Thursday, 6 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we heard the words of the Lord in the Scripture, all of us are reminded of God’s love for each and every one of us, and then we are also reminded that because of this love, then we are all also called to be filled with the same love, to love our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we encounter in life that we may indeed be the bearers of the love of God in our world today. This is the commandment that the Lord has given us, and the mission which He has entrusted to each one of us.

In our first reading today, we heard the words of St. Peter the Apostle, the leader of the Church and all the Apostles, as he convened the First Council of Jerusalem, historically the first ever Council of the Church held to discuss the disagreements among the members of the Church, some of whom argued that everyone ought to be following and obeying the Jewish traditions and commandments, the very strict rules in the Jewish customs which they wanted to be imposed on the Gentile or the non-Jewish converts as well.

As St. Paul and St. Barnabas protested such an effort by those who wanted to impose the strict discipline of the Jewish laws and customs on the rest of the Church, the matter came to the attention of the other Apostles who then convened this meeting and Council to address the issue once and for all. They discerned and prayed over the matter, and St. Peter, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, revealed the decision of the Apostles and the Council, in negating the requirement for the Jewish laws, traditions and customs for the faithful, and instead, reminding everyone of the more important meaning of what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.

St. Peter reminded the assembled faithful how they should not be burdened by the great weight of the Jewish laws and customs, the traditions and rules, many of which the Jews themselves were unable and struggling at best to fulfil and follow, and as the Lord Himself has also criticised the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in pursuing those laws and rules to a fault, then that was why the Church did not impose on the faithful those Jewish laws and customs that were deemed excessive and unnecessary.

Instead, everyone was reminded of the most important commandment that the Lord has given to them, and to all of us, that is the commandments of love as we heard it in our Gospel reading today. Those who belong to the Lord ought to love Him and to keep His commandments, the commandments of love, and remain in His love, by their own loving ways and actions. That is the true mark and identity of what being Christian is, and that is what we all should be doing in our lives as well. This means that we should avoid living our lives without genuine love and commitment towards the Lord.

God has called all of us to His salvation, and He has embraced us all with His generous love, and therefore, just as He has called on everyone to be His followers, Jews and Gentiles alike, from all the whole world, all equally beloved by Him, thus we are all called to love Him with all of our strength, to love Him wholeheartedly and from the deepest of our heart, giving our whole being to Him, and appreciating all that He has done for us all these while. He has also taught us to love one another, just as we ought to love Him, and thus this is what we should be doing as well, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our world today there is often too little love and too much hatred, bitterness and negativity. We easily turn against each other and being focused too much on our own selfish desires, which led to us causing hurt and pain, suffering and difficulties for others. That is not how Christians should behave, and therefore, we should not let ourselves be tempted to act in this manner either. We should instead be the inspirations and examples for others in how we love one another, and how God’s love and truth are visible in us and our actions.

All of us are called to true holiness and faith in the Lord, that everyone who sees us and witnesses our actions, can see that we truly are God’s people, filled with His love and living our lives sincerely with genuine faith. That way, many more people can be touched by God’s love through us, and because of this, many more people can be saved, and join all of us in God’s everlasting kingdom. This is our Christian calling and mission, what each and every one of us have been called to do in our lives. Are we willing to commit ourselves and efforts to do what we can, for the greater glory of God, brothers and sisters?

May the Lord be with us all and may He give us all the strength and courage to live ever more faithfully, that in all things we may follow Him ever more zealously, and that we may give the inspiration to one another to remain true to God, to His love and truth, all the time. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 6 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 9-11

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Remain in My love! You will remain in My love if you keep My commandments, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

I have told you all this, that My own joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”

Thursday, 6 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2a, 2b-3, 10

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name.

Proclaim His salvation day after day. Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds.

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Thursday, 6 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 15 : 7-21

As the discussions became heated, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that from the beginning God chose me among you so that non-Jews could hear the Good News from me and believe. God, Who can read hearts, put Himself on their side by giving the Holy Spirit to them just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them and cleansed their hearts through faith.”

“So why do you want to put God to the test? Why do you lay on the disciples a burden that neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? We believe, indeed, that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

The whole assembly kept silent as they listened to Paul and Barnabas tell of all the miraculous signs and wonders that God had done through them among the non-Jews. After they had finished, James spoke up, “Listen to me, brothers. Symeon has just explained how God first showed His care by taking a people for Himself from non-Jewish nations.”

“And the words of the prophets agree with this, for Scripture says, ‘After this I will return and rebuild the booth of David which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again. Then the rest of humanity will look for the Lord, and all the nations will be consecrated to My Name. So says the Lord, Who does today what He decided from the beginning.'”

“Because of this, I think that we should not make difficulties for those non-Jews who are turning to God. Let us just tell them not to eat food that is unclean from having been offered to idols; to keep themselves from prohibited marriages; and not to eat the flesh of animals that have been strangled, or any blood. For from the earliest times Moses has been taught in every place, and every Sabbath his laws are recalled.”