Sunday, 27 April 2014 : 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Canonisation of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 19-31

On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Thomas, the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Until I have seen in His hands the print of the nails, and put my fingers in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, the disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; stretch out your hand, and put it into My side. Do not be an unbeliever! Believe!”

Thomas then said, “You are my Lord and my God.” Jesus replied, “You believe because you see Me, do you not? Happy are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

There were many other signs that Jesus gave in the presence of His disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Believe, and you will have life through His Name!

Saturday, 26 April 2014 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Scriptures Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Today’s readings show us that we no longer have to fear or doubt in the truth of God. For if we stand by God and keep strong our faith, devotion and love for God, we will have everything and God will stand by us and provide us with all that we need. When we doubt, that is the moment of weakness which Satan can use to undermine our faith and our devotion to God, to the point that we may succumb to despair and commit things undesirable and wicked before Him.

This Easter, we celebrate the triumph of God over those who had arrayed themselves against Him, the celebration of the triumph of the good over evil, and the celebration of hope of new life over the old life, one that is decadent and filled with wickedness and sin. This Easter is a celebration of liberation and freedom, of mankind freed from the bonds of sin for eternity by the sacrifice of Jesus our Lord, and through whose resurrection we are made whole once again.

It is very difficult for mankind to let go of the temptations and impediments that were in place on our way towards God. It is very difficult for men to let go these goodness and pleasures that the world in particular are offering us daily. It is very difficult for many of us to let go of our desires, of our prejudices, of our judgments, and of our wants, for we are naturally, a creature tainted by the desires of this world and the desires of our flesh.

It is difficult for us to keep our faith in God, precisely because we are always tempted by sin, and at all times, doubt and fear are always in our minds. We cannot be truly close and intimate with God all because of our lack of total commitment and devotion towards the Lord, because we are unable to commit a hundred percent our attention and lives to God. Instead, we like to dwell in the world and be corrupted by the concerns and things of this world that inevitably lead us to sin.

That is why the elders of Israel, the chief priests, and those in the Sanhedrin of the people of God, supposedly the most learnt and the most educated of the people, opposed vehemently and firmly the presence and the works of God through Jesus, even though they naturally should have been the ones who would first welcome the Lord when He came. Instead, they became His enemies, and became those who attempted to derail the good works of the Lord by opposing in every situation and opportunities, the works of Jesus.

They failed to see reason and the truth of God in Jesus because their hearts had been hardened by sin, by the concerns of this world. Being people of influence and in the positions of power and privilege, they had forgotten their place and role in leading the people of God towards the Lord. Instead, they honoured power and glory, and craved for the people’s respect and praise towards them and did not tolerate any rival to their power and influence, leading to a vicious jealousy and hatred that grew so much, to the point that they even failed to see the truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, and ended up opposing and murdering the very One who would have rescued them from death.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Easter, we are invited to throw far, far away all these impurities and unworthy behaviours as those that had been exhibited by those who opposed the works of Christ, in the Pharisees and the elders of Israel. We have this perfect opportunity to deny first ourselves, and then the desires of our flesh to seek the pleasures of this world over the approval of God. Let us not waste this golden opportunity to make ourselves anew and dedicate ourselves to a change for the better.

This Easter, let us remember, that the Lord had given His all for us, His love and dedication to the point of death. The cross! Remember always the cross, and how the cross is the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for all of us! And also the empty tomb! Remember that empty tomb, which signifies the victory that God had won for us, to liberate us from the certain defeat of death, and He who had won for us this new life, where we have no more need to fear from sin or death, but forever be filled with the hope of eternal joy in He who loves us.

May the Lord therefore guide us in this Easter season, as we grow stronger and stronger in our faith, and deeper in our devotion and love for God, that we will first always be faithful to Him, and then also be loving and good children and members of God’s family, always showing the Lord to be at the centre of our lives and actions. Let us follow the footsteps of the Risen Lord and His Apostles, and let us all bring the light of Christ to all the peoples, beginning from ourselves, and to those around us, and to the whole world! Let us share the joy of Easter! God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 26 April 2014 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 9-15

After Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary of Magdala, from whom He had driven out seven demons. She went and reported the news to His followers, who were now mourning and weeping. But when they heard that He lived, and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this He showed Himself in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. These men also went back and told the others, but they did not believe them.

Later Jesus showed Himself to the Eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their unbelief, and stubbornness, in refusing to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Then He told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”

Friday, 25 April 2014 : Friday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 1-12

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming that resurrection from the dead had been proven in the case of Jesus.

Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message believed and their number increased to about five thousand.

The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there. They brought Peter and John before them and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose Name did you use?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean. You had Him crucified, but God raised Him from the dead.”

“Jesus is the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other Name given to humankind all over the world by which we may be saved.”