Tuesday, 10 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and our actions, whether we have led a true Christian life, especially as we heard from the first reading passage today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, how the first Christian communities lived their lives. In that account, we heard how they cared for each other and loved one another tenderly, with true charity and generosity.

They had no need to worry or be concerned, for they shared what they possessed with one another and lived with virtue, and no one was ever hungry or in need. Those who had more would share what they had excess with those who had less, and everyone therefore had enough to sustain themselves. They would also offer part of their possessions and incomes to the Apostles, who would then distribute them according to what the people needed.

And that was how the first Christian communities lived. They followed the examples of the Lord, their God and Master, Who had shown them the example of perfect, unblemished love that surpassed any other forms of love, by His own example, the love He showed from the cross, by which we have been saved. That was what He mentioned to the Pharisee, Nicodemus, as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

Jesus mentioned to Nicodemus, the truth about Himself, as the One sent by God because He loved us all so much, that He gave us all His own beloved Son, so that through Him, all of us may not perish, but instead have eternal life. And He mentioned to Nicodemus a premonition of how He would exactly do it, by telling him about the comparison with the bronze serpent of Moses.

The story of the bronze serpent of Moses was that at the time when the people of Israel went through the desert during their Exodus from Egypt, they rebelled and sinned against God. As a result of their sins, God sent fiery serpents after the people, and those serpents bit many among the people of Israel and as a result, those who were bitten, they perished in the desert.

The people have sinned greatly against God, and they deserved to be crushed and destroyed for their disobedience. But God heard their pleas for mercy and cries for help. Thus, He informed Moses to craft a bronze serpent and place it on a pole that it might be raised up high before the people. Those who were bitten and saw the bronze serpent were healed and did not perish.

The Lord Jesus compared Himself, the Son of Man, with the bronze serpent of Moses. He said that just as the bronze serpent was raised up high, so was the Son of Man to be raised up high before all, on the cross at Calvary. Through that act of perfect and selfless love, He has redeemed us from our sins, that by gathering to Himself all of our sins, the sting of Satan’s works, and all of the corruption and wickedness that had been with us and in us, He brought us all a new hope of a new life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was this selfless and perfect love which the Lord Jesus had shown us all His disciples, that has led to many of His followers to imitate and to emulate Him, in the living of their own lives and in their actions, just as the early Christian communities had done. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten to do this, and we have instead been tempted and persuaded by the devil to walk away from God and from the path He has shown us.

We have been tempted to be selfish in our actions, in seeking to satisfy our own personal desires and attain personal glories and achievements first. But this is not what all of us as Christians should be doing. Let us all realise this truth, and turn away from all the selfish and wicked acts we have been doing thus far. Let us instead follow the example of our holy and devout predecessors, loving one another and caring for those who are in need, and therefore, be worthy people of God.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He empower us to live faithfully and walk with zeal in the path He has shown us. May He bless us all and all of our endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again from above. The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things! Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If you do not believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man.”

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

YHVH reigns, robed in majesty; YHVH is girded with strength.

The world now, is firm; it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o YHVH; from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your House, day after day, without end, o YHVH.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 32-37

The whole community of believers was one in heart and mind. No one claimed private ownership of any possessions; but rather, they shared all things in common. With great power, the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, for all of them were living in an exceptional time of grace.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned land or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds of the sale. And they laid it at the feet of the Apostles, who distributed it, according to each one’s need. This is what a certain Joseph did. He was a Levite from Cyprus, whom the Apostles called Barnabas, meaning : “The encouraging one.” He sold a field which he owned and handed the money to the Apostles.

Monday, 9 April 2018 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is traditionally celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of March, nine months before Christmas, but postponed this year to this date as the date fell on Palm Sunday, and during the Holy Week and the Easter Octave, the Solemnity of the Annunciation could not be properly celebrated.

This great and solemn feast of the Annunciation is celebrated nine months before Christmas because, on this day, as according to the Scriptures and the Church traditions, is the day when the Lord Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, was conceived in the womb of His mother Mary, upon her acceptance and submission to the will of God, Who through the Archangel Gabriel has revealed His long planned salvation of all of His people.

On this day, we celebrate the moment when the Archangel Gabriel came to the small village of Nazareth, to a woman betrothed to Joseph, a humble and lowly carpenter, who truly was the heir of David, as the heir to the unbroken lineage of the family of David, king of Israel and God’s faithful servant. One might wonder why the Lord would choose such a humble and lowly family to enact His plan to save us mankind, but in truth, that is what God has willed, and what He has done.

Through Mary, He was to fulfil the long promised and long awaited salvation He has proclaimed to His people through the prophets and messengers He sent into this world. And through Mary, the Divine Himself, the Creator God and Master of all, was to become a Son of Man, born of a woman, that while He is the Creator of all, He was also born of His creation. Such was the great mystery of our Lord and our faith in Him.

Ultimately, we need to know why God has done this, if we are to appreciate what we celebrate today better. All of these were because of the love which God has for each and every one of us. If God has not loved us, or if He had not considered as us beloved and truly dear to Him, He would not have taken the trouble to do all He had done for our sake, by becoming a Man, to be with us and to dwell among us, that by that action, He might save us all.

First of all, all of us mankind have, by the reason of our disobedience, been cast off from the grace of heaven and from the love of God. We have sinned because of that disobedience beginning from the time of Adam and Eve, when we mankind first disobeyed God by falling into the temptation of Satan. And because of that, we should have perished and should have been destroyed, as due to our sins, we have become defiled and tainted, and no sin or corruption can exist in the presence of God.

God had laid His plan from the very beginning, knowing right from the start, what He would do in order to bring about the reconciliation and salvation of His beloved creation, that is all mankind. That is why He warned Satan from the very beginning, that whatever plots and efforts he had done to sway mankind to fall away from God would eventually fail, as God would give His salvation, and it would come through the Woman prophesied, not just by God Himself mentioning it, but also the prophet Isaiah.

The prophet Isaiah mentioned to king Ahaz of Judah, that a woman would be with child, and though a Virgin, she would bear a Son. This is something that is impossible with man, for no one can have any child or conceive save through sexual relationship and intercourse. Yet, with Mary, God fulfilled His promise and revealed just how wonderful His love for us is, that, He was willing to take up our human existence, and wrapping His divinity in human flesh, that He, from then on, has two natures, Divine and Man, united in the person of Jesus Christ.

Through His wondrous conception in the womb of His mother, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary, God made it clear that He was not like other man in that He was created as a mere creature of God. Instead, He was begotten by the Father, co-equal with Him, as the Son, from before the beginning of time, and by the Holy Spirit and His power, as the Archangel Gabriel mentioned to Mary, He was incarnate in the flesh.

God entered into this world, taking up human nature, so that by that very action, He may reconcile us as the New Adam, as the first one among mankind to be free from the slavery to sin, by His perfect love and obedience to His Father, rejecting Satan and his temptations to obey the will of God His Father, to the point of taking up the cross, suffer indignation and rejection, being nailed to the cross, and dying on that cross, and that by His death, all mankind may be saved.

By His death, we have shared in His death, in the death of His human existence, that we die to our sinfulness and all of our taints and corruption of this world. And by His glorious resurrection from the dead, He showed us all a glimpse of our eternal existence with Him, if we are faithful to Him and His ways,

Now, are we aware of this great love which God has for us? Are we aware that He has loved us so much that He went through all of these for us, just so that we may be saved? But yet, so many of us are still ignorant of this fact, or that we know, but we reject God’s love and generous offer of mercy, just because we are too proud to admit that we have been wrong and mistaken in our ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore as today we recall the great love which God has for us, that for our sake He has willingly become one of us, embracing our humanity in a way unprecedented and never done before, let us all rededicate ourselves to Him, and love Him just as much as He has loved us first. Let us no longer be disobedient or be rebellious in our ways, that we may draw closer to God in our lives, day after day.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us along our journey, that we will be able to find the path forward, and persevere in our loving relationship with God, the God Who had made Himself Man, that by sharing in our humanity, He may save us all by His death and then by His glorious resurrection. May God bless us all. Amen.