Tuesday, 4 June 2019 : 7th 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 speaking to us about the glorification of God by the works of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles, who fulfilled the many wonderful works that God had planned for the salvation of His beloved people. The Lord Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father in our Gospel passage today, in continuation of the Scriptural discourses of the past few weekdays on prayer.

And in today’s portion as mentioned, the Lord Jesus spoke of the glorification of God as the Son of God would soon glorify the Father by what He was about to do, in perfect obedience and following what the Lord has willed, that for the salvation of the world, the Son of God and Saviour of the world had to suffer, to bear the pains of the Cross which are the suffering and the burden of the sins of mankind.

Yet, it was precisely by humbling Himself so completely and by obeying His Father’s will so completely that the Lord Jesus accomplished exactly what the Lord has planned for the salvation of His people. The Lord Jesus took up willingly the heavy burden of the Cross so that by His humble obedience, He might reverse the damage and harm that sin had done to each and every one of us, and glorify God in all things.

Perhaps we will be better able to appreciate all these if we understand them in the context of how we mankind fell into sin in the first place. All creation, including Adam and Eve, the first of mankind were created without blame or blemish, and sin once did not have any hold over them. But temptation got the better of them and caused them to disobey God’s commands and will, and sin therefore entered into the hearts and minds of man, corrupting them and making them unworthy.

That is why the Lord crafted a remedy for us through none other than another Man, Who showed perfect obedience to God instead of obedience to the will and desire of man as Adam and Eve had done in succumbing to the temptations of the devil. Yes, in His humanity, the Lord Jesus was also tempted to give up the enormous task that He had to undertake as what the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane showed us, but He remained completely obedient to His Father’s will, and thus becoming the New Adam, through Whom salvation came to our fallen race.

Ultimately, we should see and realise that sin came about because the desire in our hearts and minds to glorify ourselves and to bring satisfaction and joy to ourselves. It is selfishness, pride and greed that often lead us down the path of disobedience and sin. Instead, Christ and His Apostles offered us another path, the path of selflessness and obedience to God, which they showed by their own examples.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words that St. Paul spoke to the assembled elders of the people of God in Ephesus, which he made as a farewell just before he was about to embark on his last journey to Jerusalem to be tried for his crimes against the authorities. From Jerusalem, St. Paul would go on to Rome where he would finally be martyred, and he spoke based on his many experiences of being ridiculed and rejected, oppressed and made to suffer because of his faith and obedience to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should learn from the examples shown by the Apostles and by the Lord, in their obedience to God’s will in all the things they do and in all that they had to endure because of their obedience and faith. Are we able to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to persevere as they had persevered despite the pains and troubles they had to endure?

Let us all put our trust in God, knowing that if we glorify Him by our commitment and obedience, we will be in God’s good hands. Let us all turn wholeheartedly to Him from now on, and dedicate ourselves to Him, all the days of our lives. May God bless us all and our every endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 1-11a

At that time, after Jesus said all that He had said to His disciples, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may give glory to You. You have given Him power over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You entrusted to Him. For this is eternal life : to know You, the only true God, and the One You sent, Jesus Christ.”

“I have glorified You on earth and finished the work that You gave Me to do. Now, Father, give Me, in Your presence, the same glory I had with You before the world began. I have made Your Name known to those You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word. And now they know that whatever You entrusted to Me, is indeed from You.”

“I have given them the teaching I received from You, and they received it, and know in truth that I came from You; and they believe that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to You, and whom You have given to Me. Indeed all I have is Yours and all You have is Mine; and now they are My glory.”

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to You.”

Tuesday, 4 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 67 : 10-11, 20-21

Then You gave a rain of blessings to comfort Your weary children. Your people found a dwelling and in Your mercy, o God, You provided for the needy.

Blessed be the Lord, God our Saviour, Who daily bears our burdens! Ours is a God Who saves; our Lord lets us escape from death.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 20 : 17-27

From Miletus Paul sent word to Ephesus, summoning the elders of the Church. When they came to him, he addressed them, “You know how I lived among you from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, how I served the Lord in humility through the sorrows and trials that the Jews caused me.”

“You know that I never held back from doing anything that could be useful for you; I spoke publicly and in your homes, and I urged Jews and non-Jews alike to turn to God and believe in our Lord Jesus.”

“But now I am going to Jerusalem, chained by the Spirit, without knowing what will happen to me there. Yet in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that imprisonment and troubles await me. Indeed I put no value on my life, if only I can finish my race and complete the service to which I have been assigned by the Lord Jesus, to announce the Good News of God’s grace.”

“I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom of God will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you this day that my conscience is clear with regard to all of you. For I have spared no effort in fully declaring to you God’s will.”

Monday, 3 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we recall God’s wonderful love and providence for all of us, His beloved ones, as we heard of His wonderful promise of peace and deliverance by His very own words. God will not abandon His beloved and faithful ones to the darkness, and He will protect them from harm that causes eternal suffering and destruction. Yet, at the same time, we are also reminded that suffering is a real part of our lives, and we cannot expect to have a life that is free from troubles and difficulties.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, suffering and challenges are part and parcel of our Christian life, for just as the Lord Himself has suffered grievously at the hands of His enemies and all those who refused to believe in Him, so will all of us suffer at the hands of those who reject the message of God’s truth. That was how the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, the saints and martyrs of the Church have suffered throughout the history of the Church.

And yet, they remained strong and courageous in their faith, committed and sincere in their dedication, knowing that God was definitely by their side. Otherwise, it would have not been possible for them to remain so resolute, committed and dedicated in their love for God. For their trust and faith in God was strong such that even temptations and pressures of the world could not shake them and remove them from their faith.

And today we recall the memories of some of those faithful saints, the holy martyrs of the Church in Uganda, during the time when the missionaries and the laity in what is now Uganda suffered persecution and martyrdom at the hands of the enemies of the Church and the faithful, remembering the courage and the zeal which they showed even amidst assurance of suffering, trials and certain death.

St. Charles Lwanga and his many companions, the martyrs of the Church in Uganda have shown great courage and dedication to the Lord, in the work they have performed among the people, the faith which they have shown and the exemplary lives they have led. St. Charles Lwanga was the chief page of the king of Buganda, a major constituent of present day Uganda and the largest local kingdom, who received the truth of God and became a convert to the faith.

The king and his nobles were against the efforts of the Christian missionaries and persecuted those missionaries and the converts of the faith in the kingdom, and this also led to the suffering and martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and many others whom he converted on his own. Led by the courage of St. Charles Lwanga, the faithful martyrs declared their faith and commitment to God before the king, who ordered them to be killed.

Many of the martyrs, including St. Charles Lwanga was martyred by burning alive in the place of their execution, on which now stands a great Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs commemorating the courage of their faith as examples for us all and for all Christians throughout generations to come. St. Charles Lwanga and all his companions are truly great examples and inspirations for us, in how we ought to live our Christian lives truly and meaningfully in today’s world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow their courage and willingness to commit to God and His ways? There will be plenty of occasions when we may have to stand up for our faith and for our dedication to the Lord amidst rejection and opposition from the world. Are we able to follow the examples of the saints and the martyrs in this? Are we able to live our lives with God at the very centre of our lives?

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen our faith each and every days of our life. May God be with us and may He grant us the strength and the courage to live our lives faithfully from now on, following the examples of the holy Ugandan martyrs. Holy Martyrs of Uganda, St. Charles Lwanga and companions, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Monday, 3 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 16 : 29-33

At that time, the disciples said to Jesus, “Now You are speaking plainly and not in veiled language! Now we see that You know all things, even before we question You. Because of this we believe that You came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “You say that you believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have told you all this, so that in Me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but courage! I have overcome the world.”

Monday, 3 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 67 : 2-3, 4-5ac, 6-7ab

Arise, o God, scatter Your enemies; let Your foes flee before You. As smoke is blown by the wind, so blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before You.

But let the righteous be glad and exult before God; let them sing to God and shout for joy. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; the Lord is His Name. Rejoice in His presence.

Father of orphans and Protector of widows – such is our God is His holy dwelling. He gives shelter to the homeless, sets the prisoners free.

Monday, 3 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 19 : 1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul travelled through the interior of the country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples whom he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered, “We have not even heard that anyone may receive the Holy Spirit.” Paul then asked, “What kind of baptism have you received?” And they answered, “The baptism of John.”

Paul then explained, “John’s baptism was for conversion, but he himself said they should believe in the One Who was to come, and that One is Jesus.” Upon hearing this, they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came down upon them; and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of them in all.

Paul went into the synagogue and for three months he preached and discussed there boldly, trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God.

Sunday, 2 June 2019 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the seventh one in the season of Easter, we also celebrate the occasion of the World Communications Sunday, and this is important because as Christians, all of us are called to communicate first of all, to God our heavenly Father, and then to one another, engaging each other in meaningful and Christ-centric conversations and dialogues.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus praying before His disciples to His Father in heaven, highlighting the very reason we celebrate this World Communications Sunday. Prayer is a form of communication, and when it is done right, prayer can be a very intimate and a form of a very close contact between us and God. In prayer, we do not just talk or speak what we want or ask God to grant us our desires, but instead, we open ourselves, our heart, our mind and our whole being to God.

And this is what the essence of prayer is all about. The Lord Jesus prayed frequently and regularly to His Father, speaking with Him and being fully attuned to His will. He showed us all what it means to be having true and genuine communication with God, which all of us should also be having, a genuine and active communication with our Lord, Father and Creator. Without prayer and communication with God, how can we know what it is that God wants us to do with our lives?

That lack of genuine connection and communication with God was the very reason why many of us mankind living in this world have not been attuned to God and His ways. If we have been attuned to God’s will and thoughts, then what happened in our first reading today would not have happened in the first place. In that occasion, we heard of how the faithful servant of God, St. Stephen suffered at the hands of his persecutors, who struck at him and refused to listen to the truth he has preached to them.

At that time, the Church was still at its very beginning stage, and there were many of the people who had misconceptions and misinterpretations on what the Church and its teachings were all about. The Jewish authorities, the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, many of the priestly class and the Pharisees opposed the works of the Lord and His Apostles, refusing to listen to what they have passionately spoken about, and insisting on their own ideas and thoughts.

And why all these happened? It is because of mankind’s own pride and ego, their refusal to let go of their selfishness and their own sense of superiority, the pride and ego which affected their way of thinking and their thoughts. They maintained that they were right and did things according to the way that they thought was right, even though the Lord had tried to open up their minds and reach out to them, through His many messengers and servants.

That was why when St. Stephen preached to them filled with the Holy Spirit, revealing before them the truth of God and how God had prepared everything and provided everything for His people from the very beginning, they took offence at his words and became very angry, because they were stirred in their pride and ego. They refused to admit that they could have been wrong and mistaken, or that there could be another truth besides what they have always held to be right.

Many of them were outwardly pious, praying and showing their devotions in public. But the Lord Himself criticised these people earlier on, saying how many of them were hypocrites in faith, as they did not have true and genuine faith in God. They did what they have done because they wanted to be seen and therefore praised by the people for their piety and actions. The Lord did not have a central place in their hearts and minds.

That was why they were not attuned to God’s truth, and their thoughts and ways were discordant and wayward. They did not have a good communication and connection with God, and as a result, they were not attuned and aligned with the truth of God and His will. And that is why even among us Christians, there are many of us who do not have a good and healthy communication and relationship with God.

Many of us take our faith for granted, and taking for granted the love and compassion that God has for each and every one of us. We do not pray in the right way, as we pray like the Pharisees, with ulterior motives and desires, in wanting to gain something, focusing on ourselves and our selfish desires and our pride instead of on God. The true essence of prayer is one of genuine communication with God, where instead of us being someone who demand of God taking action in doing something for us, we become active communicators with God.

And this means for us to open our hearts, minds and our entire being to the Lord so that not only that we can speak our hearts and minds to God, Who knows everything that are in them, but also that God may speak in the depth and in the silence of our own hearts and minds, that He may stir in us the knowledge of His truth, and grant us wisdom and understanding of His ways. This is in essence what each and every one of us as Christians must do.

But that is not all, as first of all, of course we must be attuned to God, through a good and living relationship with God, but then we must also live our faith through good communication with our fellow brethren, by being authentic witnesses of our faith. Our Christian faith is one of evangelisation and exemplary actions, as all of us have been commanded and sent forth by God, in the last commandment He gave to us all, the Great Commission He has entrusted to us, His Church.

And that Great Commission is that all of us are sent into the world, to call all the people, of all races and origins, of all backgrounds and ways, to be true believers in God, the loving Father and Creator of all things. And the best way to communicate is often not through words, as we may think that in order to be witnesses to our faith we must be very good speakers and be inspirational and charismatic in all the things we do. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we need to do is in fact simple things, our everyday actions and all the things we do in our dealings with one another.

That means, in how we interact with each other, with our fellow brethren, we must always keep in mind what it means for us to be Christians. God must be at the centre and be the focus of all the things we say and do. And if God is at the centre of our lives and our relationship with Him is good, through genuine prayers as we mentioned and discussed earlier, then we will grow more attuned to Him in our lives and actions. And naturally, we will gradually become more and more reflective of God’s love and wonders in our own lives and actions.

Let us all therefore be great communicators in our own ways, as how God wants us to be, in what He has blessed us with, our abilities and respective talents. Let us all be exemplary in our lives, so that by our every words and actions we may become true and genuine witnesses of the Lord. May God bless us all in our efforts and in everything we say and do. Amen.