Saturday, 4 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of not just one Apostles of Our Lord Jesus, but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James the Greater. It is the same St. Philip and St. James mentioned in the Scripture passages today, which reminded us of the calling to which those Apostles have been called to do, that is to become the bearers of God’s truth and salvation to the people.

St. Philip and St. James were among those whom God first called to be His followers and His disciples, to be the witnesses of all the things that He has done before them, and the truth which He has taught and revealed to all the people of God. They were called to be the pillars of His Church, which He founded on the Apostles, as the rock of faith of Peter and his fellow Apostles, who became important pillars of support of the then young and growing Church.

St. Philip was remembered for his missionary activity in Samaria, the lands north of Judea, where he preached to the Samaritans to whom the Lord has also taught, and it was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that he encountered the official of the queen of the Ethiopians, and he convinced the official so well that the official asked to be baptised and brought the faith with him back to his homeland, thus marking the beginning of the Church in the then distant land of Ethiopia.

St. Philip also went to various other places, spreading the faith, performing miracles and calling on the people to become believers of God. He went to many parts of Syria, Asia Minor and also Greece, before he suffered martyrdom in the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, where his tomb supposedly was today. St. Philip according to Apostolic tradition preached so well that he converted even the governor’s wife, enraging the governor, who ordered the saint and his fellow companions, including St. Bartholomew, another Apostle, to be tortured and crucified upside down.

Even then, St. Philip did not stop to testify the faith and preach from the cross, converting many of those who have heard him preaching even at the door of death. And although they wanted to release him, St. Philip insisted that he remained on the cross, and thus, he entered into heavenly glory as a martyr, and by whose dedication and commitment, many had been saved, and many more were inspired by his faith and examples.

Meanwhile, St. James went to various places, preaching the faith, and it was told that he went even as far as Hispania, in what is presently Spain and Portugal, preaching the faith and the truth of God, sowing the seeds of Christianity in those faraway lands, and when he returned to Jerusalem, he was among the first of the Apostles to be martyred, as recorded also in the Acts of the Apostles, how king Herod imprisoned St. James and beheaded him in order to please the Sanhedrin and the Jewish opponents of the Lord.

Both St. Philip and St. James had dedicated their whole lives in commitment to God, giving their whole lives in service to the Lord, fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to them. But their works were not yet completed, and they merely laid the foundation and the beginning from which many Christians throughout the centuries have been called to follow in their footsteps, in serving God and in committing themselves faithfully to God’s commandments.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians today are called to be followers of Christ in the model established by the Apostles, and we remember especially the memory of St. Philip and St. James, whose dedication and faith have become inspiration to many of us, to follow the Lord and to serve Him as they have once done, in their courageous and tireless efforts to bring God’s truth and salvation to His people.

Let us all therefore do the same in our own respective lives, brothers and sisters in Christ that each and every one of us will continue to serve the Lord faithfully, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, loving God and loving our fellow men, and becoming the beacons of God’s light and truth among the people of this world, so that all of us who are Christians may lead even many more of others to the Lord, to His truth and salvation.

Holy Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, pray for us all, that each and every one of us may be courageous and may be moved by your examples, that we may make good use of the talents and abilities God has given us in being bearers of His truth, that many more will come to believe in God and in His salvation, with the same conviction and courage, love and dedication as both of you had once shown. Amen.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 14 : 6-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do.”

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 15 : 1-8

Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the Good News that I preached to you and which you received and on which you stand firm. By that Gospel you are saved, provided that you hold to it as I preached it. Otherwise, you will have believed in vain.

In the first place, I have passed on to you what I myself received that Christ died for our sins, as Scripture says; that He was buried; that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures; that He appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. Afterwards He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters together; most of them are still alive, although some have already gone to rest.

Then He appeared to James and after that to all the Apostles. And last of all, He appeared to the most despicable of them, this is to me.

Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the responsibility which each and every one of us as Christians have, that is to be witnesses and defenders of our faith before all the people, to be walking in the footsteps of the Apostles and all those who have given themselves wholly in the service of God, as we have ourselves heard in our Scripture passages today.

In the first reading today, we listened to the persistence and perseverance of the Apostles in the face of harsh persecution and opposition, as they were faced with fierce opposition from the influential members of the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin, who wanted the Apostles to stop preaching, teaching and doing works in the Name of the Lord Jesus, by Whose Name they have performed miracles, healing and called the people of God to believe in the Saviour Who had died for them.

But the Apostles stood by their faith in God and refused to abandon the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them, just as St. John the Baptist in our Gospel passage today testified before the people and before all those who opposed him, that he obeyed the will of God and he preached the truth and the salvation that God has revealed through His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Saviour of all the world.

St. John the Baptist also faced a lot of opposition and challenges, from the same influential members of the community who felt threatened by the influence, charisma and the message which both St. John the Baptist and the Apostles had brought with them and which they preached and taught among the people. That is because God’s truth has come to dispel the falsehoods and the corrupted truths which the enemies and opponents of the Lord had championed.

And in today’s occasion, aptly and most appropriately, we also celebrate the feast day of one of the great servants of God, whose life has also been filled with plenty of challenges and difficulties, and how this holy servant stood by his faith courageously, and became known as the staunch defender of the true, orthodox Christian faith. He is St. Athanasius the Great, Holy Doctor of the Church and great Defender of the Faith.

St. Athanasius was the Patriarch of Alexandria, one of the most important dioceses of the Church, and a great leader of the faithful at a time when the Church and the community of Christendom were bitterly divided between the many heresies and false teachings by false teachers and preachers who spread untruths and heresies that took hold many among the faithful, dividing even bishops against bishops, priests against priests, the Church against each other.

St. Athanasius defended the true faith in particular against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the equality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God with His heavenly Father, and for such, he was known also for his now famous Athanasian Creed, a very comprehensive version of the Christian Creed that is filled with the centre tenets of the faith, especially in the truth of the Holy Trinity, the distinctiveness, equality and yet perfect unity between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is something that many of the heresies including Arianism tried to undermine and corrupt.

For his courageous and relentless defence of the true faith, St. Athanasius had to endure much difficulty and sufferings, having endured several exiles and persecutions by his enemies, who sometimes enjoyed the support of the Roman Empire and its institutions. Yet, St. Athanasius did not give up and continued to defend the faith till the end of his life, and he was remembered for his courage and faithfulness, as the true faith eventually triumphed.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are also called and expected to stand up for our faith, not through confrontation or violence, but through our courageous and committed desire to live our whole lives being dedicated to God, just as the Apostles, St. John the Baptist and St. Athanasius the Great had done. Let us all be truly faithful, that the love of God will be the centre of our every actions, words and deeds, that we may find true justification in God. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 31-36

At that time, John the Baptist said, “He Who comes from above is above all; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and his words belong to the earth. He Who comes from heaven speaks of the things He has seen and heard; He bears witness to these things, but no one accepts His testimony. Whoever does receive His testimony acknowledges the truthfulness of God.”

“The One sent by God speaks God’s words, and gives the Spirit unstintingly. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything into His hands. Whoever believes in the Son lives with eternal life; but he who will not believe in the Son will never know life, and always faces the justice of God.”