Tuesday, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-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, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 23 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (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 presented with the hope that God has given to His disciples, that He will always be by our side, and He will not abandon us in our time of need. He will give us the necessary guidance and strength to face the many challenges present in our world. As Christians we are all called to go forth and to do whatever we can to spread the words of the truth of God, to proclaim His love and works to all the people of God, to the best of our abilities. Each one of us should commit ourselves to bring forth the Lord to many more people whom we encounter throughout life.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of the mission of St. Paul the Apostle as he preached the Good News of the Gospels to the people of God, the works that this Apostle had done in proclaiming the Lord’s truth to the people, both to the Jews and the Gentiles alike, all across the Mediterranean region. He went from place to place, sometimes by himself and sometimes with another or two companions, sometimes being rejected while other times being welcomed and accepted by the people. But St. Paul ways encountered help along the way, as what we have heard in our first reading today, where a faithful woman helped him and welcomed him to her place.

This happened throughout his other ministries as well, and there were quite a few disciples and believers who assisted the Apostles with their works, that they truly did not have to worry as the Lord was indeed with them, guiding them and encouraging them along the way. The Apostles entrusted themselves to God and allowed Him to guide them wherever they were told to go to. They knew that they did not have to fear anything as God is always by their side and He will always provide for them, so that in whatever they do, they shall always be fruitful and will be blessed in all things.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord reminded His disciples that He will not abandon them and will send the Helper, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit to their midst. Through the Holy Spirit they shall be guided and helped in their path, and as long as they remain true and faithful to Christ and His truth, Him as the True Vine and the Source of all truth, then they would not fall astray from the path that God has shown them. The Lord wants all of them to realise that everything is made possible through Him, and all of us as God’s disciples and workers must always draw our inspiration and strength from Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Church today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to reflect on what each and every one of us can and should do as Christians in following the Apostles and walking in their footsteps, in obeying the Law and precepts of the Lord, and in doing God’s will. There are many things that God has entrusted to us through His Church, the mission to reach out to all the people of all the nations, to proclaim the words of His salvation, the Good News that He has delivered to us, and now passed on to us to be proclaimed to all those who have not heard it yet.

The works of the Church, the works of evangelisation and all have not yet been completed. There are still many parts and areas in this world that had not been touched by the light and truth of God, and many people are still unaware of His truth, and are having misunderstandings or misconceptions about Who He really is. And it is up to us to take up our crosses and serve the Lord, to be His witnesses and disciples in our world today, continuing the works that the Apostles and the many other saints, holy men and women of God had initiated and building upon what they had founded.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us have to be more active in living our lives with faith, and we have to commit ourselves ever more to the evangelisation efforts in whatever way we can. The Lord has given us many unique talents, abilities and various opportunities, for us to reach out to those whom we may encounter in life, and who may best come to know the Lord through us and our actions. And we must also remember that just as we can inspire others by our exemplary living as Christians, we can also deter others from coming to the Lord through our wickedness, hypocrisy and other acts that may bring scandal to the Lord, the Church and our faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore pray for the guidance and strength from the Lord, so that through His Holy Spirit, Whom God has bestowed upon us, God may help us to be ever more faithful and committed disciples, ever better role models and inspirations for one another in how we live our faith from now on. Hopefully through our dedication and life, we may inspire more and more people to follow the Lord and to believe in Him, much as how St. Paul, the other Apostles, the saints and martyrs had inspired us by their examples and lives. May God bless us always, in all things, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 23 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”

Monday, 23 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints! Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance to praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips; this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Monday, 23 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 11-15

So we put out to sea from Troas and sailed straight across to Samothrace Island, and the next day to Neapolis. From there we went inland to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. We spent some days in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate to the bank of the river where we thought the Jews would gather to pray. We sat down and began speaking to the women who were gathering there. One of them was a God-fearing woman named Lydia from Thyatira City, a dealer in purple cloth.

As she listened, the Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she had been baptised together with her household, she invited us to her house, “If you think I am faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us to accept her invitation.

Sunday, 22 May 2022 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is already the Sixth Sunday of Easter, and this means that we are approaching the end of the joyous season of Easter soon, and it is a good time for us to take stock on what we have gone through so far in the season of Easter. This season of Easter is a time for us to focus our attention on the Risen Lord and the hope that He has brought upon us all Christians, the hope of everlasting life and true happiness with God. It is a time for us to rediscover our faith in Him and for us to return to our roots in the teachings of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, as we listened to the words of the Acts of the Apostles, we are presented with the controversy and divisions that existed within the Church in its early days when there were disagreements between those who sought to impose the very strict and harsh version of the Jewish laws and customs, as proposed by those converts to the Christian faith from among the Pharisees, and those who wanted to make it easier for the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people to follow the Lord, by not requiring any Christian faithful from obeying the full laws and customs of the Jewish people. Both of them represented the different opinions and factions then present within the early Church, showing some of the challenges faced by the Church and its leaders in its earliest days.

It would be difficult for the non-Jewish people like the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Arameans and many others who were touched and called by the truth of God to follow the Lord should they be required to obey the fullness of the Jewish laws and customs. That is because some of the Jewish traditions and requirements such as circumcision and the dietary prohibitions would have caused great difficulties for them to live their lives as Christians as those were seen as strange or even barbaric practices by those Gentiles. It would have made living as Christians doubly difficult for the converts from among the Gentiles.

As such, the Apostles and the whole Church discussed and prayed over the matter, and they considered how they could make it better especially for the Gentiles to follow the Lord. They decided that it was unnecessary for the faithful, be it Jews or Gentiles to follow the fullness of the very restrictive and strict Jewish laws and customs. Those laws had dated from the time of Moses, when the Lord Himself gave those commandments, laws and precepts to His people through Moses. However, many of those were meant to help the people to redirect their attention and way of life to focus on the Lord instead of their many worldly preoccupations and distractions.

Instead, as time went by, there were more and more laws and ordinances, harsher and stricter interpretations due to the desire of the people to purify their way of life after enduring the difficulties and the humiliations caused by the years of the destruction of the old kingdom of Israel, the destruction of their homeland and exile in Babylon, Assyria and elsewhere. Then, later on, much more recent by the time of Jesus, the actions of the Greeks in trying to destroy the Jewish culture and customs, as highlighted in the Book of the Maccabees in the Old Testament, would lead to a bitter war of independence led by the Maccabees which eventually led to the freedom for the Jewish people. This happened just about over a hundred and fifty years before the time of Jesus’ ministry.

However, that noble intention was overshadowed by the overzealous attempts of those who sought to keep the laws pure and sacred, by increasingly emphasising on the intricate details of the rituals and practices of the laws, adding more detailed explanations and parts that ended up overriding the original intention of the Law, and making it difficult and cumbersome for the people to follow it faithfully and wholeheartedly. In fact, many of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who enforced those laws themselves did not truly and could not fulfil the entire commandments and parts of the Law that they themselves enforced.

Hence, what we have heard in our first reading is a reminder for all of us that, just as the Apostles had done in pointing out to the Church and the faithful that what is important in being Christians is not about the Law itself or how one is to follow the Law in a particular way, for ultimately, the Law is a means through which the faithful could be better able to follow the Lord, and it is meant to bring the people closer to God, to discover His truth and love, and to know how they can live their lives so that they may be better attuned to Him, and eventually be able to find their way to Him through His saving grace.

That was why, the Apostles and the elders of the Church decided that it did not make any sense for the faithful to be subjected to the whole breadth and depth of the Jewish laws and practices as enforced and kept by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, when the Lord Himself frequently, as highlighted throughout the Gospels, criticised the way that those same Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had carried out and followed the Law. When the Law became the focus of the attention and when everyone ended up becoming self-centred and self-righteous, comparing oneself and thinking of oneself as being better and superior than others just because they obeyed the Law better, that is when the Church as a community of the faithful break down and fail to work.

Instead, the Church of God must remain open and welcoming, filled with the genuine love of God and His truth. The Church of God has to be the beacon of light showing the light of God, His love and truth to all the nations. The message that we heard in our second reading today from the Book of Revelations of St. John showed us the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, the new Heaven and the new Earth that will come in the end, and into which all the people are called to come, regardless of their race and background, and regardless of their affiliations and status. What matters is their faith and genuine love for God.

The Lord welcomes us all, every single sons and daughters of man to follow Him, to be His disciples and followers. He calls us all to walk in His path, and He has taught us how to do so, through what we have heard in our Gospel passage today. In His own words, He said that we ought to keep His words and teachings, and accept His truth wholeheartedly. That is what He expected us to do with our lives, as Christians, as His disciples and followers, and as His beloved people. All of us have to remain firm in following His path and not be easily distracted by the many temptations and pressures of the world, and keep our focus on Him and not on other things.

As what we have heard and discussed regarding the attitudes of those who followed the strict version of the Jewish customs and laws, and attempted to impose them on the whole Church. The Lord wants us, His faithful ones to live according to the Law and not for the Law. The Law of God is the law of love, what God has revealed to us more completely through His Son and the Holy Spirit, a call for us to love God with all of our hearts and might, and to show that same love to all of our fellow brethren, our fellow mankind. That is what Christian love is and all of us are challenged and called to fulfil that, as the cornerstone of our lives and as our focus and attention.

Each and every one of us have to remind ourselves that we are all called to share the love of God with one another, and to inspire others to love Him more and more. And the best way for us to do that is by showing that love in our own way of life. Instead of loving ourselves and acting with pride and arrogance as what many among the Pharisees had done, who looked down on those whom they condemned as sinners and unworthy, we ought to remind ourselves that we are all sinners in God’s eyes, sinners who are in need of God’s love and mercy. We are all equal before God and we should not think that we are better than others, or wanting to impose our way of thinking on others, as highlighted, when those are not in accordance with God’s truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all as we continue with our journey of faith in life, commit ourselves to follow the Lord and to do the best with our lives, with whatever gifts and talents that God has given us. Let us all be exemplary in our lives and actions so that by our lives we may inspire many others to follow our examples, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to us. Let us not worry about how much we do and whether what we had done is enough. Instead, let us encourage ourselves by realising that whatever we have done, even in the smallest things, can impact others in ways beyond what we ever imagined.

Let us do our best to inspire others to follow the Lord and to believe in Him, instead of pushing them away from Him by our arrogance, pride or self-righteousness. Instead, let us show the path to the Lord by sharing His love and compassion, His mercy and grace by our actions, at all times. May God bless us all and our every actions, for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 22 May 2022 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 23-29

At that time, Jesus answered Judas, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and make a room in his home.”

“But if anyone does not love Me, he will not keep My words; and these words that you hear are not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me. I told you all this while I was still with you. From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe.”

Sunday, 22 May 2022 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 21 : 10-14, 22-23

One of the seven Angels took me up, in a spiritual vision, to a very high mountain, and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God. It shines with the glory of God, like a precious jewel, with the colour of crystal-clear jasper. Its wall, large and high, has twelve gates; stationed at them are twelve Angels.

Over the gates are written the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates face the east; three gates face the north; three gates face the south and three face the west. The city wall stands on twelve foundation stones, on which are written the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no Temple in the city, for the Lord God, Master of the Universe, and the Lamb, are themselves its Temple. The city has no need of the light of the sun or the moon, since God’s glory is its light and the Lamb is its lamp.