Friday, 10 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the discourse on the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, who was once Saul, a great enemy and persecutor of the faithful, who is truly the unlikeliest of all people to become a champion of the faithful. Yet, that was what God willed for Saul, as he was called to leave behind his former life and existence, and to embrace a new life and purpose as God’s chosen servant.

Saul persecuted the Church and the early Christians so greatly that people feared even the mere utterance of his name and it was initially very difficult for the faithful to accept the fact that suddenly this great enemy of Christ and His Church has become the follower of Christ. But that was what God had done for His people, and what might seem to be impossible to them, is perfectly possible for Him.

Saul encountered the Lord on his way to Damascus, filled with anger, hatred and jealousy against all Christians, in his blind obedience to the Law and the way the Law was observed by his Pharisee fellows, and as a result, he acted in rash action against the followers of the Lord, with the desire to bring to justice all those who believed in God. But God touched his heart and opened his mind, making a profound change in the direction of his life forever.

That was how Saul, after the life-changing experience and conversion, went through a moment of reckoning and change, finally accepting the Lord Jesus as his Lord, Master and Saviour, being baptised into the Church and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. And in all these we surely are able to see how God brought about such a transformation, allowing His grace to work wonders in St. Paul, and the same can also happen to us.

This must be understood together with what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord Jesus spoke to the people regarding Himself as the Bread of Life, and the offering of His own flesh and His own Blood, to be the real food and drink for the people that all those who partake in this food, His own Most Precious Body and in His own Most Precious Blood, will share in the new life that He has offered them.

All of us received the Eucharist through the hands of the priest, who offered it in the persona Christi during the consecration at the Holy Mass, through which the bread and wine are changed, transformed and converted completely into the essence and reality of the very Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And the Lord Jesus spoke to the people that all those who receive the Bread of Life, that is Christ Himself, will receive a new life and not perish, essentially referring to all of us who share in the wonders of His Eucharist.

And this has an even deeper meaning and significance for each and every one of us, as we have to compare what had happened to St. Paul, his conversion and change in life, to that of our own. St. Paul, as Saul, received the Lord and encountered Him in His Presence, and accepted His calling to be His disciple, embracing wholeheartedly a new life that transformed him so completely as we just discussed earlier, so much so that no one could have recognised him, be it his friends or his former targets, the early Christians.

Therefore, all of us are challenged in our own lives, to make the same change and transformation to happen to our own lives, so that, by accepting the Lord and embracing Him fully with love, each and every one of us may be renewed and reconciled with Him, and transformed to be His true disciples, as all those who truly believe in God and love Him with all of our hearts and with all of our might.

Let us all turn to the Lord from now on, dedicating ourselves completely to Him, and let us all show our love towards Him with a new strength and zeal, following in the footsteps of St. Paul, who followed and dedicated himself to God, all of the days of his life. May God be glorified through us, and may He continue to guide us and bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 10 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, lives in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.

Friday, 10 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Friday, 10 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus Whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.