Tuesday, 5 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we come together and witnessed how God was with the Apostles and the disciples as they went forth and spread the message of the Gospel and its Good News to the regions which have yet to hear the message, and the Church continued to grow at that time, despite opposition and persecution from the Jewish authorities and the Romans and local authorities alike.

There were challenges and trials facing the Apostles and all the other disciples who went to many places to spread the word of God. Jesus Himself had warned His disciples that this would happen to them, because of the opposition of the world that did not know Him and His ways. But God is with them, and He sent to His faithful ones the Helper, or the Advocate, that is the Holy Spirit, as aid and guide, to help them to overcome the mentioned challenges and difficulties.

The disciples took their duties and missions very seriously, and they walked on many paths to deliver the message of God’s truth to many nations. They did not mind or fear persecution, rejection or opposition because they knew that no matter what happens, Satan and his forces could not harm them, for God is with them and protecting them at all times. Satan, the prince of this world and ruler of all that is wicked can only harm the flesh but not the soul.

Thus, the Apostles, St. Paul and many other disciples rejoiced at the thought of having to suffer persecution for the sake of the Lord and in being rejected by the world, for this showed that they truly belonged to the Lord and not to the world, for the world does not know God and thus, what the Apostles had done is an aversion to it. And great is the reward of those who have walked in the path of righteousness and those who bring goodness to others around them by preaching and examples of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings remind us that there are still many things that we can do as the members of His Church in this world. Much like the time of the Apostles, this world is still covered in darkness, and even worse that many who had once been faithful to the Lord are turning their backs against Him and betrayed Him for the many idols of this world.

There is always a need for faithful disciples to carry out and continue the works of the courageous and holy Apostles who first preached the Good News to the multitudes living in the darkness. We are all called by our baptism and therefore by our membership and shared responsibility in the Church of God, to be witnesses of the Good News of God through not just our words and preaching, but also through all our deeds and actions that make alive all that we have spoken in the Name of the Lord.

On this day, therefore, let us all sincerely and deeply reflect in our hearts, on whether we have done anything or if we have done enough to merit being called the children of God and a member of His Church. If we have not done enough, then perhaps it is time for us to do more, and devote ourselves more to the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ by loving our brethren more and showing mercy and compassion to all who need them.

May Almighty God be with us always and bless all of our dealings and works, that in all of them we may always be justified by them, and therefore be worthy to receive God’s salvation and the eternal life and true joy that He had promised all those who are faithful to Him. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 27-31a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do.”

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 21

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His Holy Name, forever and ever.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 14 : 19-28

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against them. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day he left for Derbe with Barnabas.

After proclaiming the Gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each Church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.

Monday, 4 May 2015 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard a central theme to today’s Scripture readings, which is indeed a very important aspect of our life. And this theme is obedience and humility, that is the obedience to the will of God and the humility to recognise our shortcomings and weaknesses, and that in all the things that we do, we ought to give thanks to God and give glory to Him, instead of taking all the credits for ourselves.

Jesus made it clear in the Gospel today, that whoever loves Him will do as He had taught them, and they will not contemplate doing things that are beyond the scope of what is expected from them as the people of God and servants of the Light. Those who love the Lord will keep His words and follow His commandments, practicing their faith and devoting their efforts to walk in the righteous path of God.

This will be the case if our faith is real and genuine, and we truly have faith in God, and not merely lip service or be faithful for show or appearances before others. Everything that we do in this life, everything that we say and utter from our mouth, and every thoughts that come in our minds, and every single breath we take in and expel, all of these will be filled with the purpose of God, and be filled with that sole and clear purpose of serving the Lord our God and give glory to His Name.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas clearly showcased this to us, when they healed the sick people in Lycaonia, in the region of the Asia Minor. Most of the people in that region and indeed throughout the Roman Empire at such an early period in the Church were still pagan believers, who believed in the traditional pagan gods. They believed in the traditional Greek gods such as Zeus, Hercules, Hermes, Ares, and many others, and each of which have their own priests and customs.

And it is against this tradition that the two Apostles and disciples of the Lord went up against, as they preached the true faith to the people. When they healed the sick and the dying from their sickness, it is when the mentality of the people and their beliefs kicked in. They thought that the gods themselves had taken up human form and walked among them. For those of us who are familiar with the Greek mythology, this is a recurring theme, that the gods walked among men and performing wonders.

The Greek gods were vain and they were just like men, that is filled with all sorts of emotions, both good and bad. As a matter of fact, they and the many other false pagan gods are often the personification and manifestation of the people’s desired and emotions, which they paired together with what they observed around them in natural phenomena and miraculous wonders.

But the Lord showed through St. Paul and St. Barnabas that it is He who is the One and only True God, with all power and authority that the other gods of gold, silver and stone cannot show. Yet, the people misunderstood its meaning and they instead worshipped both Paul and Barnabas as the avatars and manifestations of their supposed Greek pagan gods.

In our human nature, we are by our nature always predisposed to pride, arrogance, greed and other desires we have in us. It is therefore must have been difficult for any man to resist the temptation of power, fame and greatness when presented with the same situation that was faced by both St. Paul and St. Barnabas in Lystra and Derbe. But the two of them showed us all a great example how a disciple and follower of Christ should act.

They rebuked the people and preached to them the truth, although certainly the temptation of praise, power and pride must have assailed them. Imagine if you are being surrounded by so many people who cheered for you and said great things about you because of what you have performed admirably and greatly in their sight and presence.

But they knew that all the things they had done came from the Lord, and it is for His glory that they had done all those wonders and miracles. Today’s psalm perfectly captures this, by its first few lines. The phrase which in Latin reads, “Non nobis Domine, sed Nomine Tuo da gloriam” that means, “Not to us o Lord, but to Your Name we give glory.” Indeed, it is not for human glory we should act and work, but for the greater glory of God.

Therefore, today, as we reflect on these readings from the Sacred Scripture, let us all realise how we should be humble in all of our dealings and works. Let us learn to be humble and obey the Lord in all things, so that we may listen to Him and know what He wants from us. Let us all grow lesser and smaller in our pride and hubris, and grow deeper and stronger in our humility and obedience to God, that in all the things we do, we proclaim the great glory of God. May God be with us always. Amen.