Thursday, 23 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 6 : 44-51

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “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, 23 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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, 23 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. George, Martyr and St. Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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 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?” And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

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, 22 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the words of the Sacred Scriptures, telling us firstly how the persecution against the faithful in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and even Samaria began, not long after the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Faith, and then in the Gospel, the Lord Jesus spoke of Himself as the Bread of Life, and those who clung in faith to Him, He will not lose, but bring to eternal life and He will raise them up on the last day.

Today’s readings highlighted the fact that Jesus shall never abandon those whom He had obtained for Himself, and whom He had gathered into His fold and presence, unless if those who had been saved from the world sought to make themselves be lost. God had always given us many chances and opportunities, one after another. He always gives us chances even though we often spurned His love and efforts.

Therefore, it is truly sad to see how many people continues to ignore the repeated calls made by our Lord for us to change our ways and repent from our sins. Many of us continued to live in our sinful state and commit all sorts of wickedness, as if we do not worry about what will happen to us if we continue to walk on the same path. God gave us His truth through Jesus, and through all of the things that He had taught us through His disciples, so that we may believe and may turn away from all of our faults and sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to see how in the Acts of the Apostles, the people of the Faith who even though they were persecuted harshly and greatly for their belief in Jesus, they persevered through and braved through the difficult times and challenges in going forth to preach the Good News to all those who have yet to hear the truth of Christ’s salvation of all peoples. Just as St. Stephen himself had spoken out courageously in the defense of his faith, despite knowing that doing so would mean his certain death at the hands of his enemies, he continued to do what is right.

Therefore, we too, who believe in the Lord Jesus as our Lord and God, as our King and Redeemer, must also have the same spirit and courage as St. Stephen, in the passion and the fire that they feel inside them to carry the truth of Christ to all of the world. Do we have the same passion in us? Do we feel the urge and the need to ensure that every one of us are saved in the Lord Jesus? These are the questions which we should constantly ask ourselves.

The examples of St. Stephen and the many other martyrs and saints of the Faith showed us that God is always with us, no matter what happens. God will always ensure our well-being, may not be in this world and on this earth, but at least and most importantly, our eternal well-being in the world that is to come is assured. Seek not what is temporary and illusory, that is the pleasures of the flesh and the world, but seek instead the treasure, true treasure that will not disappear.

Certainly, if we walk down the path of faith, it will not be easy for us. Challenges will be part and parcel of our life, as we all well know that the way of this world does not sit well with the path of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if we persevere, our reward will be rich in heaven. St. Stephen and the other holy martyrs and saints were glorified, not because they succumbed to the world and listened to the whims of the world, but instead they stood up for the Lord and preached His salvation to all, even when they were persecuted for doing so.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all heed our Lord’s call, for us to change our way of life and our perception of what our faith is. Let us no longer be passive in our faith, but practice that faith with great courage and hope. May Almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ guide us in all of our actions and in our deeds, so that in whatever we say, do and act, we may bring great glory to God. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 35-40

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “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 Him 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, 22 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come and see God’s wonders, His deeds awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, 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 a great joy in that town.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue on the celebration of Easter with the readings that showed us first, the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first of the martyrs of the Faith, who was stoned to death by the Council of the elders after he testified the truth and spoke the truth about Christ, and chided them for their lack of faith and for having rejected the Lord.

And in the Gospel, we heard how Jesus also similarly chided the people for looking at earthly things and to satisfy their own human desires, after the feeding of the five thousand people. Instead, He told them all to seek the true Bread that gives life and came from heaven. And that Bread is none other than Jesus Himself. Jesus has given Himself to us, His Body to eat and Blood to drink, that we all who share in them, receive eternal life through them.

This is the fact that is so difficult to be understood by the people, many of whom refused to believe that Christ is the Saviour of the world. Many of them rejected Him and refused to listen to His teachings, even though what He taught them is truth spoken like a great light that pierces the greatest darkness. They refused to do so, most likely because they refused to acknowledge their weaknesses and frailty. This is just as how Jesus put it, that those who live in darkness fear the light because that light would reveal whatever wickedness that they had committed.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called to question ourselves and our faith in God. Have we been able to overcome our numerous obstacles in knowing and becoming closer to our Lord? Have we been able to live a life that is truly filled with faith and devotion to God? Or have we rather succumbed to the worldly temptations and pleasures and thus drew further away from God?

One thing we have to realise is that none of us is perfect, and all of us make mistakes at one point in our lives. We cannot think that once we have the taint of sin in us, then we are finished. Our Lord has His mercy and love always pointed at us, and He always seeks to bring us into salvation in Him. That was why He sent us Jesus His Son, so that through Him, we may be saved.

And on the other hand, we should also not think that we can get away with our sins, that God does not care about our sinfulness and iniquities, or that we can always ask Him for mercy again and again. This is the attitude which many of us have at the moment, and this is an attitude that is certainly not good and something that we do not want to have with us.

We have to be proactive in our faith and in our life. We must always seek the heavenly inheritance which God promised all those who remain faithful to Him. It is often that we always seek for things that are vain and worldly in nature. We have this strong tendency to find refuge in the world, to find satisfaction in things like wealth, money, worldly fame and pleasures of the flesh, human approval and influence, and many other things.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this holy Easter season, we are all reminded that all those things do not bring us true and lasting joy but a mere passing moment of joy that is of this world. Let us ask ourselves, that whether the things of this world have allowed us to feel satisfied or instead wanting to have more and more. It is part of our human nature, never to be easily satisfied with what we have. We always seek more and more and wanting for more and more.

Therefore, let us today renew our commitment to the Lord and commit ourselves to a life emptied of greed and desire of the world, but instead be filled with the genuine and sincere desire for the Lord. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Anselm, a great Bishop and later appointed Doctor of the Church, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the eleventh century.

St. Anselm was a great reformer and visionary, who brought about much changes to the Church and to the flock and community which was entrusted to his care. He brought the Church out of the dependance of the world and bring about its independence from the authority and the meddling of the worldly authorities, submitting it to God alone. He had had many enemies, including the king of England himself, and went into exile more than once, but his dedication remained strong.

He led the reforms to purify the Church and banned sinful practices such as simony and priests bowing down to the will of nobles and kings, as well as the breaking of the sacred vow of celibacy in the priestly orders. Through all these, St. Anselm showed us that we must not bow down to the demands of the world and to succumb to our desires is the sure path to damnation.

Therefore, inspired by his examples, let us go forth in faith and renew our faith to the Lord. Let us do more good deeds according to our faith and help each other to grow ever stronger in our faith and devotion towards the Lord. God bless us all. Amen.