Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 30-35

At that time, the Jews said to Jesus, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6ab and 7b-8a, 17 and 21ab

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; but I put all my trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love, for You have seen my affliction.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.

Monday, 19 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Sixteenth Anniversary of the Papal Election of Pope Benedict XVI as Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to renew our faith in God and to recall our calling as Christians to be the faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth and Resurrection, the bearers of the Gospels and the Good News of God’s salvation in our world today, just as St. Stephen, the holy Deacon and Protomartyr had done it during his own ministry, and how the other holy men and women of God, our predecessors, had done it.

In our first reading today, we heard the discourse on St. Stephen, one of the seven first Deacons of the Church appointed by the Apostles in establishing the Order of Deacons to minister to the needs of the people of God. St. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, and passionately carried out his mission, doing the good works for the Lord and His people, as well as preaching the truth of God and the Gospels, and performing wondrous miracles before many.

It was not long that his efforts met tough resistance from the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council. The same people had attempted to stop the works of the Apostles and restrain them by ordering them not to continue the work in the Name of the Lord Jesus. However, as the works of the Apostles and the other disciples, including that of St. Stephen continued to flourish and grow, the Sanhedrin began to find ways to suppress their works, and what happened to St. Stephen was the result of this.

As St. Stephen went up against his opponents, who publicly challenged him and even those who had been paid to make false testimonies, those who were assembled against him realised that not even those were able to discredit, stop or argue against St. Stephen’s wisdom and power given to him by the Holy Spirit. St. Stephen was there alone in the assembly, as many gathered in opposing him and wanting to stop him and condemn him for his efforts and works. But the Lord gave him the courage to continue to preach the truth, and speaking without fear, even before those who hated and despised him and the Lord.

St. Stephen still in fact patiently ministered to those people who were assembled against him, and he spoke in great detail in the parts after today’s first reading in the Acts of the Apostles regarding God’s plan of salvation and how God had patiently led and guided His people throughout the past with love, and finally gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to be the Saviour of all, that by dying, He has taken up all of mankind’s sins, the sins of those same people assembled against St. Stephen, in order to redeem all of them from their sins and to free them from its chains and bondage of death.

This is the truth that the Lord Himself has also spoken before the people of God as mentioned in our Gospel today when He spoke to the assembled multitudes right after He had fed them all, five thousand men and many thousands more of others, with the miraculous breaking of the bread and the fishes. He spoke of Himself as the One Whom God had sent into the world, and as One Who has given Himself, as the Bread of Life, broken and offered for us, for our salvation.

All of us are witnesses and inheritors of the truth, of God’s amazing love to each and every one of us, His providence and blessings, His ever loving presence in our midst, and all that He has done for us, in loving us and in showing compassion towards us. St. Stephen and the many other saints and martyrs all spoke of this same truth, and many among them suffered and died for this truth. As Christians, we are all called to follow in their footsteps and partake in the effort to reach out to our fellow brethren.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to take up our crosses and follow the Lord wholeheartedly? Are we willing and ready to follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, St. Stephen and so many other saints and martyrs, to stand up for the truth and to deliver this same truth to this darkened world? We have all been called to be the beacons of God’s light in this world, and therefore, let us all commit ourselves thoroughly to serve Him, and to be His faithful and good disciples at all times.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, in each and every moments of our lives. May He empower all of us to be His true disciples, and may all of us grow ever closer to Him, and also grow in faith and love for Him, always. Amen.