Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Priests)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on our actions and readiness in life to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as His faithful disciples and servants, to be exemplary in all of our actions and deeds so that through all of us, imitating the faith that Christ Himself has shown us and living the truth that He has revealed to us, all of us may come to be beacons of His light to many others who have not yet known Him.
Today in our first reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, we heard the Apostle reminding all the faithful of the role that Christ has played in redeeming all of us from our sins, and how God had fulfilled His promise to release and liberate us from all bondage and enslavement to sin and evil through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who chose to take upon Himself all of our sins and wickedness, and bore the burden of those sins upon Himself.
He obeyed His Father perfectly, as St. Paul said, so that by His obedience as the Son of Man and the New Adam, the old disobedience and sins of mankind from the old Adam may be overcome. Through His incarnation in the flesh, He has united all of our humanity to Himself, and by His obedience, He opened to us the floodgates of God’s mercy and grace, and by offering Himself, His Most Precious Body and Blood, of the Lamb of God, as the perfect and worthy sacrifice for our sins, He reconciled us all with God, our loving Father and Creator.
And then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples with regards to the readiness that all of His disciples ought to have, as He Himself repeated it several times, how they must be ready to welcome their Lord and Master at the moment of His coming, so that they would not be caught unprepared and unaware, when the Lord comes as He promised, at the day of Judgment. Essentially, He reminds all of them to be vigilant and to do their best in how they live their lives so that they may always be faithful in all things and do not allow wickedness and evil to gain roots in their hearts.
We are all therefore called, as those whom God had chosen and revealed His truth to, to be the ones who live with this knowledge and understanding of the truth, and to be the bearers of God’s light to the nations. We must not allow sin to rule over us again and influence us, just as the Lord has freed us from its bondage and power. Yet, the allure and attraction of sin can be very powerful and corrupting, and we have to be careful lest we fall again into its clutches. Many have failed to resist its temptations, and like our forefathers, they have fallen back into the path of sin.
What should we do then, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should follow the example and obedience of Christ, in His love for us and in His steadfastness in devoting Himself to the plan of salvation that He has brought upon us. And we should also follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves in commitment to God, those who have shown us that it is possible to be faithful to the Lord in this world and to lead a good Christian life that is just and worthy of God.
Today, we celebrate from the Feast of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, also known as the Jesuit North American Martyrs, as well as that of St. Paul of the Cross, a great Italian mystic and priest who founded the Passionists religious order. All of them are great role models for us in how we can lead a better Christian life and in following our respective calling in life as Christians so that we may learn on how we can contribute even in the smallest things for the sake of the glory of God and for the success of His works in this world.
The Holy Canadian Martyrs were St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and their companions in martyrdom, who were members of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits during the years of early exploration of the New World, particularly in the exploration of North America, in regions that are now part of Canada. These courageous missionaries responded to the Lord’s calling and embraced their missionary works, in revealing God’s truth to those who have not yet known Him, the native peoples of North America.
Many of these missionaries had to brave through harsh conditions and bitter winters, as well as opposition and rejection from those to whom they had gone to. While some of the natives were open to the Lord’s truth and were willing to listen to the missionaries, but there were also equally many and even more of those who refused to listen to them, and even persecuted those missionaries. As such, those missionaries endured a lot of bitter moments and struggles, in the service of God and His people.
Yet, St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brebeuf and his courageous fellow martyrs faced all those challenges with faith, committing themselves to God without fear, continuing to minister to those who have willingly embraced the faith and given themselves to be baptised as the first native Christian societies in those remote areas. They persevered and even when many of them faced great suffering and martyred by the attacks of those who were hostile to the faith, their efforts became the foundation of the Church that lasts till this very day in those regions and communities.
Meanwhile, St. Paul of the Cross dedicated his life as a priest and servant of God in ministering to his fellow brothers and sisters, being called by God to establish a new religious community dedicated to a life of prayer and evangelical zeal, which would become the Passionists he founded. St. Paul of the Cross gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord more wholeheartedly and formed his community, and worked hard to gain the Church approval for his efforts.
St. Paul of the Cross and his community of priests went around from places to places and preached about the Lord to many people in those communities, spreading the Word of God and the truth of His Gospel to more and more people, and together with his many works and writings, of which numbering over two thousands at least, he and his fellow workers of the Lord managed to bring many people closer to God, and helped many who were on the brink of the path of sin.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by these holy predecessors of ours, who had shown us what it truly means for us to be Christians. Let us all follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can in order to glorify the Lord by our lives and actions, by our exemplary actions and by doing our best to follow the path that the Lord has revealed before us. Let us also strive to resist the many temptations to sin, and commit ourselves from now on to walk in the path of the Lord. May all of us be inspiration as God’s children and as the beacons of His light and truth, now and always. Amen.