Thursday, Sep 28 – What’s New?

28 Sep – Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs

Wenceslaus (907-929) was a duke of Bohemia, the grandson and student of St. Ludmilla. He ascended to power when his father was killed during a pagan backlash against Christianity, which he fought with prayer and patience.

He was a man of utmost faith, charitable to the poor, and he would clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and offer hospitality to travellers according to the summons of the gospel. He would not allow widows to be treated unjustly; he loved all his people; he also provided for the servants of God, and he adorned many churches.

Eventually, he was murdered by his brother Boleslaus at the door of a church. He was killed for political reasons, but is normally listed as a martyr since the politics arose from his faith, and also because miracles were reported at his tomb.

Since the year 2000, today is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, as Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. It is celebrated as Czech Statehood Day. He is best known in the English-speaking world, outside of the Czech Republic, as the subject of the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslaus”.

Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637) was born from Christian parents. His father was Chinese; his mother Filipino. He learnt Chinese and Tagalog from them, and Spanish from the Dominicans who he served as altar boy and sacristan. He was a professioanl calligrapher and documents transcriptionist, and a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was a married layman, and the father of two sons and a daughter.

For unknown reasons, Lorenzo was accused of murder. He sought asylum on board ship with three Dominican priests, St. Antonio Gonzalez, St. Guillermo Courtet, and St. Mugeul de Aozaraza, a Japapnese priests, St. Vincent Showozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named St. Lazaro of Kyoto, a leper. Only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan during a time of intense Christian persecution.

Lorenzo could have gone to Formosa (modern Taiwan), but feared the Spaniards there would hang him, so he stayed with the missionaries as they landed at Okinawa. The group was soon exposed as Christians, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. They were tortured in several ways for days. Lawrence and the Japanese priest broke at one point, and were ready to renounce their faith in exchange for release, but after their moment of crisis, they reclaimed their faith and defied their tormentors.

Lorenzo was then crushed over a period of three days while hanging upside down. His body was burned and his ashes thrown into the Pacific Ocean. He was the first Filipino saint to be canonized. In addition, his canonization in 1987 by Pope John Paul II during a trip to Manila was the first to take place outside the Vatican.

– Sources: Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, the Preacher says. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity! For all his toil, his toil under the sun, what does man gain by it?

A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises. Southward goes the wind, then turns to the north; it turns and turns again; back then to its circling goes the wind. Into the sea all the rivers go, and yet the sea is never filled, and still to their goal the rivers go. All things are wearisome. No man can say that eyes have not had enough of seeing, ears their fill of hearing. What was will be again; what has been done will be done again; and there is nothing new under the sun. Take anything of which it may be said, “Look now, this is new.” Already, long before our time, it existed. Only no memory of remains of earlier times, just as in times to come next year itself will not be remembered.

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch had heard about all that was being done by Jesus; and he was puzzled, because some people were saying that John had risen from the dead, others that Elijah had reappeared, still others that one of the ancient prophets had come back to life. But Herod said, “John? I beheaded him. So who is this I hear such reports about?” And he was anxious to see Jesus.

What’s new in the world today? Today many people read the news and start to be afraid of global warming. But this is not new. The scientists who tell us that the earth is heating up and polar ice caps will melt also tell us that this has happened in the earth’s lifetime many times.

We read the news and we see war and terrorism. But this too is not new. War has been taking place ever since mankind discovered weapons. The only difference is that the technology used is more advanced, but the purpose is still the same – kill others, preserve yourself.

We watch the news and hear about bird flu and other diseases spreading through the world. This too is not new, since we know of plagues that spread through many nations and killed many people. We see space exploration taking place, but mankind has been exploring for all his existence, except that now mankind is exploring further.

So what’s new? There really hasn’t been much change in the world since mankind became aware of himself. Sure we have made progress in the fields of medicine, technology, philosophy, and so on, but history shows that history does repeat itself.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes. Whatever is new is not really new; it’s just that it was forgotten that it was once in existence. Even God himself is not new. He has always been and always is. Is there any point of time, any event at all in history that has not repeated itself? Yes, there is one.

At a certain point of mankind’s history and existence in the world, God himself was incarnated into a human being and he lived among his people. He came to love them, and it was this love that drove people to kill him. But even when mankind treated God the worst, God treated mankind the best by turning that blackest point of time in the history of mankind into the brightest point of time.

So if someone asks you then, “What’s new in your life?”, tell them! Tell them of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is God. Tell them of the Good News, for this is the only thing that’s really new because it has never been repeated, and will always be remembered.

Dear Jesus, help us to always remember your love for us. Give us the grace to always be mindful of your presence in our lives, that we may share the Good News of your kingdom to all that we meet, in thought, word and deed. Help us to live as though we are made new in your blood, for indeed we are. We are not the same people as we once were before knowing you. In your name, we pray that we will always remember this. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 28 Sep – Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9; Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, martyr / Memorial for St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, martyrs
Fri, 29 Sep – Daniel 7:9-10, 13, 14 or Revelation 12:7-12a; John 1:47-51; Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, archangels
Sat, 30 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8; Luke 9:43b-45; Memorial for St. Jerome, priest and doctor
Sun, 1 Oct – Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48; Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

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