Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! This Sunday we have finally come to the culmination of the Holy Week and the conclusion of the season of Lent, entering into the Blessed time of Easter, as we commemorate the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on the third day after He suffered and died, descending into hell. Through His glorious Resurrection that we celebrate, all mankind and all creation receive a new hope and light, the light of Our Lord’s saving grace.

Today, we mark the time when the light of Christ our Saviour triumphed over the darkness of sin and death. He has broken definitively the chains of sin and the bondage of evil, the power of death and the dominion of Satan and his fallen angels over us. By His Resurrection, He showed us that sin and death no longer hold any dominion over us. As He offered Himself on the Cross and died for us, the Lord truly suffered and died, not just being a superficial or for appearance. Hence, by His humanity truly united to His divinity, though distinct, God Himself had died for us.

And because we share in His humanity, we have therefore shared in His death, and through His Resurrection, we are sharing in the new life that He is bringing upon us, the promise of eternal life after, in the world to come, when we shall rise again with the Lord, and in body and soul, in our complete existence, glorify the Lord in perfect bliss and true joy for eternity. Through the Resurrection, God has broken the chains of sin and death that had held us down, and He has unbarred and opened the doors of Heaven to us.

Without the Crucifixion, there can be no Resurrection, and this is what we all need to remember as we come to celebrate this great Solemnity of Easter. The Lord truly suffered for us, and endured all the sufferings that were supposed to be for us. Thus, as we rejoice in the Lord’s Resurrection, we are all called to appreciate everything that He had done for us, all that He has endured for us, all that He had borne for us, the things that He did for us out of love.

This is the day of joy and happiness because after the long period of penitence and observance of fasting, abstinence and other practices throughout Lent, we finally enter into the time of Easter, just as how the Israelites must have been so joyful to enter into the Promised Land after having journeyed for so long in the desert, for forty years. After mankind had suffered for so long under the tyranny of sin and bondage of death and evil, we have finally seen the light of God’s salvation in the Resurrection.

We renew our baptismal promises today, and as we do so, we should remind ourselves well that those promises are not just mere formality or process to go through. Instead, when we make our solemn promises, and renew them, we should be as resolute as we are as on the day of our baptism. We must not make empty promises or only pay lip service to the Lord. On the contrary, as we begin this blessed time and season of Easter, we are constantly being reminded again and again what being a Christian is truly all about.

As those whom God had called and chosen to be His own people, and as we have willingly accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour, we are all called to be truly faithful in all things, and dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to His cause. We should not be complacent or lax in how we live our lives, but instead strive to do our best to be good examples to our fellow brothers and sisters, that we may truly be good Christian role models and inspire others to live their lives in the same way that we do, in obeying God and His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all gather together to celebrate this most amazing moment, when Our Lord, Risen from the dead, have led us to freedom and new graceful existence in Him, let us all discern well what we are to do in the coming days, weeks, months and even years, to be more faithful and dedicated to God. As those who have received the faith, and called to be the Lord’s disciples, we have been entrusted with the same truth that the Apostles had received, to be witnesses of the Lord’s truth and Resurrection to the world.

And we do not have to do magnificent and great things. We can begin all these from ourselves, from whatever little things that we can do in our respective lives, in our interactions with one another, in our commitment to walk the path of faith together. And we should also be filled with the same strength, courage and enthusiasm as those disciples of the Lord had, in proclaiming the Lord’s truth, like the two disciples who met the Risen Lord on their way to Emmaus, who went back all the way to Jerusalem after a long journey that they might proclaim the Risen Lord to the other disciples.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the Lord has brought His light into this world, overcoming the darkness of sin and death, let us all be wonderful reflections of His light, and bear that same light into this darkened world, that we may be the beacons of hope and light through which many others who have been despairing, downtrodden and lost hope, suffering and in sorrow, may see the same light of hope in Christ through us. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to be these beacons of God’s hope and light especially in this past year when there had been so much suffering and trials for so many people?

In our every words, actions and deeds, let us be an Easter people, a people of hope, faith and enthusiasm, of the hope we have in the Lord and the belief and trust in our Lord’s providence and in His salvation, which He has brought upon us through Jesus Christ, His Son. Let us all reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters, and be exemplary in everything, even in our little actions in life, to be guide and helper to those who are in need of the Lord’s light and strength in their lives.

May God, our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us all, as we continue to walk down this path of faith, and may He bless our Easter journey and celebration, that each and every one of us may be ever more faithful, and be ever firmer in our conviction to love and serve Him in our daily lives. May God bless us all, and may He strengthen us all, to be faithful as Christians, an Easter people, at all times. Amen.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

At that time, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

Alternative reading

Mark 16 : 1-7

At that time, when the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint the Body. And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But, as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him. Now go, and tell His disciples and Peter : Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there, just as He told you.”

Alternative reading (Easter Sunday Evening Mass)

Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, on the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them. But their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveller to Jerusalem who does not know what haw happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, You know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place.”

“It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of Angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a Body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem.

There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 1-4

So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, reveals Himself, you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.

Alternative reading

1 Corinthians 5 : 6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab-17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.”

“He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.”

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded us to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Today on this holiest of all nights and at the pinnacle of the Lord’s salvation of all mankind, on this Easter Vigil, we mark the moment almost two millennia ago when the Lord brought His salvation to all of us mankind, on a night that was truly extraordinary, a night above all other nights, the Mother of all Holy Vigils just as we have heard in our Easter Proclamations or the Exsultet earlier on. On this night, as we all keep this Vigil faithfully as one Church, we remember the night when God, through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour, delivered us from the tyranny of sin and from the power of death.

That is why, today, all of us are reminded through the many readings and lessons from the Sacred Scriptures, right back from the very beginning of time, detailing all that the Lord had done for us, starting with the time of the Creation of the world in the Book of Genesis, and then followed by the account of the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, and most importantly, the story of the Exodus from Egypt, how the Israelites were rescued from the land of Egypt, and how God overthrew their oppressors, and then through to the prophets who promised of God’s salvation for His people.

All of these events throughout history showed us how the Lord loved us so greatly and so wonderfully, that to rescue us all, a people whom He had created and loved, He had guided us throughout all of history, promising to us the liberation from the power of sin and death that had enslaved us since the beginning of Creation, with the fall of man into sin, by the disobedience against God and His will. Yet, God did not abandon us or reject us, and while we have to endure the consequences for those sins, He did not annihilate mankind although He could perfectly have done so.

Instead, He proclaimed right from the very beginning that He would save His people, that He would send His deliverance to them, right before Satan, as well as Adam and Eve in the Gardens of Eden, when He proclaimed that the Woman would come and crush the head of Satan, as the premonition for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, born through the Virgin, Mary, and how He would save all of mankind through His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, all that we have been celebrating and focusing on in the past one week, and culminating tonight at the celebration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord.

Tonight we mark the culmination of the entire Easter Triduum, the period of time spanning three days from the time of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday right up to the Resurrection at the end of the Sabbath. That is rightly celebrated together as such because we should see the entire Easter Triduum, the Last Supper, Our Lord’s Passion, suffering and crucifixion, His death and Resurrection as one single great event, the greatest event in the entire history of all mankind, the moment of our salvation and liberation, just as how the Israelites were saved from the hands of the Egyptians.

Earlier on in the celebration of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I have been focusing on how the events of the Last Supper and all that happened on Good Friday were one great event of the new Passover of Our Lord, the new Passover and the New Covenant that He was establishing with us all mankind, which He initiated on the Last Supper, offering His own Precious Body and Blood through the bread and wine He blessed, broken and shared among His disciples, as the symbolic giving of Himself to all of us, and then, on Good Friday, He completed everything as He laid there on the Cross, bloodied, bruised and dying.

This was the sacrifice alluded in the reading from the Book of Genesis on the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved and promised son Isaac to Him, on Mount Moriah. When God saw Abraham’s faith and dedication, not holding back even from giving his own son, He told Abraham that He had seen his faith, and spared Isaac, instead placing a ram in Isaac’s place. And how is this related to what we are celebrating? That is because Christ has suffered and died in our place, putting upon Himself all the burdens and blame that were ours, so that we do not perish but live.

God did not spare His own beloved, only begotten Son, giving Him to us as the Source of Life and the Hope of eternal life. He sent us Christ, His Son, that He may become the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, by Whose Blood all of us have been redeemed, just as the Israelites were saved from death in the original Passover, being ‘passed over’ by death because of the blood of the unblemished lamb that was marked upon the doors and lintels of their houses. Thus, by the shedding of the Body of Christ, our Paschal Lamb and His Precious Blood, we have been marked as God’s beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in one of the most important of the readings tonight, that of the crossing of the Red Sea, all of us are brought to attention on what we have been going through this Holy Week and through these events, together with God. As the Israelites were pursued by the Egyptians to the edge of the Red Sea, God opened the Sea before them and they all crossed on the dry seabed to the other side, towards their freedom and the Promised Land, marking the definitive moment when they gained their complete freedom from the rule of the Egyptians, as God crushed the Egyptians right behind them.

Hence, tonight, on this holiest and Mother of all Holy Vigils, we celebrate the moment when the Lord brought us all, who have shared in His humanity and therefore His death on the Cross, into the new life and existence, through His glorious Resurrection that we therefore will also share, and which we have entered through the Sacrament of Baptism when all of us, as Christians, were welcomed into the Church be it as infants or as adults. And we remember therefore this most sacred and wonderful night when the Lord led us through the valleys of darkness and death, and into life everlasting.

For through the waters of baptism, we have passed through death and into new life, just as water is capable both of destruction as well as giving life. For the Lord has, by the authority and the efforts of His Church, gathered all of us from among the nations and brought us into His embrace, that we may not be separated any longer, instead being reconciled and reunited fully with God, cleansed from the taints of our original sin, the sin of disobedience against God, and the corruption which had separated us from the love and grace of God.

Through the waters of baptism, God restored the grace and life to us and our existence, purified and cleansed, ready to start again with God and walking with Him. We have been made whole once again through baptism, and we have received pardon and absolution for those sins we committed or for those things that we failed to do. A new life has been given to us, which is possible thanks to Christ Himself, Who has gone through suffering and death, and finally the Resurrection to overcome death for all of us.

Thus, by His Resurrection, Christ showed us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For He has conquered death itself by rising gloriously from the dead. Through His Resurrection, the Lord broke free the chains that kept mankind trapped through sin, and led them to a new future, one where sin no longer have any power and dominion over any of us. He proved to all of us that while all of us mortals will experience death and the end of our earthly life one day, but that is not the end of the road for us.

Through baptism, all of us have been gathered into the one Body of Christ, the Church, and have been given the assurance of eternal life, in the world to come, where we shall share in the glory of the Lord, the blissful life and existence of fullness of grace. However, all these will be ours in due time. And if we are wondering why is it that although we have been baptised, that we still need to regularly confess our sins and resist the temptations to sin, it is because through baptism, we have received the assurance of eternal life through Christ and sin no longer has power or dominion over us, but it is also our free will to choose to be enslaved by sin again and to reject God and His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, hence, tonight as we gather together to celebrate this most holy of all nights, the time of the Lord’s triumph and victory over evil and sin, over the darkness and death, let us all renew our baptismal promises with great vigour and zeal, with renewed desire to love God and to be closer to Him, to be more obedient and committed to Him. Let us make that commitment with genuine intention and the courage to live our lives henceforth as dedicated Christians at all times.

Our baptism is just the beginning of a great and new journey, just as the Israelites began their journey through the desert after crossing the Red Sea and after making the Covenant with God at Mount Sinai. They fell many times and they were tempted many times, disobeying God and fell into the darkness again and again. But God patiently continued to love them and tried to bring them back from the wrong path. The same therefore applies to us as well, brothers and sisters. Our Christian life is one of struggle and also filled with challenges, often daily, in which we often may have to choose between following and obeying God, or following the norms of the world and the society, among others.

As we enter into this season of Easter, let us all pass through this night as a renewed person, in each and every one of us. For those who are baptised this night, it is a momentous event, when they accept God fully as their Lord and Saviour, and enter into this new life, the Christian life blessed by God. And for all of us otherwise, we are renewing our baptismal promises tonight as mentioned, in this Easter Vigil Mass, and it should also be a momentous event in our lives, as we are reminded yet again, year after year, to keep ourselves holy and devoted to God, and not to fall again into the temptations of sin.

Let us all pray for one another that we may persevere ever more in the struggle against evil, and that we may always be faithful and find the courage in us to stand up for the truth and for our faith. Let us all pray for all those around the world, our fellow brethren who are unable to celebrate the Easter joy properly due to various reasons, either because of persecution, civil unrest and disturbances, war and conflict, among many other reasons. We pray that God will continue to watch over them, and if there are things that we can do to help, let us contribute in whatever way we can.

Most importantly, let us all live our lives henceforth as a liberated people, free from sin, if our past have been often troubled and filled with the darkness. Let us reject Satan, his many temptations, and sin in all of its forms, and let us be exemplary in our way of living from now on, that we may become truly an Easter people, a people who truly belong to the Lord, and everyone will know that we are Christians because of our actions, words and deeds in life, that is centred on Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour, upholding His truth and living virtuously according to His Law and teachings.

Let us be inspiration for one another, and help support each other especially if we see our brothers or sisters who are struggling, either in the worldly matters or even more importantly, in their spiritual matters and their faith. There have already been enough troubles in the past few months and years, and we should be the bearers of the Light of Christ in this world, bearing forth that Light by which Christ, Our Lord and Saviour triumphed over the darkness of evil and sin. By our lives and our faith, let us bring Christ’s light and truth to the nations, that more and more may come to believe in Him and become His disciples and followers.

May God bless us all, and may He guide us in our journey, particularly through this blessed season of Easter, so that all of us may grow ever stronger in our faith and dedication, and that we may be ever better examples to our fellow men and women, and together as one Church, let us all bear witness to Our Lord’s Resurrection, and do what we can to glorify His Name, through our daily lives and actions. May all of us have a most blessed and wonderful Easter, and may God, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us all. Amen.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 1-7

At that time, when the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint the Body. And very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But, as they looked up, they noticed that the stone had already been rolled away. It was a very big stone.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right, and they were amazed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified; He has been raised and is not here. This is, however, the place where they laid Him. Now go, and tell His disciples and Peter : Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there, just as He told you.”

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab and 17, 22-23

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done.

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Epistle)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 6 : 3-11

Do you not know that in baptism which unites us to Christ we are all baptised and plunged into His death? By this baptism in His death, we were buried with Christ and, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we begin walking in a new life. If we have been joined to Him by dying a death like His so we shall be by a resurrection like His.

We know that our old self was crucified with Christ, so as to destroy what of us was sin, so that we may no longer serve sin – if we are dead, we are no longer in debt to sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, once risen from the dead, will not die again and death has no more dominion over Him. For by dying, He is dead to sin once and for all, and now the life that He lives is life with God.

So you, too, must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 4 April 2021 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm after Seventh Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 41 : 3, 5bcde and Psalm 42 : 3, 4

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I go and see the face of God?

Now as I pour out my soul, I remember all this – how I used to lead the faithful in procession to the house of God, amid shouts of joy and thanksgiving, among the feasting throng.

Send forth Your light and Your truth; let them be my guide, let them take me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You reside.

Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my gladness and delight. I will praise You with the lyre and harp, o God, my God.

Alternative Psalm (If there is Baptism)

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Alternative Psalm (If there is Baptism)

Psalm 50 : 12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit. Do not cast me out of Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Give me again the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers Your ways and sinners will return to You.

You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, You would not delight in it.

O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart You will not despise.