Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion, all of us heard about the doubt and the lack of faith which were evident from the two readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel which we have just listened to. We heard how the Apostle St. Peter spoke to the Jewish people and all those who witnessed the amazing wonders of God, having healed the man born paralysed, who then could walk again and praising God.

In the Gospel we heard how the disciples of the Lord, the Eleven Apostles were stunned when Jesus suddenly appeared to them in their midst, through the locked doors, even though earlier on they had seen and heard from one another, from Mary Magdalene and other witnesses on the empty tomb of Jesus and His missing Body. They were still unable to believe that Jesus had not remained dead, but lived again, risen from the dead as He Himself had foretold.

In all these examples which we have heard, we saw just how often times, we mankind can be stubborn in many things, including in trying to understand things in our own way. We often try to rationalise things before we believe and put our trust and faith in something. This is nothing wrong, as indeed it is important for us to be able to truly understand and know the details about something which we want to believe in, or else we will be easily led to falsehoods and lies.

However, there are indeed certain things that are beyond the realm of our normal and usual human understanding and comprehension. There are many who doubted because they were not capable of putting into reason what they had heard about the resurrection of the Lord, and thought that it was impossible for someone from death to return into life.

Yet, there were many witnesses of what Jesus had done in His life and ministry in this world, all the healing miracles He had done, and even when He raised Lazarus up from the dead. There were many people who witnessed this and believed in the Lord. And indeed, Jesus also appeared to many people who had seen Him after His resurrection from the dead, and could testify to the truth of the resurrection, and all the miraculous deeds which His Apostles and disciples had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let me now ask all of you. How did we receive our faith? How is it that we are now believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it just by mere fact or coincidence that we are believing in God now? Certainly, for many of us our answer would be that we received our faith from the instruction of our parents and relatives, all of whom had received their own instruction of the faith from their own parents and relatives, and affirmed with the teachings passed down through the Church.

And for all of those who have been baptised as adults, we also received our faith through our friends and through all those who have inspired us and called us to receive the Lord. And we have been affirmed by the faith that was passed down to us through careful instruction in the faith through the Church, by our catechists and guides, who helped us to grow in the faith. We all went through Catholic education, be it in schools or in our parishes and churches, and we grew together in the faith because of that.

That is how we came to believe in God, because we treasure and keep that same faith which our predecessors had received, all the way to the time of the Apostles, who themselves had seen the glory of the Risen Lord. And they also certainly did not have any reason to lie or to make any falsehoods, for they even were ready to lay down their lives defending that faith they had in the Lord. That was why there were so many martyrs in the days of the early Church, when the faithful were oppressed and persecuted just because they believed in the Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now it comes to the difficult part for all of us. All of us now need to also pass on this faith which we have in us to our next generation, and also to all others who have yet to hear of the Lord and His goodness. It is not an easy task, and challenges will be upon us. And at the same time, we must also fully embody our faith through our own words, deeds and actions. If we do not act as what we have believed in, no one will believe in us.

In fact, if we act contrary to what the Lord had taught us and shown us through His disciples, we are actually bringing scandal to our faith and to the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all today pray together as the whole Church, that each and every one of us may live our Easter joy through our own lives, by our loving actions and by sharing our love and happiness with one another, especially to those who had no one to love them.

May the Lord help us and strengthen us in our faith, so that in everything we do, we will always do them in good faith to the Lord, and that through everything we say and do, we will always declare the glory of God to all the people, and thus help to gather together all the scattered people of the Lord, and come together to embrace His mercy and love. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told 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, 20 April 2017 : 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, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 3 : 11-26

While the once crippled man 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, 19 April 2017 : Wednesday within Easter Octave, Twelfth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded again of the frailties of our humanity, how the man who was crippled since his birth begged at the Temple for people to give him some money and allowances to allow him to come by his daily expenses. We heard about how he approached the two Apostles, St. Peter and St. John as they made their way into the Temple, hoping that they would be able to provide him with some money or food.

In the Gospel today, we heard another account, of how Jesus our Lord appeared just right after His resurrection from the dead to two of His disciples who were walking to the village of Emmaus outside of Jerusalem. The two disciples were busy discussing of all the events that had just happened in the previous week, and how Jesus was arrested, condemned to death, and died on the cross, while Jesus Himself walked alongside them, without them realising Who He was.

What we all saw here are two disabilities, one of the body and the other of the spirit and the mind. But each one of them were afflicted in one way or another, and the Lord showed mercy on them, bringing healing upon them. Through His Apostles, He brought healing upon the man who was unable to walk, and make him to overcome his physical limitations.

And to the two disciples who had been unable to recognise Jesus was inflamed in their hearts by the words and the teachings which Jesus placed in their hearts and minds. He awakened hope in their hearts, as they were initially doubtful and lacking faith in the resurrection of the Lord, despite having heard from the Apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead.

This is what the Lord had done for us, that by bringing His light and hope into the world, He had brought about healing and joy to all those who have lived for long in the darkness, to all those who despair and were without hope, to those who were afflicted, be it in their physical body and flesh, or in their minds, hearts and souls. God brought with Him this Easter joy, which all of us ought not only to rejoice together and enjoy, but also to emulate and to apply to our own lives.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us ought to be courageous in our faith, and in all that we do, in all of our words and actions. We must follow in the example of the Apostles, who in their deeds proclaimed the glory of Christ and revealed to all His truth. In our actions, we must be gentle and be loving towards our brethren, showing mercy and compassion to our enemies, to all those who are sorrowful and unloved as the Apostles had done on the man paralysed from birth.

And in our words, we must also bring about hope and enlightenment to our brethren, especially to all those who have not known of the love of God. We must be like Jesus our Lord Who placed hope and encouragement in the hearts of the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus. We must therefore not slander against others, tell gossip or lies to one another, and we must not hurt others by our words, as well as our actions.

Otherwise, if we are not doing what the Lord had told us to do, and did what is opposite of what He wants us to do, we scandalise our faith, and in fact not just our faith, but the Lord Himself. And that is indeed a great sin for us to make, before God and before our fellow men. Not only that we have failed to do as expected from us, but we even drive people away from the salvation in God, because our actions deter them from coming closer to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on this as we continue to progress through the Easter season. Let us all be inspired by the examples of our predecessors in faith, and devote ourselves anew with zeal and commitment, to love and serve the Lord our God, through our loving commitment and service to our brethren around us, especially all those who are in need of our love and attention. May God bless us all and our endeavours. Amen.