Friday, 19 June 2015 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings tie very closely to the lives of the saints and martyrs whose memory we are celebrating today. As such, the readings spoke about being the servants and followers of God, and what is to be expected of us, and how we ought to live our lives so that we may remain faithful and true to the Lord our God.

In the first reading today, St. Paul spoke of how he had encountered many oppositions and difficulties along the way, and how he had suffered many tribulations and torture at the hands of his enemies, rejection, been spitted on, lashed with ropes, imprisoned, and many other forms of inhuman torture which also unfortunately were the fate of many other Christians at the time.

And if we notice, Christians throughout time, even until today, including what the recent events had shown us, still encounter the same if not even worse persecution and torture. When we stand up for our faith, indeed there will be those who disagree, because they have rejected the truth which can be found only in the Lord our God.

But in the Gospel today, Jesus comforted all of us, by saying that we indeed ought to stand up for the faith and the truth. He spoke of seeking not earthly treasures but heavenly ones, and this is implying that we should not settle for the happiness and good things that can be found in the world, but we must strive for greater things, that is the true joy that only God can give, even though the world may disapprove of us.

The earthly treasures Jesus spoke of were the approval of the world, the pleasures of the world, money, wealth and possessions, sexual lust and pleasures, greed and human desires, fame, human praise and many others that we should all know about. Meanwhile, the heavenly treasures that God spoke of is the true joy and happiness that do not end, even to the end of time and beyond, for we will forever live in perfect harmony with the Lord our God.

This is exactly what the martyr saints of Vietnam, St. Philip Minh and his many companions in martyrdom had also done. They chose to remain true to their faith in God, despite the threat of persecution, torture, suffering and death by the authorities at the time, which was intensely against the Church and the Faith spreading in the country of Vietnam.

The government tried to persuade the faithful to abandon their faith, some even by offering them money, property, as well as opportunities for work and promotion in the social strata, so that they hopefully might be persuaded to abandon their faith in God and embrace what the government had provided them. But many refused to accept all these, as they fully knew that to do so means to trade the eternal and true wealth they had received and assured by the Lord, for the temporary and illusory pleasures and joy of the world.

The same thing had also been done by the Apostles and the disciples of Christ, and many of the members of the early Church, when they were faced with the oppression and persecution of the world. And even until today, many still faced persecution by the world because of their faith in the One, True God as the world is opposed to Christ and to His truth. This is why the faithful suffer such great persecutions for their faith.

May the examples of the saints and martyrs, especially that of St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese Martyrs, be an inspiration to all of us on this day and beyond, to live our lives faithfully, so that we may truly seek the true treasures which await us in heaven despite the challenges that will come our way, rather than settling for the temporary treasures of this world that will inevitably cause us to lose forever our eternal inheritance and a prelude to eternal suffering. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 19 June 2015 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 6 : 19-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not store up treasures for yourself here on earth, where moth and rust destroy it, and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasures for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy it, nor thief come and steal it.”

“For where your treasures is, there also your heart will be. The lamp of the body is the eye; if your eyes are sound, your whole body will be in the light. If your eyes are diseased, your whole body will be in darkness. Then, if your light has become darkness, how dark will be the darkest part of you!”

Friday, 19 June 2015 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

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

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

Friday, 19 June 2015 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Corinthians 11 : 18, 21b-30

As some people boast of human advantages, I will do the same. But if others are so bold, I shall also dare, although I may speak like a fool. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I begin to talk like a madman) I am better than they.

Better than they with my numerous labours. Better than they with the time spent in prison. The beatings I received are beyond comparison. How many times have I found myself in danger of death! Five times the Jews sentenced me to thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with a rod, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, and once I spent a night and a day adrift on the high seas.

I have been continually in hazards of travelling because of rivers, because of bandits, because of my fellow Jews, or because of the pagans; in danger in the city, in the open country, at sea; in danger from false brothers. I have worked and often laboured without sleep, I have been hungry and thirsty and starving, cold and without shelter.

Besides these and other things, there was my daily concern for all the churches. Who is weak that I do not feel weak as well? Whoever stumbles, am I not on hot bricks? If it is necessary to boast, let me proclaim the occasions on which I was found weak.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listen to how our Lord taught us Himself, how we should pray, and in the first Reading, we also learn how we should become, or what are the things expected from us as the children of God and as His disciples. The two prophets, Elijah and Elisha are the ones mentioned, and they and their actions ought to be our model of the faith.

And in relation to all of that, I would like to bring your attention to the saints whom we are celebrating today, the Saints of the Vietnamese persecution of the faithful, also known as the Vietnamese martyrs, led by the Vietnamese priest, St. Philip Minh. They consisted of the laity and the religious, all thoroughly dedicated to the cause of the faith.

They all faced persecution for their faith and for their work in testifying and proclaiming that faith to others around them. As we know, Elijah and Elisha the prophets faced many difficulties in their mission, as we can read from the two Book of Kings in the Bible, how they had to go from town to town, and even having to exile themselves in foreign lands at times, when their lives were in considerable danger through being opposed to the king and the people’s wickedness.

St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs lived through different periods of time spanning several hundred years, but they all faced similar opposition and persecution against their faith, when many were asked to choose between recanting their faith in Christ and live or to abandon and forsake Christ in exchange for their lives.

The Vietnamese monarchy and the government, ran by strongly Confucian-influenced officials and nobles viewed the faith in Christ as an aberration in the society and as a great and terrible threat to the unity of the nation and to the authority of the Confucian-run government. Hence, the officials and the Vietnamese Emperor officially went on a great persecution and opposition against the faith and the faithful.

Yet, the faith made great progress in Vietnam, and even it still does until this very day. Persecution against the faith and the faithful still continues even to this day, under the atheist and anti-faith Communist government in power, and yet the faithful continued to go on in their daily struggle and remain true to their faith in the Lord.

The Vietnamese martyrs showed us a great example of how we should treasure and live our faith meaningfully, for they had been tortured and forced to recant their faith, and yet they persevered on, and they did not give in to the demands and the offers of their executors and torturers. They chose to remain faithful and continued with their evangelisation of the faith, be it through their work or through their death, that they bring more and more souls into salvation and into knowing God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it does not mean that we should seek martyrdom or be confrontational about the faith, but instead it means that we should not take our faith for granted, and we have to be active and genuine in living our faith. We have to realise that in having and in keeping this faith, we will find ourselves often standing in opposition to the values and ways of the world, because we belong to the Lord. Remember, as Jesus Himself said, that this world hated Him and therefore it would hate us too.

Our faith life will inevitably meet challenges and difficulties along the way, some of which had happened to the prophets Elijah and Elisha, as well as to St. Philip Minh and his companions, the Vietnamese martyrs. The question now is, are we able to follow in their footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord and walking in His ways at all times, despite the challenges and difficulties?

Let us from now on reflect on this, and on the lives and actions of the prophets and the martyrs, that we may reflect on our own lives and actions. Let us hope that we may change for the better, and grow stronger in our faith, that our faith may be genuine and filled with love, both for God and for our fellow men. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 6 : 7-15

When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do, for they believe that the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.

This, then, is how you should pray :

Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, just as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.

Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one.

If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you either.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 96 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Clouds and darkness surround Him; justice and right are His throne.

Fire goes before Him, burning His foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth watches and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory.

Shame on worshippers of idols, on those proud of their worthless images. Let all spirits bow before Him.

Thursday, 19 June 2014 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Sts. Philip Minh, Priest and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Sirach 48 : 1-15

Then came the prophet Elijah like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number.

Speaking in the Name of the Lord, he closed the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire.

How marvellous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? By the word of the Most High you brought a dead man back to life; you brought kings to destruction and thrust famous men from their beds.

You heard a rebuke at Sinai and sentences of punishment at Horeb; you anointed kings to be avengers and prophets to succeed you.

You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live. Such was Elijah, taken up in a whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit.

During his life, no leader could shake him, no one dominated him. Nothing was too difficult for him and even in death his body prophesied. In life he worked wonders, in death his deeds were amazing.

Despite all this, the people were not converted and did not turn away from sin; not until they were deported far from their country and scattered over the earth.

Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man (Vietnam), Metropolitan Archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh turns 80, ceases to be a Cardinal-elector

Today, Wednesday, 5 March 2014, Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, Cardinal Priest of S. Giustino, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), turns 80, and therefore, according to the rules written in the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, he loses his right to vote in any future conclave.

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Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Giustino by Pope John Paul II in the 2003 Consistory of Cardinals on 21 October 2003, the ninth and last Consistory of his pontificate. Cardinal Pham Minh Man was made a Cardinal in honour of his position as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh, which he has held since 1998 and still held until this day, and which encompasses the city of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), one of the two most important dioceses in Vietnam.

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http://www.gcatholic.org/dioceses/diocese/than0.htm#121

May God bless His Eminence Cardinal Pham Minh Man, with a blessed old age and health. May he remain strong in the faith and hopefully can perhaps still continue to work great graces and good works of love and peace in in his current position as the shepherd of his people in the Ho Chi Minh Archdiocese, as he continued to minister to the people of God.

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The College of Cardinals now stands at 218 members in total, with 121 Cardinal-electors and 97 Cardinal non-electors. There are now an excess of 1 Cardinal-elector as compared to the maximum number of electors allowed in the Conclave of 120, due to the recent Consistory of Cardinals on 22 February 2014 by Pope Francis.

Next Cardinal-elector to age out (80) will be Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Milan (Italy), on 14 March 2014.