Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 21 : 15-19

At that time, after Jesus and His disciples had finished breakfast, He said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”

A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Look after My sheep.” And a third time He said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was saddened because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus then said, “Feed My sheep! Truly, I say to you, when you were young, you put on your belt and walked where you liked. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will put a belt around you, and lead you where you do not wish to go.”

Jesus said this to make known the kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. And He added, “Follow Me.”

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab

Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless His holy Name! Bless the Lord, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

The Lord has set His throne in heaven; He rules, He has power everywhere. Praise the Lord, all you His Angels.

Friday, 18 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 25 : 13b-21

As King Agrippa and his sister Berenice were to stay in Caesarea several days, Festus told him about Paul’s case and said to him, “We have here a man whom Felix left as a prisoner. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews accused him and asked me to sentence him.”

“I told them that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over a man without giving him an opportunity to defend himself in front of his accusers. So they came and I took my seat without delay on the tribunal and sent for the man. When the accusers had the floor, they did not accuse him of any of the crimes that I was led to think he had committed; instead they quarrelled with him about religion and about a certain Jesus Who has died but whom Paul asserted to be alive.”

“I did not know what to do about this case, so I asked Paul if he wanted to go to Jerusalem to be tried there. But Paul appealed to be judged by the Emperor. So I ordered that he be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.”

Thursday, 17 May 2018 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Scripture readings, through what we have heard from the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, in which we heard the great squabble between the Pharisees and the Sadducees during the hearing scheduled in the Jewish High Council regarding the Apostle, St. Paul, who was accused of sedition against the Jewish laws.

St. Paul was alone, facing the opposition from all those who were against him and all that he had preached and taught among the people. The Sadducees were against him and the teachings of the Lord Jesus, as they feared that their esteemed and special position in the society would be seriously threatened, and they were also against the beliefs in the Christian faith, such as the resurrection from the dead among many others.

They had been fiercely against the Lord Jesus, and harassed Him with questions and challenges throughout His ministry. Therefore, the same challenge and difficulty also faced all those who spoke and taught in His Name, as St. Paul had experienced. And in addition to this trouble, St. Paul, just as the Lord had experienced, also faced the opposition from the Pharisees, the other major group holding power in the society, also fiercely against Jesus and His teaching authority.

The Pharisees include many of those who were experts and teachers of the Mosaic law, that is all those who were supposed to safeguard the tenets and the rules found within the law that governed the Jewish people, based on the Law which God had first given His people through Moses, His servant. However, they ended up being too fanatically attached to their interpretation of the Mosaic law, and became too rigid in their enforcement to the point of ignoring and forgetting the true purpose of the Law of God.

Thus, these influential elders and people were also bitterly against the Lord and His Apostles, as they feared that they would lose their influence should the teachings of Jesus spread throughout the people and the towns of Israel. They were afraid that they would lose their esteemed position, just as the Sadducees were afraid of the same thing, and that their authority would no longer be accepted.

But they did not consider and place God in all of their judgments at all. They were instead driven by their greed, pride and desires, which therefore, as we have probably noticed, was why they were divided among themselves, bickering between themselves, when St. Paul put a contentious matter among them. They fought and bickered so greatly that the Roman governor had to rescue St. Paul from their midst lest he was torn apart by the feuding parties.

In this, we see how, even though St. Paul seemed to be alone, but in truth, he was not alone. God was always with him, and all the whole Church was united with him in prayer. And that is what the Lord Jesus had also prayed to His Father, in our Gospel passage today, asking that all those who believe in Him remain as one people, as one united Church, just as He and His Father were one and indivisible.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are reminded of the fact that we do not exist for ourselves, but rather, first of all, for God. And then, secondly, we exist for each other, for our fellow brethren and for the Church of God. As Christians, we should not be tempted to satisfy our personal desires and ego, over that of our obligations to God and to our need to love and care for one another.

And it is important that we place God at the centre of our lives, just as we can see clearly, how those who did not place God at the centre or as the focus of their lives, like the Sadducees and Pharisees, are prone to division and conflict. And whenever conflict and division arise, it is actually a perfect opportunity for the devil to come in and manipulate us even further, to divide us and therefore, hopefully to snatch us away from God and His salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore be role models in faith, devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to God, and committing ourselves to faith in Him, putting our complete trust, knowing that He will be with us along the way, and He will never abandon us in our time of need. May the Lord be with us all, and may He continue to watch over us all, that each and every one of us may always be united in Him, as one Church, and as one people of God. Amen.