Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings we heard two great exhortations, by St. Paul in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Corinth on the nature of the resurrection of the faithful and then the parable of the sower and the seeds by Jesus who told them what happened to the various seeds that ended up in different conditions.
In the two readings, we can see a great link and similarity, as both of them refer to the growth and the sowing of seeds, and what are these seeds? They are none other than the seeds of faith, hope and love, the three cardinal virtues of Christian life, as these have been planted in us, within our hearts and souls. And the purpose for these seeds are so that we may truly be transformed from our sinful, mortal and earthly bodies, to be truly worthy of our Lord and God, in a new spiritual body as mentioned by St. Paul, that is a body filled with the wonderful flowers and fruits of faith, of hope and of love.
But Jesus our Lord mentioned in His parable of the sower, that this would not be an instantaneous, automatic or easy process. He clearly highlighted the problems, dangers and great challenges that line up against us, to prevent us from achieving that state of spiritual maturity and worthiness, that we end up to continue living in sin and darkness rather than be accepted into the light.
Mankind had lived in this world and as such are bound to the ways of this world, that is the way of the flesh, and the ways of the world. That had been the way of mankind ever since the days of our first ancestors, after they had sinned and been cast away from the presence of God, and had to endure the sufferings of the earth. Ever since then, mankind had lived on earth and obeyed the ways of the world rather than the ways of the Lord.
What we need in order to escape this bonds and prison of the world is by cultivating and growing the seeds of faith, hope and love which God had planted in us, through His Spirit. It is however, as mentioned, not going to be an easy path. The parable of the sower in fact showed us that the devil is always at work in order to prevent us from ever achieving salvation in God, and instead perish with him together in hell.
Jesus mentioned that the seeds fell on first the roadside and got eaten by the birds. In this case, He also explained how Satan is always at work as he desired our total annihilation, as a form of his vengeance and continuous rebellion against God. As we mankind are God’s greatest and most beloved creation, there is indeed nothing more sinister and evil for Satan to commit his defiance against God other than by subverting mankind and bringing them into sin.
And Satan has much in his possession in order to execute this extremely well. This is because many of us are like the seeds that fall on the rocky ground. We listened to the word of God and we received the words of the Good News of Christ, but these did not take root in our hearts. It is like we heard these words from our ears, but it then remains just a superficial attachment in any, and indeed, in our actions, in our own words and deeds, they represent nothing that the Lord had taught us.
This is a fertile ground for Satan to make his attack upon us, and it is easy for him to sow the seeds of dissent and unfaithfulness in our hearts. And indeed, the same also applies to the kind of those who are like the seeds that grow on the soil with thistles. Thistles are plants that can spread and grow on the surfaces of other plants, taking precious nutrients as a parasite to the host plant, which then eventually is suffocated, impoverished and therefore die.
This is one main way through which Satan made his attacks, that is through the pleasures of the flesh, and the desires of men. He made his attack on us through these, so as to ensnare us on our way to reach the Lord, and therefore fail to reach salvation in God. The thistle represents the temptations and the corruptions which Satan is trying very hard to impose on us, so that we may obey him instead of God.
For us to truly be able to achieve salvation, we have to take heed of what Jesus and St. Paul had conveyed to us on this day. This is namely that we have to abandon our earthly ways, and all the things we used to do in this world, which are not in accordance with the will of God, which He had revealed through Jesus His Son. In this manner, then we can have that rich soil in us, upon which the Word of God and the seeds of faith, hope and love in us may form deep roots and grow strong.
And perhaps, by sharing the lives of the saints which feast we are celebrating today will inspire us even more to follow God with all of our hearts. Today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Laurent Imbert, Vicar Apostolic of Korea, one of the first shepherds of the Church and the faithful in Korea, and also St. Jacques Chastan, another missionary to Korea, with his many companions in martyrdom, both missionary, laity and priests alike, the Martyr Saints of Korea.
Korea at that time, as it had been for about two hundred years, ever since the Faith first came there, was truly a very hostile place for the Church and the faithful. There were open and state-led persecution of the Christian faithful, who were seen as disloyal, traitors and enemies of the state. Many were made to choose between keeping their faith and death. Many abandoned Christ, but there were also many of those who remained faithful to the Lord and suffered holy martyrdom.
St. Laurent Imbert was the Vicar Apostolic of Korea, a missionary part of the French mission to Korea. He faithfully worked in shepherding the people entrusted under his care, and more and more come to believe in Christ and achieved salvation through his dedication. St. Laurent Imbert however, heard that the persecution of the faithful might cease, if he and the other leaders of the faithful would surrender themselves to the authorities.
The suffering of the faithful at the time was really great, and many were brought to martyrdom every day. Thus, in the spirit of the words of Jesus, St. Laurent Imbert, who was in hiding at the time, told his people, that he would surrender himself to the authorities, in exchange for the safety and protection of his flock. He mentioned the good shepherd, where Jesus mentioned that the good shepherd lay down his life for his sheep.
St. Laurent Imbert followed the example of Jesus and in his love and faith for his flock, he thought only of the best for them. Thus, he even willingly surrendered himself, even while knowing that his fate most likely would be death. He thus gave a great example to the faithful, which we too should follow and emulate in our lives. Even though the martyrdom and persecution would continue even after the martyrdom of St. Laurent Imbert, as the authorities reneged on their promises, the blood and faith of these holy martyrs continued to cause more and more faith to blossom and prosper among the persecuted people of God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all come to a greater realisation of how great is the amount of effort and work that we should input into our lives, so that we may grow deeper and stronger in our faith, our hope and our love, that we may indeed bear fruit, that is the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
May all of us be ever more faithful and devoted to our Lord, so that our Lord may find us worthy of Himself and reunite us with Him together in the company of St. Laurent Imbert, St. Jacques Chastan, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and all the holy martyr saints of Korea, and together with the other holy men and women, as well as the angels. God bless us all. Amen.