Wednesday, 8 May 2019 : 3rd 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 Lord through the Scriptures reminding us all that as long as we put our trust in the Lord and remain faithful to Him, we shall not be disappointed, for the Lord is ever faithful and ever good to the promises which He had made upon us. Despite the problems and challenges we may encounter in life, God will always be faithful to the Covenant that He had established with us.

In today’s first reading, we heard of the account of the aftermath of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first recognised martyr of the Church, who was persecuted and stoned to death by an angry mob of the enemies of the Church who refused to believe in the truth of Christ. St. Stephen spoke courageously defending the truth that Christ has brought into this world, amidst the false witnesses and testimonies his enemies brought up against him.

Those who persecuted the faithful servant of God refused to listen to the words of truth he spoke before all of them. Instead, they hardened their hearts and minds, and stoned St. Stephen to death. Saul, who would later on become St. Paul the Apostle, then one of the most feared persecutor and enemy of the early Christians, was there supporting and approving of the martyrdom of the faithful servant of God.

Yet, despite all of these, and many other persecutions of the early Christians, the Apostles and all those who dedicated themselves to the Lord continued to serve God faithfully, as shown in the same passage from the Acts of the Apostles, how St. Philip went to the region of Samaria, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord there, performing miracles and calling many of the Samaritans to the faith. They continued to do the work of God despite the challenges and risks they had to face.

And the reason for such courage and faith which St. Stephen and the other Apostles had shown us, is exactly what the Lord Jesus told to the people in our Gospel passage this day. In that passage the Lord told the people again that He is the Bread of Life, the Saviour of the world, and all those who put their trust in Him will not be disappointed, for God has ordained and willed that all those whom He had gathered to Himself by His Son’s work, shall not be lost but receive the assurance of eternal life and glory.

This is the assurance and firm hope in which the Apostles and the holy saints and martyrs of the history of the Church held fast upon, and which they kept in mind at all times even in times of darkest and toughest persecutions and trials. They were able to endure sufferings, pains, rejections, ridicule and torment, challenges and all sorts of difficulties, because they had that strong and living faith in God.

They have received the Lord with faith, and committed themselves wholeheartedly to Him. Their faith was built upon their dedication and commitment, their giving of their own time, effort and attention to God, that even when faced with the oppression and pressure from the whole world, they were able to resist and persevere through those difficult times, because the Lord was truly with them and guided them through those turbulent times.

They placed the Lord and their desire to glorify Him, and to serve His will above and beyond their own desires to fulfil their own needs, wants and wishes, and the Lord was ever foremost in their mind and heart. They worked for the greater glory of God and all of their words and actions were directed to serve the greater purpose of God. And this is what each and every one of us should reflect on, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to live our lives daily in this world today.

Today, there are many out there in various parts of the world who are still enduring persecution, challenges and difficulties, where our brethren in faith cannot openly celebrate and practice their faith, and some are even under threat daily, of suffering and even martyrdom, just because they continue to remain faithful to God, their Lord and Saviour. And if our lives have thus far been good and peaceful, and if we have been able to practice our faith openly and without need for fear, perhaps it is time for us to think, if any of us have taken our faith and our good life for granted.

Let us all therefore first of all keep in mind our suffering brethren, who have to endure suffering, persecution and challenges every day, and let us pray that God will continue to guide and protect them. And if we are able to do anything in order to help them, then let us all not be ignorant and refuse to help them in whatever way we can. And finally, let us also renew our faith and commitment to live our lives from now on with greater fidelity and devotion to God, glorifying Him with our every words, actions and deeds.

May the Lord, our Living Bread be the source of our strength always, that through our regular sharing in the Most Holy Eucharist He has given us, in our state of constant grace, we will be strengthened and encouraged to live our lives ever more faithfully, and that by our good examples, many more will also come to believe in Him, and be saved. May God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 35-40

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty. Nevertheless, as I said, you refuse to believe, even when you have seen. Yet all those whom the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I shall not turn away. For I have come from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of the One Who sent Me.”

“And the will of Him Who sent Me is that I lose nothing of what He has given Me, but instead that I raise it up on the last day. This is the will of the Father, that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him shall live eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Wednesday, 8 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory of His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music, in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come, and see God’s wonders; His deeds, awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about, preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in the town.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019 : 3rd 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 Scriptures reminding us yet again of the need for us to believe in the Lord, our loving God and Creator, Who has given Himself to us so completely, that He has given us nothing less than His own Most Precious Body and His Most Precious Blood, He Who is our Bread of Life, sharing Himself with us, through the Eucharist we have received.

The Bread of Life has come down upon us all, offering Himself to us, that all of us who have shared in Him receive true satisfaction, fulfilment not just in the flesh and the body, but more importantly, in our spiritual nourishment and fulfilment. For through Christ, we have been made whole again, receiving the fullness of God’s grace once again, which have been prevented by the sins we have committed.

It was about Him that the courageous servant of God, St. Stephen the Protomartyr preached and witnessed about before all the people even when faced with intense opposition and persecution by the Pharisees and the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council. It was his faith for the Lord Who has offered His own Body and His own Blood for our salvation, that grace and life have been restored to us all.

St. Stephen willingly embraced martyrdom, even though he knew he would endure pain and the sufferings of death, because he knew that unless he remained faithful and true to his Lord and Master, the Bread of Life, the One through Whom alone mankind can have true and everlasting life, his existence and life would have been meaningless and empty. He committed himself wholeheartedly to God, the very reason for his existence.

And this, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what each and every one of us should have done as well. All of us as Christians should serve and devote ourselves to the Lord in the same way as St. Stephen and many of our holy predecessors had done, as shown by the examples of the many saints and martyrs throughout the entire history of the Church. All of them shared the same conviction and desire to love and to serve the Lord, the Master of all life.

Yet, unfortunately, the current reality of the lives of many of us Christians is such that God no longer takes the most important place in our lives, and He is indeed no longer the centre and focus of our whole existence. We are often busy and distracted by the many concerns and temptations of life, with the temptation and allures of money, of worldly corruptions, of immorality and pleasures of the flesh, of ego and human ambition, and many other obstacles that are aplenty in our respective lives.

We often put God aside and forget about Him, living our lives seeking for the satisfaction and pleasure of our human desires, and thus, instead of seeking the One Who alone can give us true satisfaction and joy, we instead look for things that are impermanent and not truly satisfactory, in our pursuit for worldly glory, power, for money and for other ways that we mankind are often exposed to, in our desire for worldly happiness and satisfaction.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on our own lives and how we have lived our lives thus far. Are we living our lives for things that are not leading us to true happiness and satisfaction, in our pursuit for worldly success and glory? Or have we instead been walking in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, in living and working for the glory of God instead for our own glory?

Let us all redirect and reorientate our lives, and dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, that from now on, we may labour and work for the greater glory of God, and to be fully attuned and harmonised with God in our everyday lives and actions, in our every words and dealings in life. May the Lord, our Master and the Bread of Life continue to do His marvellous works in us, that our lives may truly glorify Him and we will be worthy to be with Him in the end. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 30-35

At that time, the Jews said to Jesus, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Tuesday, 7 May 2019 : 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.