Thursday, 4 May 2023 : 4th 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 reminded again of everything that God has done for us and all that He has accomplished for us, on our behalf because of His love for us and because of His desire to see us all reconciled and reunited to Him. God created us all out of His love and He has always treasured each and every one of us, and He gave us His best and most precious gift, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour so that by His coming into our midst, into this world, as our Good Shepherd and Guide, He might gather all of us together and help lead us down the right path. The Lord has given us the most perfect gift and manifestation of His love so that all of us may come to know of His truth and love, and be saved, reconciled and reunited with Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the works of St. Paul who went from place to place, preaching about the salvation in Jesus Christ and the Good News of God, His truth and love. St. Paul went on his missionary journey, travelling all around the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, and in this particular mission trip, he was going through the cities and towns of the region of Asia Minor, where he preached about the Risen Lord in cities like Perga and Antioch in Pisidia. What we heard in our first reading today is the speech that he delivered to the Jewish diaspora and faithful in Antioch in Pisidia as he went to the local synagogue. The early Christian missionaries went about teaching the people both from the Jewish and non-Jewish or Gentile origins, and there were quite a large population of Jewish diaspora back then in many cities of Asia Minor and elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean region.

Hence, St. Paul catered his message and preaching to the Jewish people and believers, as he spoke to them about the Messiah, the crucified and resurrected Christ. Thus he reminded all of them of everything that God had done for their ancestors, in His mighty deeds in Egypt and henceforth, and how He had promised His people of His salvation and protection, and how He would raise His Messiah or Saviour from the family and House of David, the King of Israel. St. Paul spoke of how Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, born into the House of David as David’s Heir, was indeed the One Whom the Lord had promised His people, and of Whom the prophets and messengers of the Lord had spoken, preached and proclaimed about. St. Paul wanted all of them to know everything that God had done for them, and in how He gave them all His own most beloved Son for their salvation.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then from the Gospel of St. John, of what the Lord Jesus told His disciples regarding His followers and the missions they had in proclaiming about Him and His truth. He predicted that one of His own disciples would rise up against Him, as how it indeed happened with Judas Iscariot the traitor, and the Lord also spoke of those who would accept and listen to His truth and His voice spoken through His disciples. In essence, through what the Lord spoke to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, He wanted each and every one of us to know that we have the calling and the mission to proclaim His truth and Good News just as St. Paul and the other Apostles had done. And yet, at the same time, He also laid out the facts that there would be hardships, difficulties and challenges, just as much as there would be opportunities and good things that would come upon the path of His disciples and followers.

Throughout the history of the Church, we have seen many persecutions and hardships that faced the Church and the Lord’s followers, the Christian faithful and servants of God. We have seen how the Church expanded greatly even amidst bitter persecutions, and at times, divisions and intrigues caused the breaking of the unity of the Church, causing harm to many of the Lord’s faithful ones. Yet, the Lord was always with His Church and He did not abandon us at the time and hour of our greatest need, as He journeyed with us and guided us patiently throughout that journey of faith. Despite those who would destroy and harm the unity of the Church and mislead the faithful into the wrong paths, the ones who betrayed the Lord like that of Judas Iscariot and the many heretics and false teachers throughout the history of the Church till this very day, the Lord’s Church remained firmly united, blessed and guided by God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard these Scripture passages and pondered their importance and meaning, let us all really internalise the messages and the key points that we have just discussed so that we may truly understand what it is that we are all called to do with our lives. We have to realise that our existence here in this world is to glorify the Lord, and to honour Him by our dedication and commitment in life. All of us as Christians are expected and reminded to keep the Law and commandments of the Lord, obeying them and following His will, in all things so that in our every words, actions, deeds and interactions with one another, in our every moments and our way of life, we may truly be the shining beacons of God’s Light, His truth and love. Our lives, work and actions, our genuine Christian way of living are indeed the best way for us to evangelise, to proclaim the Good News of God to more and more people.

We have to realise that the works of the Lord entrusted in His Church are still far from being completed. The same missions entrusted by the Lord to His Apostles, to the likes of St. Paul and many other faithful missionaries, are still ongoing, as many more people out there have not yet known about the Lord, all His deeds, His truth and love, His teachings and ways. Not only that, but even there are many within the Church who have lapsed from their faith, becoming lukewarm and ignorant of the truth, and there is indeed a rapidly growing need to re-evangelise and to re-educate many of our Christian brothers and sisters what the true Christian faith is all about. We all know well how many Christians in the recent decades have stopped going to church and ceased their active participation in the Sacraments and the life of the Church, and some even left the faith and the Church altogether for other things.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called and reminded to be exemplary in our lives and faith, so that we may inspire one another in our journey of faith and in proclaiming the Good News of God by our own worthy and faithful lives. May the Risen Lord, Our Saviour and God Jesus Christ, continue to guide us always and may He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, all for His greater glory, now and forevermore. Amen.

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