in Rome, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.

St. Peter as the first Bishop of Rome worked among the faithful, preaching the Gospels and the messages of Christ, which brought about the conversion of many to the faith, together with St. Paul the Apostle, who came to Rome after being persecuted in Jerusalem and throughout his journeys. Both of them led the Christians in Rome, amidst a difficult and turbulent time, culminating in the great persecution under the Emperor Nero.

The Christian population of Rome was accused and scapegoated by the Emperor, blamed for causing the fire that burnt much of the great city. As such, many Christians were tortured and arrested, pursued and had their lives made very difficult. St. Paul himself was martyred in this condition, beheaded for his faith during this great tribulation, and yet he gladly laid down his life for the Lord.

St. Peter was also martyred a few years after this, as the persecution of Christians continued. He was crucified by the Roman authorities at the Vatican hills, as mentioned, where now stands the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. But St. Peter felt that he was not worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and therefore, asked to be crucified upside-down instead. That was how St. Peter glorified God by his faith and steadfastness to the very end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice in the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of these great Houses of God dedicated to His beloved two saints, the main pillars and foundations of His Church in this world, St. Peter and St. Paul, let us remember that their works and missions are still far from over. There are still many things that are not yet done, and there are still many more areas that require our attention.

We are the modern day successors of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, and the same commands which Our Lord had given to His Apostles to reach out to all the peoples of all the nations, preaching the Good News of God’s salvation and calling them to Him have therefore been passed on to us. Now, what matters is, for us to do what the Lord expects from us to do, that we walk in the path of the Apostles, particularly the glorious and faithful St. Peter and St. Paul. Pray for us, o Holy Apostles! Amen.