Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the mission that the Lord has entrusted to us, the members of His Church. Even though the season of Easter is coming to an end with the celebration of the Pentecost Sunday tomorrow, it does not mean that everything that we have celebrated throughout this Easter is coming to an end. On the contrary, Pentecost marked just the very beginning of the Church’s works and efforts that still continues even to this very day.
As we heard in our first reading today from the ending parts of the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul reached the city of Rome and began the last step of his ministry in that city. He preached to the local Jewish community and also others who were interested in the Christian faith, establishing the foundation for the Church in Rome, from which also stemmed many other communities all throughout the Roman Empire. Through all of his efforts, many turned to the Lord and were reconciled to Him, and many came to believe in Him and became courageous missionaries themselves.
In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord’s conversation with His disciples at the Last Supper speaking about the one who would betray Him as well as St. Peter who wondered about the disciple whom the Lord loved, that is referring to St. John. At that time, there were still disagreements and so-called rivalry between the disciples, just as they had done earlier on when they argued among themselves who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, as St. John, his own mother and brother tried to also gain favour and position from the Lord by asking Him directly.
In all these we can see that first of all, the Lord called His disciples among mankind, people who were imperfect, full of human frailties, desires and shortcomings, of pride and jealousy, or any other behaviours and attitudes unbecoming of Christians, as the Apostles themselves had once exhibited. One among the Twelve betrayed the Lord and surrendered Him to the chief priests, and left their number, while St. Peter himself denied the Lord three times and with others, abandoned Him in fear when He was arrested in the Gardens of Gethsemane.
St. Paul himself was a fanatical enemy of the Church and the Christian faithful when he was young, persecuting the Church and the believers, causing untold sufferings and much pain among them. Yet, the Lord called all these to be His followers and witnesses, to be the ones to bear His truth to the people of the many nations that they had been sent to. These Apostles, like St. Paul went forth courageously and wholeheartedly, not worried about themselves but instead ever always concerned about the conversion of many and the salvation of souls.
Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, a holy and devout woman who was a dedicated wife and mother who wanted to join a convent in her early life, but forced to accept arranged marriage to a man who was bad-tempered, immoral and wicked. St. Rita of Cascia was remembered as a pious woman and faithful wife and mother despite all that she had to endure from her husband, his behaviour and temper. She endured all of his insults and abuses, as well as all of his infidelities in their marriage.
In the end, it was told that she was able to convince her husband to be a better person and at least he abandoned some of his past vices. Yet, his actions caught up to him and he was assassinated by a rival family, which led to her husband’s family vowing vengeance and expecting St. Rita of Cascia’s two sons to seek vengeance for their murdered father. Unable to persuade her sons to seek vengeance despite her repeated efforts, she prayed to God, asking that He took them away from the world rather than to have them commit a mortal sin through murder.
True enough, very soon after that, both of her sons were taken by a plague that occurred in that year. And then, having been widowed and left without family, St. Rita of Cascia finally became a religious, dedicating the rest of her life to contemplative prayer and commitment to God. It was not easy for her to do so, as the convent was afraid that her murdered husband’s family and reputation would be bad for them, and hence, St. Rita of Cascia was tasked to resolve the feuds between the families of that town, which she did with great success.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see here, God had called ordinary people, woman like St. Rita of Cascia, who was just an ordinary wife and mother, and yet, by her faith and commitment, she had done great deeds, leading her own husband and two sons closer to God’s grace and salvation, and helping to resolve the feud between the families of her town, among others. Through her life and example, all of us can see what it means to be a true disciple of the Lord, as a Christian.
Therefore, let us all continue to go forth proclaiming the truth of God in our lives from now on. Let us dedicate ourselves and follow the Lord wholeheartedly, as missionaries and genuine evangelisers in all of our words and actions throughout life. Let us all follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit that throughout life we will always be ever dedicated and filled with the strong desire to proclaim God’s truth in the midst of our respective communities, even when we encounter challenges and trials, opposition and persecution. Let us trust in the Lord and not be afraid for He is always by our side. May God be with us always, and bless our every good works and endeavours. Amen.