Saturday, 11 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the reminder which the Lord has spoken to us through the passages of the Scripture we have just heard, as He spoke before the people who listened to His teachings, and heard how He referred to Himself as the Bread of Life and that His flesh is real food and His Blood is real drink. They heard how He said that unless they partake in His Body and Blood, they can have no life and part in Him.

Naturally, the people who did not understand the truth behind His words refused to believe in Him and doubted Him, saying as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, ‘These words and language are very hard, how can anyone accept them?’ And yet, the Lord spoke firmly of the truth which He had brought into this world, without hesitation and without holding back anything or changing His words. And many of the people who used to follow Him, left Him behind.

In the first reading today then, from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the works of St. Peter, who went to the city of Joppa to visit the faithful community there, and performed the impossible, making a paralysed man to be able to walk again, by the power and authority which God had granted him and the other Apostles. And then, later on, he also raised Tabitha, a devout disciple of the Lord who had already passed away, back into life.

Again, in what St. Peter had done, we have heard and witnessed things that were impossible, and even in our modern day thinking still are impossible, and yet, the Lord through His servants performed what was considered impossible and made them possible. This is a reminder for us that what is impossible and seems to be foolish for us mankind, is not beyond the ability and power of God to do, and indeed, He showed us all that everything is possible for Him, the All-Powerful, Almighty God.

Yet, the Lord had all those who refused to believe in Him, because they thought of themselves and their intelligence to be greater than the wisdom and the power of God. They hardened their hearts and minds because of the pride within them, the ego of their hearts that prevented them from truly being able to accept the Lord and His truth, which requires faith, and therefore, humility and submission before God.

And this is an important reminder for each and every one of us, that all of us as Christians are called to serve the Lord our God, Who has brought with Him truth and revelation that may often be difficult for others in this world to believe. And for that, Christians throughout generations and ages have been persecuted, because of their enduring faith and commitment to God, for their commitment to remain true to the Lord, their God, Who has given them this truth.

There will be times and moments when it will indeed be a challenge for us to be true to our faith amidst the opposition and refusal from all those who refuse to believe in the truth of God, when people refuse to believe in the centre tenet of our faith, of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the Son of God and Who has come into our midst, to suffer and be crucified and to die on the Cross, so that by His crucifixion, He might save us all from eternal damnation and death.

And there are those who also deny the truth about the Real Presence in the Eucharist, a central tenet of our faith. Just like the people of the time of Jesus, they refused to believe that the Eucharist is truly the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, despite this perfect gift of love that He has given us, offering and sacrificing Himself on the Altar of the Cross, that by giving us His Body and Blood to be consumed, we will have a share in His eternal glory, and receive new life of grace from Him.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey, now and forevermore. May all of us draw ever closer to Him, each and every days of our life. And be ever more committed to Him from now on. Amen.

Saturday, 11 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 60-69

At that time, after the Jews heard Jesus, many of His followers said, “This language is very hard! Who can accept it?”

Jesus was aware that His disciples were murmuring about this, and so He said to them, “Does this offend you? Then how will you react when you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, not the flesh. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life. But among you there are some who do not believe.”

From the beginning, Jesus knew who would betray Him. So He added, “As I have told you, no one can come to Me unless it is granted by the Father.” After this many disciples withdrew and no longer followed Him. Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will you also go away?

Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We now believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Saturday, 11 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of the Lord.

I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. It is painful to the Lord to see the death of His faithful.

O Lord, I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds. I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice; I will call on the Name of the Lord.

Saturday, 11 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 31-42

Meanwhile, the Church had peace. It was building up throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria with eyes turned to the Lord and filled with comfort from the Holy Spirit.

As Peter travelled around, he went to visit the saints who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas who was paralysed, and had been bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!”

And the man got up at once. All the people living in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. There was a disciple in Joppa named Tabitha, which means Dorcas or Gazelle. She was always doing good works and helping the poor. At that time she fell sick and died. After having washed her body, they laid her in the upstairs room.

As Lydda is near Joppa, the disciples, on hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter went with them. On his arrival they took him upstairs to the room. All the widows crowded around him in tears, showing him the clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.

Peter made them them all leave the room and then he knelt down and prayed. Turning to the dead body he said, “Tabitha, stand up.” She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the saints and widows and presented her to them alive.

This became known throughout all of Joppa and many people believed in the Lord because of it.

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.

Thursday, 9 May 2019 : 3rd 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 Lord in the Scriptures in which we heard what happened between St. Philip the Apostle and an Ethiopian official on his way back to his country. St. Philip heard the official reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, which happened to be the part referring to the work and suffering of the Lord Jesus, His death and resurrection into glory.

St. Philip spoke to the official and explained to him the truth of what had happened just recently then, which fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Saviour. St. Philip explained that the Saviour was in fact Jesus, Who had come into the world bearing the truth of God and His salvation, which He has promised to us all since the beginning of time, and which He has renewed again and again through the prophets and messengers He sent ahead of Himself.

And of this, St. Philip could speak of his own experience, as explained in our Gospel passage today. St. Philip has heard for himself the testimony and saw the actions that Christ had done, in revealing Himself as the Bread of Life, the Lamb of God and as the Saviour of the whole world. In our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord Jesus made it very clear as He taught the people about Who He really is, and what He would indeed come to do in order to bring all of God’s plans to fulfilment.

The official read about the suffering and death of the faithful servant of God, the Saviour of all, of Whom St. Philip himself witnessed during the time of the Lord’s suffering and agony, from the moment when He was arrested at the Gardens of Gethsemane, to the moment when He was condemned to death and forced to carry the burden of the Cross, a burden which He willingly took up upon Himself, as He ascended the Altar of His sacrifice, as the perfect offering, the Lamb of God, to be slain at that Altar.

St. Philip and the disciples of the Lord probably witnessed everything, or at least they must have heard from those who were specifically mentioned to have been at the place of the crucifixion. The Lord Himself offered His own Precious Body and His own Precious Blood from the Cross, as both the High Priest Who offers the sacrifice, and as the Sacrifice Himself, the Paschal Lamb we celebrate this Easter, the One Who has brought salvation on all of us.

Through His crucifixion, the Lord unites us all to His death by sharing in His Body and in His Blood, for at the moment of the consecration in each and every celebration of the Holy Mass, from the greatest of churches to the simplest of chapels and holy places, as long as it is done validly and appropriately by the ordained priests of God in His Church, the same sacrifice at Calvary is brought into the present through the authority Christ had given to His priests.

Therefore, St. Philip testified before the Ethiopian official, essentially the very action that God Himself had taken, in order to bring us all into salvation, the salvation and eternal life which He has prepared and intended for us. We have been united to His suffering and death, so that just as He died for our sins, we too may leave behind those sins and our wicked life, and embrace together, the glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death that Our God has won for us.

All of us are reminded therefore, of the most important tenets of our faith, and why we choose to believe in the Lord, our loving God, Who has given everything for us, even offering and sacrificing His own life for our sake. The Apostles like St. Philip and many others have stood for their faith, did what they could to bring the Good News and the truth of God to the many nations and peoples, including what was done in today’s first reading.

The Ethiopian official came to believe in the Lord because of the testimony of faith made by St. Philip. Are we able to do the same in our own lives? Are we able to proclaim the Lord’s truth and glory before others? And most importantly, do our lives reflect our faith, commitment and dedication in serving God? If we do not show our faith through our exemplary lives, how can we convince others to believe in Him?

Let us all reflect on these, and really spend some time to think of how we can make ourselves ever more attuned and be closer to God, through all of our actions in life. May God continue to guide us on our way, and strengthen us always in our faith. Amen.

Thursday, 9 May 2019 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 44-51

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “No one can come to Me unless he is drawn by the Father Who sent Me; and I will raise Him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets : They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to Me.”

“For no one has seen the Father except the One Who comes from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the Bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die.”

“I am the Living Bread which as come from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”