Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 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 the words of the Scriptures we are reminded to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and not be easily swayed by sins and disobediences. Each one of us should not be ignorant of our calling and mission to be good and dedicated disciples and followers of our God. To all of us, we have been entrusted with the mission and calling to serve the Lord in whichever opportunities and chances that He has presented us with, and all of us as Christians have been called to do the will of God at all times, to be His faithful followers and disciples, becoming the beacons of His light and truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today we heard from the Book of Job the words of Job, a suffering man of God who was struck by many unfortunate losses and calamities because Satan was testing him before God to see if Job would abandon his faith in God and betray the Lord. But Job remained firmly faithful to God and refused to be swayed or coerced by Satan’s efforts, and even when his own wife and friends blamed him and told him to abandon the Lord, he also refused to do so. Nonetheless, he did suffer and despaired, thinking of just how insignificant he and his human nature was before God.

What Job spoke of in our first reading today essentially pointed out the limitations of our humanity and our mortal existence. He spoke of the greatness and the glory of God, and how everything happened in this world by God’s will, and nothing can happen in all unless it has been willed by God and unless God had deemed it right to happen. God had dominion over all things and over all of our lives, and we must realise just how small and insignificant we are in truth as compared to the greatness and the vast majesty of God, Who rules over all the whole entire Universe and over all existence.

In essence, Job reminded us all that God Who is our Lord and Master has control over all things, and truly, if we are able to put our trust in Him, there is nothing that we have to worry about. God will provide as long as we do our best to live our lives in accordance with His will, and He will help and guide us in our journey through life. We have to follow Him and entrust ourselves to His cause, and allow Him to guide us down the way. We all have to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and not be distracted by the many other attachments and temptations of the world. Otherwise, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, we may not be truly worthy for the kingdom of God.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples regarding their calling and mission, and responsibilities as one of His disciples and followers. He laid it clearly to them how being His followers will often mean that they had to leave behind the comforts of the world, the attachments to their many worldly matters, just as He Himself, the Son of Man, did not even have any place or home to lay His head on. What the Lord told those whom He called to be His disciples, is that in following Him, they have to put their whole attention and focus on Him, and not to let the distractions of the world to be obstacles in the path of their journey towards God and His salvation.

Often times, we allow our preoccupations and attachments to the world to put God aside, ignoring Him and His call for us to follow Him. We often put our many worldly matters, preoccupations, considerations and other things as excuses why we cannot follow the Lord with all of our commitment and heart. When we always make excuses like this, then it is little wonder if we can be easily swayed or tempted, persuaded or coerced to abandon the path that the Lord has shown us in exchange of the path which we may find to be more agreeable or more convenient to us. It is always about us, about our selfish desires and wants, and not about what we should do as a follower of God.

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of the saints, St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, a great servant of God and martyr of the faith, as well as the Holy Martyrs in Japan, St. Lorenzo Ruiz or St. Lawrence Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, as well as his companions in martyrdom who perished during the intense persecution against Christians in Japan back then. Hopefully the examples shown by these saints and martyrs can become inspiration and good examples for all of us in how each and every one of us ought to live our lives as Christians from now on, in doing God’s will and in obeying His commandments, and in staying true to our faith, and our respective mission and calling in life as Christians.

St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia was the Duke of Bohemia during the Middle Ages, who was renowned for his great faith in God, his dedication for his people and hard work, committing himself for the betterment of his realm and people. He helped the development and expansion of the Church, which flourished greatly during his reign. He also encountered opposition particularly from the ones who still subscribed and followed the pagan faith of their ancestors, and who plotted with the Duke’s brother, Boleslav. That culminated with the assassination and murder of this holy and devout man of God, out of jealousy, rivalry and politics.

Meanwhile, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions were persecuted greatly by the Tokugawa Shogunate government in Japan, who severely persecuted the Christian missionaries and local Christian converts at that time. Thousands were arrested, tortured and martyred, and many others were forced to choose between abandoning their faith and live, or to remain firm in their faith and perish in great suffering. St. Lorenzo Ruiz himself was not in Japan then intentionally, as he was on the run from those who accused him wrongly of murdering someone. He was on the refuge on a Spanish ship loaded with missionaries bound for Japan, which was then closed to all foreigners and missionaries.

As he ended up in the midst of the intense persecutions of the Christian faithful at that time, St. Lorenzo Ruiz did not give up his faith, even when he was forced to do so, amidst the most painful torture and treatment that he was made to go through. Many other of his fellow Christians also endured the same kind of fate, and many among them all including St. Lorenzo Ruiz chose to suffer and die rather than to betray and abandon the Lord. And in their courageous life and dedication to God, each and every one of them, just as St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia had shown us, have inspired us all to live our lives ever more worthily and with ever greater commitment as Christians.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best to live our lives faithfully from now on, so that in our every actions, words and deeds, we will be good witnesses of the Lord and the bright, wonderful beacons of His light and truth. May God be with us always, and may He continue to bless us in our every efforts and good endeavours for His greater glory, now and always. St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, holy men and women of God, martyrs of the Church, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 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 : 57-62

At that time, as Jesus and His disciples went on their way, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

To another, Jesus said, “Follow Me!” But he answered, “Let me go back now, for, first, I want to bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, leave them, and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said to Him, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” And Jesus said to him, “Whoever has put his hand to the plow, and looks back, is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 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 87 : 10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15

I spread out my hands to You, I call upon You every day, o YHVH. Are Your wonders meant for the dead? Will ghosts rise to give You thanks?

Is Your love and faithfulness remembered among those gone to the netherworld? Are Your wonders known in the dark; Your salvation, in the land of oblivion?

But to You, o YHVH, I cry for help; every morning I pray to You. O YHVH, why do You reject me; why do You hide Your face?

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 : 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 9 : 1-12, 14-16

Then Job answered : “Very well I know that it is so. But how can a mortal be just before God? If one were to contend with Him, not once in a thousand times would He answer. His power is vast, His wisdom profound. Who has resisted Him and come out unharmed?”

“He moves mountains before they are aware; He overturns them in His rage. He makes the earth tremble and its pillars quake. He commands the sun, and it does not shine; He seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the skies and treads on the waves of the seas. He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and every constellation. His wonders are past all reckoning, His miracles beyond all counting.”

“He passes by, but I do not see Him; He moves on, but I do not notice Him. If He snatches away, who can stop Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’ How then can I answer Him and find words to argue with Him? If He does not answer when I am right, shall I plead with my Judge for mercy? Even if I appealed and He answered, I do not believe that He would have heard.”

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.