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.