Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings, we heard first of all, the institution of the office of the deacons in the Church, when in the days of the early Church, there was a great difficulty in ensuring that all the Christian families and the faithful received the distribution of goods equally, as manpower was needed to do the works. And therefore, the Apostles decided to ordain seven men filled with the Holy Spirit, and charge them with the responsibility over those works.
In the Gospel today, meanwhile, we heard about the disciples of the Lord who were crossing the Lake of Galilee when they encountered a vicious storm and saw Jesus walking on the lake towards them. The disciples were frightened because they thought that they were seeing a ghost, and they did not have faith in Him. But Jesus revealed Himself to them, and told them not to be afraid, for it was indeed Him Whom they saw.
In what we heard in these readings from the Scriptures, we saw how God is always with His people, with all of those who have given themselves to Him and committed themselves to His cause. And the seven deacons which had been appointed was filled with the Holy Spirit and full of the faith they themselves showed before the Lord and His people, by their pious actions and commitment, and foremost of all, through their readiness to even lay down their lives for the Lord.
That was what happened to St. Stephen, one of the seven deacons, and one of the first martyrs of the Faith and the Church. We surely are aware of what had happened to him, as recorded in the other parts of the Acts of the Apostles, when the opponents of the faithful contrived against him and plotted to bring about his downfall through the means of false accusations and trials.
But St. Stephen stood up against all the lies and the false accusations levelled on him, and he spoke up about the truth of God, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealing to all those who had wanted to arrest him, how God had loved His people and wanted to save all of them, telling them of His exploits throughout history, and how He had ever been faithful, even though His people had not been faithful. And St. Stephen spoke of Jesus our Lord, Whom they rejected, but Who had come to be the Saviour of the world.
In the end, St. Stephen met his end in martyrdom, but he died knowing that God was by his side, and he even forgave all of his enemies, asking that God should not punish them for all that they had done against this faithful servant of God. This is the faith which he had shown through not just his beliefs, but also through his own actions. And all of us should emulate him and the other holy saints of the Lord, all of whom should become our inspiration in living out a genuine, Christian life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of the famous holy woman, the saint of the city of Siena, namely St. Catherine of Siena, one of the great Doctors of the Church, and a truly inspiring persona during her time, and even for long after her passing until this very day. St. Catherine of Siena was a very pious philosopher and theologian, who was known for a very great devotion to the Lord. She experienced visions from the Lord, which she related to others through her numerous writings.
Through her piety and faith in the Lord, she inspired many others to follow in her footsteps and walk in the way of the faith. She had even reconciled many factions and groups in conflict in the society and the community around her, by being intermediary and negotiator for both sides of the groups in dispute. She also took part in the resolution of conflicts and troubles in the community, as well as in the Church, which at that time was filled with conflict and human ambitions.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians all of us are called to devote ourselves completely to the Lord, and to commit ourselves to the good works He had started among us. And many of us have different talents and abilities, which we can give for the sake of God and His people. Let us all devote ourselves and our time, our effort and everything that we can do, for the betterment of one another, and for the greater glory of God, following in the footsteps of the holy deacons and Apostles, and also of St. Catherine of Siena, our role models in faith. Amen.