Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, and we are all reminded that as the glorious season of Easter is coming to a close soon, with the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday next week, we are all called as Christians to be always full of Easter joy and hope, and to carry out the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us, the mission to bring forth His truth and love to all the nations, to all the peoples of every race and every origins, so that everyone may come to know the Lord, His salvation and grace, His love and most generous mercy for us all, His beloved ones.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church. St. Stephen was falsely accused by the opponents of the Lord and all those who resented him and his efforts in proclaiming the Christian faith and truth to the people. St. Stephen despite facing such an opposition and persecution, going up against the whole assembly of those who have been full of determination to persecute and destroy him, did not fear for his life. On the contrary, encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen courageously proclaimed the Lord and all that He had done for our salvation before those same people.

St. Stephen spent the time to reveal to them the truth of God and he spoke very convincingly guided by the Wisdom granted to him through the Holy Spirit. Yet, the people refused to listen to him, close off and shielded their ears, rushing towards him and angrily stoning him to death. And despite everything that happened to him, St. Stephen did exactly the same as the Lord had done, forgiving and praying for the sake of all those who had persecuted him, asking the Lord not to hold their mistakes and faults, their sins against them, but to forgive them and to show mercy on them. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are asked to emulate in our own lives.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the vision that St. John received while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. St. John received the vision of the things that will happen in the future, and today, we heard the conclusion of that account of his vision of the future. After having seen all that will transpire and happen in the end of times, the Second Coming of the Lord and the final triumph of the Lord against Satan and the forces of evil and sin, St. John saw the Lord speaking to him and telling him that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that He will come again at the end of time, everything to happen just as St. John had seen them.

That is why the Lord told him and through him, His Church, all of us to be His faithful witnesses, and to speak of this same truth, the truth that St. Stephen had spoken courageously about, and had died defending. St. Stephen died defending the same truth that has been entrusted to us all, and which we all also ought to defend and proclaim courageously in our own present day and time. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, and God has given us all various gifts, talents and opportunities for us to be inspirations to each other, so that by our lives and actions, we may all inspire more people to come to believe in God and be saved.

That is why today, this Sunday we also commemorate the occasion of World Communications Sunday. In the context of our faith, we are all called to be good communicators of our faith, as faithful and devout witnesses of our Christian truths, of the Lord’s love and kindness. This is our mission as part of the Church of God, the Great Commission that our Lord had entrusted to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. And although He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer physically visible in our midst, but He is in truth always with us, guiding us along the way, and the Holy Spirit that He has granted to us through the Church, gave us the wisdom and courage to proclaim Him just as St. Stephen had done.

Nonetheless, in order for us to do this properly, we have to be connected to the Lord and we have to regularly in communication with Him. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus praying to His Father in Heaven, asking Him to bless His disciples and to give them strength and guidance, we should always look up to the Lord and keep ourselves connected to Him, just as the Lord Himself often prayed to His Father. Jesus has showed us the example of how we all should pray and stay connected to our loving Father and Creator, and we should heed and emulate His examples in our own lives.

That brings us to think of what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not like what some of us may think it is. Prayer is not the means for us to attain or achieve what we wanted, that just by asking the Lord what we want through prayer, then God will then give us what we wanted. That is among some very common misconceptions that we normally had on what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not a litany of demands or petitions made by us, demanding that God does something for our sake or on our behalf. Let us not forget that God does not owe us anything or in any way beholden to us, that He has to accede to our demands.

On the contrary, true prayer is our way of communicating wholeheartedly to the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, in the manner how the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His Father, and how the Apostles and saints like St. Stephen prayed. Prayer is about opening ourselves and our hearts and minds, entering into genuine communication and dialogue with God, speaking to Him and letting Him speak to us as well, in the depths of our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, more often than not we allow ourselves to be distracted and we were also unwilling to listen to God, while forcing God and demanding on Him to listen to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the World Communications Sunday, each one of us as Christians are not only just reminded of our calling and mission in life, to evangelise and proclaim the truth of God in our world today, but we must also learn to be good communicators in order to do so. As mentioned, first of all we must be connected to God and know how to communicate with Him, through prayers and other means, and not only sporadically, but as often as we are able to, from our hearts and allowing God to speak to us, so that we may know of His will and what He intends with our lives.

And in our work of evangelisation and proclaiming the words of God’s truth, we must also be good and effective communicators as well. We cannot convince others to believe in God unless we also listen to them and communicate with them, reaching out to them and their hearts. Imposing our will and demanding others to listen to us only do not make use good evangelisers and examples of our Christian faith. Not only that, but we can even risk causing others to distance themselves further away from God and His Church, as we must be mindful that our actions can both bring people closer to God, as well as driving people away from Him.

Hence, as Christians, we have truly great responsibilities, to proclaim the Word of God and the Christian teachings and truths through our lives. We should not just speak with our words, but we must embody our Christian faith through our way of life, in every single moments of our lives, so that others who see us, witness our actions and way of life may come to believe in God through us. In fact, if we do not live our lives according to what we profess or proclaim, then we are no better than hypocrites who do not live their lives and practice what they themselves had preached. And in that way, hardly anyone will believe in us, no matter what we tell them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth to the nations. We do not have to seek to do great things in life, but rather, even in the smallest things we do, in our every interactions with each other, we should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and beliefs. We have to allow the Lord to lead and guide us, through the wisdom and courage of His Holy Spirit, that we do not end up falling into the wrong path in life, or mislead others into the path of sin. Let our lives be good examples and let us communicate our faith well to others, and strengthen each other’s faith through examples of our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our own respective journeys of life. May He empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God bless us in our every actions and way of life, and may He remain in our midst and lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as We are One : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me.”

“As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and also may be in them.”

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 22 : 12-14, 16-17, 20

I am coming soon, bringing with Me the recompense I will pay to each one, according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who wash their robes, for they will have free access to the tree of life, and enter the city through the gates.

I, Jesus, sent My Angel, to make known to you these revelations concerning the churches. I am the Shoot, and Offspring of David, the radiant Morning Star. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Whoever hears, let him say, “Come!” Whoever thirsts, let him approach, and whoever desires, let him freely take the water of life.

He Who has declared all this says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory. Let all spirits bow before Him.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 55-60

But Stephen, 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.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, on the fortieth day of Easter or on the seventh Sunday in the Easter season, we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the moment when the Risen Lord Jesus, after having appeared to His disciples, ascended in glory to Heaven, returning to His place at the side of God the Father. On this day we remember the time when the Lord, as He ascended into Heaven, sent out His disciples and followers with the final commandment, also known as the Great Commission, to go forth to the whole world and make the disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Today we are all reminded that while God has ascended into Heaven, it was not because He abandoned us or left us behind. Instead, as He Himself had said, that He went before all of us to prepare a place for us, and also as He has said and promised, that He will come again in the end, at His Second Coming, to gather all of His faithful ones and to win a final triumphant victory against the forces of evil, leading all of us, God’s beloved children to the true and fullness of happiness which had been intended and meant for us from the very beginning. The Lord ascended into Heaven to show us that He truly came from there, and by His love for us, He has willingly come to us in order to touch us and to show His most generous and enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Solemnity of the Ascension, we are presented with the full circle of the Lord’s work in bringing His love and salvation into our midst. We have seen the Lord’s love made flesh, the Son of God made Man, Who entered into this world as the Son of Man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and made the love of God and His salvation tangible and approachable to us. The Lord has shown Himself to us, and as He came of age and revealed Himself through His Baptism, He began His ministry and work among us, and revealing the truth that He has brought into this world.

And today we mark that moment after He has completed all of that world He had to do in this world, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father. He completed His many works, healing the people, casting out demons and performing countless other miracles and signs, showing everyone that He is truly the One Whom the prophets and messengers of God had spoken and prophesied about. He would then face suffering for our sake, willingly and voluntarily taking up His Cross for our sake, accepting the burden of that Cross on our behalf, bearing on His shoulders the whole burden and the consequences due for our sins. By His Passion, suffering and death, He has united us to Himself and we who share in His death and then later, His Resurrection, have become sharers and partakers of this promise of eternal life.

Hence, after He has completed all of these and made a New Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant between God and us, sealed and purchased by His own Precious Blood, which He offered for our sake, as our High Priest, on the Altar of His Cross, as mentioned in our second reading today, so that by the offering of the most worthy Precious Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Holy Paschal Lamb of God, then the atonement of our innumerable sins can be made a reality. We are truly so fortunate that we have such a loving God on our side, caring for us and protecting us, and even reaching out to us and loving us when we have often spurned His love and rejected Him and His mercy.

The Lord ascended into Heaven after He has risen from the dead, after His triumphant victory against evil and death. And as He ascended gloriously by His own power and might, it proved to all those who had witnessed Him in His Risen glory and that He did not die but had risen from the dead, that truly Jesus Christ is the Holy One Who had come down from Heaven as prophesied by the prophets and the servants of God of ages past, and the Lord has delivered unto us the unmistakeable proof of His love, by His sacrifice on the Cross. His ascension and return into Heaven then serves as the proof that whatever He had said was true, and the disciples who witnessed it, believed in Him as they had always done.

The Lord also did not leave His disciples alone, as He has promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would continue to guide them henceforth, to do what He commanded them all to do, the Great Commission to go forth to all the people from all the nations, proclaiming the truth of God, the Good News of His salvation and to gather them all to Himself, by baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This has been, is and will always be the primary mission of the Church, as God entrusted this very important mission to His Church, to this very day, so that many more people who had not yet known Him, may come to be saved as well.

That is why, today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, it is very important that each and every one of us realise that as parts and members of the Church, each one of us as Christians ought to take up this same mission which God has entrusted to us, to be His witnesses and to evangelise to all the people of all the nations. We are all called to share in the very same mission that God has entrusted to His Apostles, until He comes again at the end of time, at the time of His Second Coming, as shown in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when God will come once again to gather all of His faithful and win a final victory against evil.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters. Have we truly lived our lives faithfully as Christians all these while? Or have we instead been idle and ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, or even worse still, have we instead been acting in ways that brought scandal to our faith and to the Lord, which caused others to distance themselves from the Church and from the Christian faith and truths? These are important questions that we really need to ask ourselves and to serve as good reminders even as we celebrate this Ascension of Our Lord today, so that it will not be merely just another celebration and then life goes on as usual for us, without a profound change in our life attitudes.

If we wonder whether we are worthy or capable of the calling and the mission which the Lord had entrusted to us, then we do not need to look any further from the Apostles themselves, many of whom were illiterate and came from backgrounds and origins that would have made them unlikely, even ineligible to be the followers and champions of the Lord. And yet, that was what exactly had happened, and the Lord called His disciples and followers even from among the unlikeliest of sources, because ultimately what we think as impossible, by our standards, are perfectly possible for God, because everything is possible for Him, Who knows all things and rules over all.

We do not need to do magnificent or wonderful things. Even if we can live our lives righteously, in accordance to the teachings of the Lord and the laws and rules of the Church, in even the smallest things and parts of our lives, then that will already be sufficient for us. What we need to do is to do our best even in the smallest of things, in the every words we utter, every actions and interactions we have done, and in our every works and dealings. We are all called to be good examples, role models and inspirations to one another with our every day living and in all that we say, act and do. That is the best way for us to proclaim the Lord and to evangelise, reaching out to all those who have not yet known the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our every day living, from now on if we have not yet done so, to be good and committed disciples of Our Lord, spreading His Good News, truth and love to all, and continuing His many good works that He has entrusted to His Church. We are all God’s people, and we should do our best to follow Him and obey His will as best as we can. We should reflect on this well as we celebrate this glorious day of the Ascension. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all and to strengthen us just as He has guided the Apostles and disciples in doing their best for the greater glory of God.

May our Lord, Who ascended in glory and Who has shown us His everlasting love, continue to guide us and be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our path so that we may always ever be ready to embark on the journey of faith and be great witnesses and missionaries of His cause, glorifying Him by our every actions and deeds in life. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 46-53

At that time, Jesus 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. And that is why I will send you what My Father promised. So remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus led them almost as far as Bethany; then He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And as He blessed them, He withdrew, and was taken to heaven. They worshipped Him, and then returned to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple, praising God.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 24-28 and Hebrews 10 : 19-23

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the True One, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God, on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he, who, may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise, He would have suffered many times, from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now, at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once, and afterward are judged, in the same way, Christ sacrificed Himself, once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin, when He comes again, to save those waiting for Him.

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary, by the Blood of Jesus Who opened, for us, this new and living way, passing through the curtain, that is, His Body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach, with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience, and our bodies washed, with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope, without wavering, because He, Who promised, is faithful.

Alternative reading

Ephesians 1 : 17-23

May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal Himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him. May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God.

May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power He acts in favour of us who believe. He revealed His Almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world but in the world to come as well.

Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as Head of the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 1-11

In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when He ascended to heaven. But first He had instructed through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs that He was alive, over a period of forty days He appeared to them and taught them concerning the kingdom of God.

Once when He had been eating with them, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you : John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit within a few days.”

When they had come together, they asked Him, “Is it now that You will restore the Kingdom of Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven where He went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus Who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen Him go there.”