Saturday, 9 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the Lord reminding His disciples that if they were to follow Him and continue to walk in His path, then it will not be easy for them. There will be difficult times and challenges for them, as the way of this world is not the same as the way of the Lord, and indeed, it is diametrically opposite to it.

That is why, while we champion the sanctity of life, and how every single life is important and necessary, the world championed the culture of death, that is the destruction of the meaning and holiness of all life, and also the disregard for people’s livelihood, in an environment that is often based on the survival of the fittest and the suffering of everyone else.

Meanwhile, we believe in the values of Christian charity and love, that we should show love to all of our brethren without exception, even to our enemies and to all those who hated us. This is the wonders of our Christian faith, and which the Apostles stood up proudly for, defending that faith against the wickedness of this world. And the world that despised Christ will also despise us too.

The Apostles encountered difficulties, challenges, rejection and other troubles throughout their ministry and work, but they rejoiced at the thought of being persecuted for the sake of defending their faith to God, and thus being persecuted for the sake of Christ Himself. Remember that Jesus Himself said, that all those who are persecuted because they believe in Him will receive great rewards? This is exactly what He means.

We do not have to be hostile to the world, or to withdraw ourselves completely to the world, as these attitudes would instead backfire on us. This is because doing such things means that we isolate ourselves from the world, and ultimately from the many souls and peoples whom we are able to rescue and save from the darkness by our actions, our words and our deeds.

Yes, all of us baptised into the Church of God have received the same Spirit, the Holy Spirit which the Apostles had received from the Lord. And with this Spirit we ought to be courageous and reach out to all those who have yet to hear the Word of God, so that they too may be saved, by turning their backs against the sinfulness and wickedness which they have committed previously.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all persevere and resist the challenges and difficulties of this world, with which Satan always tries to lure and trap those who lack vigilance and awareness, with temptations and persuasions, so that we may be praised and accepted by the world. Remember, brethren, that we should not seek what is temporary and illusory. The wealth, possessions, goodness, fame and all the praise of this world count for nothing, if we do not build for ourselves a rich heavenly inheritance.

Therefore, let us all from now, start building up our treasure in heaven, by following the Lord closely and faithfully in all His ways, that beginning from ourselves, we may inspire many others to also follow the Lord and walk in His ways, and thus be saved.  This is what we ought to do, brothers and sisters. Let us not wait until it is too late for us. May God guide us in this path and keep us straight in that path, so that we will remain always faithful to Him, and therefore receive our just rewards of everlasting life. Amen.

Saturday, 9 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

Saturday, 9 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 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.

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

Saturday, 9 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Friday, 8 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all ought to reflect on the nature of God’s love for us. His love for us is true, genuine, perfect and transcending all forms of selfish love and worldliness, and His love is given to us freely! And yet, it is us all who have often rejected His love. We prefer the love of this world and the love of ourselves.

And this is why all of us have to learn that if we become the disciples of our Lord, them all of us ought to grow stronger in our humility and dedication to one another, and to be less in the attention which we pay to ourselves and to our desires. We must die to our desires and our greed, and rise up at the call of others, when they cried for justice, for food and for love, which many in our world today lacks.

As we have discussed earlier on this week on the matter of the observation of the laws of Moses, the customs of Israel, the over-emphasis on such strict observation of the faith by the Jews and their demands that all the faithful followed such strict laws caused the people to lose sight of what being a true disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ really means.

To be the true disciples of our Lord, we have to be completely and thoroughly changed in our ways and be converted to His cause, not just externally, but also internally as well. We cannot be so focused on ourselves and then be blind to the plight of others who are around us. Thus, as we seek to obey the Lord and follow His commandments, we cannot blindly follow them and worse still, to do them for the sake of being seen and praised for having obeyed the Law of God.

The Jews themselves, as emphasized by the examples of the Pharisees, were too caught up in the act of maintaining the law at the strictest possible application, that they ended up doing the law injustice, for they failed to understand the real and true meaning of the Law. The Law is meant to guide us in the way of love, that is teaching us on how to love one another, and also to love God.

As such, we have to understand what Jesus had taught us about the commandments and Law which He had given us. To love God means to give ourselves completely in our being to Him, and with all of our strength and might we ought to focus all of our attentions to Him, so that whenever we do something we always give glory to God and we will not even contemplate doing something that will go against the way of the Lord.

And if we love God, then we will also definitely follow in His footsteps and not turn left and right in the pursuit of other things. We will be faithful no matter what challenges and temptations that lie on our way. This is our faith, and this is what we should do in the name of our faith to the Lord. And if we love God, then we will also love our fellow men, so that in all that we do, we may bring goodness to others around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on this occasion, on what we can do more to love our Lord and to love one another. If we have not shown love in our actions, then perhaps this is the time for us to begin to do so. May God guide us on our ways and help us to keep faithfully all of His commandments and remain true to Him, our Lord and Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 8 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 12-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”
“I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.”

“You did not choose Me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.”

Friday, 8 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 56 : 8-9, 10-12

My heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul. Awake, o harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.

I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to You among the nations. For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds. Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Let Your Glory be over all the earth!