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.

Saturday, 12 November 2016 : 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 heard in the Scripture readings the about the need for us to seek the Lord without cease, asking Him for help on this journey of life we have in this world, as He made it clear through the parable of the evil judge and the old widow.

In that parable, the old widow continued to ask the evil judge to help with her case, and even though that evil judge continually refused to do so, but eventually, faced with an adamant woman who refused to back down, he relented and did so, even if that was to end the torment she was causing him.

From here we can see that God our Lord and Master will never abandon us on purpose and He will always take care of us because of His love, but it is often that we never ask for His help in the first place. In that parable, the evil judge relented to the old widow because of her persistent demands for him to oversee her case, and as Jesus said, that if the evil judge who did not care for her, eventually wanted to help her in the end, even though for different reason, then should not the Lord be moved to help us if we have asked Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all remember what Jesus said in another occasion, ‘Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you, and ask, and it shall be given to you?’ God our Father knows all of our needs and wants, He knows all the moments of our life, our every actions and deeds, all that we are doing in this world, but we ourselves need to be proactive in looking for Him, asking Him for His grace.

Too many of us are lukewarm with our faith, having our faith as just a passive observance, and for some of us, we are counted among the faithful even only on paper, meaning that while we call ourselves or label ourselves as Christians, but we do not truly believe in the Christian teachings and the ways of our Lord, and our actions and deeds are often contrary to what is expected of us Christians.

We live in a time when many of us think that faith is not important to us, and we can live in whatever ways we like, even if against the Lord’s ways. But do we realise that if we do so, we are actually bringing about scandal for our faith, for the Church, for our fellow faithful brethren and ultimately against the Lord? And the consequences for us will not be a light one.

Rather, let us today reflect on our actions and how we have lived our lives, and be inspired by what St. Josaphat Kuntsevych had done about four hundred years ago, the holy saint and martyr whose feast and memory we celebrate today. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was once a holy man and a bishop serving the faithful of the Eastern Orthodox communion, specifically among the Ukrainians and the Russians.

At that time, the churches in Eastern and Southeastern Europe has been separated from the Mother Church in Rome for approximately five hundred years, due to the schism and separation that happened because of the unfortunate disagreement and misunderstanding between the Church of the Eastern Christendom which was centred in Constantinople, and the rest of the Universal Church under the jurisdiction of the Pope in Rome.

As a result, the communion between the two sides broke down, and the Eastern churches did not recognise the Church of Rome as the valid Church, seeing themselves as the righteous successor of the Apostles. And much grief and bitterness arose between the two Churches because of the misunderstanding and the false division among them.

And this conflict is the most difficult in places where the two Churches meet and mingle, at the region now known as Lithuania, Belorussia and Ukraine. And this was where St. Josaphat Kuntsevych led his flock, and in the occasion where an olive branch was extended between the two Churches in the Union of Brest, St. Josaphat was among those bishops who agreed to come under the true leadership of the successor of St. Peter in Rome while preserving their unique Eastern Christendom traditions.

St. Josaphat worked hard two reunite the two factions among the sheep entrusted to him as their shepherd. There were much grief and numerous difficulties in this, and many resisted the decision to reunite with the Church of Rome, resulting in violence and destruction, in killing and murder, and in much pain for the Lord and for His Church.

But St. Josaphat did not give up and continued to persevere, calling all those who have walked the wrong path to repent and to return to the truth in the Church, and for which he was martyred, when those who refused to follow his example, attacked him and murdered him in cold blood, and threw his body into the river while ransacking his church, property and all of the faithful gathered in that place.

From the examples of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, we can see how we Christians should live our lives, filled with faith, courage and strength to live that faith genuinely and with devotion. And how do we do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by asking the Lord our God for His daily grace and help, that we feeble men may be able to live with zeal and strength, and with courage even when we are faced with great challenges against us.

Let us today therefore ask the Lord our God, through the intercession of the holy saint and martyr, St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, that we may grow ever stronger and more devoted in faith, and let us also pray for the eventual union of the churches and all the faithful under the rightful jurisdiction of the Vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, Prince of Apostles, which is our Pope in Rome. May the Lord help us all, His beloved Church. Amen.

Saturday, 12 November 2016 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 18 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus told His disciples a parable, to show them that they should pray continually, and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge, who neither feared God nor people. In the same town there was a widow, who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Defend my rights against my opponent!'”

“For a time he refused, but finally he thought, ‘Even though I neither fear God nor care about people, this widow bothers me so much, I will see that she gets justice; then she will stop coming and wearing me out.'”

And Jesus said, “Listen to what the evil judge says. Will God not do justice for His chosen ones, who cry to Him day and night, even if He delays in answering them? I tell you, He will speedily do them justice. But, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

Saturday, 12 November 2016 : 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 111 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands. His children will be powerful on earth; the upright’s offspring will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are for his family, there his integrity will remain. He is for the righteous a light in darkness, he is kind, merciful and upright.

It will be well with him who lends freely, who leads a life of justice and honesty. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered and loved forever.