Saturday, 22 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, we are all called to continue following the Lord, to be faithful to Him and His commandments, doing our best to serve Him and to walk in the path that He has shown us so that each and every one of us may come to His Holy Presence and be fully reconciled and reunited with Him. The Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to strengthen to guide us all within His Church, to help and lead us down the right path as He continued to lead us through the path of righteousness, helping and guiding us in our Christian living and existence to be the beacons of His light and truth, to be the bearers of His love and compassion into this world, and therefore, all of us as Christians should spend our time and effort in doing what the Lord has called on all of us to do. Each and every one of us should follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, the saints and the followers of the Lord as we heard in our Sacred Scriptures.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the moment during the early Church when the Church began to grow rapidly, as more and more people became believers and followers of the Lord, as the Apostles and the other disciples went forth to proclaim the Good News of the Lord to more and more people. Back then, as the Acts of the Apostles themselves highlighted, the early Christian community existed in a state of loving grace, as they shared their blessings, graces and possessions with one another, and many of the early Christians lived in the community of believers, caring for one another. However, as we heard from our first reading passage today, there were indeed difficulties and challenges that the early Christians faced, particularly because of the friction and disagreements between those Christians who came from among the Jewish people and from among the Pharisees, and those Christian converts from the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people.

We heard of the disparity between the distribution of resources and support those who belonged to the Jewish Christians group and those who belonged to the Hellenists, likely the ones who came from Gentile background. This was in fact understandable as back then there was quite a bit of racial and religious superiority shown by the Jewish people, especially the Pharisees among them, who considered themselves better and more worthy as compared to the Gentiles. But such divisions and disparities should not have existed among the Christian community, as they have been made through their sacred baptism, as the adopted sons and daughters of God, all equal and same before the Holy Presence of God. Each and every one of them had been called to get rid from themselves whatever prejudices and bias that they used to have against each other, and to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

The Apostles decided as we heard, to appoint seven men to become the first of the Deacons of the Church. This was in fact the moment when the office of Deacons came to be in the Church, which served to complement the role of the priestly ministry of the Apostles and their successors. If the Lord Himself has instituted the Sacred Priesthood at the Last Supper, entrusting the priestly ministry to His Apostles, thus the Deacons served to help and assist the Apostles and their successors in their work and ministry to the people of God. It was obvious that the Apostles and the other leaders of the Church could not be everywhere at once and they could not minister to all the faithful effectively without assistance. Hence, the office of the Deaconate was established as the holy office meant for those who answered God’s call to minister to the people, to care for their needs, both physical and spiritual, assisting the works of the Lord through His Church.

Those holy deacons dedicated themselves to the ministry to the people of God, and one of them, St. Stephen, was well-known due to his suffering and martyrdom at the hands of the opponents of the Lord and His Church, becoming the very first martyr or Protomartyr of the Church. The other deacons and other holy servants of God also faced great trials and challenges, but they lived their lives and carried out their missions with great dedication, becoming great role models and inspiration for many of the faithful, gaining for the Lord and His Church many people touched by their efforts and works, new converts and rejuvenated members of the Church which led to the even more rapid growth of the Church in the early years of its existence despite the increasingly intensified persecutions and challenges facing them from both the Jewish and the Roman authorities.

They remained firmly faithful and dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, just as the Gospel passage today reminded us all that none of us can survive or do our part well without entrusting ourselves to the Lord. We are reminded through what we heard in our Gospel passage today that the Church of God has survived and endured through so many challenges and trials because the Lord has always been there for us, guiding us through His Presence and the Holy Spirit. As the disciples of the Lord panicked and feared amidst the great winds and waves that battered against their boat in the storm, the Lord appeared to them walking on the water, and reassured and calmed them down, reminding all of them that He was there, and that they had nothing to be worried or fearful about. He calmed the storm and the wind down, and led the disciples to where they were about to go.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the boat represents the Church of God and the disciples are those who lead the Church. The Lord was with His Church and guided all of His faithful ones to the right path, and helped His Church and those who trusted in Him to walk the path of righteousness, enduring the trials and challenges facing them, and not allowing the Church to be swallowed and destroyed by the forces of all those who opposed the Lord and His faithful ones. God has promised us His providence, love and guidance, and each and every one of us are called to walk faithfully in His path, and we should do our best to do our part in the mission and works of the Church, to proclaim the Lord in all things, and to do what we can so that we may be great role models and sources of inspiration for one another in how we live our lives, that many more people may come to believe in God through us.

May the Risen Lord continue to help and guide us in our journey of faith through life, and may He empower each and every one of us so that we may continue to strive and persevere through the many challenges and trials that we may have to endure as faithful disciples and followers of the Lord. May God be with us always and may He bless our every efforts and endeavours, our every good works for the greater glory of His Name. May all of us have a most blessed and wonderful Easter season, have a most fruitful time in our obedience to the Lord. Amen.

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