Thursday, 25 April 2019 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we continue to progress through this holy and blessed season of Easter, celebrating joyfully the glorious resurrection of Our Lord from the dead, and His triumph over darkness, sin and death, all of us are reminded in the Scripture passages of this day, that all of us ought to bear witness to this resurrection, bringing the truth of God’s glorious victory and triumph to all the people.

On this day we listened from the first reading passage taken from the Acts of the Apostles, of the courageous and wisdom-filled defence by St. Peter of his faith in God, before the Sanhedrin, the elite ruling council of the Jewish people and also all who were gathered in the assembly, including many of those who have then just witnessed the miraculous healing of a man who had been crippled from birth, whom St. Peter and St. John had healed in the Name of Jesus.

And the members of the Sanhedrin were outraged that the two Apostles had done such a feat in the presence of all the people, as many saw how the crippled man had been miraculously healed. And the Sanhedrin members threatened and pressured the Apostles not to teach or proclaim in the Name of the Lord Jesus anymore, under the pain of torture and imprisonment. But the Apostles would not be deterred by the threats and opposition, and stood firmly by their faith.

We must remember that St. Peter was an uneducated and illiterate man, a mere fisherman who once made a living at the lake of Galilee with his brother and with his fellow fishermen, most likely poor and of the lower standing in the community’s hierarchy. And yet, if we remember again what he had testified courageously before the whole Sanhedrin and the people, we surely would have been astonished.

He spoke with such clarity, understanding, wisdom and eloquence that no one could have believed that he was just a mere illiterate, uneducated and even uncouth fisherman, who could not have learnt to speak as St. Peter had done. In truth, St. Peter spoke not by his own wisdom or power, but rather through the power and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which he and the other Apostles have received on the Pentecost day.

Many came to believe in the Lord and in His truth after they have seen all that He has done through His Apostles. But if we look at the Apostles themselves, even though they spoke bravely and courageously before the people, and even suffered and died after all the troubles and challenges that they encountered, they were once cowards and people who had little faith, who fled when the Lord was arrested and put to death.

But the Lord transformed them and changed them, in their mindset, in their thoughts and way of living their lives, and He granted them the power and the strength that allowed them to carry on living their lives despite the challenges, difficulties and obstacles that they had to endure throughout those years when they persevered through the years of ministry, going from places to places and being rejected again and again by those who refused to believe in the truth that they brought with them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what all of us must appreciate is the work that God has placed in us through His guiding hands and through the Holy Spirit and wisdom that He has given to us. We have heard and we have discussed how the Apostles were once doubtful and shaky in their faith, and how the Lord changed them and strengthened them. That is how they became so committed and so courageous in giving themselves wholeheartedly to the mission that God has entrusted to them.

And the same thing can also happen to us, if only we allow the Lord to work through us, and to guide us in our actions and in our way of life. Are we open to allow the Lord doing His works through us? Or are we not open and enclosed within ourselves, refusing the Lord’s presence in our lives, and as a result, we continue to do what is wrong and inappropriate, and and we continue to remain in ignorance of God’s wonderful works in our midst?

Let us all reflect on this as we continue to progress through this season of Easter and think in what ways it is that we are going to be able to commit ourselves to the Lord as better Christians, more attuned to His will and more courageous in carrying out the mission which He has entrusted to us. Let us all turn towards the Lord with a new courage in our hearts, to bear witness for His truth and for His resurrection among the people and within the communities in our world. May God bless us all and may He continue to guide us through our journey in life. Amen.

Thursday, 25 April 2019 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”)

In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”

Thursday, 25 April 2019 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 25 April 2019 : Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 3 : 11-26

While the once crippled man clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if it was by some power or holiness of our own that we made this man walk?”

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.”

“It is His Name and faith in His Name, that has healed this man whom you see and recognise. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what He had foretold through all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when He sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For He must remain in heaven until the time of the universal restoration which God spoke of long ago through His holy prophets.”

“Moses foretold this when he said : The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to Him in all that He says to you. Whoever does not listen to that Prophet is to be cut off from among his people.”

“In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets and heirs of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors when He said to Abraham : All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you first that God sends His Servant; He raised Him to life to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the salvation that God has given to all of us His faithful and beloved people, as we listened to the story of how God brought about His salvation among His people, healing them from their sickness and freeing them from their troubles. In the first reading today we heard of how St. Peter and St. John healed a crippled beggar, while in the Gospel we heard of the moment when the Lord appeared to two of His disciples who were on their way to Emmaus.

In both stories, God brought about a change to each of the lives of the people He encountered, and if we discern more carefully on those passages we have just heard, we will be able to see how God transformed the lives and the experiences of those whom He has blessed. In the first reading, we heard of a person who had been crippled from birth, who has always begged at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and how he sought the two Apostles, St. Peter and St. John for some money as he has always done.

However, he did not expect to receive something totally different, as instead of getting money from the pity of the passing people, instead, he received healing and complete freedom from the trouble he has suffered from the moment of his birth, by the power of the Lord Jesus, when the two Apostles proclaimed God’s power in His Name, and made him whole again. The crippled person was able to walk normally again, and we see in this case, the Lord Who healed His people from their physical and bodily problems.

But the Lord did even more than just that, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, how He appeared to the two disciples who were on their way to the town of Emmaus just outside of Jerusalem, right after the Lord has been crucified and then rose from the dead. The two of them were among those who have not yet believed in the Lord and the truth of what He had taught and proclaimed to them.

The Lord walked with them and spoke with them at length along the way, explaining the truth about Himself, as the One Whom God sent into the world and how everything had gone according to the Lord’s plans, including His own suffering and death on the cross, and later on, His glorious resurrection from the dead. And He inflamed their hearts and minds with hope and with the knowledge of the truth, before revealing Himself in their presence at the dining table as He broke the bread for them.

God so inflamed and strengthened their hearts that they gathered all the strength they had, even after a long journey from Jerusalem to the place where Jesus revealed Himself, and went back all the way to Jerusalem in joy and exultation just so that they might proclaim what they have just witnessed to the Apostles, a truly happy and joyous occasion, as what they had once thought to be lost to them and hopeless, God had turned to be a wonderful occasion.

And in that case, God healed the two disciples from the disease that has inflicted their spirits, their hearts and minds inside them. He inflamed in them a new hope and gave them a new strength, the strength to be witnesses to His own Resurrection and the truth of His salvation. And therefore, we have seen how God brought about renewal to His people, in body and spirit, making us all whole again through His own works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to live out this joy of being Christians, as all those whom God had called and gathered from all over the whole world, to follow Him and to embrace the truth which He has brought into this world. All of us are called to embrace the healing which God has presented before us, in His desire to free us from our affliction because of sin. Sin has corrupted us and made us to be broken and unworthy, and God wants to heal us from that brokenness.

Now, let us all renew our commitment to follow the Lord and to love Him from now on, with all of our strength and with all of our abilities. Let us all truly embrace the spirit and joy of Easter, in proclaiming the glory of our Risen Lord, the One through Whom all of us have been saved from death and destruction. May the Risen Lord be with us always, and may His grace, mercy and compassion be with us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, on the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them. But their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveller to Jerusalem who does not know what haw happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, You know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place.”

“It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of Angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a Body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem.

There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.