Wednesday, 24 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 20 : 28-38

Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock the Holy Spirit has placed into your care. Shepherd the Church of the Lord that He has won, at the price of His own Blood. I know that, after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock. And, from among you, some will arise, corrupting the truth, and inducing the disciples to follow them.

Be on the watch, therefore, remembering that, for three years, night and day, I did not cease to warn everyone, even with tears. Now, I commend you to God, and to His grace-filled word, which is able to make you grow and gain the inheritance that you shall share with all the saints.

I have not looked for anyone’s silver, gold or clothing. You, yourselves, know, that these hands of mine have provided for both my needs and the needs of those who were with me. In every way, I have shown you that by working hard one must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus Himself said, “Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving.”

After this discourse, Paul knelt down with them and prayed. Then, they all began to weep and threw their arms around him and kissed him. They were deeply distressed because he had said that they would never see him again. And they went with him even to the ship.

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 : 7th 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 one of us are reminded of the need for us to trust in the Lord our God, in His providence, love and care for us, in all the things that He will do for us, to guide and strengthen us throughout our journey of faith and life. All of us are reminded that the Lord has always been with us, by His Presence and through the Holy Spirit that He has sent to us, by His dwelling within us through His Real Presence in the Eucharist. We must not lose hope or faith, and we must not abandon our faith in God, no matter what challenges and trials, and all the hardships that we may have to endure in the path of our obedience to God, just as the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord have shown us through their own faith, endurance and experiences.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the conversation which St. Paul the Apostle had with the faithful people of God and the Church in Ephesus, as he related to them the challenges and experiences that he had, in everything that he had encountered and endured, from the successes he had gathered as well as the hardships, trials, failures and persecutions that he had to face in the midst of his journey and ministry all throughout the regions, towns and places that he has visited, in his tireless and constant efforts to proclaim the Good News and the truth of God to more and more of the people especially to those who have not yet known the Lord, His truth, love and compassionate kindness for each and every one of us. St. Paul told the people all these in order to strengthen them in their faith, and for them to pray together to one another for their respective missions.

St. Paul was saying his farewells to the faithful in Ephesus, to all those who supported him there and those who cared for him, to the elders and those who have been entrusted with the care of the Church there, as he prepared to embark on his last mission, answering the Lord’s call, who had called on him to follow Him, and to suffer for His sake, in proclaiming the Good News and in facing the tribulations and challenges, as he went to Jerusalem to answer those who accused him falsely of crimes and wrongdoings, especially the Jewish authorities, the members of the Sanhedrin and others who sought to oppose St. Paul and stop everything that he had laboured and done in the Name of the Lord. St. Paul dedicated his life to the Lord and followed Him to wherever he was being led to, and although he could have chosen not to go to Jerusalem and stay somewhere else where he could be safe, he chose to follow the Lord and put his trust in the Lord.

Therefore, St. Paul told the faithful in Ephesus to be strong and committed to God, that everything happened as the Lord has willed it to be, and the Holy Spirit that had been given to all of them would be with them and strengthen them in their hour and time of need. They would not be left alone and wanting, and they would be provided with help and assistance, as long as they entrust themselves to the Lord. And should they face tribulations, suffering and even martyrdom, as St. Paul himself was prepared to face, the Lord would raise them up and bring them to Him, to enjoy the eternal fruits of their labours and their faith, to be glorified with Him forever. Those who remain faithful in the Lord shall triumph in the end, and will not be disappointed, and they shall be found worthy of the Lord’s grace and kindness, and the eternal life awaiting them.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus praying to His heavenly Father, a continuation of what we have heard in the past few weekdays. We can see how the Lord Jesus Himself often prayed to His Father, and communicate with Him, exactly what St. Paul and the disciples in Ephesus were doing as well. Back then, the Lord Jesus Himself was about to face His greatest challenge and trial, as He would have to endure the most intense and harsh of all persecutions, oppressions and hardships, and He would have to suffer the worst of sufferings, pains and be humiliated so bad that He would have to face being treated less than a human being, as the worst of criminals. And yet, He trusted completely in His Father and devoted Himself thoroughly to the mission that has been entrusted to Him, a spirit of obedience, faith and love which St. Paul and many other disciples of the Lord followed as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we spend some time to reflect upon what we have heard from the Sacred Scriptures today, let us all hence learn to trust in the Lord, commit ourselves to His path and do everything within our abilities and power to follow God’s commands, to listen to Him and to be exemplary in how we live our lives so that we may be good role models and inspiration to all the others around us. As Christians, this is our calling and mission in life, our responsibility and our vocation to do whatever we can to help one another to come ever closer to God. And we must have that strong and genuine faith in God first so that others may also come to believe in Him, through what we believe and through our way of life among many other things that we may do for the greater glory of God.

Today, as we all continue to progress through this blessed season and time of Easter, and although we are coming close to the end of it with the upcoming Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, but we all must realise that this does not mean that our journey of faith, our missions and works have come to an end. There are many areas where our works and contributions are still needed, and it is through our works and efforts that many people are still able to come to the Lord and to His salvation. There are indeed still a lot of works and expectations for us as Christians, in the many things that we are expected to do, in our every moments and times, and in all the opportunities that God has granted to each one of us, having been blessed with the various talents and abilities to reach out to others, to inspire them in faith much as Our Lord Himself and St. Paul, and many others among our holy predecessors had done.

May the Risen Lord, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, our most loving God and Good Shepherd, be with us always, be with His Church, and may the Holy Spirit be our inspiration, strength and guide. May the Lord bless our every works and good efforts for His greater glory, and may He help us all to persevere through all the hardships and challenges that we may have to face in this world. May He, the One and only True God, shine the light of His truth and love to the whole of this darkened world. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 1-11a

At that time, after Jesus said all that He had said to His disciples, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may give glory to You. You have given Him power over all humanity, so that He may give eternal life to all those You entrusted to Him. For this is eternal life : to know You, the only true God, and the One You sent, Jesus Christ.”

“I have glorified You on earth and finished the work that You gave Me to do. Now, Father, give Me, in Your presence, the same glory I had with You before the world began. I have made Your Name known to those You gave Me from the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they kept Your word. And now they know that whatever You entrusted to Me, is indeed from You.”

“I have given them the teaching I received from You, and they received it, and know in truth that I came from You; and they believe that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those who belong to You, and whom You have given to Me. Indeed all I have is Yours and all You have is Mine; and now they are My glory.”

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I come to You.”