Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, and we are all reminded that as the glorious season of Easter is coming to a close soon, with the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday next week, we are all called as Christians to be always full of Easter joy and hope, and to carry out the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us, the mission to bring forth His truth and love to all the nations, to all the peoples of every race and every origins, so that everyone may come to know the Lord, His salvation and grace, His love and most generous mercy for us all, His beloved ones.
In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church. St. Stephen was falsely accused by the opponents of the Lord and all those who resented him and his efforts in proclaiming the Christian faith and truth to the people. St. Stephen despite facing such an opposition and persecution, going up against the whole assembly of those who have been full of determination to persecute and destroy him, did not fear for his life. On the contrary, encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen courageously proclaimed the Lord and all that He had done for our salvation before those same people.
St. Stephen spent the time to reveal to them the truth of God and he spoke very convincingly guided by the Wisdom granted to him through the Holy Spirit. Yet, the people refused to listen to him, close off and shielded their ears, rushing towards him and angrily stoning him to death. And despite everything that happened to him, St. Stephen did exactly the same as the Lord had done, forgiving and praying for the sake of all those who had persecuted him, asking the Lord not to hold their mistakes and faults, their sins against them, but to forgive them and to show mercy on them. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are asked to emulate in our own lives.
In our second reading today, we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the vision that St. John received while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. St. John received the vision of the things that will happen in the future, and today, we heard the conclusion of that account of his vision of the future. After having seen all that will transpire and happen in the end of times, the Second Coming of the Lord and the final triumph of the Lord against Satan and the forces of evil and sin, St. John saw the Lord speaking to him and telling him that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that He will come again at the end of time, everything to happen just as St. John had seen them.
That is why the Lord told him and through him, His Church, all of us to be His faithful witnesses, and to speak of this same truth, the truth that St. Stephen had spoken courageously about, and had died defending. St. Stephen died defending the same truth that has been entrusted to us all, and which we all also ought to defend and proclaim courageously in our own present day and time. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, and God has given us all various gifts, talents and opportunities for us to be inspirations to each other, so that by our lives and actions, we may all inspire more people to come to believe in God and be saved.
That is why today, this Sunday we also commemorate the occasion of World Communications Sunday. In the context of our faith, we are all called to be good communicators of our faith, as faithful and devout witnesses of our Christian truths, of the Lord’s love and kindness. This is our mission as part of the Church of God, the Great Commission that our Lord had entrusted to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. And although He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer physically visible in our midst, but He is in truth always with us, guiding us along the way, and the Holy Spirit that He has granted to us through the Church, gave us the wisdom and courage to proclaim Him just as St. Stephen had done.
Nonetheless, in order for us to do this properly, we have to be connected to the Lord and we have to regularly in communication with Him. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus praying to His Father in Heaven, asking Him to bless His disciples and to give them strength and guidance, we should always look up to the Lord and keep ourselves connected to Him, just as the Lord Himself often prayed to His Father. Jesus has showed us the example of how we all should pray and stay connected to our loving Father and Creator, and we should heed and emulate His examples in our own lives.
That brings us to think of what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not like what some of us may think it is. Prayer is not the means for us to attain or achieve what we wanted, that just by asking the Lord what we want through prayer, then God will then give us what we wanted. That is among some very common misconceptions that we normally had on what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not a litany of demands or petitions made by us, demanding that God does something for our sake or on our behalf. Let us not forget that God does not owe us anything or in any way beholden to us, that He has to accede to our demands.
On the contrary, true prayer is our way of communicating wholeheartedly to the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, in the manner how the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His Father, and how the Apostles and saints like St. Stephen prayed. Prayer is about opening ourselves and our hearts and minds, entering into genuine communication and dialogue with God, speaking to Him and letting Him speak to us as well, in the depths of our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, more often than not we allow ourselves to be distracted and we were also unwilling to listen to God, while forcing God and demanding on Him to listen to us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the World Communications Sunday, each one of us as Christians are not only just reminded of our calling and mission in life, to evangelise and proclaim the truth of God in our world today, but we must also learn to be good communicators in order to do so. As mentioned, first of all we must be connected to God and know how to communicate with Him, through prayers and other means, and not only sporadically, but as often as we are able to, from our hearts and allowing God to speak to us, so that we may know of His will and what He intends with our lives.
And in our work of evangelisation and proclaiming the words of God’s truth, we must also be good and effective communicators as well. We cannot convince others to believe in God unless we also listen to them and communicate with them, reaching out to them and their hearts. Imposing our will and demanding others to listen to us only do not make use good evangelisers and examples of our Christian faith. Not only that, but we can even risk causing others to distance themselves further away from God and His Church, as we must be mindful that our actions can both bring people closer to God, as well as driving people away from Him.
Hence, as Christians, we have truly great responsibilities, to proclaim the Word of God and the Christian teachings and truths through our lives. We should not just speak with our words, but we must embody our Christian faith through our way of life, in every single moments of our lives, so that others who see us, witness our actions and way of life may come to believe in God through us. In fact, if we do not live our lives according to what we profess or proclaim, then we are no better than hypocrites who do not live their lives and practice what they themselves had preached. And in that way, hardly anyone will believe in us, no matter what we tell them.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth to the nations. We do not have to seek to do great things in life, but rather, even in the smallest things we do, in our every interactions with each other, we should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and beliefs. We have to allow the Lord to lead and guide us, through the wisdom and courage of His Holy Spirit, that we do not end up falling into the wrong path in life, or mislead others into the path of sin. Let our lives be good examples and let us communicate our faith well to others, and strengthen each other’s faith through examples of our own lives.
May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our own respective journeys of life. May He empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God bless us in our every actions and way of life, and may He remain in our midst and lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.