Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we are reminded that each and every one of us must be connected and attuned to God all of our lives, as the one and only True Vine from Whom all life and all peace and glory comes. This was the parable of the True Vine which the Lord used to reveal all of these to the people, so that they might understand the truth of God.

A vine of grapes is a plant which is connected to each other and to the roots via the vines, which deliver the important nutrients, water and all the things that the plant need in order to live and survive. If the fruit or any of the parts of the plant were to be separated from the main vine and the roots, those parts of the plant cannot possibly survive and grow, and eventually they will die. It is only by remaining attached to the vine that the whole body of the plant will remain alive and well.

The True Vine is Christ, the centre and source of all life. The parts of the plant are all of us, each and every one of us as members of the Church. The Church is the vine, united in its roots to Christ, as the Head of the entire Church. And unless we remain in good standing in faith within our Church, and remain firmly united with Christ through the Church, by our good and faithful lives, we are in fact separated from the True Vine of Christ.

In the same way therefore, if we remain separated from the Vine, there can be no life in us. And as the Gospel passage mentioned today, that the Lord pruned the vine from time to time to keep it growing and producing fruits well, unless we bear good fruits in our lives, eventually we shall be sundered and separated from that vine. These fruits are the fruits of our good labour in faith, of our loving commitment and dedication in serving God and in loving our fellow men.

In truth, God has given us all the skills, the abilities, the resources and all that is necessary for us to bear good fruits of faith. He has planted in us the good seeds of faith, of hope and of love, since the moment when He created us and reaffirmed through our baptism, by the Sacraments of the Church that we received. But whether these seeds will grow well and healthily and produce good fruits depend on whether we allow the Lord to enter into our lives, and by being connected to Christ, the True Vine.

Today, we celebrate the feast of one of our holy predecessors whose life and examples may become a source of inspiration for us in how we ought to live our own lives. St. Augustine of Canterbury was a great missionary who was sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to begin the effort of the re-Christianisation of the land later on known as England, after decades of pagan invasions that destroyed much of the earlier Christian communities there.

St. Augustine of Canterbury worked tirelessly among the people, the nobles and their kings, preaching to them the word of God and showing them the truth of the Gospel, while caring for the need of his flock and reestablishing the foundations of the Church in England. Through his efforts and much time spent at working among the people and caring for the needs of his flock, many converted to the Christian faith and the mission flourished quickly.

The fruits of the works and labours of St. Augustine of Canterbury can be seen from the reestablishment of the Christian faith in England, although it would take many more decades after the time of St. Augustine of Canterbury before the whole England could be converted back to the Christian faith. His dedication and commitment to the Lord is an example to all of us, in how we ourselves should act in ways that follow the Lord’s path.

Let us all therefore be fruitful as Christians, devoting our time, effort and attention to be as loving, committed and be as Christ-like as we can in our every words and actions, in all the things we do, so that our lives will truly be filled with the fruits of God’s love and grace. May God bless us all and may He continue to guide us in our path. Amen.

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 27 May 2019 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Sunday, 26 May 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday which is the sixth in the holy season of Easter, all of us are reminded through the Scripture passages of the need for us all to love God and to be His true disciples, obeying His commandments and all that He has taught us to do, to be filled with love and to be open to His presence in our hearts, minds and in our whole beings, so that we truly can be called, God’s people and God’s children.

In today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the dispute and infighting that arose among the faithful, between those who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and ordinances regarding circumcision and other practices in accordance to the laws of the Old Testament, that is of Moses and the practices as described in the Torah to all of the Christian faithful including the non-Jewish peoples, and those who wanted to relax and prevent the strict imposition of the Law on the Gentiles.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord received the guidance of wisdom and truth, and not to be misled by pride, greed and all the things that often cause us mankind to be divided and to be filled with jealousy, anger and hatred towards one another. Instead of siding with one faction or the other that could have led to an even greater division and conflict, the Apostles ruled firmly through the wisdom of God that the Gentiles should not be made to obey and to follow the entirety of the Jewish practices and customs, while not ruling out the Jewish followers of Christ from doing so.

Ultimately, we have to understand carefully the context and background behind such a conflict, on why some of the people were so passionately filled with the desire to impose such a law and regulation on all the faithful. First of all, the Law of God was first revealed to His people, the people of Israel through Moses, who received the Ten Commandments as the core of the Law, while also receiving the set of laws and rules, as laid out in the book of Leviticus and the other books of the Torah.

These laws and rules were numerous, governing everything in the society, all sorts of daily living and regulations. And over time, all of these were compounded and added with the unwritten traditions and customs preserved by the elders of the people, which were meant to govern the behaviours of the people, especially because they often went wayward and refused to follow the Lord’s path, even early on in their journey just after they left Egypt.

The Lord Himself said that He had given His people those laws and rules not because He wanted to impose Himself on them, but rather because they had been so unruly, rebellious and filled with disobedience that He had to impose those laws and rules to make sure that they conformed to His ways. For ultimately, God loves each and every single one of His beloved children, and all the more those whom He had chosen from among the nations to be His own first chosen ones.

If God had not loved His people, He could have just destroyed and crushed them by the power of His will alone, and yet He did not do that. Instead, He went through all the trouble to discipline His people, to guide them back to the right path, giving them the right guidance and provide them with the best opportunities for them to seek Him back, to be reconciled and to be forgiven from their sinfulness.

That is because unless they turned back from all those rebellious and wayward actions they have done, they would fall deeper into sin, and therefore became separated ever further from God, their loving Father and Creator. How can any father just let his children to go and fall into such a state? And this is not just any father like any one of us, but God, our ever loving and ever dedicated Father, Who created us out of the perfect love He has for us.

Unfortunately, the people often forgot what it is that they need to do in order to love their heavenly Father and Creator. Instead, as what we have seen in our first reading today, those who have ended up making use of the Law in the wrong way, being overly obsessed in its implementation and workings but failing to realise the intention and the purpose of those laws in the first place. They forgot that the Law of God is the Law of love.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we going to follow in the footsteps of those who prefer division and conflict, disagreements and infighting among ourselves, just so that we can advance our own selfish agenda, desires and push forward our pride and ego? Or are we instead going to follow the path that the Lord has shown us, the path of love, by first loving Him above everything else, and then loving our fellow brethren in the same way we love God and how we love ourselves?

This is our calling as Christians, to bear witness to the love of God, by practicing this love in our own lives, and we love God first and foremost because He has loved us so much first, that as our second reading passage from the Book of Revelations show us, God Himself has prepared a place for us in the heavens, the heavenly Jerusalem and the place of our true existence, by the side of God, no longer separated from Him and free from the bondage to sin and death.

Let us all therefore from now on seek to love more in our own lives, loving God and loving our fellow men to the best of our abilities. Let us all seek God and His generous love, and strive to love Him to the best of our abilities, from now on, that we may be reconciled with Him and be reunited with Him in His presence, and enjoy forever the glory of His kingdom as He promised to all of us, His beloved and faithful ones. Amen.

Sunday, 26 May 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 23-29

At that time, Jesus answered Judas, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and make a room in his home.”

“But if anyone does not love Me, he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe.”

Sunday, 26 May 2019 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 21 : 10-14, 22-23

One of the seven Angels took me up, in a spiritual vision, to a very high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel, with the colour of crystal-clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve Angels.

Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones, on which are written the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no Temple in the city, for the Lord God, Master of the Universe, and the Lamb, are themselves its Temple. The city has no need of the light of the sun or the moon, since God’s glory is its light and the Lamb is its lamp.