Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the occasion when St. Paul stood before Festus, the governor of Judea and king Agrippa the Roman client ruler of the country, as he waited for his transfer to Rome following his decision to appeal his case to the Emperor himself. St. Paul was accused and condemned by the Jewish leaders and elders who opposed him and his efforts to spread the Christian faith among the Jews and the Gentiles alike. At that time, he testified about Christ before the two men, and tried to convince them about the truth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
In our Gospel passage today, then we heard St. Peter and his conversation with the Lord at the Lake of Galilee, when after His Resurrection, the Lord appeared to His disciples as they were fishing by the lake. St. Peter was the very first one to recognise the Lord and he quickly came ashore to meet Him. The Lord called St. Peter aside after He had breakfast with the disciples, and we then heard what He told St. Peter in today’s Gospel, first asking him whether he loved Him, not just once but three times, again and again.
Through this action, the Lord showed that He has forgiven St. Peter’s thrice denial of Him at the time when He was arrested and brought before the chief priests during His Passion, and not only that but He also reaffirmed St. Peter as the leader of all the Apostles and as His Vicar, commissioning him as the first Pope and Leader of the Universal Church, to be the one to take care of His vast flock, all the people of God, together with the other Apostles and leaders of the Church.
This was also clearly not an easy task because the Lord Himself said how while in his younger years, St. Peter was free to go wherever he wanted and free to do whatever he wanted to do, in his old and end of days, he would be led in chains, endure prison and suffering, and all sorts of trials and challenges, all sorts of humiliation and ridicule for the sake of the Lord and his faith in Him. This is a revelation of how St. Peter would one day suffer and die for the sake of his faith, as he would go on to Rome, just as St. Paul also went to Rome, and while St. Paul would be beheaded at the end of his journey in Rome, St. Peter would be arrested, condemned to death and crucified upside down in the place where today stands the great Basilica of St. Peter.
The two Apostles had been called and chosen by the Lord to be His witnesses and missionaries among the various people they had been sent to. They responded with dedication and commitment, and they showed their love and devotion by committing themselves and all of their efforts to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord, and they gave themselves wholeheartedly to the mission, even though they knew that they would have to suffer for all that they had done. They endured it all through faith.
Today, all of us are reminded through these two Apostles that being Christians and followers of the Lord require from us a total commitment, effort as well as dedication. And we should also trust the Lord in whatever that He has led us into, as we must believe that He is with us, guiding us at all times, through the Holy Spirit that He has given us, leading us through life. Often times we will have to make tough decisions and to resist the temptations to walk away from the Lord’s path. And that is why we must always anchor ourselves strongly to the Lord at all times.
Today we should be inspired by the examples set by St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions, holy martyrs of the faith, who have steadfastly dedicated themselves to the glory of God. St. Christopher Magallanes was a devoted priest in Mexico who lived and endured through the difficult years of persecution of the Church and Christians by the government that was deeply anticlerical and even anti-Christian at that time, as seminaries and schools ran by the Church were forced to close and many were deprived of the sacraments.
St. Christopher Magallanes was among the many priests who had to endure the most challenging conditions as everything were arrayed against them. Although he preached patience and refused to support pro-Christian rebellions, he was accused falsely of promoting rebellion and arrested under false charges. He was summarily executed with other Christian faithful, and to the ver end, he remained faithful and committed to the mission that God has entrusted to him and others. Many other Christians also perished during that time, and yet, their continued devotion to God despite the worst that happened to them became a great inspiration for many.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by the examples of these great saints and martyrs who have gone before us. Let us follow in their footsteps and walk ever more courageously in the defence of our faith in the Lord, speaking up the truth of God and living our lives to the fullest possible as best as we can. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.