Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate together the Second Sunday of Easter, also known in the recent years as the Divine Mercy Sunday, based on the popular devotion to the Divine Mercy by the Polish nun and visionary St. Faustina Kowalska. Today therefore, we remember and glorify the great mercy of God, His most merciful heart, through which He has shown His desire to forgive us sinners from our sins.

We mankind have sinned from the time when we first entered into this world, from the time of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, whom God created and placed in the beautiful garden of Eden, intended to live in bliss and joy for eternity. And yet, we have disobeyed the Lord and did what was abhorrent in His sight, and thus, we had to endure the fate of suffering and pain in this world, and also death had come to rule over us. All of us would have perished in the end. But God did not intend this to happen to us, as He wanted to show us all His mercy.

And how does God show His mercy to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is none other than by the generous giving of His only Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate symbol of God’s love and mercy. Remember that in the famous verse from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus said to Nicodemus, that “God so loved the world, that He sent into the world His only Son, that through Him, all will not perish but find eternal life and redemption.”

Jesus had come into this world bearing His truth and His love. The love and mercy of God had been made manifest through Christ and all that He had done. He had shown mercy on sinners and all those who had once been sundered from God’s love, calling them to repentance and forgiveness. He had turned sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes, criminals and delinquents into the path of the Lord’s salvation. He showed them that there is hope beyond the darkness of their sins.

For He has done the ultimate act of love, by His willing and loving sacrifice on the cross. During the Holy Week, which had just passed on not long ago, we remembered the memory of the Lord’s Passion and suffering, how He endured the last week of His earthly life in Jerusalem, and eventually giving Himself up for the sake of the salvation of all mankind, God’s people, by laying down His life on the cross, for our sake, and for the absolution of our sins.

But if Christ had remained dead, then there would have been no proof of God’s mercy. For then He would just be like any other men who have died because of their sins. It was His glorious resurrection from the dead which made God’s mercy available for all of us, as He proved that death does not have the final say to us, and by His resurrection from the dead, He showed us all that there is hope in life through Him.

Yet we often acted as St. Thomas the Apostle had done. We knew how St. Thomas often had doubts in his heart about the Lord, and he also doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead. He did not want to believe before he was able to prove it himself, by seeing for himself that the Lord is risen, and physically present in his presence, that he was able to tangibly sense and recognise His presence, by putting his fingers into the wounds on the hands, feet and the side of the Lord’s Body.

We often try to find excuses and justification for our way of life, by acting in the same manner as St. Thomas had done. We are too easily swayed by our senses, by what we see, what we hear and what we feel around us. And that is how we ended up falling into sin. We sin because we are not careful enough with how we live our lives, as we are tempted by the temptations of this world, be it the temptation of desire, of pride, of recognition, of wealth, possessions, fame and many others.

We are easily tempted, and we are prone to fall into sin again and again. Yet, that is what our crosses in life are. We must persevere and remain true and faithful to God to the very end. Remember how Christ bore His heavy cross for our sake, and despite falling three times, He always stood up again. This is a reminder for us that, even when we fall into sin, we must not let despair to take over us, but we must keep instead the strong hope for our salvation, by keeping our focus on the Lord, and having the strong conviction not to commit sin again in our respective lives.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, we will surely encounter moments of weakness and doubt as St. Thomas had encountered, but we cannot give up, for what is at stake is none other than the fate of our souls. Do we want to give up to sin, and therefore endure forever the eternal damnation that is the just reward for all those who have not turned away from sin and perished? Or do we rather repent and turn away from those sins, as best as we can, and therefore enter into God’s merciful love and grace?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where it is important for each one of us Christians to show God’s mercy to one another, to promote His everlasting mercy for each one of us. But we must be careful lest we end up promoting false mercy, which God does not show to us sinners. God is indeed merciful and forgiving, and He is willing to wipe away our sins, but all of these depend on whether we ourselves want to be forgiven.

Yes, this is the reality, which all of us must carefully keep in mind. We must not and cannot offer false mercy, by allowing sinners to continue to live in sin and say to them that God understands their sinful actions, as if He condoned such actions and sins. We have to keep in mind that God despises sins and wickedness, just as much as He is loving and kind towards us. He loves each and every one of us, and desires us to be forgiven, but He does not condone our sins.

God loves sinners, but not sin. This is the reality about God’s mercy. We as Christians have received the promise of God’s salvation, but we must remain vigilant and ready, lest we fall again into sin. It is said in the Gospels, that if the righteous falls into sin, then he or she shall perish, because of the sin committed. And similarly, if a sinner turns away from sin and do what is righteous and just in the eyes of God, the sinner will be saved because of the righteousness he or she had committed.

That means, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to show real mercy in our actions and interactions with others, especially with those who have lapsed away from God’s grace. We must not judge them in a way that we are ourselves also sinners, and if we judge them in this manner, then we too will be liable to be judged in the same way.

Rather, what we all need to do is to welcome them, and help them, to turn away from their sinful ways, just as we ourselves must keep ourselves from doing what is sinful in the sight of God and men alike. We must follow what the Lord said to the woman condemned for adultery, that is to ‘sin no more’. Jesus did not condemn the woman, but what we often forget is that, He also asked her to abandon her sinful ways, and turn herself completely to the way of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember God’s most Divine Mercy on this Sunday, let us all therefore, first of all, remember how we are sinners and how we have sinned in various ways in our life, be it venial or small sin, or serious sin. And thus, let us all make the commitment to reject all of our sinful past way of life, and seek to be changed by the grace of God, opening ourselves to receive God’s forgiveness. Let us help one another to attain this forgiveness, by encouraging one another to lead a righteous life in accordance to God’s will.

May the Lord, Whose most Divine Mercy wants us to be forgiven and to be reconciled to Him, grant us the strength to persevere through the temptations and challenges in this life, so that we may always be able to resist the temptation and pressure to sin, that by turning our back to sin and sinning no more, we may be worthy to enter into the heavenly inheritance which the Lord has promised to all those who are faithful to Him. O Most Divine Mercy, have mercy on us all sinners. Amen.

Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 20 : 19-31

At that time, on the evening of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in the their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not be an unbeliever! Believe!”

Thomas then said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of His disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through His Name!

Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
1 Peter 1 : 3-9

Let us praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His great mercy. In raising Jesus Christ from the dead He has given us new life and a living hope. The inheritance that does not corrupt nor goes bad nor passes away was reserved to you in heavens, since God’s power shall keep you faithful until salvation is revealed in the last days.

There is cause for joy, then, even though you may, for a time, have to suffer many trials. Thus will your faith be tested, like gold in a furnace. Gold, however, passes away but faith, worth so much more, will bring you in the end praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ appears.

You have not yet seen Him and yet you love Him; even without seeing Him, you believe in Him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words, for you are reaching the goal of your faith : the salvation of your souls.

Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 117 : 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

I was pushed hard and about to fall, but the Lord came to my help. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Joyful shouts of victory are heard in the tents of the just : “The right hand of the Lord strikes mightily.”

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it. This is the day the Lord has made; so let us rejoice and be glad.

Sunday, 23 April 2017 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 2 : 42-47

The people were faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, the common life of sharing, the breaking of bread and the prayers. A holy fear came upon all the people, for many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles.

Now all the believers lived together and shared all their belongings. They would sell their property and all they had and distribute the proceeds to others according to their need. Each day they met together in the Temple area; they broke bread in their homes; they shared their food with great joy and simplicity of heart; they praised God and won the people’s favour.

And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Saturday, 25 April 2015 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Evangelists)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of one of the Four Great Evangelists, the four writers of the Holy Gospels. Today is the feast of St. Mark, one of the important Apostles of Jesus, who went with St. Paul in his travels of preaching the faith, and eventually founded the See of Alexandria in Egypt, now known as the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which can trace their founding from St. Mark himself.
The significance of this day cannot be separated from what we heard from the Gospel, which highlighted the very important mission which Christ had placed on our shoulders, which He entrusted to all those who have placed their trust in Him. This mission is for us to preach the Good News to all the peoples all around the world, all the way to the ends of the earth.

This mission calls us to evangelise the Gospels to those who have yet to hear the Word of God and the Good News, so that all of them may hear them and be saved as well. We cannot deny this mission nor can we ignore it, for it is this mission has been entrusted to all of us who have been baptised in the Name of our Lord. And this mission continues even to this day, as all of us still have the need to proclaim the word of God’s salvation to all the peoples.

Had the Apostles kept to themselves and did not proclaim the salvation in Jesus Christ because they were afraid of all those who were out to persecute them, then there would have been no Church, and at least not the Church that we know of and are accustomed to. All of the greatness of the Church, in terms of its reach and works, are all possible because of the courageous acts and deeds of the Holy Apostles and disciples who braved even death and destruction to bring about salvation to all peoples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all called to walk in the footsteps of the Apostles and all the holy saints, that we may also be able to carry the cross of Christ, by becoming His mouthpiece and witnesses to all the nations. Now the question is if we are ready to bear that cross and do what we are expected to do as the members of God’s Church and as the partakers of the Lord’s work of mercy and salvation of all mankind.

St. Mark had written all these testimonies, so that all of us may be aware of what our faith truly is, and how we ought to live it out faithfully and not just with empty proclamations. Therefore, similarly, we too should also heed it through real and concrete actions, to show that we truly belong to the Lord our God. As in our first reading today, St. Peter exhorted the faithful to don the vest of humility as part of their lives, and be sober and alert against the temptations and corruptions of the devil. This shows us that we must indeed be devoted to the Lord via real and genuine love, and not just with empty faith.

There are many temptations in this world, brothers and sisters, and very often, these have taken their toll on us, by turning us in rebellion against God and by turning our hearts and eyes away from His truth and His ways, and we rather follow our own way. This is the great trouble that is facing our world today, and there is something indeed which we can do in order to make it better.

Can we make use of this great opportunity, which God offers us daily, so that we may wholeheartedly change our ways and abandon our ways of sin and disobedience, and become better disciples of our Lord. Remember, brethren, that people will likely only believe in us and in whatever we preach to them, if we have practiced what we preached in our own actions and deeds.

May Almighty God give us courage and strength, the wisdom and the eloquence of speech, as well as a faithful heart and devoted mind, so that we may, by our examples, lead many more people and save more souls through the same salvation which our Lord Jesus Christ offered us freely for our forgiveness. God bless us all and may He help to keep us safe. Amen.

Saturday, 25 April 2015 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red (Apostles and Evangelists)

Mark 16 : 15-20
At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.