Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (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 us of the responsibility which each and every one of us as Christians have, that is to be witnesses and defenders of our faith before all the people, to be walking in the footsteps of the Apostles and all those who have given themselves wholly in the service of God, as we have ourselves heard in our Scripture passages today.

In the first reading today, we listened to the persistence and perseverance of the Apostles in the face of harsh persecution and opposition, as they were faced with fierce opposition from the influential members of the Jewish High Council, the Sanhedrin, who wanted the Apostles to stop preaching, teaching and doing works in the Name of the Lord Jesus, by Whose Name they have performed miracles, healing and called the people of God to believe in the Saviour Who had died for them.

But the Apostles stood by their faith in God and refused to abandon the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them, just as St. John the Baptist in our Gospel passage today testified before the people and before all those who opposed him, that he obeyed the will of God and he preached the truth and the salvation that God has revealed through His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Saviour of all the world.

St. John the Baptist also faced a lot of opposition and challenges, from the same influential members of the community who felt threatened by the influence, charisma and the message which both St. John the Baptist and the Apostles had brought with them and which they preached and taught among the people. That is because God’s truth has come to dispel the falsehoods and the corrupted truths which the enemies and opponents of the Lord had championed.

And in today’s occasion, aptly and most appropriately, we also celebrate the feast day of one of the great servants of God, whose life has also been filled with plenty of challenges and difficulties, and how this holy servant stood by his faith courageously, and became known as the staunch defender of the true, orthodox Christian faith. He is St. Athanasius the Great, Holy Doctor of the Church and great Defender of the Faith.

St. Athanasius was the Patriarch of Alexandria, one of the most important dioceses of the Church, and a great leader of the faithful at a time when the Church and the community of Christendom were bitterly divided between the many heresies and false teachings by false teachers and preachers who spread untruths and heresies that took hold many among the faithful, dividing even bishops against bishops, priests against priests, the Church against each other.

St. Athanasius defended the true faith in particular against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the equality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God with His heavenly Father, and for such, he was known also for his now famous Athanasian Creed, a very comprehensive version of the Christian Creed that is filled with the centre tenets of the faith, especially in the truth of the Holy Trinity, the distinctiveness, equality and yet perfect unity between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is something that many of the heresies including Arianism tried to undermine and corrupt.

For his courageous and relentless defence of the true faith, St. Athanasius had to endure much difficulty and sufferings, having endured several exiles and persecutions by his enemies, who sometimes enjoyed the support of the Roman Empire and its institutions. Yet, St. Athanasius did not give up and continued to defend the faith till the end of his life, and he was remembered for his courage and faithfulness, as the true faith eventually triumphed.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are also called and expected to stand up for our faith, not through confrontation or violence, but through our courageous and committed desire to live our whole lives being dedicated to God, just as the Apostles, St. John the Baptist and St. Athanasius the Great had done. Let us all be truly faithful, that the love of God will be the centre of our every actions, words and deeds, that we may find true justification in God. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 31-36

At that time, John the Baptist said, “He Who comes from above is above all; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and his words belong to the earth. He Who comes from heaven speaks of the things He has seen and heard; He bears witness to these things, but no one accepts His testimony. Whoever does receive His testimony acknowledges the truthfulness of God.”

“The One sent by God speaks God’s words, and gives the Spirit unstintingly. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything into His hands. Whoever believes in the Son lives with eternal life; but he who will not believe in the Son will never know life, and always faces the justice of God.”

Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2 and 9, 17-18, 19-20

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

But His face is set against the wicked to destroy their memory from the earth. The Lord hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught. Many are the troubles of the just, but the Lord delivers them from all.

Thursday, 2 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (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.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages reminding each and every one of us of the things that all of us have to do in our respective lives as Christians, that is as members of our one Church community, the community of the Body of Christ. All of us share this same faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Whom has revealed before Nicodemus the faithful Pharisee, what He would do for the sake of all mankind, in our Gospel passage today.

The Lord revealed the all powerful and all enduring love of God for us all mankind, that although each and every one of us have sinned and rebelled against Him, but God still ‘so loved the world’, that He sent us all a Saviour, in the form of His own Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Himself, so that through Him all may have the new hope of eternal life and redemption via the salvation He has brought into this world.

And He also revealed how He would do this by being lifted up high like that of the moment when the bronze serpent of Moses was lifted up in the desert. In that instance, the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt and the journey towards the Promised Land refused to believe in God and rebelled against Him. As a result, God sent fiery serpents that bit many among them and many died because of those serpents.

When the people repented and begged God for forgiveness, God showed His love, compassion and mercy by asking Moses to make an image of the serpent in bronze and mounting it up on a tall staff, so that everyone who has been bitten by the serpents and saw the bronze serpent would not die but live. God did this as a prefigurement of what He would Himself do, for the salvation of all mankind, through Jesus, Our Lord.

For the Lord was also lifted up high on the Cross, bearing all of our sins and faults which should have been our undoing and destruction. He gathered all of them upon Himself and suffered for our sake, so that by His suffering and death, He may release us and free us from the bondage to sin and therefore from our fated death and destruction. And He has willingly borne all of these, all the agony, pain and suffering out of His love for each and every one of us.

It is exactly this love which the Apostles and the other followers of the Lord imitated in their own lives, which is also in accordance with what He Himself commanded His disciples to do, that is to love one another as they love themselves, and to love each other and to serve one another, just in the same way as the Lord has loved them and served them. That is why in our first reading today, we heard of how the very earliest Christian communities lived, loving and caring for the needs of others, and sharing the blessings that God has given them.

But unfortunately many of us Christians today do not live in this manner. In fact, we are often so busy and so distracted by the many temptations of the world, of the temptations of money, of worldly pleasures, power, ambition and desire, that we often acted selfishly towards one another, caring only about ourselves and our own selfish desires, often even causing hurt and pain, suffering and unhappiness among us in our Christian communities.

That is why, today all of us are called to take a step back and reflect on our own lives and in particular, how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we truly been faithful to God and been good Christians in our words, actions or deeds? Or are we like those hypocrites who profess to have faith in God and yet have no love for God and love for our fellow men in us? And we should also look upon the good examples shown by our holy predecessors, especially our saint today, Pope St. Pius V.

Pope St. Pius V was remembered for his piety and dedication to the Lord, especially in his great leadership of the Church that was then battered with many challenges and oppositions both from outside and from inside the Church, with the reformation heresies and falsehoods tearing the unity of the Church apart and external enemies threatening to destroy the entire Christendom. He successfully concluded the great Council of Trent, which reformed the Church practices and enforced discipline.

The holy Pope and saint devoted his life and ministry to purify the excesses and wickedness that have crept into the Church at the time, while labouring hard to overcome the many issues and challenges that the Church had to endure at the time. Pope St. Pius V dedicated himself to love the people of God just as how God Himself loved us so much, that He went through all the troubles and pains, all the sufferings and the agony just so that He can bring to us His salvation and the eternal life He promised us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, following the examples of this holy saint and servant of God, and also imitating the good examples of the early Christian communities, let us all be more faithful and loving towards God and to our fellow men. Let us all be inspiration and examples for each other, so that many more people may come to believe through us and our examples in life. May God be with us all, and may He bless us all in our good works for His sake. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again from above. The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus asked again, “How can this be?” And Jesus answered, “You are a teacher in Israel, and you do not know these things! Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. If you do not believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the One Who came from heaven, the Son of Man.”

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 92 : 1ab, 1c-2, 5

YHVH reigns, robed in majesty; YHVH is girded with strength.

The world now, is firm; it cannot be moved. Your throne stands from long ago, o YHVH; from all eternity You are.

Your decrees can be trusted; holiness dwells in Your House, day after day, without end, o YHVH.