Friday, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 1-12

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them. They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming that resurrection from the dead had been proved in the case of Jesus.

Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message believed and their number increased to about five thousand. The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there.

They brought Peter and John before them and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose Name did you use?” Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean.”

“You had Him crucified, but God raised Him from the dead. Jesus is the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other Name given to humankind all over the world by which we may be saved.”

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture on this Thursday of the Easter Octave, all of us are reminded of the mission which the Lord Jesus has entrusted to us, for us all to continue His works and the works of the Apostles, in bearing witness to His truth and to proclaim the salvation of God and the Good News to all peoples of all the nations, through our works and deeds, words and actions.

In our first reading today we heard the continuation of the story of the moment when St. Peter, leading the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, spoke to the multitudes of people gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of the Pentecost. He spoke bravely and passionately of the Lord and the salvation which He has brought to the world through Christ, His Son, and the sacrifice which He has offered on the Cross at Calvary.

By the wisdom given to him through the Holy Spirit, the Apostle St. Peter spoke convincingly to the people by explaining the Scriptures and showing how the Lord Jesus was indeed the Saviour of Whom the prophets and the leaders of Israel had been preaching and prophesying about from the time of Moses to the days of the kings, the prophets and beyond. And by the healing of the crippled man by the Temple Gate, this served to prove that the Lord Jesus is indeed the one and true Messiah.

For the Apostle healed the man by the power of the Lord invoking His Holy Name, by Whom the man was therefore healed. Had the Lord Jesus not been the Messiah of God, or a fraud or false leader as many of the Pharisees and the members of the Jewish High Council always argued, then the crippled man could not have been healed from his ailment. Therefore, many people believed in God that day and gave themselves to be baptised, beginning the first community of Christians.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the time when the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples for the first time after His Resurrection right after He appeared to the two disciples who were on their way to the town of Emmaus. The Lord appeared before His surprised and frightened disciples, telling all of them not to be worried of what they had seen and witnessed, as it was indeed happening as all that He had been telling them about His upcoming suffering, death and resurrection.

The Lord reassured them all and showed them that it was indeed Him Who appeared to them in the flesh, alive and well, and not as a ghost or as a dead being. That was why He asked them for food to eat, as it was known then that spirits and ghosts do not eat or consume any food. He showed them His wounds to show that He indeed suffered and died, and the crucifixion was all real. And yet, before them, the same One Who suffered on the Cross, was all alive and triumphant, having won the ultimate victory against evil, sin and death.

Having seen and witnessed all of these on a few occasions, it is no wonder that the Lord’s disciples were willing to give it all to the Lord and to the mission that they had been entrusted with, persevering through persecutions and challenges, oppositions and obstacles along their way. And although we ourselves have not seen or witnessed the Risen Lord in person, but surely we believe, inspired by the sacrifices of the numerous faithful and dedicated servants of God who had given their all in the service of the Gospel of truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are therefore reminded and even challenged yet again to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles of the Lord, all those who have dedicated their whole lives to serve God and to commit themselves to speak up for the truth even amidst opposition, persecution and suffering. Are we able to accept our part in the greater works of the Church, embracing our calling as Christians to be witnesses of our Lord in our respective communities?

Let us all listen to the Lord’s call and give our very best, and let us be more attentive to Him, give Him more of our focus and attention from now on. May the Lord strengthen us all and give us the courage and resolve to be faithful in each and every moments of our lives. May God, our Lord and Saviour bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”)

In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 3 : 11-26

While the once crippled man clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if it was by some power or holiness of our own that we made this man walk?”

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.”

“It is His Name and faith in His Name, that has healed this man whom you see and recognise. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what He had foretold through all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when He sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For He must remain in heaven until the time of the universal restoration which God spoke of long ago through His holy prophets.”

“Moses foretold this when he said : The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to Him in all that He says to you. Whoever does not listen to that Prophet is to be cut off from among his people.”

“In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets and heirs of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors when He said to Abraham : All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you first that God sends His Servant; He raised Him to life to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Wednesday, 15 April 2020 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day through the passages of the Scriptures in our readings today we are called to recall that hope which we have in God, as we have received the healing from God and have our lives renewed and rejuvenated through our faith. In our first reading we heard of the miraculous healing of a paralytic by the Apostles, while in the Gospel today we heard of the testimony of the two disciples of Jesus who saw the Lord on their way to Emmaus.

In that first reading passage, we heard how St. Peter and St. John performed one of their first miracles as the Apostles of the Lord, after the Lord had ascended into heaven and entrusted to them to continue the works which He had begun on earth. The crippled and paralytic man sat at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple of Jerusalem, and used to beg for money and for mercy from the passersby. When the two Apostles passed by, the crippled man also asked them for money, but St. Peter told him that he had nothing on him except what had been given to him, the power and authority to heal him in the Name of Jesus.

St. Peter showed the crippled man that the Lord has the power to heal him and make him whole, and by His power, the man was restored to health to the amazement of everyone who had seen the miracle, as everyone knew that the man had been a cripple for many years. And this was a great proof to all that the works of Christ had not ended with His crucifixion and death, but in fact was just beginning as He sent forth His disciples to all the ends of the earth to proclaim His truth.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the passage about the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus, and they had been disheartened and made uncertain by the loss of their Master, Jesus Who was sentenced to death, crucified and died on the Cross. They found it hard to believe when the other disciples said that the Lord had risen from the dead and how others had seen Him appearing before them in His Risen glory.

That was exactly when the Lord Himself appeared before them to strengthen their faith and to make them into even better witnesses of His resurrection and truth. They did not recognise Him at first, and He used the opportunity to strengthen their faith by explaining the Scriptures and reassuring them how everything had taken place just as the prophets had foretold it, and how the Lord Jesus was indeed the Messiah Whom they had been long waiting for.

The moment their eyes were opened and they realised how it was Jesus Who had been with them all those while, they immediately ran back to Jerusalem in joy to share the good news to all the other disciples, testifying yet again how the Lord had indeed risen and how He has appeared before all as proof that He had indeed been triumphant and conquered sin and death. All of these were why the Apostles and the disciples were so passionate about serving the Lord and proclaiming His truth to the nations, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that many of them suffered and died in martyrdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us must have this same passion and excitement inside us to be the bearers of God’s truth and the witnesses of His resurrection. This same truth and revelation had been passed down to us through the Church, through the hands and works of many throughout the centuries and millennia who had suffered and endured persecutions to stand up for their faith and for what they believed in, that is the faith in the Risen Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called and reminded of our duties as Christians to bring the light of Christ into this world. At this time when the world is facing so many problems and when it is engulfed in so much darkness and despair, we are all here to bring light into this world, to bring and deliver the light of Christ and the hope in Him, to brighten the lives of many and to restore many more people to hope and to happiness through our faith and devotion to the Lord.

Are we able and willing to be that bearer of light and hope in our communities? This is why we are called to turn our gaze to God and be full of trust in Him, so that everyone who see us and witness our words and actions may also find hope through us. Let us all behave and act in ways that restore hope to those who are suffering, the downtrodden and those who are despairing. Let us tell them all that we still have hope in God, and if we put our trust in Him, we will definitely not be disappointed.

May the Lord give us the courage and the strength to carry on living with more hope and with greater faith and devotion from now on. May God be with us always and may He guide us through our lives that we may bring forth this joy of Easter of our Lord’s glorious resurrection to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. Amen.