Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the readings we all see the power of prayer, and how we need to pray, constantly and consistently throughout our lives. We must be filled with prayers every single moments of our lives, so that we will be in constant touch and communication with the Lord our God, who loves us.

Today we celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and at the same time we also celebrate World Communication Sunday, which indeed ties in smoothly with the readings of the Scripture we have today. Communication is one thing that I find to be increasingly lacking in these days and in the world today, and people increasingly becoming less and less communicable due to various reasons, but more importantly because of the rise of virtual communication.

The rise of the social media such as Facebook, Twitter and many other forms of internet or media-based communication had eroded the traditional sense and meaning of communication, to the point that many had forgotten what it meant by communicating with others. Especially teenagers today had often forgotten the important communication skills as they get more and more glued to their smartphones and gadgets that prevent them from interacting with others in a proper way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, not just that, but the sinister effect of excessive technological innovations and developments is that mankind increasingly becoming isolated and uncommunicable to not just their fellow men, but also to God their Lord and Creator. Imagine how hard it must be for many who are so engrossed with their online activities, games, and applications to be able to take some time to spend it with God, not to mention significant amount of time they should have spent with God.

See how Jesus prayed to His Father in today’s Gospel, see the sincerity and the focus that Jesus showed as He prayed to the Father for the sake of His disciples and all of mankind. He prayed to the Father to bless them and to guide them through life, and show His favour upon them. His prayers are the example of how we too, should pray. Our prayer must bring glory to God and not to ourselves, and our prayer must be a sincere and genuine relationship and communication with the Lord, a two-way talk that is from heart-to-heart.

The Apostles too, gathered together and prayed regularly, as we witnessed in the first reading today. There are two types of prayers indeed, one that is personal and the other which is communal. Both are equally important, and we should not proceed forward in our faith if we exclude any of the two, or even both from our lives. We have to pray in person, in one-by-one contact with our Lord, but we must also be praying together as a united Christian community to our God.

Remember, brethren, that our faith is both personal and communal. We cannot say that we just keep to ourselves and pray alone to God without regards for the community, for we have been united to one another, all the believers in Christ, as part of His one Body and Spirit, and therefore we cannot disregard our brethren in faith in our communication with God. However, at the same time, we also cannot disregard having a personal relationship with God and establish a good and working communication with Him either.

In today’s world, as I had mentioned earlier, the increasing prevalence of alternative forms of communication through various means is a great danger when these are used without careful deliberations and considerations by the users, as they do not just erode our ability to properly communicate with each other, but also erode the relationship we have with our Lord and God. How many of us can spend time with God and sacrifice the time we normally use to play our games and using our social media platforms? Not many of us, if I would say it.

So today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are challenged on our way of communication, and also through our way of praying, that whether we have spent the necessary time with God, communicating effectively and sincerely with Him, rather than spending the time meaninglessly to enjoy the decadence of the world which is quite evident these days.

Have we been an effective and responsible communicator? And with regards to the use of social media, have we been responsible in its use? We have to realise that as much as social media can be harmful and destructive in its use, as the many examples in our world today can testify, it also has its potential and great uses, which many of us have yet to employ.

The social media and other forms of communications we have today provide us with enormous potential for evangelisation and spreading the Good News of the Lord, if we use it purposefully and meaningfully. With the internet, we can easily spread the Good News from one person to many people around the world with the click of the mouse and the typing of a keyboard, where this would have been impossible if we rely just on the word of mouth, direct contact, or any other forms of traditional communication.

This said, it is why we need to be careful and be prepared, that everything that we do or say will bring glory to God, and not end up causing more harm than good, both to ourselves, and also to others. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this day, let us all come together and pray, communicating with the Lord our God, just as Jesus had done, asking Him to bless us and guide us in our lives.

Let us all pray that we will be responsible and purposeful in our communication with others, and use whatever are in our means, in order to bring greater glory to God and reveal Him to all the peoples of all nations. May God bless us in our endeavour, and be with us always. Amen.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 1-11a

After saying this, Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may give glory to You. You have given Him power over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You entrusted to Him. For this is eternal life : to know You, the only true God, and the One You sent, Jesus Christ.

I have glorified You on earth and finished the work that You gave Me to do. Now, Father, give Me, in Your presence, the same glory I had with You before the world began. I have made Your Name known to those You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word.

And now they know that whatever You entrusted to Me, is indeed from You. I have given them the teaching I received from You, and they received it, and know in truth that I came from You; and they believe that You sent Me.

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to You, and whom You have given to Me. Indeed all I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine; and now they are My glory. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to You.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 4 : 13-16

Instead, you should be glad to share in the sufferings of Christ because, on the day His glory is revealed, you will also fully rejoice. You are fortunate if you are insulted because of the Name of Christ, for the Spirit of glory rests on you.

I suppose that none of you should suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone suffers on account of being a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace; rather let this Name bring glory to God.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 7-8a

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

Hear my voice when I call, o Lord, have mercy on me and answer. My heart says to You.

Sunday, 1 June 2014 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen-minute walk away.

On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these together gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Saturday, 31 May 2014 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the roughly three months period after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today’s feast of the visitation to Elizabeth by Mary and its relative date is based on the Gospels, through which we know that at the third month since the annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth who was then heavily pregnant with John the Baptist.

Mary is the culmination of the Lord’s long-planned plan for the salvation of all mankind, God’s beloved creations, and it is through her, that the Lord exercised His power and made available a new hope for all of us, through Jesus, the Son of God, and also Son of Man through Mary His mother, the fulfillment and perfection of the Law and the prophecies of the prophets about the Lord and Messiah who would come to save His people.

Remember in the Book of Genesis, early in the history of Creation when God created mankind and they disobeyed Him by listening to Satan instead of Him? God did not destroy mankind nor did He abandon them entirely even though they had been unfaithful. God foretold the coming of salvation which would come through the descendant of men, and also foretold is that while Satan the snake would latch to the feet of the sons and daughters of man, the woman would crush Satan the snake under her feet.

This woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord. Through her the salvation of all men came forth, and with her obedience and complete surrender to the will of God, mankind was saved. Satan had indeed had a great dominion and mastery over mankind for a very long time, and he reigned over fallen mankind with absolute tyranny and impunity. But in Mary, he knew that he would meet his end, and there he would be defeated in a total finality. Thus he feared Mary.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Elizabeth and the baby inside her, St. John the Baptist knew this truth about Mary and the Son inside her, Jesus, the Son of God Most High. Elizabeth and John the Baptist were the ones who had been appointed and chosen by God to be the harbinger and the proclaimer of the Lord’s coming into the world as its Saviour.

If John the Baptist paved the way for Christ and introduced Him to the world, then Elizabeth his mother, as we heard in today’s reading, was the first to proclaim Mary the mother of our Lord, as well as Jesus her Son, to the world. Nevertheless, sadly, just as the people, in particular the Pharisees and the elders disregarded the call of John the Baptist to repentance and to welcome the Lord, nobody regarded Mary the mother of our Lord at that time either.

Such was indeed the situation and the simplicity with which our Lord came into the world. The elders and the Pharisees by their human wisdom and limited understanding failed to understand that the Messiah when He came would not be some sort of an all-conquering Lord who would judge all and bring glory to Israel. These people were looking at nothing sort of a miraculous appearance of a King who would liberate them from the Romans, but they missed entirely the gist of the plan of salvation.

For in the Lord, salvation means as we know it, the complete giving and surrender of Himself and His divinity to come down to us as a humble Man, born of Mary the virgin, the woman whom the Lord had promised to be the one to bear salvation for mankind from the hands and dominion of Satan. And Satan realise that with her, his days in power was numbered, and his doom was waiting for him.

We all, therefore, should rejoice just as Mary had rejoiced, filled with the Holy Spirit, in her song, which we now know as the Magnificat, a song filled with pure joy and praise for God who had made all things happen. And for Mary, and for us, there is no greater reason to celebrate than because of all these, we have been granted a new hope, a new light that pierced away the darkness that used to fill our hearts and our world, giving us a fighting chance to gain everlasting happiness in God.

Let us all renew our commitment to God, rejoice in Him who had come upon this world and saved it through His death. God is kind and loving, and He has shown His favour upon us. We need to return His love and kindness, brethren, that we will all remain in God’s grace and be worthy of the salvation which He had made available for us.

Let us also pray and ask for His beloved mother Mary, to intercede for us and help us that we too may be like her in the obedience and dedication that she had shown. Let us be dedicated in our faith and no longer be complacent in our lives. May God show His mercy and grace to us, and keep us always in His love. Amen.

Saturday, 31 May 2014 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with Holy Spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour!”

“He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name! From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence.”

“He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.”

“He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.