Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the faithful servants of God who worked hard to spread the Good News and the faith in the region now known as Vietnam. One of them was St. Andrew Dung-Lac, one the first local Vietnamese priests who with many of his fellow Christians, missionaries and priests were put to death and endured great sufferings for their faith in God.

At that time, the regime of the Vietnamese Empire was led by staunchly anti-Christian party, who viewed the faith with an extreme suspicion and dislike, and they were mistakenly seen as collaborators to the foreign forces, and therefore gained the instant opposition from those who were in power. The missionaries and those who helped them were facing great difficulties and were threatened with suffering and even death.

Yet, they did not fear and neither did they back down from the mission which had been presented to them, which is the conversion of souls and redemption of sinners, by the means of evangelisation. And by their hard work and dedication, they had gained many converts to the faith, who themselves had to endure great persecutions and difficulties, as the authorities tried very hard to stamp out the growing Christian community.

And from the local communities rose even more devoted people who took up the cross and the calling of the Lord, joining the sacred order of priesthood as St. Andrew Dung-Lac had done. Many others helped the work of evangelisation in various ways, as priests or religious or the laity. The faith grew and spread quickly, and many more souls were saved, but this brought even greater persecution against them.

And thus that was how many of these faithful were forced to choose between life and death, in either continuing to serve the Lord faithfully and die or to recant their faith and reject their Lord and be allowed to live. Many of the faithful chose to be faithful and remained true to their Lord and Master despite all the threats made against them. And thus they met their end with courage and joy in martyrdom, knowing that their reward in God is great at the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of the Vietnamese Martyrs of the Faith, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his many companions in faith, the religious, priests and missionaries and even the faithful among the laity should become inspiration for each and every one of us Christians living today, as the reality of persecution and opposition by the world and all those opposed to our salvation in God is indeed true and real.

Yes, even today many of our brethren in faith still suffer the daily effects of rejection, ridicule and persecution by the world, by worldly authorities and all those who do not seek to see us be saved by the Lord Jesus, and many even had to risk their lives in practicing their faith, and often have to practice their faith secretly under the pain of death, and yet they often face the challenges with courage and commitment to God.

We should help one another, brethren, supporting those who are in need of our help. We should pray for one another, and ask the Lord to help and guide us through these turbulent and uncertain times. We should not fear or give in to the demands from those whose intent is our destruction, as we have to hold fast to the promise God made to all those who remain true and faithful to Him, that to them, He will grant the true joy of having everlasting life with Him.

And God is forever faithful and completely trustworthy, brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike us mankind who can be unreliable and untrustworthy. We can put our trust in God without fear or doubt. Now, what we need to do is, look at our own respective lives, look at our actions and deeds, and then think of what we can do and contribute in order to bring ourselves closer to God, fulfilling His will and desires.

May the Lord help and guide us, and may through the intercessions of St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, the holy Vietnamese martyrs, we may grow ever more committed in living our lives filled with faith, and thus in the end of the days, we are worthy to share with them the eternal kingship and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again as King to rule over us forevermore. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Thursday, 24 November 2016 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Revelations 18 : 1-2, 21-23 and Revelations 19 : 1-3, 9a

After this I saw another Angel coming down from heaven. So great was his authority that the whole earth was lit up with his glory. In a strong voice he cried out : “Fallen is Babylon the great! Fallen! She has become a haunt of demons, a lodge for every unclean spirit, a nest for any filthy and disgusting bird.”

A powerful Angel picked up a boulder the size od a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “With such violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, never again to be seen. Never again will tunes of harpists, minstrels, trumpeters and flutists be heard in you. Never again will an artisan of any trade be found in you. Never again will the noise of the mill be heard.”

“Never again will the light of a lamp shine in you. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. Because your traders were the world’s great and you led the nations astray by your magic spell.”

After this I heard what sounded like the loud singing of a great assembly in heaven : “Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the world with her adultery. He has avenged His servants’ blood shed by her hand in harlotry.” Once more they sang : “Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever!”

Then the Angel told me, “Write : Happy are those invited to the wedding of the Lamb.”