Thursday, 25 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Mark 16 : 15-20

Then He told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuse to believe will be condemned. Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Thursday, 25 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist (Psalm)

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 6-7, 16-17

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

The heavens proclaim Your wonders, o Lord; the assembly of the holy ones recalls Your faithfulness. Who in the skies can compare with the Lord; who of the heaven-born is like Him?

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

Thursday, 25 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist (First Reading)

1 Peter 5 : 5b-14

All of you must clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God so that He will raise you up at the appointed time. Place all your worries on Him since He takes care of you.

Be sober and alert because your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Stand your ground, firm in your faith, knowing that our brothers and sisters, scattered throughout the world, are confronting similar sufferings. God, the giver of all grace, has called you to share in Christ’s eternal Glory and after you have suffered a little, He will bring you to perfection : He will confirm, strengthen, and establish you forever. Glory be to Him forever and ever. Amen.

I have had these few lines of encouragement written to you by Silvanus, our brother, whom I know to be trustworthy. For I wanted to remind you of the kindness of God really present in all this. Hold on to it.

Greetings from the community in Babylon, gathered by God, and from my son, Mark. Greet one another with a friendly embrace. Peace to you all who are in Christ.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded today that Christ had come into our world as our salvation, to save us from our condemnation to death by our rebellion against the love of God. He came into our world as light that shed off the darkness that is in our world, and most importantly, the darkness that is within our hearts.

He had been sent into this world that it, together with all of us who lives in it, can be saved rather than cast off together with Satan and his angels into the sea of fire and eternal damnation and separation from God. God’s love desires that all mankind be reunited into Himself, and Christ, whose birth was announced by the prophets, did exactly just that, by serving as the bridge that spans heaven and earth, and linked mankind back to God their Father, providing the only path to salvation and eternal life.

Today, we also commemorate the feast day of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, who was a priest, and also a martyr, and while St. Adalbert whom we commemorated yesterday preached the Good News to the pagans, St. Fidelis who lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation and rebellion had to contend against the heretical Protestants, particularly the Calvinists in the region now known as Switzerland.

St. Fidelis fearlessly waged into the Calvinist strongholds and preached the true faith of the Church, against the erroneous beliefs of the Protestants of the era. Despite the harassment and hatred of those to whom he had ministered, and under the threat of death, St. Fidelis pressed on, and was finally martyred when he rejected outright the persuasion of Calvinist soldiers who pressed him to renounce his Catholic faith, and prayed for them, for the salvation of their souls.

In St. Fidelis, and in St. Adalbert, we saw the truth that is in God, which was revealed through Christ and made manifest in this world. Truth is hard, and it is difficult to be taken in by many, who preferred the lies of Satan to the truth of God. Yet, these saints strived to open the eyes of many who had been fooled by Satan and his earthly minions set to destroy God’s people by false prophets and ideas, and even braved martyrdom in the process.

In our modern day world, we may not see such similar scenario and condition as what the two saints had witnessed in their own times, but in fact, in our present day world, the need for the light of Christ to illuminate the hearts of many had never been greater. Many had abandoned God for the relative comfort of this world’s allures and temptations. The evil one has many ways to seduce mankind into his fold, and to abandon the path of God.

We can do our own part in evangelisation, and we do not even need to brave death as what the two martyrs had done, but most importantly, we begin from our own surroundings, that we show the truth of the Lord through our words and actions, to show the light of Christ through our own beings, and through what we are doing in our lives.

May God guide us always in our lives, and make us into lights for all mankind, that in us, those who have yet to believe in Christ or those who had abandoned Him will once again see the true Light that is Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

John 12 : 44-50

Yet Jesus had said, and even cried out, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And whoever sees Me, sees Him who sent Me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.”

“If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I am not the One to condemn him; for I have come, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me, and does not receive My word, already has a judge : the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day.”

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father, who sent Me, has instructed Me in what to say and how to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed Me.”

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (Psalm)

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr (First Reading)

Acts 12 : 24 – Acts 13 : 5a

Meanwhile the word of God was increasing and spreading. Barnabas and Saul carried out their mission and then came back to Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me, Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.”

So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. These then, sent by the Holy Spirit, went down to the port of Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. Upon their arrival in Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogue.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Scripture Reflection)

The Church is growing, in just barely years after the death and resurrection of Christ our Lord, the number of Christians grew exponentially. They were called Christians because they were of Christ, because they declared the life and death of Christ, and His resurrection, that brought hope of salvation to all mankind, that all who believe in Him may be saved.

Christians are unique because we believe in God, in a sacred and Holy Trinity, of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in an indivisible union of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God undivided with three natures, that complements one another, each being perfect on their own. We believe in Christ and in His teachings, because He came from the Father, and being the Son, He is one with the Father.

Now that Christ had risen from the dead, and liberated all mankind from the slavery of sin by Satan, and that He has returned to the Father, we can no longer see Him physically in this world, and yet, Christ’s presence is unmistakably clear in our world today, that despite the world’s hatred for Christ and His truth, He remained in our world ever since the day of the apostles, through the teachings that the apostles passed down to us through our priests and the ministers of the Lord’s Gospel.

We believed in Christ because of His good works and His ultimate work for the sake of us, that is His death on the cross. Had He not been of God, and one with God, His sacrifice would have been in vain, since the blood of mortal man has no power to save mankind from their fate of death, for having rebelled against the Lord, but because Christ is of God, and is God, His death made us all worthy of God by the shedding of the Precious Blood of the Lamb of God.

God our Father had given us all to Christ His Son, and as He Himself has said that no one that the Father has given Him was lost, and therefore, we, who had been saved, if we remain faithful to God and Christ His Son, we will gain eternal life in heaven with God. It is this promise of redemption and salvation that gave so many people a new reason for their life, and a new impetus for life, a new sense of purpose that drove them to embrace the Lord.

For without the Lord, we are nothing, and without the Lord we are empty. That is why our bodies, without a good soul anchored in the Lord, is just an empty husk of flesh, and a soul without God in it, is an empty and meaningless soul. God who gave us life through the Spirit He breathed into us when He created us made us perfect only if we keep Him always in our hearts.

Too often we forget about the Lord, and went on about our daily lives and schedules, and in the noisy world of our lives, we simply shut the Lord out, shut His soft whispers and words, and instead, involved ourselves with worldly distractions and desires, instead of listening to the Lord. No, this should not be the way. We should always keep the Lord at the centre of our lives, and put our ears, our minds, and our hearts ever ready to listen to Him and what His will is.

Today, we also commemorate the feast day of St. Adalbert, a bishop, and a martyr, who lived in the late first millennium, and who was martyred in his attempts to convert the pagans in Prussia. He converted many in Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic nations, bringing to many pagan peoples, the true faith and light of Christ, that many received salvation through the tireless preaching of St. Adalbert. He tirelessly worked for the sake of Christ, and spread the Gospel in many mission areas in Central and Eastern Europe, and did not show fear against the pagans and their beliefs. He was martyred for standing fast to his faith in Christ, in his attempts to bring Christ to them.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us return to the Lord, and place Him into the most important part of our lives once again, and that when the hectic schedules of our daily lives begin to take over us, let us remember to take a step back and remember the Lord, and keep Him always in our mind.

Do not let this world and its temptations deviate us from our true path, that is towards God. May God almighty strengthen us and our faith in Him, and allow us to listen at all times to His will, He who is our Good Shepherd, He who has chosen us and made us worthy, and He who had died for the sake of all of us. Let us follow the example of St. Adalbert, who worked hard and ceaselessly for the sake of God and the spreading of his Good News. Through his efforts, many who were chosen by God were saved. St. Adalbert, pray for all of us, and may God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

John 10 : 22-30

The time came for the feast of the Dedication. It was winter, and Jesus walked back and forth in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in My Father’s Name proclaim who I am, but you don’t believe because, as I said, you are not My sheep. My sheep  hear My voice and I know them; they follow Me and I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, and no one will ever steal them from Me.”

“What the Father has given Me is above everything else, and no one can snatch it from out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Psalm 86 : 1-3, 4-5, 6-7

He Himself has built it in His holy mountain; the Lord prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns. Great things have been foretold of you, o city of God.

Between friends we speak of Egypt and Babylon; and also Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia : “Here so-and-so was born.” But of Zion it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And the Lord notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for you.