(Holy Week) Sunday, 16 April 2017 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Vigil and Easter Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is indeed risen from the dead, and darkness has been dispelled, and sin has lost its sting, for death no longer hold any dominion over all those who believe in the Risen Lord, our Saviour and Master. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we rejoice greatly because of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was indeed witnessed and proved to be triumphant against death, that not even the gates of hell were able to hold Him back.

We have gone through the entire celebrations of the Holy Week, beginning with Jesus our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, in order to begin His Passion and complete the mission for which He had been sent into this world, for the salvation of all mankind. We have gone through how the Lord had His Last Supper with His disciples, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to them, establishing a new Covenant which will never be broken again, for on the next day, He took up the cross and died for the sake of all mankind, sealing the new Covenant with His Blood.

But all of these would have been meaningless, and our faith would indeed be nothing if Jesus just died on the cross, and then stayed dead. What made our faith so remarkable is that we believed in the One Who had suffered and died for our sake, and yet, on the third day counting from the day of His death, He reappeared in this world in glory, no longer dead, but filled with life, as the Risen Lord and Triumphant Saviour.

Without Easter, our whole faith and belief would be meaningless, and without the resurrection from the dead, all that we believe in and all that we do are without any purpose. For if Jesus died on the cross and stayed dead, what good would that do for us? Does not other men and women also encounter death at the end of their life on earth, and then death claimed us? But Jesus had shown us that death will not have the final say over us.

All of us mankind, whom God had created out of His great love for us were never meant to perish and die. We were all created to share the love which God had in Himself. He created us so that we can love Him and He can love us, and by sharing together the love we have, we may live forever in bliss and harmony, instead of suffering and die. But because we have disobeyed God and sinned against Him, then because of those sins we have received our just punishment, and sin took hold over us and had dominion over us.

Yes, sin enslaved each and every one of us ever since our first forefathers disobeyed the Lord and His will. Sin chained us and death dominated over us, just as much as the people of Israel was enslaved by the Egyptians and came under the domination of the Pharaohs, the king of Egypt. And we suffered grievously, just as the people of Israel had once suffered from persecution and oppression. Yet, while the Pharaoh and the Egyptians could only inflict bodily and physical harm over the Israelites, sin is an even more dangerous as it inflicts harm on our souls.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, during the Easter Vigil, we heard the long series of readings, seven in total, from the Old Testament, revealing to all of us throughout history, just how God had endeavoured to bring His people back to Him, that is all of us, by His wonderful works and grace. We heard how He had again and again brought respite and help for His people, and promised that He would bring them salvation and liberation, through the Messiah or Saviour He told them about, the One Who would save all of them from their sins.

We heard how God also brought His people out of the land of Egypt, walking through the Red Sea, which He opened before them, so that they could walk through them on dry land. He crushed their enemies, their oppressors, the Egyptians and their chariots. That was the old Passover. Now, we all no longer celebrate the old Passover but a new one, which God had brought upon all of mankind, through Easter.

For all of us who have received our baptism, we have been washed with the holy water in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We have passed through the water just as the Israelites have walked through the Red Sea by the grace of God. And if we looked back a bit, we remembered how the Israelites were saved from a great disaster and catastrophe, by the blood of the lamb they slaughtered, and put as a mark on their houses, and we remember now, how Christ our Lord, the Lamb of God had been sacrificed for our sake.

Through baptism, all of us have received a share in the death of Christ, and we have become partakers in His salvation and in His loving works. Through baptism, we have received the reassurance and the promise that will never, ever be broken, the promise of life everlasting with God, in grace and eternal joy. And just as Christ had died and then rose again in glory, defeating death, therefore all of us who believe will also triumph together against death and evil, and rose in glory as our Lord had risen.

This is the true meaning of Easter, and why we rejoice so greatly in this season. It is a joy so great that it is truly indescribable. We should indeed be joyful and be thankful of God’s great love for us, that He was willing to do so much for our sake, and on our behalf, just so that all of us may be saved. This is our Easter joy, far surpassing even the joy of the Israelites when they were rescued from the tyranny and slavery of Egypt.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we all then ought to do from now on, even as we share together this Easter joy? We now need to truly be children of the Light that we are, and act as those whom God had chosen from the world to be His disciples. And how do we do this? It is by abandoning our past way of life, our sins and our wickedness. In Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses we celebrate, we all make our renewal of the baptismal promises, for all those who had been baptised, and a new vow of baptism for those who are just baptised.

Through these vows and promises, we all renewed our commitment to reject Satan and all of his wicked lies. We are all called to abandon those sinfulness, and embrace a new life blessed by God. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what all of us Christians need to do, as all those whom God had blessed and called to be His sons and daughters. Yes, by baptism we have been adopted as God’s own children, and therefore, as God is good and just, all of us are called to righteousness too.

Let us all love one another, giving our love, care and concern, especially to all those who have no one else to love them, those who are homeless, those who are ostracised and dejected, all those who are sorrowful and in pain and suffering, all those who are persecuted and troubled. Let us bring love and comfort to these brethren of ours, and help them to see that despite all of their sorrows and difficulties, God will always be with them, through us.

May the Lord awaken in us all a strong faith and heart filled with love in this Easter season and beyond. May the love and joy of Easter continue to burn strongly in our hearts, as we continue to go on with our lives. May the Lord empower us all to become His good disciples, persevering day by day to live out our faith with zeal and through real and genuine actions, to be worthy people and disciples of the Lord, our Risen Lord. Let us all be witnesses of His resurrection and of His love for each and every one of us, and make disciples of all the nations! God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.

(Holy Week) Sunday, 16 April 2017 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Day Mass (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 20 : 1-9

At that time, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

Alternative reading
Matthew 28 : 1-10

At that time, after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake : an Angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came to the stone, rolled it from the entrance of the tomb, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his garment white as snow. The guards trembled in fear and became like dead man when they saw the Angel.

The Angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where they laid Him; then go at once and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. This is my message for you.

They left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The woman approached Him, embraced His feet and worshipped Him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell My brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see Me.”

Alternative reading (Evening Mass)
Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, on the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers of Jesus 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 haw 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.