Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the love that God has for each and every one of us and yet also reminding us of the unfortunate truth of those who refuse to embrace that generous and compassionate love that God has given to us, as shown in our first reading today in what happened between St. Paul and St. Barnabas and many of the Jews who lived in the places they visited.

St. Paul and St. Barnabas preached the truth of God, His love and all that He had done for the sake of His beloved people, His providence and companionship for them all throughout their lives and history. God has done everything to care for them and to protect them, to guide them to the right path, sending prophets after prophets, messengers and servants one after another, to call on them to follow Him and not to fall into the path of sin.

Yet, just as what many of the Jews who refused to listen to St. Paul and St. Barnabas had done, their predecessors persecuted and rejected the message of the prophets, preferring to believe in their own ways and their own pride, and therefore, closing their hearts and minds to God’s truth. And the Lord was not able to have much progress with them, just as the Apostles themselves have experienced.

We heard how the two Apostles were forced to leave the place and abandon their mission, by the way their enemies incited the people to reject them out. And this is a reminder for us all that we should not be blinded with ego and pride, with haughtiness and arrogance, with all sorts of things that prevents us from being able to welcome God’s love and presence into ourselves.

Instead, all of us should take heed of the Lord’s very own examples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, where the Lord Jesus proclaimed before His disciples how He obeyed His Father’s will completely and came not of His own motive and will, but all united to the Father’s will and desire, to love and to save all of us, His beloved ones. It was through Christ’s perfect obedience that we have all been saved.

After all, had the Lord Jesus not been so obedient to the will of His Father, and had He not loved His Father and all of us so perfectly and compassionately, we would not have been saved, as it was exactly that obedience and love which allowed Him to endure the bitter suffering and torture, the pain of the nails and the whip, the burden of the Cross and the death He endured on Calvary.

The Apostles and the prophets of the past followed this same example that the Lord Himself set, in the enduring love and commitment to serve God’s greater glory and for the love of us mankind, all of God’s own people, that they have given themselves wholeheartedly, humbly and with lots of dedication to make sure that all of us may come to believe in the Lord and therefore may also be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect then on our own lives. Have we been truly faithful and obedient to God, and have we loved Him as we should have? Or have we been selfish and prideful all these while, like many of the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia who rejected the message of the Apostles and persecuted them? Today, we also mark the feast of one of the Holy Popes, Pope St. John I, who died a martyr defending his faith and the faith of his flock against heavy oppression. And through his faith and dedication, many have been inspired to do the same, and we too, should do the same.

Let us all throw away all pride from our hearts and minds, and grow stronger instead in our humility and love for God and for our fellow men. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen us all to be able to live courageously with faith, and to love Him all the days of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 14 : 7-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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 it.”

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Saturday, 18 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 13 : 44-52

The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose, with insults, whatever Paul said.

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary, that God’s word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it, and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord : I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced, when they heard this, and praised the message of the Lord; and all those, destined for everlasting life, believed in it. Thus the word spread, throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class, and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas.

Finally, they had them expelled from their region. The Apostles shook the dust from their feet, in protest against this people, and went to Iconium, leaving; the disciples, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 17 May 2019 : 4th 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 speaking to us about the need for us to trust in God, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, He Who has come into this world to be our Saviour, to free us from our bondage to sin, and to liberate us from the power of death, as He has promised us all, and as He has delivered by His selfless and loving sacrifice on the Cross.

In the first reading today we listened from the Acts of the Apostles, about the message and truth which St. Paul delivered to the Jews in the city of Antioch in Pisidia, where the many of the Jewish people there hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to believe in the truth of Christ. And St. Paul still did not want to give up, as he reiterated before them yet again, the truth of God’s love and care for His people, that He has sent into this world, His own Begotten Son, to be our Saviour.

We are reminded therefore yet again that our hope and our trust should be in God alone, the One Who made everything possible for us. God has loved and cared for us so much that He has provided everything for us as He sent us the deliverance through His Son, Who did nothing less than baring down His own life and His own body to endure the painful torture and suffering of the Cross for our sake.

Through His Resurrection and triumphant victory over death, all of us have been brought to freedom and liberation from the power of sin and death, as His glory and resurrection show that not even the gates of hell and the power of death can chain Him. And He brought us all from the darkness into the new light and hope that He alone can provide us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us truly have that genuine and strong faith in God, that commitment and devotion to Him, so that in our daily lives, we keep hold on God strongly and are able to live our lives in the way that He has shown and taught us to do? Let us all reflect on our own actions in life, whether we have walked in His path or whether we have rather put our hope in other things in this world.

And these things are distractions for us all, such as power, money, ambition, human and worldly glories, all the things that prevent us from being able to reach out to God and His saving grace. And many of us are currently trapped in these ambitions, as we are unable to get ourselves freed from the allures of those temptations and the pressure to conform to the norms and ways of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all reorientate ourselves and our lives towards God, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, so that in everything we do, in all of our actions and deeds, in all of our words and dealings, we will always put our hope and trust in God, in Him Who has willingly given us everything, and everything in the sense that He did not even hold back His own Son from us.

May the Lord continue to guide and bless us, and give us the courage and strength to carry out our lives from now on, with all sincerity and effort to be true disciples of the Lord. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Friday, 17 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

“Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You.”

“Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!