Wednesday, 20 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, 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 heard from the Scriptures of the contradiction that came from the world, its expectation from us, and how we ought to live in accordance with God’s ways regardless of what the world demands from us. In the Gospel Jesus mentioned to His disciples how the world always refused to acknowledge God and His works, finding a reason at all times to find fault with Him and His servants.

Now, all of us as Christians are given the choice, whether we all want to be conforming to the world that we may be accepted and welcomed, or whether we should remain true wholeheartedly to our faith in God, obeying His ways and His laws, despite the opposition and disapproval from the Lord. We need to make a choice, brothers and sisters in Christ, for if we are lukewarm or if we are ambivalent, we will end up getting nothing in the end, neither righteousness in God, or approval from the world, and we will fall nonetheless.

We should instead be inspired by the examples of the holy martyrs and saints who predeceased us, what they have done in their lives, and how they have stood up to their faith despite the challenges and the suffering they had to encounter. And today we remember the holy martyrs of Korea for that reason, all those multitudes of the holy people of God who have suffered and died in the land of Korea, through the many years of persecution when the faith was still young in that land.

At that time, the Korean government was staunchly anti-Christian in nature, and the government agents and officials were very harsh in their oppression of the Christian faith, rounding up and arresting missionaries and making life very difficult for all the Christians. Yet, the Christian community was thriving, and more and more people accepted the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and were baptised into the Church.

They lived in a very difficult time, when even the slightest inclination of hint of one being a Christian might mean the difference between life and death. It was certainly a time when someone would rather not be known as a Christian, and where many would end up giving up the faith, as was what truly happened then. There were those who were unable to resist the temptation and the pressure for them to give up the faith, and they faltered.

But there were those brave and courageous servants of God who refused to let fear to overcome them, and they continued to serve the people of God and remained true to their faith. There were European missionaries amongst them as well as the local Korean priests and the laypeople, who continued to minister among the people even under the very real threat of suffering, pain and death.

Their commitment to the Lord was truly commendable, especially in the case of one of the saints whose story I can really relate to, as he was the saint who inspired the name of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Singapore, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, because of his dedication to the people and the flock he had been entrusted with in Korea, as the first Bishop and Vicar Apostolic of the country.

St. Laurent Imbert was a French Missionary of the Mission Etrangeres de Paris or the Paris Foreign Mission Society, who went to Asia and the Far East to preach the Gospel and evangelise to the people, including countries in Southeast Asia like Singapore, where he helped to build the foundation of the Church, and then later on in Korea, where as the first Vicar Apostolic, he was committed to care for his faithful flock even amidst the difficult times.

He was betrayed at one time, and realising that it would be inevitable that he would be arrested, he surrendered himself to the authorities, to avoid bloodshed and trouble for his flock. And believing that if the foreign missionaries surrendered themselves the authorities would spare the people from harm, he encouraged his fellow missionaries to surrender themselves. At that time, many of the priest missionaries were in hiding, as the authorities were looking for them.

St. Laurent Imbert encouraged two of his fellow priests, St. Pierre Maubant and St. Jacques Chastan to surrender themselves to the authorities, hoping that they would gain safety for the people, and through their suffering the people might live. There was indeed no guarantee that the authorities would not persecute the people even if they surrendered. However, St. Laurent Imbert as the leader and shepherd of the flock of God showed the example, saying that, ‘the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.’

In putting his flock’s safety ahead of his own safety, these saints imitated our Lord, the Good Shepherd, Who has laid down His life for all of His sheep, these holy saints and martyrs have shown each and every one of us what is the true meaning of being Christians. Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians must be sincerely and devoutly committed to God, standing up for our faith through our actions and deeds.

Let us all treasure this faith which we have, which our predecessors have even suffered and died that they might pass on the faith to us. Let us all ask for the intercession of the holy Korean martyrs, that they will pray for our sake before the Lord, that the Lord will move our hearts to be ever better servants to Him in all of our actions. May God bless all of our endeavours. Amen.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 7 : 31-35

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “What comparison can I use for the people? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain, ‘We piped you a tune and you would not dance; we sang funeral songs and you would not cry.'”

“Remember John : he did not ear bread or drink wine, and you said, ‘He has an evil spirit.’ Next, came the Son of Man, eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Look, a glutton for food and wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But the children of Wisdom always recognise her work.”

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 110 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! I thank YHVH with all my heart in the council of the just, in the assembly. The works of YHVH are great and pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are His deeds, His righteousness endures forever. He lets us remember His wondrous deeds; YHVH is merciful and kind.

Always mindful of His Covenant, He provides food for those who fear Him. He shows His people the power of His arm by giving them the lands of other nations.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop and Martyr, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest and Martyr, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-sang and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Timothy 3 : 14-16

I give you these instructions, although I hope I will see you soon. If I delay, you will know how you ought to conduct yourself in the household of God, that is, the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. How great, indeed, is the mystery of divine blessing!

He was shown in the flesh and sanctified by the Spirit; presented to the Angels and proclaimed to all nations. The world believed in Him : He was taken up in glory!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Gospel and the Scriptures, urging us all to obey the Law and the commandments of God, as how He had given all these to us as the instruments and helpers for us all as we walk on this path towards salvation and eternal life. He has given all of them to us so that these may guide as we encounter challenges and difficulties on our way.

And yet, as we heard from the Book of Proverbs, our first reading of today, we saw how many people persisted in their wicked ways and refused to follow what the Lord had instructed and shown them. And that is because in their hearts, they do not have the Lord in their hearts. They were so full of themselves and their ego that they did not see how much God had done for them and blessed them in their lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are expected to live in accordance with the ways of the Lord, devoting ourselves to God and all the things that He had taught us to do. And just as Jesus said, those who have done the will of God, He will consider as His brothers and sisters. Why is this so? That is because He Who is God has made Himself to be a Man like ourselves, so that all those who have obeyed the Lord as He had obeyed His Father may be like Him in all things, and be worthy to be considered as His brethren.

And perhaps, the best example for that obedience is our Lord Himself, Who have obeyed the will of the Father to the very end. He was willing to shoulder the burden of the cross, so that by bearing that cross, on which has been laid the burdens of our sins, we may be saved from certain death and destruction due to those sins. He is our Good Shepherd, Who truly loves us and cares for us, showing us the love and concern with which He guides us to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps we should also heed the examples of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the many other holy saints and martyrs, who have suffered and died defending the faith in the land of Korea. These saints were missionaries and local Christians who have endured difficulties, tribulations, oppressions and persecutions in their faith and in their belief in God.

At that time, the government of Korea was very hostile to the Christian faith, openly opposing the evangelisation of the faith in its territory, and were very staunch in their stance against the missionaries of the faith. And many of those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour were arrested, tortured, and forced to choose between great suffering and pain or to recant their faith and return to their old beliefs.

But amidst this very difficult and turbulent time, many brave and courageous members of the faithful, together with the missionaries stood up against the tide of persecution, and became living examples of how faith should be like in us Christians. They refused to abandon the Lord and their faith in Him, and even while knowing that such a stance would lead to great difficulties and persecution, they pressed on nonetheless.

And in particular St. Laurent Imbert, a French missionary appointed as the first Bishop of Korea, as the Vicar Apostolic there, was exemplary in his actions, which showed many the same example as Christ Himself had shown the world. At that time, as the persecution of the faithful and the Church intensified, the authorities were trying to destroy the Church by striking at its leadership. St. Laurent Imbert, the Bishop of Korea and his priests were then hiding from the authorities.

An offer went out from the authorities, that if the bishop and the leading priests were to surrender themselves, then they would spare the rest of the faithful from further persecution. While this was most likely a trap, and no guarantee could be ensured from trusting the words of the authorities, St. Laurent Imbert nonetheless decided to surrender himself, while encouraging his fellow priests to do the same.

In doing so, as was explained in his writings, St. Laurent Imbert had followed the example of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. Jesus said that the Good Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep, and there, St. Laurent Imbert laid down his life for the good and the benefit of the flock entrusted to him by God. He showed us all by action, true Christian love, devotion and commitment, both to God and to His people, his fellow men.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we too should follow in the footsteps of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the saints and martyrs of Korea, all of whom bravely and courageously defended their faith even with their life. They have lived truly as Christians, and showed the meaning of commitment, faith, and true love for God and for their fellow men, by their unfailing faith and devotion.

Let us all imitate them in their examples, and be brave and courageous in our faith as well. Let us all not be intimidated by the challenges of this world, but instead put our full trust in the Lord, knowing that God will always be with all those who are faithful to Him, for He will always love us all, and will never abandon His beloved ones to the darkness. May God bless us all, always. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (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.”

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Laurent Imbert, Bishop, St. Jacques Chastan, Priest, and St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, Martyr Saints of Korea (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 118 : 1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

Blessed are they whose ways are upright, who follow the Law of the Lord.

Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your Law with all my heart.

Guide me in obeying Your instructions, for my pleasure lies in them.

May I always keep Your word forever and ever.