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.'”

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

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 16-17, 18-19

I will praise YHVH all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in YHVH; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

The eyes of YHVH are fixed on the righteous; His ears are inclined to their cries. But His face is set against the wicked, to destroy their memory from the earth.

YHVH hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles. YHVH is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught.

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

Liturgical Colour : Red

Wisdom 2 : 23 – Wisdom 3 : 9

Indeed God created man to be immortal in the likeness of His own nature, but the envy of the devil brought death to the world, and those who take his side shall experience death.

The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the unwise they appear to be dead. Their going is held as a disaster; it seems that they lose everything by departing from us, but they are in peace.

Though seemingly they have been punished, immortality was the soul of their hope. After slight affliction will come great blessings, for God has tried them and found them worthy to be with Him; after testing them as gold in the furnace, He has accepted them as a holocaust.

At the time of His coming they will shine like sparks that run in the stubble. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their King forever. Those who trust in Him will penetrate the truth, those who are faithful will live with Him in love, for His grace and mercy are for His chosen ones.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 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 listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the important traits of God’s chief servants and the leaders and elders among the communities of the faithful, then named as overseers and elders. They were the ones who would in time become the first bishops of the Church, as those who were entrusted with the responsibility over the faithful in a certain geographical area.

In what St. Paul shared to St. Titus in his Epistle to him, he mentioned the characteristics of those who are to be chosen as bishops to lead the Church of God, to build up the foundations of the Church in the areas where at that time, it was still growing rapidly. St. Titus himself was also a bishop of the Church, one of the first among those whom the Apostles including St. Paul appointed as their successors in the government and management of the Church.

The bishops must have good qualities of the faith and also in leadership by example. They could not be those who were corrupt and wicked in their ways, or else the faith and the Church would be scandalised. They must be men of good character and showed great commitment to the Lord, which are important traits that all those who are serving the Lord ought to have in their lives and in their ministry.

These are important requirements for those who were called and chosen to be the good shepherds imitating the examples of the one, true Good Shepherd of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And they were given enormous responsibilities, that involves the very fate of many souls of man, which if not carefully and correctly managed, could cause those souls to be lost to God forever.

That was what the Lord Jesus mentioned when He said in the Gospel that, those who caused scandal for the faith, the Church and the faithful by their actions were truly not deserving of the Lord and His grace, for by their actions, deeds and maybe words, they have caused others, especially the vulnerable ones like children and others, to fall away from the faith, or to suffer the consequences of the former’s actions.

And sadly, this is what has happened in our Church throughout its long history, and even to this very day. There are scandals facing the Church, its priests, even bishops and the leaders that caused discomfort, pain and suffering among the members of the Church and the faithful, and this has caused some among the faithful to lose faith in God and His Church, and left the true faith behind.

Today, we ought to pray for the Church, for us all the faithful who believe in God, the members of His Church, and especially also for all those who have been called and chosen to become the shepherds of the faithful, that is the priests and bishops. Let us all pray for them, that they may remain faithful and committed to the service of God, and not to be tempted by Satan, the great enemy, who no doubt is trying to destroy the Church and us by attacking and tempting the holy priests and bishops.

We pray that they may have the courage to live up to their faith and calling, and following in the examples of the holy Apostles and martyrs, and especially today we celebrate the feast of a holy servant of God and courageous martyr of the faith, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, who was an Eastern Catholic bishop living during the contentious time when the foundations for the Eastern Catholic churches were made, at the time when some of the prelates from the breakaway Eastern Orthodox Church wanted to restore communion and unity with Rome and the Pope.

Thus, historically, through the Union of Brest in the year of Our Lord 1596, some of the Eastern prelates and priests declared their obedience to the Roman Catholic Church, the true Church of the Apostles and the Church of God, together with a number of the faithful. But tensions and problems did not end there, and in fact, they began to foster and create difficulties for those who have decided to reunite with the Roman Pontiff.

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was counted among these courageous prelates who as the bishop and Archeparch in the Ruthenian area of the church, among which there were still many who refused to accept the reunion with the Roman church, and hence, it gave St. Josaphat a lot of problems and difficulties, each of which he took upon patiently and with great faith. In the end, he faced martyrdom in the hands of angry mob who refused to believe in the truth of God.

But his courage and perseverance should be an inspiration to each and every one of us, and especially for those who have been called and chosen to the holy orders. Therefore, let us all pray together as one Church, calling upon God to be with His Church, to protect us and to guide us in our journey, that we will remain faithful and strong despite the challenges we may encounter on our way. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless us all in our endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 17 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Scandals will necessarily come and cause people to fall; but woe to the one who brings them about. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Truly, this would be better for that person, than to cause one of these little ones to fall.”

“Listen carefully : if your brother offends you, tell him, and if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he offends you seven times in one day, but seven times he says to you, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

The Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And the Lord said, “If you have faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you may say to this tree, ‘Be uprooted, and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it will obey you.”

Monday, 12 November 2018 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.