Wednesday, 9 May 2018 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 17 : 15, 22 – Acts 18 : 1

Paul was taken as far as Athens by his escort, who then returned to Beroea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible. Then Paul stood up in the Areopagus hall and said, “Athenian citizens, I note that in every way you are very religious. As I walked around looking at your shrines, I even discovered an altar with this inscription : To an unknown God. Now, what you worship as unknown, I intend to make known to you.”

“God, Who made the world and all that is in it, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, being as He is Lord of heaven and earth. Nor does His worship depend on anything made by human hands, as if He were in need. Rather it is He Who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.”

“From one stock He created the whole human race to live throughout all the earth, and He fixed the time and the boundaries of each nation. He wanted them to seek Him by themselves, even if it were only by groping for Him, succeed in finding Him. Yet He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being, as some of your poets have said : for we too are His offspring.”

“If we are indeed God’s offspring, we ought not to think of divinity as something like a statue of gold or silver or stone, a product of human art and imagination. But now God prefers to overlook this time of ignorance and He calls on all people to change their ways. He has already set a day on which He will judge the world with justice through a Man He has appointed. And, so that all may believe it, He has just given a sign by raising this Man from the dead.”

When they heard Paul speak of a resurrection from death, some made fun of him, while others said, “We must hear you on this topic some other time.” At that point Paul left. But a few did join him, and believed. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, a woman named Damaris, and some others. After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018 : 6th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we listened to the words of the Scripture, telling us about God’s love and providence to all those who believe in Him and walk in His ways, beginning with the story of St. Paul and St. Silas his companion, who were beset with trouble in prison during their missionary journey, and how God helped them overcome the trouble they were in.

And then, we listened to the Lord Jesus Himself speaking to His disciples about Him leaving His disciples as He would soon no longer walk physically among them. He was speaking about His suffering, and then His death on the cross, and after He had risen from the dead, in a short whole He would ascend into heaven to be at the right side of His Father. But He would not leave them alone.

He promised them that He would give them a Helper, in the Holy Spirit He would give all of them from the Father through Him. And He did fulfil that promise, at the occasion of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire descending on the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, dwelling in them and giving them strength and courage, that from then on, all of them were ready to do everything for God’s sake.

The first reading today showed us all clearly enough what the Apostles had to face during their missionary works, where they had to encounter opposition and persecution, just as they were also openly accepted by some others who welcomed them and were willing to listen to the truth. St. Paul and his companion, St. Silas were persecuted by their opponents, who instigated the effort that ended up with them in prison.

This showed clearly the kind of difficulties and challenges that they had to encounter in life. They had to endure prison and suffering in the hands of their enemies, and it must have been difficult and inconvenient to them. However, they knew God was with them, and persevered through with prayer and devotion. And God showed His might before them, through the earthquake recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, freeing the two servants of God from their chains.

And not only that, they did not only have their physical chains broken, but they even managed to free others from the chains of sin and darkness. The jailer and his family believed in the Lord because of what they have witnessed, and converted to the Christian faith under the guidance of St. Paul and St. Silas. They repented from their actions and their sinful lives, and turned wholeheartedly towards God.

In that way, God showed His love and providence to all those who have been faithful to Him. He liberated them from their oppressors and guided them down the path towards salvation. He has always loved us and cared for us, and nothing will ever change that fact. It is us mankind who have always disobeyed and rejected God’s generous love and mercy. We often think that we know better, but the reality is that God knows what is best for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are all called to heed the examples of the Apostles, who have followed God’s way and obeyed Him, in the mission which had been entrusted to them. The Lord Jesus made it clear in the same Gospel passage today, that the sin of the world against Him, is disbelief, or the lack of faith in Him. We are all called therefore to be the witnesses of Christ, in spreading His truth to all the world.

Are we willing and able to do as God had commanded us to do? This will surely not be an easy task, just as we saw how the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had suffered for the sake of their faith. Yet, they believed in the Lord, and kept their faith in Him. They knew and they believed that God was always with them, and would be with them through their most difficult moments.

It was this faith they had, which became their strength and the source of their inspiration. Are we able to have the same faith as theirs? Let us all reflect on this today, and do our best, to emulate our holy predecessors in everything they had done, for the salvation of our fellow men, all who are still living in the darkness and ignorance of God. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.