Friday, 12 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the reality of ourselves who are the servants of God, those who are under the power and authority of God, Our Lord and Master, Whose power and glory far surpasses anything else in this Universe, and Who is the One that created the entire Universe and existence as we know it. We have been called to follow Him and to believe in Him, and not to be distracted by all other things in this world.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Wisdom, we heard the author of the Book of Wisdom speaking about the folly of mankind in following and worshipping created things of this world, which were merely created things and objects. These words were directed against all those who worshipped idols and the pagans, who refused to believe in God and those who were still ignorant of His truth. At that time, most of the people except for the people of God believed in myriads of deities based on elements and things of the world.

They were amazed by the wonders and beauty, by the power and greatness of those objects and things, and as a result, they chose to worship what they thought to be their master, deity and creator, but failing to realise that no matter how great those things might have been, they were ultimately in the end, created things and were not the Creator. This is what the Lord wanted His people, all of us to know that He is the one true Lord and Master of all.

Then, we heard the passage from our Gospel today in which we listened to the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people regarding the past occasions when the people of God faced judgment and destruction because of their lack of faith, and then, He also spoke of the Judgment that is to come, which will happen at the end of time. This is one of the occasions in which the Lord mentioned what is to happen in the future, of the coming of the Lord and His salvation.

As He referred to the history of Noah and Lot, the Lord wanted all of us to know that all of us who have held true to our faith in Him and entrust ourselves in Him will not be forgotten, abandoned and will not be disappointed, for even though we may face persecution and difficulties for having believed in God, but the Lord will remember our faith and dedication, and our rewards shall be rich in Heaven and in the world that is to come. On the contrary, those who refused to believe in Him, and those who preferred to follow their own path, shall not have part in Him and His inheritance.

He reminded us all of what happened at the time of Noah, when the Great Flood or the Great Deluge happen all over the whole world, wiping out all the wicked children of mankind, all except that of Noah and his immediate family, who remained faithful to God. Then, on the matter of Lot, the unfaithfulness and wickedness of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who indulged in their vices and in their idolatrous behaviours also led to their destruction, together with the whole cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Lot and his family were saved.

All these serve as reminders for us not to be easily swayed and distracted by worldly temptations and idols, which can mislead us and cause us to fall into the path of sin. We may be wondering if we can fall into the sin of idolatry if we do not worship the pagan idols unlike those people in the past era during the time of the Book of Wisdom and the Old Testament, but in fact, in our lives, whenever we treat something in our lives to be greater than God, more treasured for us than God, then we have already made idols out of them.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have made idols out of money, our wealth and possessions, our addictions and even our desire for glory and fame. All these things are the ones that we often craved after, and worked so hard to gain that we have ignored and forgotten about God. Is it not the same then as those who have preferred to worship the idols than to worship God? Let us not be believers only in name and formality, and yet in our hearts and minds, God is not present at all.

Today, all of us ought to look upon the great examples set by our holy predecessor, namely St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, one of the great saints of God whose feast we are celebrating this day. He is a courageous and holy servant of God, a bishop committed to the well-being of his flock and for the salvation of souls. He was remembered for his great piety and dedication to God, his commitment to Church unity, and finally his martyrdom in defending that unity against those who refused to believe in him and the Lord’s truth.

At that time, the Church in what is today Belarus and Ukraine had been divided between those who were united to the Pope in Rome and those who refused to acknowledge the Pope and his authority, in the Eastern Orthodox communion. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was one of the bishops and leaders of the Church there who supported and worked hard for the reunification of the churches and the faithful, which eventually led to the Union of Lublin, in which many of those who belonged to the Eastern Orthodox churches, returned to communion with the Pope while retaining their unique traditions and expression of faith.

But there were also many who were opposed to such a union, and this led to further divisions among the flock of God’s people, which St. Josaphat Kuntsevych worked hard to overcome. He laboured to bridge the divisions and heal the disunity in the faithful community of God’s people. He was martyred as his enemies and opponents roused up a rabble to strike at him and killed him, as he remained firmly faithful to the very end in defending the true faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be inspired by the faith and dedication of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych and his commitment to the Lord, Who is first and foremost in all things. Let us all strive to love the Lord all the more and commit ourselves to Him, while distancing ourselves from all those distractions and temptations that can lead us astray. May God be with us and may He strengthen us in our journey of faith through life. Amen.

Friday, 12 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 26-37

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be on the day the Son of Man comes. In those days people ate and drank and got married; but on the day Noah entered the Ark, the flood came and destroyed them all.”

“So it was in the days of Lot : people ate and drank, and bought and sold, and planted and built; but on the day Lot left Sodom, God made fire and sulfur rain down from heaven, which destroyed them all. So will it be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

“On that day, if you are on the rooftop, do not go down into the house to get your belongings; and if you happen to be in the fields, do not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to save his life will lose himself, but whoever gives his life will be born again.”

“I tell you, though two men are sharing the same bed, it might happen that one will be taken, and the other left; though two women are grinding corn together, one might be taken and the other left.” Then they asked Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord?” And He answered, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”

Friday, 12 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 12 November 2021 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Wisdom 13 : 1-9

The natural helplessness of humans is seen in their ignorance of God. The experience of good things did not lead them to the knowledge of Him Who is. They were interested in His works, but they did not recognise the Author of them.

Fire, wind, air, the sphere of the stars, rushing water and the lights in the sky were held as the rulers of the world. If, charmed by such beauty, they took them for gods, let them know how far superior is their sovereign. And if they were impressed by their power and activity, let them understand from this how much mightier is He Who formed them. For the grandeur and beauty of creatures lead us to ponder on their Author, greater and more magnificent.

No doubt these people are not to be blamed severely, for possibly they strayed though they searched for God and desired to find Him. They pondered over the created things that surrounded them and were captivated by the sight of such beauty. Even so they are not to be excused, for if they were able to explore the world, why did they not discover first the world’s Sovereign?

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are brought to attention of the sufferings of the followers of Christ just as the Lord Himself had suffered at the hands of those who opposed Him and refused to believe in Him. And because of this, we have to keep our faith in God strong and keep up our hope in Him even as we face trials and challenges in this life.

The Lord wants us all to be strong and to keep the faith, and because of that He has constantly reassured us through His servants, the Apostles and the saints, whose lives become our inspiration and strength, that we may continue to follow Him with zeal. And today, in particular, we recall the glorious life and inspirational faith of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, holy bishop of the Lord and martyr of the Church.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was a monk of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth a few hundred years ago, at the time when the Christian faithful were divided between those who obeyed the Pope and are in communion with him, both the Roman Rite and the ones following the Eastern Orthodox communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

By that time the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople had been separated due to the Great Schism for over five hundred years, and the sum of mutual distrust, political circumstances and greed by others involved in the matter led to increasingly distant and hostile relationship between the two sides, and consequently, the faithful also ended up becoming ever more divided and hostile against each other.

St. Joseph Kuntsevych was a monk who eventually rose to the position of leadership within the Church as an Archbishop. At that time, a significant majority of the local Ruthenian population in the region now known as Belarus and Ukraine sought to be reconciled with the Pope led by the Metropolitan of Kiev and other bishops, who worked towards reconciliation that culminated in the Union of Brest.

Through that Union many communities of the faithful were led by their bishops and the clergy into full communion and reconciliation with the Pope and therefore becoming once again a member of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, this did not mean that the reunification of the Church occurred smoothly, as there were significant opposition from some segments of the faithful, both the clergy and laity alike.

It was in that situation that St. Josaphat Kuntsevych became a leader and shepherd for his flock, despite the rising tensions and clashes between those who were supportive of the Union and those who opposed the Union. He had the difficult job of trying to resolve the tensions and differences between the feuding factions of the faithful. Nonetheless, he dedicated himself as best as possible and did what he could to steer the faithful through to the right path despite the challenges.

And this was also accompanied by his personal holiness, exemplary conduct and life, constantly mortifying the flesh and resisting the temptations to sin. Nonetheless, amidst the rising sectarian tensions and violence eventually it led to the martyrdom of this faithful and holy man of God, as the townspeople who were opposed to the Union with the Pope rose against St. Josaphat and attacked him, tortured him and threw his dead body into the river.

As we can see from this case, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych showed us that being faithful to God is often not an easy task and is likely to be a challenging journey. But we must not lose hope or faith in God as the Lord will be with us, guiding us in our journey together towards Him. We must remain faithful, no matter what challenges we may encounter, that when the Lord comes again, we can confidently say that we have kept the faith, and will be worthy of His eternal glory.

May God bless us all and guide us, strengthen us in our journey that we may draw ever closer to Him, with each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 20-25

At that time, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was to come. He answered, “The kingdom of God is not like something you can observe, and say of it, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘See, there it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you.”

And Jesus said to His disciples, “The time is at hand, when you will long to see one of the glorious days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Then people will tell you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go with them, do not follow them. As lightning flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will it be with the Son of Man; but first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.”

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 145 : 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

The Lord is forever faithful; He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

The Lord sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Thursday, 12 November 2020 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Philemon 7-20

I had great satisfaction and comfort on hearing of your charity, because the hearts of the saints have been cheered by you, brother. Because of this, although in Christ I have the freedom to command what you should do, yet I prefer to request you in love. The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

This Onesimus has not been helpful to you, but now he will be helpful both to you and to me. In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this and sign it with my own hand : I will pay it…. without further mention of your debt to me, which is you yourself. So, my brother, please do me this favour for the Lord’s sake. Give me this comfort in Christ.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of just how fortunate all of us are to be the servants and followers of God because each and every one of us are truly precious in His eyes, and we are the most beloved and wonderful of all His creations. As mentioned in the Book of Wisdom from which our first reading was taken from today, although we may have been punished for our sins, but ultimately, immortality and eternal joy is what we have been destined for.

And it is also mentioned how the souls of the just are in the hands of the Lord, and He will surely never let us down, for if He can be so generous in mercy and compassion on all those who have disobeyed and sinned against Him, giving them opportunities one after another and patiently calling on them to return to Him, all the more He will bless and love all more abundantly those who love Him and serve Him. That is why we should really be thankful and grateful for God’s love.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus used the parable of a servant to illustrate this more succinctly, as He compared the relationship we have with God with that of a servant and his master. At that time, as was common, any servants must obey the commands and expectations of their masters, and they had to do whatever they were told to do, as part of their job and duty, or else they would be punished or fired from their employment.

Therefore as all of us are God’s servants and followers, we ought to do what we are called to do as our obligation and duty to Him, and all the more because our Master is truly a loving and caring Master Who is always ever concerned for our well-being and Who went out of His way to ensure our safety and our salvation from the destruction we should have suffered from because of our sins and wickedness.

Unfortunately, many of us had preferred to remain in sin because we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the many temptations of this world which caused us to fall deeper and deeper into sin and into paths that led us away from God. And the devil and all of his forces are always ever active in trying to strike at us, persuading, coercing, tempting and pressuring us to walk down the path of sin and to disregard and abandon our responsibilities as God’s followers and people.

And amidst all these darkness, we should seek the sources of light, our inspirations in life, by looking at those who have been faithful in their lives and actions, our holy predecessors who showed us the way forward in faith, in their tireless dedication and commitment to God, in their righteousness and in their willingness to suffer and even to die for the sake of their Lord and Master, for their faith in Him.

Today, we have St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, the great martyr of Church and Christian unity, who was a bishop of the Church in what is now Ukraine, during the time when some members of the splintered and divided Church began to seek reconciliation and reunion with the Holy Mother Church. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was one among those bishops belonging to the Eastern Orthodox communion seeking to return to the embrace of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church under St. Peter and his successors.

Through the Union of Brest which was affirmed in the year of Our Lord 1596, several bishops and their flock rejoined the Mother Church, as what would become eventually the many Eastern Catholic Churches today. Unfortunately, there were quite a few communities and their leaders who were against reunification and reconciliation, and these caused bitter troubles and difficulties for the Christian faithful and their leaders including that of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych.

Regardless of the challenges and the oppositions he had to face, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych worked tirelessly among the people of God, enduring the difficult challenges and committing his time and effort to serve the Lord as a faithful servant and disciple. His efforts managed to gain converts among those who still resisted the efforts at reunion and reconciliation. Nonetheless he still faced significant resistance and eventually, he was murdered by his enemies.

The courage and faith which St. Josaphat Kuntsevych showed us all amidst persecution and challenges of the world both remind us of the obstacles that we as Christians will encounter in life of being faithful to God and also encourages us to follow in his footsteps in serving God just as he has done. Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to God and love Him with ever greater faith and zeal from now on. May God bless us all and be with His Church, and unites all those who believe in Him in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 7-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Who among you would say to your servant, coming in from the fields after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Go ahead and have your dinner’? No, you tell him, ‘Prepare my dinner. Put on your apron, and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink afterward.'”

“Do you thank this servant for doing what you told him to do? I do not think so. And therefore, when you have done all that you have been told to do, you should say, ‘We are no more than servants; we have only done our duty.'”