Thursday, 31 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 35-48

At that time, the two disciples from Emmaus told the Eleven what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”) In their panic and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “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.”

Thursday, 31 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Thursday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth. What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him.

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 31 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 3 : 11-26

While the healed beggar clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if it was by some power or holiness of our own that we made this man walk?”

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.”

“It is His Name, and faith in His Name, that has healed this man whom you see and recognise. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what He had foretold through all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when He sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For He must remain in heaven until the time of the universal restoration which God spoke of long ago through His holy prophets.”

“Moses foretold this when he said : The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to Him in all that He says to you. Whoever does not listen to that Prophet is to be cut off from among his people.”

“In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets and heirs of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors when He said to Abraham : All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you first that God sends His servant; He raised Him to life to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Wednesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the healing of the beggar by St. Peter and St. John, the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, when through the power of His Name, they made him whole again and was able to walk once again. Thus, the actions of the two Apostles showed how if we place our trust in Jesus, we shall never be disappointed.

In the Gospel, we also heard how the two disciples of Jesus who were on their way to the village of Emmaus outside of Jerusalem, encountered Jesus along the way. The two disciples expressed their doubts about Jesus and what had happened to Him in the events of the previous week. The suffering and death of Jesus had shattered their confidence and their faith, because they would have thought that it would be impossible for the Messiah to have suffered as He had suffered.

But Jesus walked alongside them and talked to them, and as He spoke to them, He opened their minds, and brought the understanding of the Word of God to their hearts. And with the warmth of the Lord and His love entering their hearts, a new faith and confidence blossomed in them, so that a heart once burdened with fear, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and with the lack of faith now found a new hope, a new light in Christ.

God did not abandon all those who are faithful to Him. Instead, He gave them strength, encouragement and guidance, so that they may find courage to persevere and to continue walking in His path, as difficult and challenging as it was. God will guide us as we walk with Him, and He will lift us up on the last day, to bring upon each other, the salvation and life which He had promised us all who believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are all asked to reflect on our Lord Jesus and His love for us. Through Him, the beggar who was paralysed and who was unable to walk, became able to walk once again, having his limbs strengthened once again. And through Him also, the two disciples who were going to Emmaus, were lifted up in their hearts, from a darkness of despair into the new light of hope.

In all these, we can see how God is our Hope, our Redeemer and Saviour. Through Him we all receive healing and succour from our troubles, be it the troubles of the body and flesh, or of the hearts and the minds, or of our souls. But all these do not come without faith, without the proper disposition that all of us must have in believing in our Lord and in all that He has taught us.

It was because of his faith, believing that God could make him well, that the beggar was healed and made whole. Similarly, throughout the Gospels, we should have also witnessed how many people who were sick and with ailments, were healed by the loving touch of our Lord. And in various occasions, many people who believed in Jesus were healed from their respective ailments.

Therefore, all of us will also receive the same healing and succour, if we are to put our renewed trust in the Lord, placing our faith in Him. Let us in this Easter season grow to love our Lord with ever more zeal and spirit, and let us all help one another in overcoming our fears, anxieties and uncertainties, and seek the Lord and His salvation in all things. May God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Wednesday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, the same day as the day of the resurrection of Jesus, two followers of His were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them, but their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveller to Jerusalem Who does not know what has happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, You know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel.”

“It is now the third day since all this took place. It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of Angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a Body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together.

They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Wednesday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His Holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Wednesday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 3 : 1-10

Once when Peter and John were going up to the Temple at three in the afternoon, the hour for prayer, a man crippled from birth was being carried in. Every day they would bring him and put him at the Temple gate called “Beautiful”; there he begged from those who entered the Temple.

When he saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple, he asked for alms. Then Peter with John at his side looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” So he looked at them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you : In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, walk!”

Then he took the beggar by his right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankles became firm, and jumping up he stood on his feet and began to walk. And he went with them into the Temple walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God; they recognised him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were all astonished and amazed at what had happened to him.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Tuesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard more about the testimony of faith by St. Peter the Apostle, after they have received the Holy Spirit, the Advocate God had promised to them. The disciples of Jesus were once afraid to even come out in the open, and after Jesus had died on the cross, they were really like chickens who just lost their mother hen, and they were in despair.

But the Lord showed them that there is always hope beyond the despair, light beyond the darkness. And despite the darkest moments, the light of God shone through, and hope blossomed. And it is this hope which we are all celebrating with great joy during this time of Easter. God will not abandon His beloved people to the darkness, and He will rescue them from all of their troubles.

In the Gospel we heard of how Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalene, one of the most faithful disciples of Jesus, was weeping, and she was filled with sorrow, uncertainty and fear, all because of the fact that the Body of her Lord and Master had gone missing, and she did not know who dared to come and take the Body away, and she had no clue to its whereabouts.

And certainly we have also felt the same feeling too, brothers and sisters in Christ? We have felt in the same manner whenever we feel and find that life is getting tough on us, when we thought that no one cares about us, or when we think that God has abandoned us. That was the same sentiment and feeling that Mary of Magdala, the Apostles, including Peter himself encountered in their own life journey in faith.

But God showed them that there is hope beyond the darkness, and if they persevered in faith, and continued to devote themselves to Him, then they shall receive great rewards indeed. This is the joy of our Easter celebrations, as we rejoice together, celebrating the victory of our God, and indeed, our own victory against all those who sought to bring harm and evil intention upon us.

It is in our human nature for us to feel fear, uncertainty, and it is indeed easier for us to look on despair rather than hope, especially in times of great difficulty. But we must remember that no matter how bad things are, and no matter how great the troubles facing us are, if we put our trust in the Lord, we should have no need for fear. It is precisely because we often put our trust in the strength of men that we get disappointed, because we are putting our trust in something that feeble and untrustworthy.

Let us all reflect on this even as we rejoice in our Risen Lord during this time of Easter. Let us all renew our faith and our commitment to Him, and open ourselves to welcome Him into our lives. May the grace and the love, the light and the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us, strengthening us and giving us the strong resolve to carry on with great zeal and commitment.

May the Lord bless us all and bless all of our endeavours, and may He grant us rest and peace, for all of us who believed in Him, and all of us who have placed ourselves under His protection. God be with all of us, and may the joy of Easter be with us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Tuesday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 11-18

At that time, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 : First Week of Easter, Tuesday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22

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.

In hope we wait for the Lord, for He is our help and our shield. O Lord, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.