Thursday, 20 April 2023 : 2nd 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, each and every one of us are reminded that as Christians, each and every one of us are bearers of the truth of God, in everything that He Himself has revealed to us, through His Church and the holy Spirit. All of us as Christians believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, the Messiah sent by God into this world to save all of us, and that He is the Son of God, the Divine Word incarnate in the flesh, giving us all His own life, so that by doing so, He restored us all to a new life and existence, one that is once again attuned and connected to God, by His triumph and victory over sin and death. That is what we celebrate and are most joyful in during this blessed and glorious season of Easter, a time of celebration and rejoicing indeed.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the confrontation between the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council and the Apostles. The Sanhedrin, composed of the most powerful and influential members of the Jewish community, including the chief priests, elders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, many of whom were against the teachings and works of the Lord, had been persecuting the Lord’s disciples ever after the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of the Lord. They had always been jealous and fearful of the popularity and influence of the Lord, and they closely guarded the special influence and privileges they had built up for themselves among the Jewish people, and that was also the reason why they arrested the Lord Jesus and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified, in order to protect themselves and these privileges.

As we heard in the first reading today, the Sanhedrin was very much against the Apostles and their works, and ordered them all to stop teaching and preaching in the Name of the Lord Jesus. In fact, quite a few among the members of the Sanhedrin wanted to kill the Apostles if not for the timely intervention of Gamaliel, a respected member of the Sanhedrin and a renowned teacher of the Law himself, who according to Christian traditions, was a secret convert to the Christian faith. In the end, the assembly of the Sanhedrin agreed to scourge the Apostles and to let them go with the stern warning against any attempts to proselytise and proclaim the Risen Lord. This was met with great indignation and refusal by the Apostles, who chose to remain firm in their faith and resisted the attempts of those who sought to pressure them into giving up their efforts and works in proclaiming the Risen Lord.

They had witnessed the Risen Lord Himself, and received the direct commandment and mission to proclaim His truth and Good News among the nations, and hence, it was inconceivable for them to disregard the Lord’s direct commandment and mission in saving themselves and preventing them from getting into trouble, by obeying the commands of the worldly Sanhedrin, who was mostly concerned more about their own worldly attachments and matters rather than to follow the Lord. After all, the Lord had spent a lot of time and effort, showing and proclaiming Himself and His good works to them, only to be repeatedly rebuffed and rejected because many of them could not resist the temptations of sin and evil, the temptations of worldly glory, fame, ambition and their own ego and pride. Thus, the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord continued to do what the Lord had commanded them to do despite the oppositions they encountered.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel about the testimony of faith by St. John the Baptist who spoke to his disciples and followers about what he himself has received from the Lord, who sent him into this world in order to prepare the way for coming of His Son, the long awaited Messiah. St. John the Baptist, like the Lord’s own disciples after him, had also spoken about the Lord, and yet, many of those same people who persecuted the Lord also refused to believe in him, despite the many signs and the wisdom that these faithful servants of God had shown. St. John the Baptist spoke courageously nonetheless, dedicating himself to the ministry that he has been entrusted with by the Lord, and he did not hesitate even to go against those corrupt Pharisees, teachers of the Law and elders when they questioned and doubted his works, calling them all ‘brood of vipers’.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, it is clear that each and every one of us as Christians, as faithful and dedicated servants of the Lord, would often have to face prejudice, resistance and stubborn opposition to our works and ministry. Yet, we are reminded to be firm in our faith and conviction, and not to give up our efforts and works amidst all these challenges. We have believed in the same Lord and in the same truth that the disciples of the Lord had suffered and even given their lives in defending, as they carried out the missions entrusted to them with great fidelity and commitment. Can we do the same as well in our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Can we also commit ourselves, our time, effort and attention to glorify the Lord and to proclaim His truth and Resurrection in our world today?

The best way for us to proclaim the Lord and His truth is by our own actions and deeds. If we ourselves have not done and acted in the way that we believe in, or if we have only had superficial faith only, then naturally we cannot expect anyone else to believe in the Lord as well. In fact, if our actions and deeds, our works and words, our interactions and dealings show only wickedness and disobedience against God, that is essentially going to cause scandal for our faith, and instead of bringing the people closer to the Lord, we are going to cause many people to distance themselves from the Lord and His Church. Is that what we have been called to do, brothers and sisters? Certainly not. And this is why we really need to do some self-introspection in our lives and look deeply into our own way of life and actions. We need to see if our lives have been lived in the way that we should do as Christians, or whether we have allowed worldly temptations, attachments, desires and pride to get in our way and mislead us down the wrong path.

May the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ continue to guide each and every one of us, and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully and worthily in His presence. May He continue to bless us and love us in all things, and bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours for His greater glory, at all times. May He bless our Easter joy and observance, and help us to have a truly blessed and fruitful Easter season. Amen.

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