Thursday, 18 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
John 15 : 9-11

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Thursday, 18 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 10

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Thursday, 18 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Acts 15 : 7-21

As the discussions became heated, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that from the beginning God chose me among you so that non-Jews could hear the Good News from me and believe. God, Who can read hearts, put Himself on their side by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them and cleansed their hearts through faith.”

“So why do you want to put God to the test? Why do you lay on the disciples a burden that neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? We believe, indeed, that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

The whole assembly kept silent as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jews. After they had finished, James spoke up, “Listen to me, brothers. Symeon has just explained how God first showed His care by taking a people for Himself from non-Jewish nations.”

“And the words of the prophets agree with this, for Scripture says, ‘After this I will return and rebuild the booth of David which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again. Then the rest of humanity will look for the Lord, and all the nations will be consecrated to My Name. So says the Lord, Who does today what He decided from the beginning.'”

“Because of this, I think that we should not make difficulties for those non-Jews who are turning to God. Let us just tell them not to eat food that is unclean from having been offered to idols; to keep themselves from prohibited marriages; and not to eat the flesh of animals that have been strangled, or any blood. For from the earliest times Moses has been taught in every place, and every Sabbath his laws are recalled.”

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we have heard the words from the Sacred Scriptures, telling us about the conflict that arose during the earliest days of the Church, between those who continued to keep strictly the commandments and laws of Moses, namely those who belonged to the Pharisees who came to believe in Jesus, and those who advocated the relaxing of certain laws and customs that are not truly essential for one to become a Christian.

In order to understand this, we have to understand the context of the difficulty and the dilemma facing the Church fathers and the Apostles at that time. The Jewish people at the time living in Judea and the other parts of the Roman Empire had a distinct custom among the people they lived with, most distinctive of all being the practice of circumcision, which the Gentiles, the Romans and the Greeks included found to be repulsive and disgusting.

Not withholding the ancient practice of strict food laws and prohibitions, which made the Jewish people and their faith to be a relatively exclusive one, as it was difficult for people, if not almost impossible for anyone to adopt the customs and the practices of the Jews, as the laws of Moses prescribed. However, the early Church fathers found the wisdom to overcome this issue, by seeking to relax the strict requirements of the Jewish customs on the early Christian communities.

How do all these link to the Gospel passage which we have heard? In the Gospel today, we heard Jesus our Lord Who spoke of Himself as the True Vine, from which all those who believe in the Lord draw life from, as they are the branches of the True Vine. If they are sundered from the Vine, they shall have no part in Him, and they shall have no life because they have been separated from His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is in fact a reminder to all of us Christians, that we cannot be like those Pharisees who chose to be Christians, and tried to impose their human made laws and customs, the laws of Moses, which they held to be sacred and perfect, on the other newly converted Christians, those from among the Gentiles, who find the practices of the Jews to be repulsive and difficult to be followed.

The laws of Moses were originally given from God for His people, at the time when they went out of Egypt, in order to lead them and guide them on their path. But the laws were first of all very harsh because of a very good reason, and that is because the Israelites themselves were very rebellious and were very easily seduced by the sinful ways of the world. As a result, God gave them the set of precepts and laws in order to restrain them.

And over time, the laws that God gave to His people had become twisted and modified beyond the original purpose He gave them for. The laws became set of human laws, customs and practices, which the leaders of the people, the elders and the chief priests constantly modified in order to suit their own needs, purposes and even wishes.

As a result, the Law became increasingly and unnecessarily draconian and harsh in nature. And that became a great obstacle for many people to become Christians, and which the Church fathers later on then decided to rescind, the unnecessary requirements and excesses of the old laws, simply because, as mentioned, all these things are human adjustments and additions, that came not from God but from men.

The people of God gained justification and life from the Lord, and they have received life from Him, the True Vine. It is why the Apostles and the Church fathers argued and successfully managed to allow the Christians and their communities to follow and obey only what the Lord had truly commanded them, as Jesus Himself said, that the Law is really only about two things, that is to love and serve the Lord our God with all of our hearts, with all of our minds, with all of our being, and then to love our fellow brethren just as much as we love God and ourselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember this even today, as this is still perfectly applicable now and even later in the future. We have to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul, and we have to love our fellow brethren as best as we are able to do so. This is the commandments of the Lord, one that we need to listen to and obey, all of our lives, from now on if we have not done so.

May the Lord bless us all and may He be with us always, at all times, so that in everything we say, in everything we do, we will always show our love for Him, and also for our fellow men, that we will always be forever righteous and just in His presence, and worthy of His everlasting life. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 15 : 1-8

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.”

“You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you do not remain in Me. I am the Vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in Me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from Me you can do nothing.”

“Whoever does not remain in Me is thrown away, as they do with branches, and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burnt. If you remain in Me and My words in you, you may ask whatever you want, and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit : it is then that you become My disciples.”

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.