Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Luke 24 : 46-53

So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. And that is why I will send you what My Father promised. So remain in the city until you are clothed with power from above.”

Jesus led them almost as far as Bethany; then He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And as He blessed them, He withdrew, and was taken to heaven. They worshipped Him, and then returned to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple; praising God.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Ephesians 1 : 17-23

May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal Himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him.

May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God.

May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power He acts in favour of us who believe.

He revealed His almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world, but in the world to come as well.

Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as head of the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

 

Alternative Reading

 

Hebrews 9 : 24-28 and Hebrews 10 : 19-23

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself. He is not in the presence of God on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he who may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise He would have suffered many times from the creation of this world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once and afterwards are judged, in the same way Christ sacrificed Himself once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin when He comes again to save those waiting for Him.

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary by the blood of Jesus who opened for us this new and living way passing through the curtain, that is, His body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great king all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is king of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Thursday, 9 May 2013 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (First Reading)

Acts 1 : 1-11

In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when He ascended to heaven. But first He had instructed through the Holy Spirit the apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs that He was alive; over a period of forty days He appeared to them and taught them concerning the Kingdom of God.

Once when He had been eating with them, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the fulfillment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you : ‘John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit within a few days.'”

When they had come together, they asked Him, “Is it now that You will restore the Kingdom of Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven where He went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen Him go there.”

Wednesday, 8 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we belong to God, and we are His alone. Why is this so? Because we are created by Him, He who is our Creator, who created all the universe and gave life to all things that have life, including all of us, to whom He gave the greatest love of all. For in Christ’s words Himself, He said that there is no greater love than for one to give up his life for the sake of his friends. And that exactly what God has done.

Out of His infinite love, God came down to this world and walked among us as lowly humans like us. He gave Himself fully for our sake, and He did not even shirk from giving us His own flesh and blood in the ultimate gift of love, not only so that we may not die from the death that we deserved for the evils that we had done, but also that we may have nourishment and strength in life, that we can become truly the children of God.

By His blood that flowed down the cross on Calvary, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God had marked all of us as His own, and the Father recognises all of us the faithful ones in Christ because of that. This blood is no different from the young lambs sacrificed during that first Passover in Egypt, when the people of Israel was being delivered from their torturer and their slave masters. God showed His might and brought His people out of Egypt by punishing hard on those who persecuted His beloved people.

But different from that earthly blood of the lamb, which was splattered on the doorposts of the believers, that the angels of death would not kill the firstborn children of the people of Israel, the perfect and precious Blood of the Lamb of God not only marked the people of God, and differentiating them from those who placed their trust in the evil one, but the Blood also cleanses and purifies our beings from sins and faults, making us righteous and perfect once again, and worthy of God our Father who is good and perfect.

By this Blood had the martyrs and the holy people of God washed their clothes white again, that is with the Blood of the Lamb, just as St. John the Evangelist had seen in heaven in his Book of Revelation. We too, who had been persecuted for our faith in Christ in this world, those among us who had been ridiculed and ostracised by our steadfast belief in the truths of the Lord, had been marked by this precious Blood, which we also receive through the Eucharist in the Mass.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, remain steadfast and unflinching in our faith and dedication to our Saviour and our God. Do not let the devil, his lies and temptations disturb us or cause us to go astray from our path towards righteousness in the Lord. We had been marked by God through baptism, when we are washed from our impurities, sins, and unworthiness, and like His saints, we had receive a new gown of purity, washed by the Blood of the Lamb, as a sign of our salvation, that the angels of death seeking the destruction of the sinful ones will ‘pass over’ us.

This is our Christian Passover, that is Easter, when we celebrate Christ resurrected and triumphant over death and evil. May all of us be granted courage, faith, and strength at all times in our lives. God bless all of us. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

John 16 : 12-15

I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth. He has nothing to say of Himself, but He will speak of what He hears, and He will tell you of the things to come.

He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All this the Father has is Mine; because of this, I have just told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Psalm 148 : 1-2, 11-12ab, 12c-14a, 14bcd

Alleluia! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heavenly heights. Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.

Kings of the earth and nations, princes and all rulers of the world, young men and maidens.

Old and young together – let them praise the Name of the Lord. For His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven. He has given His people glory.

He has given a praise to His faithful, to Israel, the people close to Him. Alleluia.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 17 : 15, 22 – Acts 18 : 1

Paul was taken as far as Athens by his escort, who then returned to Beroea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible.

Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus hall and said, “Athenian citizens, I note that in every way you are very religious. As I walked around looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar with this inscription : ‘To an unknown God.’ Now, what you worship as unknown, I intend to make known to you.

God, who made the world and all that is in it, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, being as He is Lord of heaven and earth. Nor does His worship depend on anything made by human hands, as if He were in need. Rather, it is He who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.

From one stock He created the whole human race to live throughout all the earth, and He fixed the time and the boundaries of each nation. He wanted them to seek Him by themselves, even if it were only by groping for Him, succeed in finding Him.

Yet He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being, as some of your poets have said : ‘for we too are His offspring.’ If we are indeed God’s offspring, we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of human art and imagination.

But now God prefers to overlook this time of ignorance and He calls on all people to change their ways. He has already set a day on which He will judge the world with justice through a Man He has appointed. And, so that all may believe it, He has just given a sign by raising this Man from the dead.

When they heard Paul speak of a resurrection from death, some made fun of him, while others said, “We must hear you on this topic some other time.” At that point, Paul left. But a few did join him, and believed. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, a woman named Damaris, and some others.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 : 6th Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Follow the Lord! For He is justice and truth embodied!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the word of God, proclaiming that in Christ our Lord, lays true justice and the truth itself, however hard it is for this evil-laden world to comprehend and accept. Even among us, there are many who still do not believe truly in God, and put our trust in His justice and have faith in the truths He had taught us through His apostles.

For Christ is our great judge, who will judge every being and every mankind at the end of time, when it is time once again for Him to descend onto this world in His glorious Second Coming, when He will vindicate all who keep their faith in Him and do not give it up for the temptations and seductions of the evil one. He will reward all those who remain faithful in Him, and punish all those who stray from His way, the true way, the path of salvation.

This great judgment will separate the good ones from the bad ones, the worthy ones from the unworthy ones, like the harvester separate the good wheat from the chaff and the husks, and like the shepherd separating the goat from the sheep. So will all of us be separated based on our virtues, and whether we have faithfully kept God’s commandments in our deeds and in our daily lives.

Would we want to be separated as the bad goats as compared to be like the good sheep? Would we want to endure the eternal suffering of separation from God and His infinite love? Never forget that the true suffering in hell is not the physical fire and the torture of the flesh that is always depicted in the secular illustrations, but hell is in fact a state of eternal damnation and suffering when one is truly, completely, and forever separated from God.

It is difficult to believe in God, especially in our increasingly secular world today, as God becomes ever more distant in mankind’s hearts, when world’s increasingly seductive temptations exert greater and ever greater pull on many, steering them away from the true faith and from the righteous path in Christ. This is why the world is sinful, and it is most sinful in what is called disbelief. Not only because it has not believed in God, and had rejected the One whom God had sent, but also that it had made many to lose their faith and belief in God, because it has offered the falsehoods that Satan has offered.

Let us not be perturbed, my brethren. Let us not be shaken in our faith, and doubt our God not for even a single moment, for He is constant, and He is faithful. He is God who keeps His promises, who loves those who also love Him, and those who obey the commandments He had set, and those who follow in His way. Remember, the path of Satan, and what the deceiver offers us, may look good, but it offers only temporal satisfaction. Remember Adam and Eve, our ancestors.

True salvation, true joy, and true glory lie only in God, our one and only God and Lord. To no other being should we bend our knee to in worship, other than to He who had come down from heaven, who had lived amongst us, who died for us, that we may live, and who had risen in glory, in triumph, and conquered death. Amen.