Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, trust in the Lord and do not turn against Him, even when we are in difficulties, doubt or uncertainties. Our Lord and God is faithful and loving to us, and He desired that all of us be reunited to Him in all perfection. At the centre of our faith lies our dedication and commitment to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through whose sacrifice on the cross, we had been made whole and worthy of the Lord once again.

Today we continue to celebrate the joy of Easter, that joy of new life brought by Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, the joy that overcomes all despair and distress, and a new light that all of us who lived in darkness may see and believe. Ever since Christ died and was risen from the dead, He had brought forth a new era for the world, that is where His Church is present in this world and continuing to do the good works and missions that Christ had initiated.

In today’s first reading we read how the Apostles and the other disciples of Christ faced a problem with the distribution of goods among the faithful, for we have to be mindful that the earliest Christian communities lived in perfect harmony with one another, and as the Scriptures mentioned, they shared their goods and happiness with one another in the community.

The Apostles were the extensions of the Lord’s power and authority in this world, and there were twelve of them in number. If a parallel is to be made to the status of the Church in today’s time, they are the most senior ranking prelates and officials of the Holy Mother Church, with Peter as their leader and the head of the entire Christian communities, as Christ’s vicar in the world.

And just as today’s leaders of the Church, and the Pope, the Apostles had many responsibilities, and arguably even more responsibilities and works than what the Church leaders today have, in addition to the persecution and open opposition against the faith by the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities, which made things even more difficult for the Church at the time of the Apostles.

Therefore, what we witness today in the readings, is God loving us so much, that He inspired His Apostles to take a course of action that will expand greatly the works and acts of charity and love among His people, by appointing a new class of leaders that were meant for service to the people of God and a service that is based on the foundations of faith and love. They are the deacons, not much different from the deacons that we have today.

The deacons were meant to help with the distribution of goods to the faithful and to serve them with love, as mentioned earlier on, and originally there were seven of them. They were men filled with the Holy Spirit, and we know well of one of them, St. Stephen, the first martyr of the faith, who defended the Lord so eloquently and passionately, that all those who had not hardened their hearts would have listened and believed.

They together with the Apostles, showed to the world the love of God, which was made manifest through Jesus Christ, and it is He whom the Apostles and the disciples were proclaiming about, spreading His Good News to many peoples of many nations, saving many souls in the process, and passing down that Good News through the generations, that more souls might be saved, and indeed their good works are still continuing today, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nevertheless, it is indeed sad today, how vocations to the priesthood had declined precipituously, not least because of the moral and spiritual decline in the world, and in a world increasingly beset with materialism and ego-centric mentalities. It is increasingly difficult to find those with the heart and dedication to serve the Lord as the Apostles and the deacons had done. Less and less young men are joining the seminaries simply because this world offers us too much goodness for us to ignore.

Hence, brethren, let us today pray, for more vocations among the faithful, that we may see a resurgence in the number of those who accept the calling of the Lord, that more will join the holy works of grace the Apostles and the deacons had done. May the Lord bless His people and strengthen the faith in them. God bless us all. Amen.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-12

Jesus said, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do.”

“Truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Peter 2 : 4-9

The Lord is the living stone rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to Him; set yourselves close to Him so that you, too, become living stones built into a spiritual temple, a holy community of priests offering spiritual sacrifices that please God through Jesus Christ.

Scripture says : “See, I lay in Zion a chosen and precious cornerstone; whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This means honour for you who believed, but for unbelievers also the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone and it is a stone to stumble over, a rock which lays people low.

They stumble over it in rejecting the Word, but the plan of God is fulfilled in this. You are a chosen race, a community of priest-kings, a consecrated nation, a people God has made His own to proclaim His wonders. For He called you from your darkness to His own wonderful light.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit; Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus, and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.