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.”

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 8-9, 16-17, 20

Praise our God, o nations, let the sound of His praise be heard, for He has preserved us among the living and kept our feet from stumbling.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. I cried aloud to Him, extolling Him with my tongue.

May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 26-40

An Angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south towards the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert road.” So he set out and it happened that an Ethiopian was passing along that way. He was an official in charge of the treasury of the queen of the Ethiopians; he had come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was on his way home. He was sitting in his carriage and reading the prophet Isaiah.

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and catch up with that carriage.” So Philip ran up and heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah; and he asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He then invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.

This was the passage of Scripture he was reading : He was led like a sheep to be slaughtered; like a lamb that is dumb before the shearer, He did not open His mouth. He was humbled and deprived of His rights. Who can speak of His descendants? For He was uprooted from the earth.

The official asked Philip, “Tell me, please, does the prophet speak of himself or of Someone else?” Then Philip began to tell him the Good News of Jesus, using this text of Scripture as his starting point. As they travelled down the road they came to a place where there was some water. Then the Ethiopian official said, “Look, here is water; what is to keep me from being baptised?”

And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Then he ordered the carriage to stop; both Philip and the Ethiopian went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. The Ethiopian saw him no more, but he continued on his way full of joy.

Philip found himself at Azotus, and he went about announcing the Good News in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.