Saturday, 24 May 2014 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and our Lady of Sheshan in China, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, trust in the Lord and do not turn against Him, even when we are in difficulties, doubt or uncertainties. Our Lord and God is faithful and loving to us, and He desired that all of us be reunited to Him in all perfection. At the centre of our faith lies our dedication and commitment to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through whose sacrifice on the cross, we had been made whole and worthy of the Lord once again.

Today we continue to celebrate the joy of Easter, that joy of new life brought by Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, the joy that overcomes all despair and distress, and a new light that all of us who lived in darkness may see and believe. Ever since Christ died and was risen from the dead, He had brought forth a new era for the world, that is where His Church is present in this world and continuing to do the good works and missions that Christ had initiated.

In today’s first reading we read how the Apostles and the other disciples of Christ faced a problem with the distribution of goods among the faithful, for we have to be mindful that the earliest Christian communities lived in perfect harmony with one another, and as the Scriptures mentioned, they shared their goods and happiness with one another in the community.

The Apostles were the extensions of the Lord’s power and authority in this world, and there were twelve of them in number. If a parallel is to be made to the status of the Church in today’s time, they are the most senior ranking prelates and officials of the Holy Mother Church, with Peter as their leader and the head of the entire Christian communities, as Christ’s vicar in the world.

And just as today’s leaders of the Church, and the Pope, the Apostles had many responsibilities, and arguably even more responsibilities and works than what the Church leaders today have, in addition to the persecution and open opposition against the faith by the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities, which made things even more difficult for the Church at the time of the Apostles.

Therefore, what we witness today in the readings, is God loving us so much, that He inspired His Apostles to take a course of action that will expand greatly the works and acts of charity and love among His people, by appointing a new class of leaders that were meant for service to the people of God and a service that is based on the foundations of faith and love. They are the deacons, not much different from the deacons that we have today.

The deacons were meant to help with the distribution of goods to the faithful and to serve them with love, as mentioned earlier on, and originally there were seven of them. They were men filled with the Holy Spirit, and we know well of one of them, St. Stephen, the first martyr of the faith, who defended the Lord so eloquently and passionately, that all those who had not hardened their hearts would have listened and believed.

They together with the Apostles, showed to the world the love of God, which was made manifest through Jesus Christ, and it is He whom the Apostles and the disciples were proclaiming about, spreading His Good News to many peoples of many nations, saving many souls in the process, and passing down that Good News through the generations, that more souls might be saved, and indeed their good works are still continuing today, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nevertheless, it is indeed sad today, how vocations to the priesthood had declined precipituously, not least because of the moral and spiritual decline in the world, and in a world increasingly beset with materialism and ego-centric mentalities. It is increasingly difficult to find those with the heart and dedication to serve the Lord as the Apostles and the deacons had done. Less and less young men are joining the seminaries simply because this world offers us too much goodness for us to ignore.

Hence, brethren, let us today pray, for more vocations among the faithful, that we may see a resurgence in the number of those who accept the calling of the Lord, that more will join the holy works of grace the Apostles and the deacons had done. May the Lord bless His people and strengthen the faith in them. God bless us all. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 2 : 42-47

They were faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, the common life of sharing, the breaking of bread and the prayers. A holy fear came upon all the people, for many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles.

Now all the believers lived together and shared all their belongings. They would sell their property and all they had and distribute the proceeds to others according to their need. Each day they met together in the Temple area; they broke bread in their homes; they shared their food with great joy and simplicity of  heart; they praised God and won the people’s favour.

And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.