Thursday, 27 April 2023 : 3rd 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, all of us are reminded and called to be the bearers of God’s truth, His Good News and revelations to the nations, just as the Apostles and their successors, our many holy predecessors had done before us. We are called to be the evangelising and missionary disciples of the Lord, proclaiming His Good News and truth through our lives, and by our understanding, appreciation, knowledge and immersion in the Law, commandments and truths that the Lord Himself has revealed and taught to us through His Church. As Christians, we are all expected to be good role models and sources of inspiration for one another in faith, so that in our every actions and works, our words and interactions, even to the least significant among these, we truly proclaim our Christian faith to others.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the account of the encounter between St. Philip the Apostle and an Ethiopian official who was returning back to his country from visiting Jerusalem, and St. Philip was sent by the Angel of God to evangelise to the Ethiopian official, ending up in a conversation and discussion between them regarding the passage of the Scriptures that the official had been reading, the curious and peculiar passage from the prophet Isaiah which was in fact referring about the Lord Jesus, His suffering, death and then later on Resurrection. The official must have been perturbed by what he had been reading, and as what others might have experienced as they read that passage from the prophet Isaiah regarding the Suffering Servant or the Suffering Messiah, they might have not understood the significance of that passage.

In truth, as we all ought to know, that passage was referring directly to what the Lord Jesus Himself, as the Messiah or Saviour of all, would have to suffer and endure in the process of fulfilling everything that the Lord our God had intended and planned for us, the plan of our salvation. St. Philip therefore revealed the truth and the Good News to the Ethiopian official, telling him about the Risen Lord and all that He had done and experienced, and how everything that were told by the prophets and the other messengers of the Lord had been fulfilled through Him, how He suffered and endured His Passion for the sake of all mankind, just as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied about that. Yet, St. Philip further revealed that this Suffering Messiah has triumphed and been victorious in the struggle against sin and evil, that by His Resurrection, He broke forever the chains and dominion that sin and death have over us.

That was how then St. Philip convinced the Ethiopian official to become a Christian believer, and the official agreed to be baptised at the water source present nearby, and the moment that he was baptised, St. Philip was taken away by the Angel of God elsewhere, while the Ethiopian official, in his newly baptised joy, returned back to his homeland with great joy and celebration, and was likely the one to begin spreading the Christian faith there. St. Philip on the other hand continued to minister to the people of God and proclaimed the faith and truth of God to more and more of the people, in the various places and communities he visited, causing the Church and the Christian community to grow ever more quickly, despite the many persecutions, challenges, trials and oppositions that Christianity was facing from its many enemies and detractors. The disciples and followers of the Lord dedicated their time and effort to proclaim His Good News to more and more people.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the continuation of the Bread of Life discourse by the Lord Jesus Himself, which we have heard for the past few days, in which the Lord spoke of Himself as the Living Bread or the Bread of Life Who has come down from Heaven. Through Him, all of us who have received and shared in our partaking of the Eucharist, we have received God Himself in the flesh, in His Most Precious Body and Most Precious Blood, and consequently, all of us who have received Him, have already received the Lord Himself dwelling in our amidst, among us and within us. We have become the Temples of His Holy Presence, and He has extended to us the most perfect form of unity and the most tangible link between us and His heavenly Father, our most loving God and Creator. For He is the perfect manifestation of God and His love in the flesh, such that man is no longer separated from God by our sins.

Linking to our first reading passage today, in which we heard of the baptism of the Ethiopian official, through that act of baptism and acceptance by the Ethiopian official of the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who has died on the Cross and Risen fromt the dead, is his Lord and Saviour, that Ethiopian official had become part of the Church, just like all of us. Through our own baptism, whether we were baptised as infants or as teenagers or as adults, or even those of us who got baptised in the old age, or at the doors of death, all of us have become partakers and sharers in the New and Eternal Covenant that the Lord Himself has sealed with us and for us. Through baptism we have been made parts and sharers of the Lord’s missions and works in His Church, and all of us are members of His Body, the one united Communion of all the faithful.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on our calling as the bearers of the Good News and truth of God, as those who truly believe in the truth of Our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, the Living Bread Who came down from Heaven. Let us all be genuine Christians in being joyful and dedicated in our willingness to proclaim the Lord and His truth in the midst of our various communities and places, doing whatever we can so that we may indeed bear forth the light of God’s truth to more and more people. All of us as parts of God’s Church have the same responsibilities and duties in being good role models and inspirations in faith that our every words, actions and deeds, our every interactions and works may become the inspiration and help for many others, such that many more will come to believe in God through us and our good works.

May the Risen Lord, our God and Saviour Jesus Christ continue to be with us and guide us always, and may He continue to empower and strengthen us so that we may persevere faithfully and continue to commit ourselves to His path, much as how our early Christian predecessors had done, in their missionary and evangelising zeal. May God be with His Church always, and bless its every works and good efforts. Amen.

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