Friday, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we continue celebrating the Easter joy, we are brought to reflect on what we have been called to do as Christians, all who believed in Christ and His truth, His resurrection and glory, and the salvation which He has promised to all of us. In our first reading today we heard how the Apostles faced stiff opposition from the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. Then in the Gospel we heard of the appearance of the Lord Jesus before His disciples in Galilee.

In the first reading, we heard how the Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin after they healed a crippled man by the gate of the Temple of Jerusalem, and made many people to believe in Jesus and His truth and teachings. This, coupled with the baptism of over three thousand people at Pentecost were seen as a great threat by many of the members of the Sanhedrin, many of whom were the members of the Pharisees and the elders who viewed the Lord Jesus as a fraud and a threat to their authority and power.

That was why the Sanhedrin interrogated the Apostles and were hostile against them as many of the Sanhedrin tried to prevent the teachings and works of Christ from spreading any further among the people. But the Apostles could not be silenced and they spoke with such great wisdom and courage that they stunned the members of the Sanhedrin who knew that the Apostles were merely uneducated fishermen of Galilee following Jesus. What they did not know is that the Lord had given His disciples the strength and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

And it was with great courage therefore the Apostles spoke of the Lord’s resurrection and their faith in Him as they have themselves seen the Lord risen from the dead with their very own eyes on several occasions, one of which was described in our Gospel today. In that passage, we heard of the Lord appearing by the shore of the lake of Galilee, initially not recognised by His disciples who were in the boats looking for the fishes. The disciples initially could not find any fishes, but when they followed the Lord’s instructions, immediately they caught plenty of fishes and then they recognised the Lord.

Through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, therefore we are reminded of what the Lord had called us to do, to go forth to the nations and gather the people of God in His Church. What we heard in the Gospel is the symbolic representation and revelation of what the Lord had called His Church and all of His faithful ones to do, namely to be witnesses to their faith and to the salvation in Christ, by being ‘fishers of men’, alluding to the disciples catching the large number of fishes in the lake by the Lord’s instruction.

The Church is often represented with a boat, and in that occasion, the boat the disciples were in represented the Church of God, with the disciples as the leaders of the Church at the helm. Those multitudes of fishes were those that God had gathered through His Church, with the number one hundred and thirty-three representing the traditional belief of the number of nations and peoples that God had created in this world, from the descendants of men.

Therefore, essentially the message that we have received is that all of us are part of this Church, and as we are members of this Church, we also share the responsibility and the calling to reach out to our fellow men, to all those who have not yet heard of the Lord’s salvation and truth. And the readings also remind us that we are bound to encounter challenges and difficulties, obstacles and even persecutions as how the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord were persecuted for their steadfastness in faith and their refusal to back down from ministering to the people of God amidst the threats from the Sanhedrin and other authorities.

But we do not need to worry since ultimately, God is and will always be with us in our journey. As He was always with His Apostles and disciples throughout their ministry and journeys, and with His guidance, all of us and His Church will be in good hands, as He guided His followers in standing up courageously for their faith and proclaim the truth of God to every ends of the earth. The Lord gave them the strength and wisdom to do so, and in the same way we too will be provided for.

Are we able to devote ourselves in the same way as the Apostles had done? They had brought God’s light and hope to a darkened world, and they had restored the hope of many and brought many closer to the path of salvation. Are we able to do the same in our own respective communities as well, in bringing hope to our world especially since so many people suffered through numerous challenges this year alone. Are we able to bring consolation and happiness once again to those who are sorrowful and despairing?

Let us all spend some time to reflect on our calling as Christians in life, and discern how we can best give our lives in the service of God and His people alike. Let us all be the bearers of God’s Good News and also His fishers of men, encouraging more people to believe in God through our own faith and commitment from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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