Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to words of the Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the revelation that many people from many nations, from various places would come to glorify the Lord and to praise Him. They would come to listen to Him and to welcome Him, follow Him and worship Him. All these were the revelations of what was to come through Christ and His gathering of the people from all the nations to be His disciples and to be saved through Him.

Everything was to come true as the Lord Himself had come and dwelled in our midst, gathering everyone who have faith in Him so that we may come to know of His truth and salvation. Yet, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, there were still those who refused to believe in Him and refused to welcome Him to their place. This happened due to various reasons, and in this particular case, it was because the Samaritans who stayed in that village got to know that the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem, in the land of Judea.

Back then, at the time of the ministry of the Lord, there had been longstanding animosity between the Samaritans and the Jews especially those who were in Judea and Jerusalem. The background of this animosity and conflict was not truly well-understood, but it revolved around the misunderstandings between the two groups of people, as the Jews considered the Samaritans as heathens and pagans who took over the land of the former northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria and its vicinity, in the land between Judea and Galilee. Many of the Samaritans were descendants of the remnants of the Israelites left behind in that land intermingled with others who were brought to that land to settle in.

Then, for the Samaritans, they claimed themselves to be the natives of the land, as they claimed that they had been there earlier than the Jewish people had been, and even claimed Jacob, the father of the Israelites to be their own forefather. They claimed that their worship of God at Mount Gerizim and the mountains of Ephraim was superior than the Jewish claim for worship only at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Their mixed heritage and the long distortions of history eventually led to the strive and conflict between the two peoples. This is the background with which the rejection of the Lord took place.

All these showed us the kind of attitudes that we mankind and people of God can show in the midst of us resorting to our pride and ego, and in indulging our stubborn desire for glory and power, for influence and other things and temptations that often became great stumbling blocks in our path towards God and His salvation. If only that we can trust in Him more and allow Him to lead and guide us down the right path that we may not end up in the wrong direction in life. But the question is, are we willing to listen to Him and humble ourselves before Him and others?

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our attitude in life and in how we have lived our faith thus far. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord in all the things we do and at all times throughout our lives? Or have we allowed ourselves to be lulled and swayed by our desires and greed, by our ego, pride and ambition? Today, let us all look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessors, holy martyrs who devoted themselves to the Lord faithfully and lived virtuous lives and in the end, died as martyrs in defending their faith and the integrity of their beliefs.

St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia was the renowned Duke of Bohemia whose patronage and life is still being remembered to this day, as the patron of the Czechs and many others who looked up to his virtuous examples as a Christian and as a great ruler over his people. St. Wenceslaus took over the reign over Bohemia at a time of great change and at the crossroads of the history of his people, as Christianity had just taken its roots in Bohemia back then, and many of the people including the influential ones and the nobles were still pagans.

St. Wenceslaus ruled wisely and responsibly as a just and caring ruler, managing the many challenges that he had to face, and worked hard to benefit his people and to care for them while also advancing the cause of the Lord and the Church, establishing a firm foundation of the Church and its missions throughout his dominion. However, he had a lot of opposition which festered and sought to reverse all the gains of the Christian faith, and these eventually coalesced around the brother of St. Wenceslaus, namely Boleslaus the Cruel, who orchestrated the murder of the faithful duke and servant of God.

Then, today we also commemorate the memory of the glorious Holy Martyrs of Japan in Nagasaki, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his fellow companions in martyrdom during the great and intense persecution of Christians in Japan in the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. St. Lawrence Ruiz, also better known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first saint of the Philippines, having actually been born in the Spanish ruled Philippine islands, and led a pretty ordinary life there until one day he was falsely accused with murder. In order to protect his life and innocence, he boarded a ship bound for Japan, in which he was arrested together with the missionaries that he had taken refuge with.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in martyrdom were tortured and made to suffer a lot, persuaded, coerced and forced to abandon their faith in God under grim threat of more sufferings and death. However, this did not dampen his spirit and those others who were with him. Eventually he was martyred in the most painful way, and to the very end, he remained faithful, declaring before all his persecutioners that ‘I am a Catholic and I wholeheartedly accepted death for God. Had I have a thousand lives, all these I shall gladly offer to Him.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the great examples showed by these faithful holy predecessors of ours should be inspiration to each and every one of us. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord just in the manner that those faithful martyrs had done? Can we be virtuous in life, caring and be responsible for one another just as St. Wenceslaus had done? And can we commit ourselves wholly to the Lord even in the face of great suffering and adversity in the manner of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in martyrdom?

Let us all therefore turn towards the Lord wholeheartedly, and strive to do our best to serve Him with ever greater vigour and devotion from now on. May the Lord be with us always and may He strengthen each and every one of us, and bless us in our every great works and endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 51-56

At that time, as the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, He made up His mind to go to Jerusalem. He sent ahead of Him some messengers, who entered a Samaritan village to prepare a lodging for Him. But the people would not receive Him, because He was on His way to Jerusalem.

Seeing this, James and John, His disciples, said, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to reduce them to ashes?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 86 : 1-3, 4-5, 6-7

He Himself has built in in His holy mountain; YHVH prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns. Great things have been foretold of you, o City of God.

Between friends, we speak of Egypt and Babylon; and also Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia : “Here so-and-so was born.” But of Zion, it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And YHVH notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for You.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Zechariah 8 : 20-23

YHVH, the God of hosts speaks, “Peoples will come from other nations, people from great cities. The inhabitants of one town will talk with those of another, and, say : ‘Come, let us go and implore the favour of YHVH, and I, too, will seek YHVH.’ Many great peoples and powerful nations will come, seeking YHVH, God of hosts, in Jerusalem and pray to Him.”

YHVH, the God of hosts assures you. “In those days, ten men of different languages spoken in various lands, will take hold of a Jew by the hem of his garment and say : We, too, want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Monday, 28 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listen to the beginning of the story of Job, as we heard how that servant of God suffered under the attacks of Satan, who wanted to tempt him to abandon God out of despair and suffering. Satan said to God that Job’s faith was only strong because he was so blessed and protected by God, and should he lose them all, then he would surely abandon God and curse Him.

That was why Satan struck at Job and took away everything he had, his large family and his immense possessions, only sparing his life because God expressly forbid him from touching his life. And certainly, to Satan’s amazement, Job remained faithful, even when Satan stepped up his attacks on him and caused terrible and painful boils to appear throughout his entire body.

Job remained firm in his faith, and even though he suffered and even despaired at times, as the whole Book of Job essentially detailed out this struggle he had, especially when his close associates came to him and instead of consoling him, argued that Job must have sinned and disobeyed God to suffer such a terrible fate. Yet, even with all of these, Job remained faithful, and God, after revealing the truth about it all, blessed Job twice and more as much as he had been blessed before all the misfortune.

There were those who argued that the character Job was not really real, but rather an allegory and representation of the suffering servant of God, and how that servant persevered even through the trials and difficulties that came their way. But regardless whether Job was real or not, the fact remains that it was a reminder for each and every one of us to keep our faith in God and that despite all sufferings endured in faith, God does not forget us and will provide for us in the end, just as He did with Job.

In our Gospel today then we heard about the Lord and His disciples as they encountered some children and the Lord welcomed them warmly, and saying that unless they welcomed those children the way that He had called them and welcomed them, they would have no part in Him. And as His followers they also ought to be humble and make themselves small and insignificant, not to boast of their own might and power.

And the Lord also told His disciples not to stop another person who used His Name to do the same work as they had done, casting out demons and performing good works of healing. Through this, God wants us to know that all of us do not work for our own personal glory, or the glory of our own group or particular communities to the exclusion of others. All that is done is for the greater glory of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore we have been reminded to be faithful disciples and followers of Our Lord, dedicating our time and efforts to walk in His path and to proclaim His truth and Good News in our respective communities, to do this humbly and dedicate ourselves for the glory of God, at all times. This is what we have been called to do as Christians with our lives.

And today, we should look upon the examples of St. Wenceslaus, as well as St. Lawrence Ruiz and his Companions, the Holy Martyrs of Japan. St. Wenceslaus was the Duke of Bohemia who reigned wisely and was beloved by many of his subjects, and who was instrumental in strengthening the Christian faith which at that time was still contending against the pagan beliefs of the people in Bohemia. St. Wenceslaus faced opposition from some among the nobles who supported the pagan cause.

St. Wenceslaus helped to build the strong foundation in a country that had been converted to the Christian faith just not long before, and he established not just good governance but also a strong and enduring Christian hierarchy and establishment. For all these, some among the nobles resented him, his reforms and efforts, and in complicit with St. Wenceslaus’ brother, they killed St. Wenceslaus who therefore died a martyr to his faith.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz, also known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz, was a Filipino young man who had a good early life, was married and worked for the Spanish administration, before one day he was falsely accused of the murder of a Spaniard, something that is considered a capital offence back then, and which caused St. Lorenzo Ruiz to seek asylum with several priests who were on their way to Japan.

Unfortunately, at that time, Japan has already closed its borders to Christian missionaries, and the Tokugawa Shogunate then had arrested many Christian missionaries and converts, forcing many of them to choose between abandoning their faith and live, or to remain faithful and suffer a most painful death. That same fate was encountered by St. Lorenzo Ruiz and the others who were to suffer martyrdom with him. Together they were brought to Nishizaka Hill and as with St. Paul Miki and his companions forty years earlier, they were tortured, and died of martyrdom.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz and many of his companions died faithfully defending their faith, and although they might have suffered so much, but through their faith, they certainly receive eternal glory from God, the crown of everlasting life they had earned through martyrdom. The same is the also the case for St. Wenceslaus, and is reminiscent of what Job had experienced, after all of his sufferings.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore we are all reminded that we need to realise how being Christians may bring us difficulties, trials and challenges, and along this journey, we may even be tempted again and again to give up and to abandon this faith. But we must not lose faith, brothers and sisters! We must remain firm in faith and look forward beyond all the obstacles, and realise that in the end of it all, there will be great things awaiting us, true happiness and glory that is in God alone.

May the Lord help us and guide us in this journey of faith, just as He has strengthened Job, St. Wenceslaus, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions, and many other saints and martyrs, all those who dedicated their lives to God, so that we may also be strong in our faith and dedication. May He bless our good endeavours and works, all for His greater glory, in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Monday, 28 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 9 : 46-50

At that time, one day, the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so He took a little child and stood him by His side. Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me. And listen : the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon Your Name, and we tried to forbid him, because he does not follow You with us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”

Monday, 28 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 16 : 1, 2-3, 6-7

Hear a just cause, o YHVH, listen to my complaint. Give heed to my prayer, for there is no deceit on my lips.

Let my defence come forth from You; Your eyes see what is right. You have probed my heart, searched me at night, tested me by fire, and You have seen no wickedness in me.

I call on You, You will answer me, o God; incline Your ear and hear my word. For You do wonders for Your faithful, You save those fleeing from the enemy as they seek refuge at Your right hand.

Monday, 28 September 2020 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Job 1 : 6-22

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before YHVH, and Satan came with them. YHVH asked Satan, “Where have you been?” Satan answered, “Going up and down the earth, roaming about.”

YHVH asked again, “Have you noticed My servant Job? No one on earth is as blameless and upright as he, a man who fears God and avoids evil.” But Satan returned the question, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not built a protective wall around him and his family and all his possessions? You have blessed and prospered him, with his livestock all over the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike where his riches are, and I bet he will curse You to Your face.”

YHVH said to Satan, “Very well, all that he has is in your power. But do not lay a finger upon the man himself.” So Satan left the presence of YHVH. One day, while his sons and daughters were feasting in the house of their eldest brother, a messenger came to Job and said, “Your oxen were plowing, and your donkeys were grazing nearby when the Sabaeans came and carried them off. They killed the herdsmen. I alone escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came, “God’s fire fell from the sky and burnt all your sheep and the shepherds as well. I alone have escaped to tell you.” He had hardly finished speaking when another messenger arrived, “Three raiding teams of Chaldeans have killed your servants and carried off your camels. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

He was still speaking when another messenger came and said to Job, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking in the house of their eldest brother when suddenly a great wind blew across the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they all died. I alone have escaped to tell you.”

In grief Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. YHVH gave, YHVH has taken away. Blessed be His Name!”

In spite of this calamity, Job did not sin by blaspheming God.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures we have heard about how God has revealed to us the greatness of His love and all that He has planned for each and every one of us. He wants us to know that no matter what challenges and difficulties, tribulations and trials we may have to face, as long as we remain true to our faith in Him and as long as we continue to do His will, we have nothing to fear.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zechariah, there were two main message that the Lord revealed to the people through Zechariah. First of all, it was a reminder of the punishment and consequences due to the sins which the people of God had committed at that time, and how their livelihood, their cities, represented by Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed by their enemies.

And yet, God also revealed to them the second of His intentions, and that is the salvation which He promised to them all, despite of their sinfulness and rebelliousness, how He would redeem them and gather them back from the nations, and how many more people will come to glorify God and praise His Name. This is a revelation that God’s love for us all is so great that despite our sins and wickedness, He is still willing to love us and forgive us our trespasses.

This is where I want to bring our attention to the Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus spoke clearly before His disciples on the matter of how He would be betrayed to His enemies, and made to suffer for all of mankind’s sake. It was one of the several reminders and revelations which God had made to His disciples on the upcoming of His own Passion, suffering, death and eventually resurrection.

In what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, we have heard just how great God’s love is, that the ultimate proof of this love He has for us, is none other and nothing less than what He Himself has willingly done for us, by taking up the Cross willingly, and bearing for our sake, all of the punishments, consequences and terrible sufferings that we should have endured because of our sins.

Christ bore those sufferings willingly, to be betrayed and rejected, to be humiliated and treated far less than what befits any human being, to be oppressed and tortured, to be ridiculed and made to bear the burden of the Cross, all because of His great and undying love for each and every one of us. Every single one of us mankind are precious to God, and therefore, even though we have disobeyed Him, but His love for us brought Him to reach out to us and call us to redemption through Him.

Therefore, because God has been so faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us, and because He has devoted Himself so thoroughly for our sake, and provided for us so great a gift and path towards forgiveness and redemption, we should be grateful and therefore, endeavour and do our best to follow the path which Our Lord Himself has shown us, to be righteous and faithful in all things.

And today, as we celebrate the feast day of saints whose lives were truly holy and great in faith, we should then be inspired by them and gain the courage and the zeal to live our lives with greater faith and devotion to God from day to day, gradually so that we will draw ever closer to God. Today we celebrate both St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, a holy martyr of the faith, and also the Holy Martyrs of Japan, St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions.

St. Wenceslas of Bohemia was the Duke of Bohemia during the early years of Christianity in Bohemia, a region now known as Czechia. He was a great ruler and a noble man in action and deed, caring genuinely for his people and supporting the Church and missionary works wholeheartedly. Opposed against him and his efforts were the pagan nobles and forces who remained against the Christian faith, and those plotted with the brother of the saint, eventually led to his assassination.

St. Wenceslas died as a martyr defending his righteous faith and total dedication to the Lord and His good works among the people. His righteousness and just rule inspired so many other people not just at his age and time, but even more so down throughout the centuries. His courage and zeal and incorruptibility inspired many other rulers and those in positions of power on how to be a good Christian ruler.

Meanwhile, St. Lawrence Ruiz, also known as St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a Filipino who fled to Japan when he was wrongly accused of murder. He boarded a ship that was bound for Japan, and reached there at a time when the Christian faith, once abundant and freely practised and growing rapidly, had been persecuted greatly by the change in the authorities’ mindset and opinion of the Christian faith.

St. Lawrence Ruiz, together with many Christians in Japan at that time suffered because they had to endure rejection, oppression and painful sufferings being under constant threat of arrest from the authorities. Many were martyred and killed for their refusal to abandon their faith. St. Lawrence Ruiz himself, together with missionaries and local Christians were executed with painful methods in Nagasaki, but they all refused to abandon their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now having heard of the inspiring faith and lives of St. Wenceslas of Bohemia, as well as St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions, the Martyrs of Japan, how can we follow in their examples? How can we live our lives with faith just in the manner they have lived theirs? Let us think about this and let God transform our lives just as He had done so with those faithful saints and martyrs we are commemorating today. May the Lord continue to guide us and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, always. Amen.

Saturday, 28 September 2019 : 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Wenceslaus, Martyr, and St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 9 : 43b-45

At that time, while all were amazed at everything Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen, and remember what I tell you now : The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.” But the disciples did not understand this saying; something prevented them from grasping what He meant, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.