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!

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 26-33

Paul said to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, “Brothers, children and descendants of Abraham, and you also who fear God, it is to you that this message of salvation has been sent. It is a fact that the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognise Jesus.”

“Yet in condemning Him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath but not understood. Even though they found no charge against Him that deserved death, they asked Pilate to have Him executed. And after they have carried out all that had been written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.”

But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days thereafter He showed Himself to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They have now become His witnesses before the people. We ourselves announce to you this Good News : All that God promised our ancestors, He has fulfilled for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus, according to what is written in the second psalm : You are My Son, this day I have begotten You.”

Thursday, 16 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 reminding all of us to be bearers of God’s truth, which He has revealed to all of us through His Church and teachings. All of us are God’s people, to whom He has revealed all these good things for our own benefit. And He has taught us all, so that we ourselves too may become teachers to our fellow brothers and sisters, that everyone may know of God’s ways.

He has revealed to us His truth and the salvation that He has brought into this world, which has been passed on and conveyed to us through the Church, by the continuous labour and plenty of effort from the faithful throughout the ages. From generations to generations the word of God and the truth He brought has been handed on by the courageous and tireless efforts of those who have gone before us.

Had they not laboured hard and persevered, often through moments of great difficulties and persecutions, exile, torture and the constant threat of arrest and even death, we would not have heard and received this truth that we all now have. We have them to thank for their commitment and courage in living their faith so wholeheartedly, in imitating the examples and the dedication of the Apostles.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, it was the same challenge which St. Paul the Apostle encountered in the first reading we heard today from the Acts of the Apostles. The Apostle has to go against the hostility of those who refused in the truth which he has brought upon them. And yet he persevered still and tried his best to reach out to them, even though they were not receptive, as he recounted God’s blessings and guidance for His people throughout history.

That was the power and the courage which the Holy Spirit has given him, as he went about doing his work and ministry. The Holy Spirit gave that courage and fire in St. Paul which allowed him to strive and persevere on despite the challenges he had to face, of being ridiculed and rejected, torture and imprisonment, and even almost stoned to death. Through his effort, although many among the people refused to believe, there were some who were converted because of what they heard.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us are supposed to continue the work of the Apostles, as there are still many more out there who have not yet received the truth of God, and because we ourselves have benefitted from someone else who devoted themselves to deliver the truth of God, and so it is only right that we give back by devoting ourselves to the same calling that our committed and holy predecessors have received.

How do we do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? We do it through committing ourselves to a life filled with faith and devotion to God, that everyone who see us in our actions, in our words and in our deeds will see in us the truth of God being reflected through our lives. If we otherwise live in ways that do not reflect on our faith, then how do we convince others to believe in us?

Let us all be exemplary in our lives and be committed to be good role models and teachers of the faith for one another. May the Lord be with us and may He empower us to live our lives with faith, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 16 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : The one who shared My table has risen against Me. I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One Who sent Me.”