Friday, 19 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter, Eighth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (Gospel Reading)

John 6 : 52-59

The Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My flesh is really food, and My blood is truly drink. Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood, live in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum, when He taught them in the synagogue.

Friday, 19 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter, Eighth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (Psalm)

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Friday, 19 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter, Eighth Anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 (First Reading)

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest  and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute Me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus again reiterated the message in today’s Gospel reading, that He is the bread of life, the source of salvation, which can only come through Christ, and through the ultimate sacrifice He had committed on that hill of Calvary on that fateful day, when He was raised high between the heavens and the earth. That moment marked the moment when the pure and unblemished Lamb of God was sacrificed that His blood, splashing down on us, washes us away from our sins.

The Lamb of God did not resist when He was about to be killed, He kept His mouth shut and silent against the false accusations of those who tried to kill Him and bring about His death. Through His submission to the will of the Father, He had been glorified after His death through resurrection, and through this submission, He brought about salvation and reunion of all mankind with God who loves them all.

He died for us that we might live. His blood purifying us from our faults and sins, making us pure once again and worthy to stand before the presence of our God in heaven. Heaven had been closed to all of us since the day when our ancestors defied the will of God, and obeyed the evil one instead, believing in the wisdom of Satan rather than God, and through their disobedience, mankind fall into sin and become the thrall of death.

That was because Adam and Eve, our first ancestors failed to resist the temptation of evil in order to gain more knowledge into themselves, and desiring to become equal as God. But they, who were pure since the day of their creation, now knew the meaning of evil and sin, and as a result, the white slate of paper became splotched with ink and became ruined. That was the state of our soul too before our salvation in Christ.

We suffered the same punishment that Adam and Eve had been made to suffer for their rebellion, that is to roam this earthly plane, to work and toil hard, and death would claim us, and to dust our bodies would return, and we were to be enslaved by Satan. But yet, God is loving just as He is just. He hates sin, but He did not leave us His beloved children without hope of salvation. That hope He brought into our world through Christ His Son, whom He sent to be the Messiah who would save all mankind, once and for all, from the dominion of the evil one.

Christ had become the new Adam, the new beginning, by virtue of being born as man, but unlike Adam, who was sinless and pure as Christ was, but sinned through disobedience, Christ as the Lamb of God obeyed the Lord fully unto His death. This perfect obedience became the perfect offering that entirely countered the rebellion of our ancestors and made all of us worthy once again of God.

Through His Precious Body and Blood, which He offered to all of us freely, He made us into one body in Himself, the Body that is our Church, that all who believes in Christ may be united as one people, and praising God as one people, and sharing the faith that we have in God with one another, and also share the love that He had given us, that love would reign as the motivation behind all our actions.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us always remember that Jesus Christ our Lord is the bread of life, and also the way, the truth, and the life, and in Him alone lies salvation. Let us treasure the Eucharist that we receive in the Mass, that we truly honour the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, and worthily take Him into ourselves, that we may always be united with Him, and be united with our fellow brethren, who also believe in Him our Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 6 : 44-51

No one can come to Me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent Me; and I will raise Him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets : ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to Me.

For no one has seen the Father except the One who comes from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die.

I am the living bread which has come from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever. The bread I shall give is My flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 65 : 8-9, 16-17, 20

Praise our God, o nations, let the sound of His praise be heard, for He has preserved us among the living and kept our feet from stumbling.

All you who fear God, come and listen, let me tell you what He has done. I cried aloud to Him, extolling Him with my tongue.

May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 8 : 26-40

An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south towards the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert road.” So, he set out and it happened that an Ethiopian was passing along that way. He was an official in charge of the treasury of the queen of the Ethiopians; he had come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and was on his way home. He was sitting in his carriage and reading the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and catch up with that carriage.” So Philip ran up and heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah; and he asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?”

He then invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. This was the passage of the Scripture he was reading : “He was led like a sheep to be slaughtered; like a lamb that is dumb before the shearer, He did not open His mouth. He was humbled and deprived of His rights. Who can speak of His descendants? For He was uprooted from the earth.”

The official asked Philip, “Tell me, please, does the prophet speak of himself or of someone else?” Then Philip began to tell him the Good News of Jesus, using this text of Scripture as his starting point. As they travelled down the road they came to a place where there was some water. Then the Ethiopian official said, “Look, here is water; what is to keep me from being baptised?”

Then he ordered the carriage to stop; both Philip and the Ethiopian went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The Ethiopian saw him no more, but he continued on his way full of joy.

Philip found himself at Azotus, and he went about announcing the Good News in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Jesus Christ, our Bread of Life, the Lord of life, and the Saviour, has died for us, and in dying, He destroyed our death, and through His glorious resurrection from the dead, He bring us to live eternal, all those who believe in Him, will have life through Him, and in Him.

He is the Bread of Life, and indeed, on the last supper He had with His disciples, He gave them His body and blood for them to eat and drink, in the form of the bread and the wine, and through these, He gave all of us Himself, that we all may have a share in Him and in the eternal life assured through Him.

This is why we should regularly and worthily receive Christ into ourselves, through the Eucharist in the Mass, when the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, when He laid down Himself for all mankind to save them all, is once again brought to us, in a mysterious way, that the Sacrifice on the cross brought down upon us the Precious Body and Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, freely given, for our salvation.

It is not easy indeed to believe in things like this, that our Lord would give Himself up for us, and His Body and Blood for all of us to eat and drink. But indeed that was what happened, and He gave His Body and Blood for us in the bread and wine transformed by the priests, so that we may have a part in Christ’s salvation.

There were many people who even though had seen Jesus’ miracles and works, had refused to believe truly in Him when He said that those who do not eat His Body nor drink His Blood would not have eternal life. To them, the idea was just too radical, and the reason for their lack of faith was because they did not have a true faith in Christ. Their faith is human faith, believing because they see what He had done in miraculous signs, instead of true faith in God, even without all these miracles.

Blessed are all of us who did not see all these miracles attributed and done by Christ and yet truly believe that Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God, because just as He said, blessed are those who did not see and yet believe, when He mentioned the faith in Thomas, who believed only because he saw the Risen Christ. This kind of faith in Christ is true faith, not faith born just out of miracles and awe, but because we truly believe in Christ, in His works and His teachings.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us strive to receive our Lord regularly in the Mass, and ensure that we are worthy when we receive Him into ourselves, and keep ourselves holy and worthy, as the Holy Temple for God, that is our body, that we will always be ever in His grace and receive His infinite blessing and love. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 6 : 35-40

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn away.

For I have come from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me. And the will of the One who sent Me is that I lose nothing of what He has given Me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall live eternal life; and I will raise Him up on the last day.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 8 : 1b-8

All the disciples, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul meanwhile was trying to destroy the Church; he entered house after house and dragged off men and women and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him and saw the miraculous signs that he did.

For in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled were healed. So there was great joy in that town.