Saturday, 8 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 28 : 16-20, 30-31

Upon our arrival in Rome, the captain turned the prisoners over to the military governor but permitted Paul to lodge in a private house with the soldier who guarded him. After three days, Paul called together the leaders of the Jews.

When they had gathered, he said to them : “Brothers, though I have not done anything against our people or against the traditions of our fathers, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and wanted to set me free, for they saw nothing in my case that deserved death.”

“But the Jews objected, so I was forced to appeal to Caesar without the least intention of bringing any case against my own people. Therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I bear these chains.”

Paul stayed for two whole years in a house he himself rented, where he received without any hindrance all those who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught the truth about Jesus Christ, the Lord, quite openly and without any hindrance.

Friday, 7 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 reminding us of the words of the Lord calling on us to serve Him and to follow Him as best as possible. The Lord in today’s Gospel passage called St. Peter, His Apostle, right after He had appeared to His disciples at the lake of Galilee. And on that occasion, the Lord called St.

Peter to renew the commitment and the love which he had for Him.

In order to appreciate and understand clearly what the significance of all these are, we need to understand the context and symbolism made by the threefold questions of the Lord to St. Peter. Earlier on, St. Peter has denied the Lord three times at the moment after He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and put under arrest. And he was very remorseful having done that, abandoning his Lord and Master even at the moment of His greatest agony.

But deep in his heart, St. Peter still had great love and dedication to the Lord, and today, the Lord showed St. Peter how He knew of the love and commitment which St. Peter had for Him, and showed His Apostle how He had not only forgiven him, but in fact, entrusted to him the whole flock of His sheep, the entire Church and the faithful who has now been placed under the guidance and protection of the Apostles under the leadership of St. Peter.

St. Peter has been called to be the shepherd of the flock in the image of the one and true Good Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Himself. And he carried out that duty and responsibility with all commitment and dedication, giving himself to the Lord completely, spending years after years to spread the Good News to the people in many places, putting his best efforts to carry out the mission which God has entrusted to him and the other Apostles.

In the first reading today, we heard the fate of another Apostle who was about to suffer a final suffering for the Lord’s sake, that of St. Paul the Apostle, who placed an appeal before the governor of Judea to be tried for his supposed crimes as accused on him by the Jewish authorities by the Roman Emperor himself, as he held up his right as a Roman citizen to be tried by the Emperor.

St. Paul had also dedicated himself a lot to the service of God, spending years after years preaching the word of God among the people, and facing dangers and challenges along the way throughout his ministry. Despite all of those difficulties he had to endure, St. Paul endured them nonetheless because of his great faith and love for God which allowed him to persevere through all those persecutions and sufferings.

And we have to also understand and realise how St. Paul, like St. Peter, was also forgiven and called by God to be His shepherd for the flock He had entrusted to them. St. Paul was once a great enemy of the Church and the faithful, who hunted them all the Christians he could gather and arrest, and was a bitter enemy of the Lord, until the moment when the Lord appeared to him and St. Paul turned away from his sinful past.

Through the examples shown by these two Apostles, all of us are also called to dedicate ourselves to the Lord in the same manner as those who have given their all for the sake of the Lord. Are we able to dedicate ourselves in the same way as they have done with their lives? Let us all reflect on this and be more dedicated from now, to serve the Lord and to love Him wholeheartedly, becoming good and exemplary Christians in all things.

May the Lord bless us always and may He be our guide, so that in everything we say and do, we will always bring greater glory to God, and that we may be truly in love with Him, each and every days of our life. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

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

Liturgical Colour : White

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

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 6 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through the Scriptures on the importance of unity among us Christians, in our Church and in our faithful communities, all those who profess the faith in God, and all of us who believe that Christ is truly our Lord and Saviour. If there is no unity in us, then division and conflict will quickly come into our midst, and as we have seen throughout the history of man, we ended up raising up against one another.

In the first reading today we heard of the moment when St. Paul was tried by the Sanhedrin as he was being brought to answer for the charges levied against him by the Jewish authorities. This was to be St. Paul’s last journey, just before he embarked on his last trip to Rome where he would be martyred. The Sanhedrin were divided among themselves, between the faction of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Both of these factions were very influential and powerful among the Jewish people, as the Pharisees represented the priestly and spiritual caste who preserved the traditions, laws and customs of the people while the Sadducees represented the intellectuals and all those with secular power, and both of them were diametrically opposite to each other in the way they think and argue.

As a result, the moment St. Paul made use of the opportunity to expose the bitter division among the two groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees immediately ended up in a very vicious and brutal conflict with each other. They were so divided amongst each other that they were unable to overcome their differences even against a common enemy, St. Paul himself. We see how the two groups bickered and fought, ultimately because of their own ego and pride.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, division is something that did not come from God, for in God lies nothing less than the perfect Unity, the Unity and Harmony between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, God in the Three Divine Persons but One Godhood. This is what all of us firmly believe in, the believe in the Most Holy Trinity of God, the Unity that He reflects on His own Church and therefore, all of His beloved ones, all of us.

Therefore, that is why the Lord Jesus prayed that there would be unity in the Church and among His disciples and followers, just as He and His heavenly Father are One. Unity comes from God but divisions come from the devil. And ever since mankind first sinned and disobeyed God, and preferred to follow the temptations of evil, they have lost that perfect unity with God and became divided among themselves and divided away from the harmony and unity of God.

All these divisions came about because of our pride and ego, our selfishness and greed within us, which prevented us from being able to appreciate God’s harmony and unity in our midst. Instead of God being at the centre of our lives, we put ourselves and our own selfish desires as the focus of our lives, as the aim and the ambition of our lives. That is how we become divided among ourselves, as our ambitions, ego and pride clash with one another and we refuse to give in.

That is why, today all of us are called to break away from the lure of these temptations to ambition, ego and pride that cause divisions among us, and re-centre ourselves to God, focusing ourselves on Him and His love from now on. That is how we regain the unity among ourselves, bitterly divided and conflicted among ourselves as Christians, in what we have seen in the many splinters and breakaways in the Body of Christ, the Church all these while.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Norbert, a great bishop and a renowned preacher and servant of God who devoted his whole life to God, in the love he showed to the poor and the needy. St. Norbert worked tirelessly among the people of God, devoting all his effort, time and attention to serve the good of the Lord’s people. St. Norbert gathered like-minded men who wanted to serve the Lord in what was to become the Canons Regular of Prémontré. He was also instrumental in the ending of some bitter divisions and troubles in the Church at his time.

In what St. Norbert has shown, by focusing ourselves on God and by putting Him ahead of everything else, and by our dedication and commitment, we can bring true unity, harmony and peace to ourselves, and to get rid from ourselves the divisions and troubles that come with our selfishness, ego and pride. Let us all turn to God from now on, and commit ourselves to serve Him from now on, each and every day. Amen.