Friday, 28 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thursday, 27 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 5 : 27-33

So the High Priest and his supporters brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Council and the High Priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders not to preach such a Saviour; but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend charging us with the killing of this Man.”

To this Peter and the Apostles replied, “Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus Whom you killed by hanging Him on a wooden post. God set Him at His right hand as Leader and Saviour, to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses to all these things, as well as the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who obey Him.

When the Council heard this, they became very angry and wanted to kill them.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an Angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of one of the four great writers of the Holy Gospels, the accounts of the life and the works of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Mark was one of the Evangelists, those whose accounts had been deemed by the Church and the by the Apostles and their successors to be true and free of error version of the life of the Lord.

St. Mark, like St. Luke, was not one of the Apostles of the Lord, unlike St. Matthew and St. John, both of whom also wrote their own Gospels. But all four of them were those who were very close to the Lord and had extensive knowledge of what happened during the time of Jesus and His life on earth, from His birth and His years of life, to the time of His ministry and eventually suffering and death on the cross. And they also witnessed the resurrection of the Lord and all other things He had done.

On this day, let us all place our attention to what the Lord had helped to assemble through His Church, a set of witnesses and proofs which His servants had gathered and kept for many centuries and ages, the passages from the history of the Lord’s salvation, and also through the traditions passed down from generations to generations, which we now know as the Bible or the Holy Scriptures.

In the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus gave His disciples one last and important command before He ascended into His heavenly glory. He commanded them to go forth to all the nations, to peoples from all the four corners of the world, to travel to the furthest and uttermost distant land to preach the Good News and the truth of God to all, so that all may come to be reconciled with God, and may seek to be baptised and sealed by the sacrament of baptism in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

That was why the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord went to faraway lands, to all parts of the Roman Empire and also to the land of the Persians, to India and beyond, carrying with them the testimonies of the faith as they had received from the Lord, and which the Holy Spirit affirmed in them, by the divine wisdom granted and provided to them. They laboured hard and showed the Lord’s teachings through their actions, and converted many people to the faith.

The Evangelists like St. Mark also did their part in fulfilling the will of God, by writing down upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of the account of the life and the works of Jesus, noting down all that He had done in the midst of the people, as attested and witnessed by all those to whom the Lord had shown His deeds and taught His ways. In that way, the venerable testimonies of the faith and traditions will not be forgotten, as they were written and recorded in the Gospels and the Scriptures.

Now, let us heed what we heard from St. Peter in his first Epistle, our first reading today. In his Epistle, St. Peter spoke of the need for us all to be ever vigilant, against the assaults from the devil, our great enemy, who is always ever ready to strike at us whenever we are unprepared and not ready, and whenever he sees an opportunity to bring us down, just as he struck down our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, by the means of false promises, lies and sweet temptations.

The devil has many allies in this world, all of whom are evil spirits, or those affected by the evil spirits, who are then working together trying to claim our souls from the Lord, by bringing us to our downfall, by causing us to sin before God and men alike. This is what St. Peter warned all the people to whom he was writing to, and that is what all of us need to heed and pay attention to as well.

Therefore, how do we then prepare ourselves? How do we then remain vigilant? It is something that surely all of us will be asking. First of all, we must be committed in our faith, and we cannot be lukewarm in living our faith. Our actions must reflect what we believe, and our faith in God must be the foundation and reason for our actions in life, or else we will end up being easily shaken when temptation and challenges come on our way.

We have to know what our faith is about, and the best way to do it is to read what the holy saints and Evangelists had written in the Scriptures and in the Holy Gospels. Let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, whether our answers to the following questions are yes or no. For it is important that we must reflect on how we have lived our faith life thus far.

Have we spent at least some time each day to read the words of the Lord, the history of our salvation, and trying to understand just how much the Lord loves each and every one of us by reading the Scriptures? Have we spent some time amidst our busy life schedules and worldly commitments to take a step back, and remember about the Lord? Have we spent more hours worrying about what to do tomorrow, about what we are to gain tomorrow, than remembering the Lord and knowing just how fortunate it is that we can continue living each and every day by the grace of God?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us need to become stronger in our faith, and the best way to begin is by familiarising ourselves with the word of God found in the Scriptures, particularly in the Gospels where the account of how the Lord gave us His salvation through Christ had been written for our sake. Now that we have access to the truth, should we now then go and actually spend time reading the word of God?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may all of us draw more closely to the Lord, and deepen our relationship with Him. May all of us grow stronger in our faith, and in all the things we say and do, let us all reflect the faith which we have in the Lord, and let us act in the same way as what the Apostles and the saints of the past had done before us. May God bless us all. St. Mark the Evangelist, holy and devoted saint of God, pray for us. Amen.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Psalm 88 : 2-3, 6-7, 16-17

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

The heavens proclaim Your wonders, o Lord; the assembly of the holy ones recalls Your faithfulness. Who in the skies can compare with the Lord; who of the heaven-born is like Him?

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 : Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red
1 Peter 5 : 5b-14

All of you must clothe yourself with humility in your dealings with one another, because God opposes the proud but gives His grace to the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God so that He will raise you up at the appointed time. Place all your worries on Him since He takes care of you.

Be sober and alert because your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Stand your ground, firm in your faith, knowing that our brothers and sisters, scattered throughout the world, are confronting similar sufferings. God, the Giver of all grace, has called you to share in Christ’s eternal Glory and after you have suffered a little He will bring you to perfection : He will confirm, strengthen and establish You forever. Glory be to Him forever and ever. Amen.

I have had these few lines of encouragement written to you by Silvanus, our brother, whom I know to be trustworthy. For I wanted to remind you of the kindness of God really present in all this. Hold on to it. Greetings from the community in Babylon, gathered by God, and from my son, Mark. Greet one another with a friendly embrace. Peace to you all who are in Christ.