(Easter Sunday) Sunday, 27 March 2016 : Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Week, Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken our Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place.

Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

 

Alternative reading

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

(Easter Vigil) Saturday, 26 March 2016 : Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord, Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

On the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, they went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly appeared beside them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story.

Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.

Monday, 5 May 2014 : 3rd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to keep the truth, stand by that truth and stay faithful to that truth. And what is this truth? It is the truth proclaimed by Christ Himself when He taught the people and His disciples, about His mission, His nature, and the nature of God’s salvation. It is also the truth proclaimed by Stephen the first deacon of the Church in today’s first reading against those who refused to believe in the truth.

As we all should know, this world is not for Christ and His truth, and indeed the world which is filled with the evil one’s influences and darkness, opposed Christ at every turn and at every possible opportunities. This is why, there will be many hurdles and obstacles in the way of those who speak for the truth, and in the way of those who work and pledge themselves to the truth of Christ, which is what we are all, brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to do.

What is this truth? This truth is plain and simple, which lay open and available in the entirety of the teachings of the Church. That God is one and indivisible, and loving in of His aspects. But He exists in three separate and yet equal divine persons, that is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father creates, the Son who is Word, blesses and carries out the work of the Father, and the Holy Spirit empowers and strengthens all. All three united in one, that is the essence of our faith in God who is the Trinity.

But that is not all, for God so loved the world and all of us His beloved creations who had fallen into sin and darkness, that He willingly laid aside His power and divinity in the person of the Son, who became incarnate into Man, to be one of us, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and were born as Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, fully divine and fully man.

Why? So that through the Son and His perfect obedience, He as the new Adam and the beginning of new life and new era, may cast away the veil and the darkness of mankind’s sins and rebellions, which began with the disobedience of the first Adam. That He became the perfect offering and sacrifice through whom the sins of mankind may be erased in its entirety and completeness, ridding them of the obstacle that barred them from returning to their loving Father.

Jesus spoke of Himself when He referred to the living bread of eternal life. That those who eat that bread will never die, not in a sense of literal death that we know of, that is the death of the physical body, which we all have to face at one point, at the very ends of our lives. What He referred to was the eternal death of the spirit, the total separation of our souls from the love of God, which is called hell, the state of hopelessness and eternal damnation.

This is what those who believe in Christ and His truth, will avoid in the end. They will not face this fate of eternal suffering. Although death may claim their bodies and their physical flesh, but it will not claim their souls, for their souls are pure and worthy of the Lord, and the Lord who loves us and gave Jesus for our sake will not let us to be claimed by death and sin. And in the end, even together with our bodies we will rise with Christ when He comes again at the end of time. Death has no power over any of us, as long as we believe sincerely and fully in God and His plan which He had revealed through Jesus.

It was the very same truth that Stephen the deacon had proclaimed to the people of God and to his prosecutors, the chief priests, the elders and the Pharisees and the Sadducees who themselves had been opposed to Christ since the very beginning. The same truth that they also refused to believe in, even after hearing them from Christ Himself, and then His Apostles and disciples, which includes Stephen.

Those people hardened their hearts against the Lord and participated actively in the resistance and hindrance of the good works of God in this world, deceiving many and preventing the salvation of many souls who remained lost to the darkness. And these are exactly who we should not become. We cannot refuse to accept the truth in God, and therefore, we must, without exception, receive the faith we received through the Church in its fullness.

And we have to be like Stephen too, who did not fear to state the truth, and preach the Good News, even against tough opposition and persistent rejection, for the sake of salvation of souls. Remember that the Lord loves all, even those who hated and rejected Him. He would not want them to be lost, unless if they continue to refuse to believe until it is far too late.

May God therefore guide us in our works, and encourage us with His strength, that we may carry out our duties, just as Stephen had done, in the footsteps of Christ, to preach His salvation to all the peoples of all nations with courage, for the sake of our salvation, all of us. May God guide us always as we walk in this path. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 : Wednesday of Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 50 : 4-9a

The Lord YHVH has taught Me, so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced. He who avenges Me is near. Who then will accuse Me? Let us confront each other. Who is now My accuser? Let Him approach.

If the Lord YHVH is My help, who will condemn Me?

Sunday, 13 April 2014 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Holy Week (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 50 : 4-7

The Lord YHVH has taught Me so I speak as His disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning He wakes Me up to hear, to listen like a disciple.

The Lord YHVH has opened My ear. I have not rebelled, nor have I withdrawn. I offered My back to those who strike Me, My cheeks to those who pulled My beard; neither did I shield My face from blows, spittle and disgrace.

I have not despaired, for the Lord YHVH comes to My help. So, like a flint I set My face, knowing that I will not be disgraced.

Saturday, 24 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast day of one of the Twelve Apostles, namely St. Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel or Nathanael. He was a righteous and upright man called by the Lord to be one of His disciples, and therefore made him His apostle. The Lord did call His disciples from various backgrounds, including even tax collectors and murderers, as well as the righteous ones. All of them called from their former lives, abandoning them to follow the Lord their God in Christ.

Each of the Apostles were called to be the followers of Christ, to help Him in His mission in this world, and ultimately, to continue the works He had done, after He ascended in glory to heaven. They were entrusted with the care of the faithful, as shepherds of the sheep of the Lord, that is all of us, to be the guiding beacons along our long and arduous path towards salvation in God. From them came many generations of shepherds of the people of God, including that of our priests and bishops today, who are their successors, the successor of the Apostles of Christ.

St. Bartholomew travelled wide after the events depicted in the New Testament, as one of the Apostles of Christ, spreading the Good News of salvation to many around the world, and according to records, St. Bartholomew had visited and evangelised in Ethiopia, Armenia, India, and some other places throughout his ministry, converting many to the cause of God, bringing God’s salvation to many those who had not yet heard about Christ or saw His marvellous works.

He converted many to the Lord and brought many into the Church. However, in the same way with all the other Apostles and disciples of Christ, St. Bartholomew met much opposition, persecution, and oppression just as he was accepted by some in the societies that he had visited. Nevertheless, he continued to labour for the sake of the Lord in distant, foreign lands, until he eventually met the end of his life in martyrdom, apparently in Armenia, by being flayed alive and crucified upside down, much like St. Peter in Rome.

Despite his death, and the death of the other Apostles of Christ, in the hands of their enemies and executioners, in the hands of the enemies of God and the godless ones, they had brought forth a growth and flowering of the faithful in the Church, such that the saying is really true that ‘the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians’. Their devotion, dedication, and martyrdom had inspired many to remain true to their faith and to remain faithful to their God, and many followed the Apostles like St. Bartholomew, into martyrdom themselves.

St. Bartholomew and the other Apostles of Christ, St. Peter, St. John the Evangelist and others, were not superhuman, brothers and sisters in Christ. They were same like us, mere man, with all their weaknesses, but also with their respective qualities and strengths. They experienced human emotions as we too experience our human emotions. They experienced doubt and fear when they followed Jesus, and especially when Jesus was captured, tried, and executed. They were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, and yet, when Christ came back in great triumph against evil and sin, He gathered them back upon Himself and sent them the Spirit as the Helper.

They were empowered with God’s love through that Spirit of love, and they were emboldened to take up the cause of the Lord and went forth courageously to spread the Gospels to all men. The Apostles went through hardships and suffering for the sake of God and also for the sake of His people, in the Church of God, and they faced death bravely when they were martyred for their faith and unshakeable devotion to the Lord. They shed their blood, and as I had mentioned, these formed the foundations of the Church of God, along with many other martyrs, that even though they are persecuted against, they remain vibrant and growing in both number and in their faith.

In the first reading, we see the Holy City of Jerusalem descending from heaven, to meet her Bride, that is the Lamb of God. That Holy City was great and precious, the heavenly Jerusalem, pure and clear like crystal. The City has twelve gates and twelve foundation stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Those foundation stones also in fact represent the twelve apostles, brothers and sisters! Just as Christ Himself had said that the Apostles will sit on twelve thrones and judge the people of God. They are akin to the guardians of those gates, barring the entry into the city to anyone found not worthy.

That Holy City of God in fact represent both the presence of God, that all of us aspire to enter, and also the Church of God, built upon the support, the foundation stone of the Apostles. Their faith and dedication had been the strong foundation that held up the Church of God, and ensured its continuity throughout time, despite all the opposition, persecution, and evils it had faced all these while. That includes St. Bartholomew who gave up his life and laboured hard for the sake of the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today, as we recall the labours and the righteousness of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, resolve to follow his life examples, and resolve to devote ourselves more to the laws and commandments of our God that is love, by loving one another, giving our love especially to those who have little or none of it, and to love God with all our might. Pray for us St. Bartholomew, the Apostle of Christ and defender of the faith. Amen.

Saturday, 24 August 2013 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 1 : 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well : He is Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.”

Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”