Tuesday, 17 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6ab and 7b-8a, 17 and 21ab

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; but I put all my trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love, for You have seen my affliction.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened from our first reading, taken from the book of the Acts of the Apostles, about what had happened to St. Stephen, one of the seven first deacons to be chosen by the Apostles, who was also the very first martyr of the Church. As he performed his works among the people and teaching about the Lord Jesus and His salvation, those who were opposed to the Lord and His teachings came after St. Stephen and harassed him.

Nonetheless, even though they brought false witnesses against Him, just as much as they have also done against the Lord, St. Stephen spoke with great wisdom and clarity, defending the Lord with zeal and devotion. He pointed out how God had done so many great things and good deeds for His people throughout the ages, right from the beginning of time, towards the time of Abraham, and then Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, and then to the time of the prophets, but the people refused to turn away from their sins and repent.

Instead, they doubled down on their sins, and they rejected the Saviour Whom God had sent into their midst, Jesus Christ, Whose life and works St. Stephen was testifying on at that time before the Sanhedrin. And we saw later on, how these words further angered St. Stephen and made them to seize the holy servant of God, and stoned him to death. Thus, St. Stephen became the first martyr of the Church.

St. Stephen showed us that there will be challenges facing those who keep their faith firmly in God, as he himself had done. St. Stephen reminded us that if we want to follow the Lord and be His true disciples and servants, then we must first of all, believe in God and in all of His teachings, in all of our ways, in all of the words we utter, in all the actions we take and which we do in our daily lives, in how we interact with one another.

And if we truly believe in Him, and not just merely having a superficial faith, then all of us should be ready to defend our faith just as St. Stephen has done. No, it does not mean that we should all purposefully and intentionally seek martyrdom and death in God, but rather, we must be firm in our conviction and desire to live our lives faithfully and in full obedience to God’s will, regardless of what persuasions and temptations we meet in our lives may convince, persuade or even force us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us truly believe in God with all of our heart, our mind and our strength? How many of us are truly convinced that God’s ways are the way forward for us, and not that of our own? If we are true Christians, then we should indeed put God as the clear priority of our lives, turning towards Him in all of our ways and dealings, and turning away from sin.

But, the sad reality is that, many of us are so busy and so preoccupied with worldly concerns, for our needs, wants and desires in this world that we end up being distracted from God. Our priority in life is not God, but instead, the desire and pursuit for money, for success, for worldly prestige and honour, for sexual pleasures and for satisfaction of our ego and greed.

That is why so many of us have distanced ourselves from God, and unless we do something concrete in our lives, now and not delaying any further, we will end up falling into damnation in hell, when it is too late for us to turn back and regret all that we have done wrongly in our lives. Let us all therefore, spend time and effort to be more faithful to God, that each and every one of us, by our words, actions and deeds can be inspiration for one another, and also for all those who have yet to receive God’s salvation, that they too may be saved.

May the Lord bless us all and all of our endeavours, our good works and commitment to Him. May He strengthen us day after day, that we will always be faithful to the commandments and laws of God, and that we will always put God as our first and foremost priority before everything else just as St. Stephen, holy deacon and martyr had done. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 22-29

At that time, the next day after Jesus fed the five thousand men, the people, who had stayed on the other side, realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with His disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone.

Bigger boats from Tiberias came near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.”

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 23-24, 26-27, 29-30

Although princes conspire against me, Your servant will observe Your decrees. Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

When I explained my ways, You responded; instruct me then in Your precepts. Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.