Saint Roque Gonzalez and companions – Readings

Commentary on Philippians 2:12-18; Ps 27; John 15:18-21, 16:1-3

The Gospel reading is from John. It is part of the discourse that Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus has just been telling them how they are to be filled with love, the same love that he has for them. And the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. That is what Jesus will do for them and what they are now expected to do for others.
But then in today’s reading he warns them that being filled with love for others is no guarantee that they will be loved in return. On the contrary, they will be objects of hatred. But that should not surprise them, because Jesus himself is hated.
He had told them earlier, when washing their feet, that a slave is not greater than his master. So, if they have hated Jesus, to the point of killing him, they will hate his disciples too – some of them to the point of death.
The three martyrs we remember today lived this Gospel to the full. They showed their love for the people among whom they worked by devoting their lives to helping them develop and become self-sufficient. But their very success incited envy and hatred among a small number and, like Jesus, they died for their people. 

The First Reading is from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Paul has just spoken of how Jesus had totally emptied himself to the point of death by crucifixion as the price willingly paid to bring us back to God.
In today’s reading, he urges the Philippians to have that same spirit. They are to act, without grumbling or complaining and prove themselves children beyond reproach in a society that is twisted and depraved. Among such people they are to shine like stars in the sky, while holding fast to the words of life which Jesus gave them.
Paul himself is grateful that he did not “run the race in vain or work to no purpose”. Even if his life was to be poured out as a libation, as Jesus’ life also was, he is more than glad and rejoices with all of them.
Today we remember three missionaries who did not run their race in vain, who made great contributions to the life of the people and whose lives were poured out as a libation, providing a fertile ground for future generations of Christians. Today we remember their example and their courage and devotion with gratitude. Let us try to emulate them in our own situation.

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