Friday, 20 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 12-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call You servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.”

“You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.”

Friday, 20 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 56 : 8-9, 10-12

My heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul, awake, o harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.

I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to You among the nations. For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Let Your Glory be over all the earth!

Friday, 20 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 15 : 22-31

Then the Apostles and elders together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter :

“Greetings from the Apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We have heard that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.”

“But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly, to choose representatives and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.”

“We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary : You are to abstain from blood from the meat of strangled animals and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

After saying goodbye, the messengers went to Antioch, where they assembled the community and handed them the letter. When they read the news, all were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Thursday, 19 May 2022 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures speaking to us about the call for us to love the Lord wholeheartedly and to remember and keep His commandments of love well in our hearts and minds at all times. As Christians we are always called to love tenderly and generously following the examples of our Lord in His love for us, which He has always shown us despite our many infidelities and wickedness. He has always loved us and wanted to teach us how to love just as He has loved us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles as we heard the continuation of the account of the First Council of Jerusalem, as we heard of the debate that arose in that very first assembly of the Church and the faithful to address the divisions that came up due to the disagreements between those who advocated for the imposition of the much stricter Jewish laws and customs on all the faithful including on the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, and those who advocated for the relaxation of the requirements and laws binding all the faithful.

The Apostles and the elders of the Church gathered together to discuss the matter, and through the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, they decided not to impose the unreasonable strict rules of the Jewish laws and customs on all the faithful, and instead, they all exhorted all the Christians to follow the commandments and laws as explained and made clear by the Lord, the laws and commandments of love, the core essence of what following God is all about. They decided that all the faithful, be it Jews or Gentiles ought to follow the Lord in that way, and not be burdened by the excesses of the way how the Jewish laws and practices had been kept by the Pharisees and the elders.

That was also what the Lord had told His disciples and the people as we heard in our Gospel passage today, as Jesus told them all to love and remain in His Father’s love just as He has loved Him. All those who believe in the Lord ought to love in the same way that God has loved all of them. The old customs and laws as championed and preserved by the Pharisees and their many predecessors distracted the people from this love, and instead of truly loving God, many became ensnared in the path to seek their own self-righteousness and self-promotion, self-loving and ego. That was why the Lord reminded His disciples to turn away from that path and instead return to the Lord with genuine love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these readings from the Sacred Scriptures, we are therefore reminded of our obligation and calling as Christians to follow the Lord with love and devotion, and to love one another just as He has loved us so generously. We are all called to love our fellow brothers and sisters, and even our acquaintances and strangers, as the Lord had told us to do. He even asked us to forgive our enemies, to pray for those who have persecuted us and loving them even if those same people had made our lives truly difficult. That is the essence of Christian love that God Himself has revealed and taught to us through His Son.

And Christ Himself has shown us what true, unconditional love is. Even though He has been condemned and rejected by the chief priests and elders, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, He still forgave them all and prayed for them for His Father to forgive them their sins, as He laid suffering and dying while hanging on the Cross. He chose to suffer and die for all of mankind, for all of us sinners, and even for the sake of those who have arrested, persecuted, condemned and opposed Him. He has loved all of us and patiently showed His compassion and mercy even though we are still sinners and are still rebellious in our ways against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering just how much the Lord has loved each and every one of us, and how He has given us so many opportunities to reach out to Him and embracing His forgiveness and mercy, then all of us have to commit ourselves to the same way of love as God has shown us. We are all called to proclaim the Lord by His love, so that as the Apostles had mentioned, that we are all Christians, and the people know us and know who we are, as God’s beloved ones by our actions, by our generous love for one another, in the same manner as how God has loved us first.

Are we able then in committing ourselves to the path of God’s love? Are we willing and able to live our lives from now on with courage to love each other in the same manner as the Apostles and the saints, our many predecessors in faith had done? Are we capable of living our lives faithfully in the manner that they had done, and love generously and kindly, unconditionally as they and ultimately, our Lord Himself had done? Let us all discern all these carefully and think of what we can do better to serve Him and to proclaim His truth and glory in our world today.

May God be with us always, our most loving Father, our most beloved Master and Creator. May He empower us all and give us the grace and love so that we may continue to love most generously in each and every opportunities that we have in this world. May the Lord be with us always, and may He bless all of our wonderful works and labours for His greater glory, all of our love for one another, now and always. Amen.