Saturday, 4 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of our respective responsibilities as the members of the Church, to help to build up a strong, vibrant and evangelising Church in our own respective communities, having been called by God to be the bearers of His truth and to be His witnesses among the nations and the peoples of this world.

We have been called by God to participate actively in the life of the Church, in its works and ministries, just as the Scripture passage today from the Acts of the Apostles in our first reading today, spoke of the selection of seven devout and dedicated men, members of the Church to serve the Church as deacons, marking the beginning of the Order of the Diaconate, those whom the Lord had called to serve the faithful.

This is when we should understand a bit more about the inner workings of the Church, its parts and respective responsibilities. First of all, together with the Order of Deacons, we have two other Holy Orders, those who have been ordained to the Order of Priests or the presbyterate, and those who have been ordained to the Order of Bishops or the episcopate. Each of these three holy orders, of the Episcopate, Presbyterate and the Diaconate represent important parts of the Church, as they were those who had been called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles.

They are part of the ministerial priesthood, of which they have been called to serve the larger Church in their various functions and responsibilities. The bishops, also known as elders and overseers in the ancient times, were those who had been entrusted with the leadership of the Church, the guidance of the flock of the Lord’s people, while the priests or the presbyters ministered to the people in the smaller groups such as parishes and communities, and last of all, the deacons helped, as mentioned in the first reading today, in the distribution of goods to the poor and the needy in the community.

Each and every one of the members of these three holy orders are important, now as it was then in the days of the early Church. The scope of their work and responsibilities may have changed somewhat due to the changes of times and the needs of our contemporary society, but in the end, all of them are still doing the same work to which they have been called to do, succeeding the works of the Apostles.

But brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that each and every one of us know, that it does not mean the role of the laity, or those who do not belong to the holy orders are not important. In fact, without the help of all those who are part of the laity, the bishops, priests and deacons cannot have done their works efficiently and well. It is the commitment, sacrifices and contributions made by the laity together with the commitment, sacrifices and contributions of those in holy orders that make up the entire effort and good works of the Church.

On this day therefore, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and think in what way, each and every one of us can contribute more to the works of the Church. Some among us have been called by God to be His followers and to serve Him, and these are those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord faithfully as His bishops, priests and deacons. But as mentioned, this does not mean we are not able to dedicate ourselves, in our own ways, to serve the Lord faithfully through our own capacities, abilities and means.

In fact, all of us should think and contemplate, in what ways we will be able to commit ourselves to the good works of the Church, and devote more of our time, effort and attention in serving the Lord and in serving the greater community of the Universal Church. Let us all reflect on this, and commit ourselves more wholeheartedly, from now on, to become ever better Christians, in all of our ways, in all of our words and actions. Amen.

Saturday, 4 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 16-21

At that time, when evening came, the disciples went down to the shore. After a while they got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the sea, for it was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. But the sea was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing.

They had rowed about three or four miles, when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and He was drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but He said to them, “It is I! Do not be afraid!” They wanted to take Him into the boat, but immediately the boat was at the shore to which they were going.

Saturday, 4 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

Saturday, 4 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of not just one Apostles of Our Lord Jesus, but two of the Twelve Apostles, namely that of St. Philip and St. James the Greater. It is the same St. Philip and St. James mentioned in the Scripture passages today, which reminded us of the calling to which those Apostles have been called to do, that is to become the bearers of God’s truth and salvation to the people.

St. Philip and St. James were among those whom God first called to be His followers and His disciples, to be the witnesses of all the things that He has done before them, and the truth which He has taught and revealed to all the people of God. They were called to be the pillars of His Church, which He founded on the Apostles, as the rock of faith of Peter and his fellow Apostles, who became important pillars of support of the then young and growing Church.

St. Philip was remembered for his missionary activity in Samaria, the lands north of Judea, where he preached to the Samaritans to whom the Lord has also taught, and it was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that he encountered the official of the queen of the Ethiopians, and he convinced the official so well that the official asked to be baptised and brought the faith with him back to his homeland, thus marking the beginning of the Church in the then distant land of Ethiopia.

St. Philip also went to various other places, spreading the faith, performing miracles and calling on the people to become believers of God. He went to many parts of Syria, Asia Minor and also Greece, before he suffered martyrdom in the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, where his tomb supposedly was today. St. Philip according to Apostolic tradition preached so well that he converted even the governor’s wife, enraging the governor, who ordered the saint and his fellow companions, including St. Bartholomew, another Apostle, to be tortured and crucified upside down.

Even then, St. Philip did not stop to testify the faith and preach from the cross, converting many of those who have heard him preaching even at the door of death. And although they wanted to release him, St. Philip insisted that he remained on the cross, and thus, he entered into heavenly glory as a martyr, and by whose dedication and commitment, many had been saved, and many more were inspired by his faith and examples.

Meanwhile, St. James went to various places, preaching the faith, and it was told that he went even as far as Hispania, in what is presently Spain and Portugal, preaching the faith and the truth of God, sowing the seeds of Christianity in those faraway lands, and when he returned to Jerusalem, he was among the first of the Apostles to be martyred, as recorded also in the Acts of the Apostles, how king Herod imprisoned St. James and beheaded him in order to please the Sanhedrin and the Jewish opponents of the Lord.

Both St. Philip and St. James had dedicated their whole lives in commitment to God, giving their whole lives in service to the Lord, fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to them. But their works were not yet completed, and they merely laid the foundation and the beginning from which many Christians throughout the centuries have been called to follow in their footsteps, in serving God and in committing themselves faithfully to God’s commandments.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians today are called to be followers of Christ in the model established by the Apostles, and we remember especially the memory of St. Philip and St. James, whose dedication and faith have become inspiration to many of us, to follow the Lord and to serve Him as they have once done, in their courageous and tireless efforts to bring God’s truth and salvation to His people.

Let us all therefore do the same in our own respective lives, brothers and sisters in Christ that each and every one of us will continue to serve the Lord faithfully, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, loving God and loving our fellow men, and becoming the beacons of God’s light and truth among the people of this world, so that all of us who are Christians may lead even many more of others to the Lord, to His truth and salvation.

Holy Apostles, St. Philip and St. James, pray for us all, that each and every one of us may be courageous and may be moved by your examples, that we may make good use of the talents and abilities God has given us in being bearers of His truth, that many more will come to believe in God and in His salvation, with the same conviction and courage, love and dedication as both of you had once shown. Amen.

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 14 : 6-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do.”

Friday, 3 May 2019 : Feast of St. Philip and St. James, Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.