Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are called to put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, the Bread of Life and Son of God, Who has willingly offered Himself and gave Himself for us, to be the sustenance and the providence through which He shared with us the grace of new life blessed and provided for by His love. All of us have been guaranteed a share of this divine grace and love, and what we need to do is to accept Him fully as Our Lord and Saviour.

However, as we heard in our Scripture passages today, this is much easier said than done. There are many who still refuse to believe in the Lord or to embrace Him fully, and there were many who had even persecuted those who believed in the Lord. As we heard in the persecution and martyrdom of St. Stephen in our first reading today taken from the Acts of the Apostles that the Sanhedrin and many of its members who opposed the works of the Apostles condemned St. Stephen to death and stoned him just as they had earlier on condemned the Lord Himself to death.

Even as St. Stephen spoke most eloquently and wonderfully with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and even as his arguments and words were most convincing and unrefuteable, those who opposed him still hardened their hearts and closed off their mind, blatantly closing off their ears and covering them to shut the words of St. Stephen, charging at him and stoned him to death. Their pride and ego prevented them from seeing the truth of God.

It was a similar attitude showed by the people whom the Lord spoke to in our Gospel passage today. They showed doubt and refusal to believe that the Lord is the Bread of Life when He spoke to them referring to Himself as that. Contextually, the Lord had just fed the multitudes of over five thousand men and thousands of others who were gathered miraculously with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. He revealed Himself as the Bread of Life to pre-empt and show what He would do for the salvation of all.

But the people still doubted and refused to believe that this Man could have fed them, especially with His own Flesh and Body as He mentioned. And in the end, after the events mentioned in today’s Gospel, many of those who followed the Lord initially left Him and abandoned Him. They could not take the hard truth and reality that He has revealed to them, and chose to walk away from that truth. It was no surprise therefore that St. Stephen faced the same issues and problems when he spoke of the same truth to the people gathered against Him.

This is why as Christians, all of us are reminded that it is often our faith will bring us into contradiction and opposition against the world, and what we may face along the way, may indeed be discouraging for us and hard for us to accept. Yet, that is the reality of our Christian faith and what we have been called to do as those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as our Lord, our Master and our Saviour. We are all called to be His faithful disciples, and to be His witnesses in our daily living, that we may, through our words, actions and deeds truly proclaim that the Lord Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, the saints and martyrs, like that of St. Stephen who had devoted himself thoroughly to even suffer and die for the Lord’s sake? As Christians, we are yet again reminded that we cannot remain idle in our faith, but instead our faith must be one of giving, the generous giving of ourselves in reaching out to all those who hunger for the truth of God, and as the beacons of the light of God to those who are still living in the darkness, that through the light we bring forth, we may illuminate the path for many on their way to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all pray that God will guide and strengthen us all with faith, and with the courage so that we may embark ever more faithfully and courageously to live our lives at each and every moments as devout and committed Christians, so that as far as possible, our every actions and our very lives will proclaim God’s truth and show that we are truly God’s children, His beloved and chosen people. May the Lord bless us and our many good works, that through us, He may bring His light and salvation to more and even more people, our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 30-35

At that time, the Jews said to Jesus, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6ab and 7b-8a, 17 and 21ab

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; but I put all my trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love, for You have seen my affliction.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.