Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded of the stubbornness of the world and its people in refusing to follow the Lord and believe in Him, despite all that the Lord had done for our sake, and despite all the guidance and patience with which He has given to us, in sending us prophets and messengers, leaders and guides to help us find our way. Instead of listening to Him, many of us and our predecessors persecuted His holy ones, His messengers and prophets, and made it difficult for them to carry out their mission.

It is what we heard in our first reading today in the Acts of the Apostles, the account of what happened when St. Paul and his companion, Silas was met with trouble in the city of Philippi in Greece, where the slave owners of the city rose up against them and got them to be arrested and thrown into prison. If you are wondering why is it that the slave owners rose up against the two servants of God, it was likely because both of them had such a great success in the city that the slave owners feared that the Christian faith would gain such a foothold there that the slaves would rise up against their owners.

That is because unlike the other pagan religions and beliefs, the Christian faith advocated justice and equality to all, that all are equally beloved by God, whether they are Jews, Greeks, Romans or people of any other origins or nationalities, and God does not distinguish between the rich and the poor, or the strong and the weak, and definitely neither whether they are free or enslaved. This is something that was against the social norms at the time, and was against the norms of slavery that was very common during that time throughout the Roman Empire.

That was the time when slaves were running large part of the economy, through their work in various segments of the community, treated with disdain and disregard, manipulated, exploited and humiliated, considered and deemed as less than human beings by many, shunned and rejected despite all that they had done for the greater community. Hence, the Christian message of love and hope certainly has a great hold on those people who have been marginalised and treated unequally, and this was something feared by those slave owners.

This is why St. Paul and Silas faced such difficulty, persecution and trouble, that they had to endure prison and suffering for the sake of the Lord. The greed and fears of man led to the refusal of those slave owners from listening to God’s truth and from obeying His laws and commandments. The Lord has patiently sought them, but many hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to accept that truth and the love which God’s servants had been bringing upon them. Yet, He still reached out to them and called on them to turn away from their sins and repent from their past mistakes.

The Lord mentioned in the Gospel passage today how the sin of the world is disbelief, the lack of faith in Him and the lack of trust, and often the inability to free oneself from the temptations of worldly pleasures, the allures of glory and power, the attraction of human desires and pride. And this is shown in the account of what happened to St. Paul and Silas. But yet, even through that suffering, as we heard, something good still came up, as when God rescued His servants, by causing a great earthquake to shatter the prison and free them, not only that He freed His disciples, but through that, more souls were saved, when the jailor and his whole family became believers through the efforts of St. Paul.

Through what we have heard, we have indeed seen a very symbolic occurrence, when the Lord freed His people, St. Paul and Silas from the prison and from their chains, while the jailor and his whole family, accepting the Lord as their Saviour, they have been released and freed from the chains and bondage of their sins. Ironically, it was those slave owners and slave masters who remained bonded to their sins due to their stubborn refusal to listen to the Lord and His truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard all of these things today, we are all reminded that in our own lives, we also should not be like those who have hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord. We have to reflect on our own lives and deeds, on our actions and interactions with one another, on whether we have been truly faithful to the Lord, or whether we have closed ourselves and rejected God, even if we do not actually realise it. These days, there are many people who are faithful in the Lord in name only, and not truly genuine in committing themselves to Him.

How do we know that we are truly faithful to God? It is when we allow God to lead us down the path, and to show us the way forward. Yet, are willing to spend the time and effort to get to know Him more and to listen to Him when He calls on us to follow Him? As long as we allow Him to enter into our hearts and are open to Him, then the path forward will remain open for us, and like the jailor, we too may turn away from our sins, and be saved together with all of our holy predecessors who have gone before us.

Today, we are all reminded to cooperate with the Lord, and learn to resist the temptations of the world, that we may remain faithful and that we may walk with Him courageously, guided through the gift of His Holy Spirit. We have been given the strength and courage through the Holy Spirit, and therefore are called to bear rich fruits in life by living our lives full of love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters, and doing our best at every possible opportunities, to glorify the Lord through our lives. We should not allow sin and the temptations to sin to chain us and keep us in bondage.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He help lead us all to be free from the chains of temptations and sin, and may He lead us all to His light and truth, and may He also inspire each and every one of us to be the good witnesses of our faith, at all times. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our strength, with all of our heart, and let us all glorify His Name by our lives, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 5-11

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But now I am going to the One Who sent Me, and none of you asks Me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said.”

“Believe Me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, it is to send Him to you, and when He comes, He will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and He will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice.”

“What is the world’s sin, in regard to Me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see Me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which the prince of this world will always stand condemned.”

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bcd-3, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

You save me from the wrath of my foes, with Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 22-34

So the slave owners of Philippi set the crowd against Paul and Silas and the officials tore the clothes of them and ordered them to be flogged. And after inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to guard them safely. Upon receiving these instructions, he threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately all the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off.

The jailer woke up to see the prison gates wide open. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him, “Do not harm yourself! We are all still here.” The jailer asked for a light, then rushed in, and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. After he had secured the other prisoners, he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved.” Then they spoke the word of God to him and to all his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer took care of them and washed their wounds; and he and his whole household were baptised at once. He led them to his house, spread a meal before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole household his newfound faith in God.

Monday, 10 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be evangelising disciples and missionaries of the faith to more and more people, to reach out to others around us who have not yet known the Lord or have lapsed from the faith that through us we may bear forth God’s truth and love and touch the lives of many people, and lead ever more souls to the salvation in God. This is our calling as Christians, and which we all need to embrace and which we need to respond to in our lives.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples reassuring them and promising to them that He would send them the great Helper, the Advocate, namely the Holy Spirit. This promise would later on then be fulfilled on the day of the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the other disciples assembled in Jerusalem after the Lord ascended into Heaven. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Apostles and the other disciples, giving them all the courage and the wisdom to reach out to all the peoples to whom the Lord was sending them to, in preaching the truth of the Good News of the Gospels.

The Lord then also be told His disciples fo be fruitful and productive in how we live our lives and faith. He called on all of them to be genuine in the way we carry out ourselves so that we may inspire one another to be willing to take action to spread the Good News of God, His truth and love in our respective communities, within our own families, circle of friends and acquaintances, among others whom we encounter in life. He sent them out to bear witness to this truth and call on more and more people to come to the salvation through Him.

This is what we then heard in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, telling us about what St. Paul and the other disciples had been doing, in their missionary work and outreach, as St. Paul visited the communities of the faithful all throughout the Mediterranean region. He went from place to place, preaching the Good News and strengthening the faith among the people who were in those places, and many were converted because they believed in St. Paul and in all that he has spoken about.

These are the efforts of those who have witnessed and seen the truth of God, and having received the truth, they passed it on from one to another, that more and more people might come to know about the truth, and find out about the salvation in God. Through the Holy Spirit, they had been encouraged and strengthened, that despite the challenges and trials, the difficulties and obstacles they encountered, all these never prevented them from remaining firmly committed to the same mission that God has entrusted to them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also been called to live our lives with faith, loving the Lord wholeheartedly and to commit ourselves to the Lord and His cause, with the same mission as that which had been entrusted to the Apostles and their successors. In our present day today, the works of the Church are still far from done, and there are still many areas where there are still many opportunities for us to take part in the works of evangelisation and outreach, in order to reach out more and more people.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John of Avila, a great saint whose life may become a source of inspiration in how we ought to live our lives in obedience to God and His will. He was a Spanish priest and missionary, who was always aspiring in his early years and priesthood to go forth as a missionary in distant lands. However, the great piety of St. John of Avila was noted by another local priest who then recommended him to the Archbishop of Seville, who then encouraged him to stay on in Spain and minister to the people there.

St. John of Avila since then ministered to the faithful in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, ministering to the needs of the faithful and to many diverse groups of people, calling for the faithful to turn away from their sins and to renounce their sinful ways. He established various faith communities and inspired many to follow in his examples and to continue the works that he had started. Through his writings and many works, St. John of Avila inspired many people throughout many regions, and not few were converted to the true faith.

St. John of Avila showed great piety and devotion to God in all of his actions, and he served the Lord unconditionally, with total devotion and this inspired so many others to follow the Lord and to change their ways of life for the better as well as in the reforming of the Church, and therefore countless souls have been saved, as those whom St. John of Avila had influenced and touched, they themselves would reach out and inspire many more people to return to the Lord and embrace their faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. John of Avila, that all of us may be inspired to be good role models and inspirations in faith for one another, and through our lives, through our commitment and love for God, we may inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and enter into the kingdom of God and be saved as well. Let us all be inspired as Christians, to live our lives most virtuously and in accordance to the way that the Lord has shown us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He guide us through His Holy Spirit, that we can be exemplary in life, and be missionary in spirit, that we may glorify His Name through our every actions in life. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.