Wednesday, 24 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, 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 Scripture we are all reminded of the challenges, trials and persecutions that we may have to endure as God’s faithful people, as those who call ourselves as Christians. This is the reality of our faith that we should keep in mind as we live in our world today. As Christians we cannot be idle in how we live our faith and we cannot be passive and be easily swayed by the currents of events and the pressures around us to follow the ways of the world, but instead we have to stand our ground and remain committed wholeheartedly to God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Daniel we heard of the account of the final days of the Kingdom of Babylon, also known as the Neo-Babylonian Empire, built and made great by King Nebuchadnezzar as we have heard in the readings of these past few days. At that time, decades after the destruction of Jerusalem and many decades after Daniel had been brought into exile in Babylon, King Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon was having a great feast with his nobles and guests using the vessels captured and looted from the Temple of Jerusalem.

That was an absolutely horrible and sacrilegious act by the king, a great blasphemy against God, using those vessels consecrated as sacred to God for profane purposes. It was such that God immediately sent a great warning to the blasphemous and arrogant king, as His hands wrote on the wall, the words MENE, TEKEL, PHARSIN, which terrified the king and all the guests gathered in the party. The king called for Daniel whom he recognised as one of the exiles of Judah and the wisest man of his court.

If we remember what Daniel said before the king, he must have really been so courageous and brave in uttering such words before the king. Indeed, the king had promised him wonderful things, riches, power, favour and all if he could explain the meaning of those words to him, but to say that the king’s kingdom would be destroyed and for his dominion to be ended and passed on over to the Medes and the Persians under Cyrus the Great as how it historically happened would have been treasonous and punishable by death.

Yet, Daniel feared nothing and spoke everything as the Lord guided him to. He did not hide any details and did not change the words of the Lord, in full truth before the king. He spoke everything entrusting his fate to the Lord, believing that whatever it is that would happen, God would be by His side, and He surrendered everything to God’s will. As such, Daniel spoke the truth and hid nothing, and in the end, everything happened as spoken, and the king himself, immediately after hearing Daniel’s words, did not punish him, likely treating it as a mere joke and not taking it seriously, before it was too late for him.

This is the same thing as what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, from the Gospel of St. Luke as we heard the Lord telling His disciples that trials and persecutions would likely happen to them, but they should not be afraid because God Himself would be with them, and He would send them the Holy Spirit to inspire and guide them in their path. The Lord will always be with His faithful ones, protecting them and caring for them and their needs. And even in their sufferings, they will be triumphant at the very end, together with God.

This is what we need to take note of, brothers and sisters in Christ. We have to realise that God is always by our side and we should not allow fear or doubt to influence our actions, whenever trials and challenges are in our way. Today, all of us should also heed the great examples and inspirations shown by St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his numerous companions, the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, who coincidentally, in accordance with today’s Scripture readings, had suffered and died for their faith in God.

At that time, Christian missionaries began gaining many converts in Vietnam, and many of the Vietnamese began embracing the new faith in God. Some of those converts themselves became priests and members of the clergy, and they were all persecuted by the government who were intensely anti-Christian. Persecutions were intensified against the converts and the missionaries alike, and many were forced to choose between abandoning their faith and death.

Many of the Christian converts refused to abandon their faith and therefore suffered grievously under the harsh official persecution, with many dying as martyrs. Their Christian missionaries also suffered the same if not more painful sufferings, with many of them becoming martyrs, and yet, they courageously faced the persecution with faith, and not being afraid to stand up for their faith just as Daniel once stood before the king of Babylon delivering the truth of God with great honesty.

Are we able to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Many of us may not have suffered of being a Christian, and we have a relatively good life in this world, but let us not forget that in this world, many of our fellow brothers and sisters are suffering daily in being persecuted and oppressed because they are followers of Christ. And if trials and troubles do come for us, will we have the courage to stand up for our faith as well?

Let us all pray for one another, for courage and strong faith to remain firm in our dedication to God so that we will not easily be swayed by the temptations of this world, and ask the Lord for His guidance and strength at all times. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each one of us with faith, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 21 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for My sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.”

“So keep this in mind : do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. But even though, because of My Name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.”

Wednesday, 24 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Daniel 3 : 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67

Sun and moon, praise and exalt Him forever.

Stars of heaven, praise and exalt Him forever.

Rain and dew, praise and exalt Him forever.

All winds, praise and exalt Him forever.

Fire and heat, praise and exalt Him forever.

Cold and heat, praise and exalt Him forever.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Daniel 5 : 1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his nobles; a thousand of them attended; and he drank wine with them. Under the influence of wine, he ordered that the gold and silver vessels his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem be brought in, so that he and his nobles, his wives and concubines might drink from them.

The gold and silver vessels taken from God’s Temple were brought in; and the king and his nobles, his wives and concubines drank from them. While they drank wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze and iron, of wood and stone. Suddenly a man’s fingers appeared opposite the lamp stand and wrote on the plastered wall of the king’s palace.

Watching the hand as it wrote, the king turned pale. So terrified was he that his knees knocked and his legs gave way. Daniel was brought in and questioned by the king, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father brought from Judah? I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods, that you have insight and extraordinary wisdom. I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple, wear a gold chain around your neck, and be appointed third in rank in my kingdom.”

Daniel replied, “You may keep your gifts or give them to someone else. Just the same, I will read and interpret the writing for you. You have defied the Lord of heaven. You had the vessels from His Temple brought to you, and, together with your nobles, your wives and concubines, you drank wine from them. You praised the idols made of silver and gold, of bronze, iron and stones, which neither see, nor hear, nor understand; but you never glorified God Who has power over your life and all your fortunes.”

“So He sent the hand that wrote the inscription which read MENE, TEKEL, PHARSIN. And these words mean : MENE, God has numbered the days of your reign and put an end to it; TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; PHARSIN, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Scriptures firstly of the account of the reaping of the Earth by the Angel of God as recounted in the Book of Revelations of St. John, and then in the Gospel the Lord Jesus told His disciples and the people that the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple would come soon and also elaborated of the signs of the end times. Just as that destruction really came about as the Lord had spoken, it proved that whatever else He said about His coming will definitely come true.

In all of those readings, we heard of the coming of the time of reckoning and judgment of the world, typical of the readings at the end of the liturgical year cycle. This serves to remind us that we have to always be vigilant and not be complacent in living our lives that we do not end up falling into the path of sin and stray from the path that the Lord has shown us. It is very easy for us to be tempted and to be swayed away from the path of God.

In our first reading today, St. John recounted his vision of the Apocalypse or the end times, when the Lord commanded His Angels to go to the world and reap the harvest of the Earth. This is related to the parable of the Lord which was the harvest of the wheat and the weeds in which they were harvested when they were mature at the time of the harvest, and while the wheat were gathered and kept, the weeds were thrown into the fire and perished.

This means that the time will come when the time of reckoning is at hand for all of us, be it the living and the dead, when the Lord at His appointed time shall come again to judge the whole creation just as He has revealed and promised to us. And all those who have been faithful and righteous will be blessed while those who have been defiant and refused to believe in God will be condemned by their sins and wickedness.

That is why at the time of the judgment of the world in the vision of St. John, the same parable was repeated yet again to highlight just how the time of the harvest shall eventually come, the time of the world’s judgment, our judgment shall also come for us. And why does it say that the grapes were thrown into the winepress of the anger of the Lord? That is because likely there are just so much wickedness and evil in the world to bring about God’s anger against all those evils and evildoers.

Now the question is, brothers and sisters in Christ, do we want to be counted among those who are wicked? Or do we rather be counted among the righteous and the worthy ones? God has given each and every one of us the free will and the choice to choose whether we want to be faithful to Him or whether we prefer instead to follow our own path and forge our own ways and actions. If we had chosen to walk away from God, then know it that it is by our own choice that we shall be judged into eternal darkness.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives in the light of the certainty of the Lord’s return and how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been good and faithful to the teachings of the Lord that He has revealed to us and taught us through His Church? Have we dedicated our live to Him as we should have done? If we have not done so, then it is not yet too late for us to change our ways and make a difference.

Let us today look up upon the examples of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his many companions, all holy martyrs of the persecution of the faithful in Vietnam, the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam. St. Andrew Dung-Lac himself was one of the first local Vietnamese to be ordained as a priest amidst the very hostile environment in Vietnam at that time as the Vietnamese Emperor and his government were deeply suspicious of the Christian faith and its missionaries.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, the Christian missionaries and all the Vietnamese faithful faced bitter persecution and trials, and many of them were forced to choose between suffering and abandoning their faith. Many remained firm in their faith and conviction, choosing rather to suffer and even die rather than abandoning their faith and devotion to God. And the most difficult and challenging fate faced those priests and missionaries who laboured to serve the people and spread the message of the Gospel even through these difficult times.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be more faithful to the Lord following the examples of our faithful predecessors, especially that of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions in holy martyrdom, the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam. Let us be inspired by their great courage and dedication to the Lord, their wholehearted service of God that we too shall be counted among the righteous, the holy saints and martyrs of God.

Let us all walk in their footsteps and love of God ever more faithfully from now on. May the Lord be with us in our journey of faith always, that we may persevere through all the challenges and trials we face. May God bless us now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 21 : 5-11

At that time, while some people were talking about the Temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.” And they asked Him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

Jesus then said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come claiming My title and saying, ‘I am He, the Messiah; the time is at hand!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, do not be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.”

And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before the Lord Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 14 : 14-19

Then I had this vision, I saw a white cloud and the One sitting on it like a Son of Man, wearing a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. An Angel came out of the sanctuary, calling loudly to the One sitting on the cloud, “Put in Your sickle and reap, for harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

He Who was sitting on the cloud swung His sickle at the earth and reaped the harvest. Then another Angel, who also had a sharp sickle, came out of the heavenly sanctuary. Still another Angel, the one who has charge of the altar fire, emerged and shouted to the first who held the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and reap the bunches of the vine of the earth for they are fully ripe.”

So the Angel swung his sickle and gathered in the vintage, throwing all the grapes into the great winepress of the anger of God.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 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, on this day we listened to the readings from the Scripture which we heard about the suffering of the faithful and the resurrection from the dead into eternal glory of heaven. And this is apt considering that today we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs who perished during the harsh persecutions against Christians in Vietnam.

In the first reading today, we heard about the moment from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when at the end of time, holy witnesses of God came into the world to preach the truth about God, and many would not listen to the words that they said in their midst. Those witnesses were given power and authority to oppose those who were against them until the time when the great enemy, the devil is to rise up and destroy those faithful servants of God at the end of their ministries.

The wicked people rejoiced at the death of the two servants of God, and continued to walk in sin, not repenting from those sins that they have committed. But God will not abandon those who have been faithful to Him, and after three days, in the same manner as He Himself has risen from the dead, He raised the dead servants into glory, and they rose to heaven at the plain sight of those who had rejected and persecuted them.

This is related to what has happened throughout the history of the Church, of the challenges and persecutions that occur in various parts of the world, and at different periods and times in the history of the Church, when the faithful were subjected to varying persecutions and oppressions, be it from individuals, or from state governments and holders of power and authority.

Many missionaries and followers of Christ have encountered difficulties and challenges, rejections and oppositions throughout their ministries in the attempt and effort to preach the truth and the word of God among the people who have not yet heard of them. They had to suffer prison, torture, indignation, and even death just because of their determination and commitment to remain faithful to the Lord.

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs as mentioned, celebrating the memory of those who have perished through the many years of persecution of Christians in the land of Vietnam. There are both missionaries and local Christians amidst these martyrs, whose life and stories spanned over a century of the history of the early years of Christian faith in Vietnam.

At that time, the state government of Vietnam viewed the Christian faith with great suspicion, and suspected the missionaries to be agents of Western influence and of their effort to colonise their country. As a result, they placed strict regulations and restrictions on the propagation of the Christian faith among the local population, and persecuted the Christian communities harshly.

Yet, the Christian communities continued to grow, and many more local populace converted to the faith despite the strong oppression and persecution by the government. That is because the Christian faithful held fast to the promise that God has made in today’s Gospel passage, when the Lord Jesus reiterated what He meant by the resurrection of the dead, when those faithful departed will be raised once again to life, to enjoy forever the eternal glory with God.

The saints and martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions resisted the sufferings and the many temptations through which the enemies of the Lord wanted to lead the Christian faithful to abandon their faith. Putting their trust completely in God, they did not fear the pain of death and chose rather suffering and death rather than to abandon their hard-won faith and commitment to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we ought to reflect on our own lives, on our actions in life thus far on whether we have been truly faithful to God in everything, or whether we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by the temptations and to be intimidated to give up our faith and the Christian way of living. We need to reflect on this, so that we may be able to find our way to the Lord, and follow in the footsteps of the holy martyrs.

Let us all ask for the intercessions of the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, that we may continue to strive to reach righteousness in God, to be able to courageously stand up for our faith amidst trials and tribulations we face. May the Lord be with us always, and may He be our guide in everything we do, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 24 November 2018 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 20 : 27-40

At that time, some Sadducees arrived. These people claim that there is no resurrection, and they asked Jesus this question, “Master, in the Law Moses told us, ‘If anyone dies leaving a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife, and any child born to them will be regarded as the child of the deceased.'”

“Now, there were seven brothers; the first married a wife, but he died without children; and the second and the third took the wife; in fact, all seven died leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. On the day of the resurrection, to which of them will the woman be a wife? For all seven had her as a wife.”

And Jesus replied, “Taking a husband or a wife is proper to people of this world, but for those who are considered worthy of the world to come, and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die, for they are like the Angels. They are sons and daughters of God, because they are born of the resurrection.”

“Yes, the dead will be raised, as Moses revealed at the burning bush, when He called the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For God is God of the living, and not of the dead, for to Him everyone is alive.”

Some teachers of the Law then agreed with Jesus, “Master, You have spoken well.” They did not dare to ask Him anything else.