Sunday, 30 May 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, on the Sunday after the Pentecost we celebrate the occasion of Trinity Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, celebrating one of the greatest mysteries of our Christian faith and one of its key and core tenets, that is our belief in the one and only True God, that is One and only One, and existing in a Godhood of Three distinct yet united Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what makes us distinct from other monotheistic Abrahamic beliefs, that we believe that the true nature of God is indeed, as revealed fully by the Lord Himself, is that of the Holy Trinity.

Many of us may not even know fully what the Holy Trinity is all about, and we do not appreciate this unique relationship between the Three Divine Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is truly something that the members of the Early Church took decades and even centuries to understand better, which historically brought about many heresies and divisions just because some among the faithful and the leaders of the Church believed in a different nature of God, either in denying the divinity of the Son or the Holy Spirit, or in denying the distinct identity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, or in denying the existence of the Holy Trinity altogether.

Through the earliest Ecumenical Councils of the Church, those heresies had been addressed and outlawed, and the authentic teachings of the Lord and His truth were preserved as it was from the days of the Apostles. Thus, defeated were the heresy of Arianism that denied the equality of the Father and the Son, that upheld the view of the Son being merely the firstborn of Creation and as a created Being rather than Co-Eternal and Co-Equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit from the beginning of time, as the Church has preserved in truth.

Then, through the faith and perseverance of the saints and the faithful Church fathers, were defeated the heresies of Nestorianism with their belief that the Lord has two distinct and separate natures in the Son, that the Divinity and the Humanity of the Son were separate and distinct, or the other extreme of Monophysitism believing that the Son has only one nature, rather than the truth which is that in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the two distinct natures of Divine and Man were united perfectly and inseparably through the bond of love.

All these showed us just how many among the faithful did not fully understand the tenets and the teachings of the Christian faith, particularly that regarding the nature of God and the Holy Trinity. That is why those divisions happened and threatened to destroy the Church and the faithful had it not been for the great efforts and perseverance from all those who had remained faithful and true to the teachings of the Lord and His Apostles, and defending the belief and truth of the Most Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God.

How do we then understand the Holy Trinity better, brothers and sisters in Christ? There are in fact many ways that we can use to appreciate better the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, in a more understandable and appreciable way. For example, St. Patrick, the famous missionary and Patron Saint of Ireland was remembered for his symbol of the shamrock, or a three-leaf clover that he used in order to explain the nature of God in the Holy Trinity to the pagans throughout Ireland, that they might come to understand Him better.

The symbolism of the shamrock is one of the ways that we can understand the nature of the Holy Trinity. For if one of the three leaves of the shamrock is taken away, then it is no longer the shamrocks as it is, incomplete and no longer can be properly called a shamrock. Each of the three leaves of the shamrock are also connected to each other and not distinct from each other while at the same time, each of the three leaves can be distinguished clearly from each other. They are therefore representative of the Holy Trinity, Three Divine Persons, but one Godhead, and one God in perfect unity, all Three distinct yet inseparable.

We can also use the example of the burning flame as a way to represent the Holy Trinity in a more understandable way. The burning flame produces heat, which many people for a long time had been using as a way to fend off cold and keep themselves warm. They also provide light to the place and dispel the darkness, so that we can see even in the darkest of nights and in places without any illumination. This light is produced as a result of the reaction between the particles involved in the burning, and lastly, the flame itself, which has a discernible shape, because it is in fact heated air and matter, that when heated produce that hue and shape of the flame.

If any of these properties and parts of the burning flame are missing or are taken out, then it will no longer be a burning flame. For example, if a burning flame were to lose its heat then we can definitely say that it is not a flame, no? For which flame that can be seen and yet does not give any heat, or burn us when we get too close? And if there is no light in the flame that will also be impossible, as any reactions that produce heat in the burning process will also generate light. And if we feel the heat and can see the light but cannot see the shape of the flame, it is also not a flame right?

Therefore, using these analogies and metaphors, comparisons and otherwise we can see that there are actually quite a few ways and observations we see on things around us that can show us briefly a glimpse of what the Holy Trinity is all about. The Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit shows us that while we can see the distinctive Three Divine Persons, manifesting Themselves in different ways, but They are all together, constituting the same, inseparable unity of the One and only God, the Creator of all.

At the moment of Creation, we can see all the Three Divine Persons at work, as God the Father willed Creation and the entire Universe into being, while God the Son, the Divine Word of God, is the Word by which Creation came to be, through words like ‘Let there be light’ and others. And lastly, God the Holy Spirit existed since before Creation and time, as represented in the accounts of the Book of Genesis as floating above the nothingness before Creation, present everywhere and in all things.

And when God created man, He said that, ‘Let Us create man in Our image’, in a clear and obvious representation that while God is One, but He also exists in a Trinity, inseparable unity between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, when this ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ pronouns were used to describe God in this occasion. Then, when the Lord was baptised by St. John the Baptist at the Jordan, again we see the Holy Trinity in action, in Their three distinct Persons, the Father’s Voice speaking from Heaven, the Son, Jesus Christ, in the water being baptised, while the Holy Spirit, descending down to the world from the Father and to the Son, in the form of a Dove.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have listened and discussed today regarding the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all of us are now then called to remember our mission and calling as Christians to be the bearers of the truth of God, including the mystery of His Holy Trinity to all the peoples of all the nations, revealing this truth we ourselves have received from the Lord and passing the truth to more and more people that they too may come to believe in God.

The Lord has commanded all of us to go forth and baptise all the peoples of all the nations, in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, sealing them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, believing in the same one God Who exists in the Triune unity of Three Divine Persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This is our faith and this is what we believe in, and brothers and sisters, we have to stand fast by what our faith is about. We must deepen our understanding of the Christian faith, the nature of the Holy Trinity and other truth we have received through the Church.

Now, let us all therefore dedicate ourselves to the Lord anew this Sunday as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Through our common baptism, let us all proclaim our Lord, the One and only True God of all, as the One God, with Three Divine Persons, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, that all may come to know Him, through His love and through our knowledge of the truth, which we bear in our own lives from now on, if we have not done so yet.

Let us all be faithful and committed Christians through our lives, in our every actions and deeds, so that in everything that we say and do, we will show our Christian faith and truth to all, and everyone who sees us, hears us, and witnesses our actions and deeds, interacting and working with us, all may come to know that we belong to the Lord, and that hopefully they may also be touched by the Lord’s presence through us, and come to believe in Him as well.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may always be firm in our faith and be genuine in living our lives daily with faith, from now on. May God, the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless us all in our every efforts, good works and endeavours, and be our Guide at all times. Amen.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday marking the moment when the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples of the Lord, descending from the Heavens like great tongues of fire that rested on each of them. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples great strength and courage, and they went forth out of their hiding place in Jerusalem, and openly preached the truth about the salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ to all the people assembled in Jerusalem at that time.

The people assembled there coming from very diverse places as far as Ethiopia, Parthia and even Rome and the distant provinces came from many different backgrounds, both those from the Jewish diaspora and Gentiles alike. They all spoke various different and intelligible languages. Yet, the moment the disciples spoke to them and give testimony of truth about Christ, they all could understand what these disciples were speaking about, and they seemed to hear them speaking in their own diverse languages.

The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking in tongues, and to some they have also been given the gift of miracles and power over evil spirits, allowing them to heal the sick and perform various other miracles. And through their testimony, sincerity and faith, it was told that the very day of the Pentecost itself, three thousand people gave themselves to be baptised by the Lord, and from then on, the Church began to grow and flourish. This is also why the celebration of the Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church, and we mark and celebrate it as the Anniversary of this Church that we all belong to.

From that day onwards, the disciples were no longer afraid and in hiding, and they finally went forth to fulfil the commandments and the mission that the Lord had entrusted to them. The Church was no longer something hidden but went forth into the world actively proclaiming the Lord and His Good News that still remain true even to this very day. The Holy Spirit has guided the path of the Church and its leaders from then on, leading the Apostles and their successors, the Popes, bishops and priests throughout the many centuries and ages past to the present day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on the wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit by the Lord, we are all called to remember our baptismal Covenant with God, and the mission entrusted to each and every one of us, the same mission we all share because of our common baptism. The Holy Spirit has been given to us, and as St. Paul mentioned it in our second reading today, there are various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the wonders, the talents and abilities that have been entrusted to us and awaiting for us to make use of these for the good of all.

And because we have been given the Holy Spirit, all of us are then expected to be fruitful and be bountiful in the Holy Spirit, bearing plenty of rich outcomes as we live our lives in accordance with the will of God and making good use of the talents and gifts that we have received. What are these fruits of the Holy Spirit and how can we then make good use of these gifts to be dedicated as Christians? They are the nine fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the great virtues that all of us Christians should have with us, and which we should cultivate in our lives.

First of all, love lies at the hearts of all Christians, as we cannot call ourselves as Christians unless we know love and unless we know how to love and love sincerely. St. Paul himself had written that even if he were to know the language of Angels and have various other talents and wonders, but without love, then all those things would be meaningless. It was God’s love that allowed Him to be patient with us and to seek us out constantly, even when we continue to disobey Him and distance ourselves from Him. And His love has been manifested completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born into this world and One Who died for us out of love, that by His suffering and death, He may bring all of us out of the darkness of sin and death, and lead us into eternal life.

And therefore, just as the Lord Himself has loved us so dearly and wonderfully, we too are called to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, to love without condition and sincerely, to all those who are around us, to our friends and relatives, our family members and even those whom we encounter daily in life, acquaintances and even strangers. We are all challenged to show love not only for ourselves, but also for God, first and foremost, and then also for our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we meet in life, and we are challenged by the Lord to show love even to our enemies, as He Himself said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’

The second fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy, and joy is something that is lacking in our community and in so many among us these days. I know that during this time with the pandemic still raging and flaring up again and again in various parts of the world, the numerous disruptions and negative effects it had on our communities and livelihood, it is very difficult for us to be joyful. Yet, as Christians, we should be the source of joy for one another even during this difficult time. And why should we be joyful when all these misfortunes and terrible things are happening to us? That is because we have faith in God and we believe that no matter what, God will always be by our side, and He shall always have our back at all times. We rejoice because no matter what happens and no matter how bad things can be, in the end, as long as we remain firmly faithful in God, we will triumph.

Then, the next fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. As Christians we must believe in peace and we are all called to be the bearers of God’s peace in our community. There are also plenty of conflicts that had been happening this past few months alone as tensions rose up between countries and peoples, exacerbated by the current pandemic situation and all the instabilities it caused. Those conflicts also came to be as a result of mankind’s greed and unbridled desires, their pride and ego, and their pursuit for power and glory. That is why, as Christians we should show through action that we should uphold peace above conflict, and do our best to reconcile ourselves and also be intermediaries for others who disagree and are in conflict.

Then comes the fruit of patience. As Christians we have to know patience, much as Our Lord Himself has shown us so much patience all these while, despite our various infidelities and wickedness. God still cared for us and loved us, and He also patiently tried again and again to call us and to lead us to return to the right path. All of us are called to be patient in life as well, and if necessary to endure with faith all the challenges, trials and difficulties that we may have to endure as we continue to live our lives faithfully as Christians in each and every moments of our lives.

Then the fruits of kindness and goodness, which must have been self-explanatory, that as Christians, we ought to have empathy and concern for others, that in all the things we say and do, we will always have consideration for others, our fellow brothers and sisters, in our minds. We should always strive to be good as well, which means that we are all called to a life of virtue, a life of obedience to the will of God. We should always show kindness in our every actions and be as true Christians in all things, resisting the temptations to sin and to do what is against God’s teachings and against His will.

And as Christians, we are all called to have strong and genuine faith in the Lord, the fruit of faithfulness in the Holy Spirit. That means we should truly believe in all the things that we profess to have faith in, and not just merely paying lip service or being outwardly pious and yet inside, God has no true place within our hearts. To be truly faithful to the Lord is not an easy task, brothers and sisters in Christ, for it will require us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and to dedicate our time, effort and more to serve the Lord through our lives.

Lastly, the two fruits of gentleness and self-control are important reminders for all of us to live a life of virtue and faith, not controlled by our own desires and the allures of worldly pleasures. This is why we should not be quick-tempered or easy to give in to anger and pride, and we have to overcome the temptations of our flesh, which could derail our path towards God and His salvation. We are all called to focus our attention instead on the Lord and always contemplate on His ways and truth, rather than listening to the temptations of our pride and desire.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost today, let us all remember that Pentecost is not merely just the end of the season of Easter. On the contrary, it marks a new beginning for the Church, which as mentioned, back then, the disciples were strengthened and encouraged by the gift of the Holy Spirit descending on them. Then are we going to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters? Are we also going to proclaim our faith courageously and dedicate ourselves and our time to the best of our abilities from now on?

This is our calling and mission as Christians, and we should embrace them wholeheartedly, if we have not done so yet. Let us all be part of the Church’s mission to reach out to more and more people, and to call on more to follow the Lord, to be His faithful witnesses, guided by the Holy Spirit with our various and diverse gifts and abilities, that we may indeed bear rich fruits of the Holy Spirit and become great inspirations to one another in faith. Come, o Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love. Amen.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this evening we celebrate the Vigil Mass of the great Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, marking the most momentous occasion when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord assembled in Jerusalem, on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of the Lord, not long after the Lord ascended gloriously and returning into His Heavenly Throne. This day we celebrate this important moment as the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven unto us, as promised.

Today marks the beginning of the Universal Church, as it was on this day that the disciples of the Lord began their missionary outreach and efforts, as they previously hid themselves and kept a low profile out of fear of the Jewish authorities. After the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they began to go out and preached the Good News of God’s salvation and truth to the people assembled in Jerusalem, led by St. Peter, the leader of the Apostles, and it was told that three thousand men were convinced by them and gave themselves to be baptised.

Through the Scripture readings we have received and heard today in this Vigil of the Pentecost, we heard very important and symbolic readings that we may not have realised at first why these readings were chosen as the Scripture passages for this occasion. In fact, as we heard and remembered again what we have just heard earlier on, in the readings prescribed for this Pentecost Vigil, God wanted to show us through His Church, that the coming of the Holy Spirit restored and renewed all of us, His beloved people, once weakened and brought down by sin and the darkness of evil.

In our first reading, one of the readings came from the Book of Genesis, detailing the moment when God confused the language of the men and women gathered at the site of Babel, where they all aspired in pride to build a tower so high that it would reach up to the heavens itself. Through their wickedness, sin and disobedience therefore mankind had been scattered all throughout the world, divided by their languages and different speeches, unable to understand one another, divided in purpose and essence.

Then, when the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to His Apostles and disciples at the Pentecost, if we recall what happened, the Holy Spirit came down on them all and strengthened them, and they all began to speak in tongues, as they went out preaching and glorifying God before all the people who were gathered in Jerusalem, and all those people assembled were all astonished because they heard these disciples of the Lord all speaking simultaneously and at the same time in their own languages.

What happened, brothers and sisters in Christ? When mankind became proud and fell into sin, they lost the gift of wisdom and language, knowledge of the Holy Spirit, which God withdrew from them as what happened at the Tower of Babel. When He granted the Holy Spirit back once again to His disciples, they all received the Spirit that reinvigorated them, gave them wisdom and knowledge, one of which is the gift of tongues, that they were able to comprehend and speak in various languages.

Then, we also heard the reading of the Covenant between God and His people Israel as it happened in Mount Sinai in one of the other first reading for this Vigil, which is significant because in that occasion, the people of God rebelled against God and three thousand men were lost to the sin of idolatry, as they chose a golden calf idol over themselves to be their god instead of the Lord God Who led them out of the land of Egypt. Those three thousand people were slain because of their sin against God, in denying Him and refusing to acknowledge Him as God.

And as mentioned, on the day of the Pentecost, three thousand people were added to the numbers of the faithful, as an obvious contrast with what we heard regarding the moment when the Israelites fell into sin and disobeyed God with the golden calf idol. This is very symbolic as the gift of the Holy Spirit strengthens and restores the unity that we have with God, our Lord and Saviour, overcoming the power of sin that had led to death. Instead, through the Spirit, we have received new life in God, as those three thousand people baptised on the Pentecost had received theirs.

The prophet Ezekiel saw a great field of dry bones in his vision, and he saw how those bones became a great and vast assembly of people, all living and breathing after the Lord gave them the breath of life, which is representing the Holy Spirit, that exists in everywhere and in all things, just as in the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the Holy Spirit was represented as being in all things and floating all around nothingness before Creation came to be.

It was this same life that God has given to the first man, Adam, as He moulded him from dust, and the same life that the Lord has given to each and every one of us. And it was significant that this vision was revealed to the prophet Ezekiel as Ezekiel lived during a time when the fortunes of the Israelites were at its very lowest, having been scattered and made to wander off among the nations, humiliated and cast down because of their sins and disobedience against God, even losing their own homeland and the city in which God has placed His own dwelling, Jerusalem and its great Temple.

Through that vision, God wanted to tell His people that He shall restore them and return them once again to His grace. He shall gather them all back once again and reunite them to Himself, just much like how He also would restore all the other people who had been scattered because of their sin and pride at the Tower of Babel. He would restore them all and bless them once again, calling them to repent from their sins and to abandon their wicked ways. Through the Holy Spirit He would bestow on them all, He would reveal the fullness of truth to them and that they may seek and find Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all celebrate this Vigil of the great Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, all of us are called to reflect on the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit that God has given us, that through the Holy Spirit, He has strengthened and encouraged us, giving us wisdom and guidance wherever and whenever we need them. And all of us who have shared in the same Spirit of God, through our common baptism, have also shared in the same mission of the Church, that is to be the witnesses of the Lord and His truth in our own communities, at all possible opportunities, to reach out to our fellow men and women.

God has given us the Holy Spirit that we may be sanctified, rejuvenated and strengthened, that through the various gifts and talents we have received, we may indeed bear rich fruits of the Spirit, and shine with the most wonderful light of faith such that all those who see us, hear us and witness our deeds and works, they may all know that we are God’s beloved ones, His followers and disciples. And this is the challenge that we all have today. Have we been living our lives faithfully as we should as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we instead been ignorant of our mission and calling as Christians?

Let us all therefore be genuine witnesses of the Lord in all possible opportunities, doing whatever we can in order to touch the hearts and minds of others, so that through us, many more people may come to believe in the Lord, just as how the Apostles and disciples of the Lord spoke with such great passion and showed their love for God that so many turned to the Lord and became His followers. As members of the same Church of God, this is what we have been called to do, and what we should embrace wholeheartedly, following the examples set by our holy predecessors in faith.

Although the season of Easter ends with this celebration of the Pentecost, it does not mean then that everything goes back to normal and we can just continue on with our lives without any action or commitment from us to live in accordance with our Christian faith. On the contrary, all of us are called and reminded this Pentecost, as always, to be fruitful in the Holy Spirit and to make best use of all that God has given us, and to walk courageously and faithfully in His path. Pentecost as I said earlier, marked the important moment when the Church was truly born, and as such, marks a beginning rather than an end.

Pentecost marks the beginning of a new, evangelistic and missionary journey that from now onwards we should continue to live our lives to the fullest, and we should commit ourselves fully to the Lord that through us, God and His works may continue to reach even more and more people, and through us, the Holy Spirit shall come down and renew the face of the whole earth, dispelling the darkness of sin and evil, and bringing forth a new era of peace and love. May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us, through the Holy Spirit, that we will always ever be faithful and dedicated to Him. Amen.

Saturday, 22 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the mission that the Lord has entrusted to us, the members of His Church. Even though the season of Easter is coming to an end with the celebration of the Pentecost Sunday tomorrow, it does not mean that everything that we have celebrated throughout this Easter is coming to an end. On the contrary, Pentecost marked just the very beginning of the Church’s works and efforts that still continues even to this very day.

As we heard in our first reading today from the ending parts of the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul reached the city of Rome and began the last step of his ministry in that city. He preached to the local Jewish community and also others who were interested in the Christian faith, establishing the foundation for the Church in Rome, from which also stemmed many other communities all throughout the Roman Empire. Through all of his efforts, many turned to the Lord and were reconciled to Him, and many came to believe in Him and became courageous missionaries themselves.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord’s conversation with His disciples at the Last Supper speaking about the one who would betray Him as well as St. Peter who wondered about the disciple whom the Lord loved, that is referring to St. John. At that time, there were still disagreements and so-called rivalry between the disciples, just as they had done earlier on when they argued among themselves who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, as St. John, his own mother and brother tried to also gain favour and position from the Lord by asking Him directly.

In all these we can see that first of all, the Lord called His disciples among mankind, people who were imperfect, full of human frailties, desires and shortcomings, of pride and jealousy, or any other behaviours and attitudes unbecoming of Christians, as the Apostles themselves had once exhibited. One among the Twelve betrayed the Lord and surrendered Him to the chief priests, and left their number, while St. Peter himself denied the Lord three times and with others, abandoned Him in fear when He was arrested in the Gardens of Gethsemane.

St. Paul himself was a fanatical enemy of the Church and the Christian faithful when he was young, persecuting the Church and the believers, causing untold sufferings and much pain among them. Yet, the Lord called all these to be His followers and witnesses, to be the ones to bear His truth to the people of the many nations that they had been sent to. These Apostles, like St. Paul went forth courageously and wholeheartedly, not worried about themselves but instead ever always concerned about the conversion of many and the salvation of souls.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, a holy and devout woman who was a dedicated wife and mother who wanted to join a convent in her early life, but forced to accept arranged marriage to a man who was bad-tempered, immoral and wicked. St. Rita of Cascia was remembered as a pious woman and faithful wife and mother despite all that she had to endure from her husband, his behaviour and temper. She endured all of his insults and abuses, as well as all of his infidelities in their marriage.

In the end, it was told that she was able to convince her husband to be a better person and at least he abandoned some of his past vices. Yet, his actions caught up to him and he was assassinated by a rival family, which led to her husband’s family vowing vengeance and expecting St. Rita of Cascia’s two sons to seek vengeance for their murdered father. Unable to persuade her sons to seek vengeance despite her repeated efforts, she prayed to God, asking that He took them away from the world rather than to have them commit a mortal sin through murder.

True enough, very soon after that, both of her sons were taken by a plague that occurred in that year. And then, having been widowed and left without family, St. Rita of Cascia finally became a religious, dedicating the rest of her life to contemplative prayer and commitment to God. It was not easy for her to do so, as the convent was afraid that her murdered husband’s family and reputation would be bad for them, and hence, St. Rita of Cascia was tasked to resolve the feuds between the families of that town, which she did with great success.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see here, God had called ordinary people, woman like St. Rita of Cascia, who was just an ordinary wife and mother, and yet, by her faith and commitment, she had done great deeds, leading her own husband and two sons closer to God’s grace and salvation, and helping to resolve the feud between the families of her town, among others. Through her life and example, all of us can see what it means to be a true disciple of the Lord, as a Christian.

Therefore, let us all continue to go forth proclaiming the truth of God in our lives from now on. Let us dedicate ourselves and follow the Lord wholeheartedly, as missionaries and genuine evangelisers in all of our words and actions throughout life. Let us all follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit that throughout life we will always be ever dedicated and filled with the strong desire to proclaim God’s truth in the midst of our respective communities, even when we encounter challenges and trials, opposition and persecution. Let us trust in the Lord and not be afraid for He is always by our side. May God be with us always, and bless our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Friday, 21 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the occasion when St. Paul stood before Festus, the governor of Judea and king Agrippa the Roman client ruler of the country, as he waited for his transfer to Rome following his decision to appeal his case to the Emperor himself. St. Paul was accused and condemned by the Jewish leaders and elders who opposed him and his efforts to spread the Christian faith among the Jews and the Gentiles alike. At that time, he testified about Christ before the two men, and tried to convince them about the truth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.

In our Gospel passage today, then we heard St. Peter and his conversation with the Lord at the Lake of Galilee, when after His Resurrection, the Lord appeared to His disciples as they were fishing by the lake. St. Peter was the very first one to recognise the Lord and he quickly came ashore to meet Him. The Lord called St. Peter aside after He had breakfast with the disciples, and we then heard what He told St. Peter in today’s Gospel, first asking him whether he loved Him, not just once but three times, again and again.

Through this action, the Lord showed that He has forgiven St. Peter’s thrice denial of Him at the time when He was arrested and brought before the chief priests during His Passion, and not only that but He also reaffirmed St. Peter as the leader of all the Apostles and as His Vicar, commissioning him as the first Pope and Leader of the Universal Church, to be the one to take care of His vast flock, all the people of God, together with the other Apostles and leaders of the Church.

This was also clearly not an easy task because the Lord Himself said how while in his younger years, St. Peter was free to go wherever he wanted and free to do whatever he wanted to do, in his old and end of days, he would be led in chains, endure prison and suffering, and all sorts of trials and challenges, all sorts of humiliation and ridicule for the sake of the Lord and his faith in Him. This is a revelation of how St. Peter would one day suffer and die for the sake of his faith, as he would go on to Rome, just as St. Paul also went to Rome, and while St. Paul would be beheaded at the end of his journey in Rome, St. Peter would be arrested, condemned to death and crucified upside down in the place where today stands the great Basilica of St. Peter.

The two Apostles had been called and chosen by the Lord to be His witnesses and missionaries among the various people they had been sent to. They responded with dedication and commitment, and they showed their love and devotion by committing themselves and all of their efforts to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord, and they gave themselves wholeheartedly to the mission, even though they knew that they would have to suffer for all that they had done. They endured it all through faith.

Today, all of us are reminded through these two Apostles that being Christians and followers of the Lord require from us a total commitment, effort as well as dedication. And we should also trust the Lord in whatever that He has led us into, as we must believe that He is with us, guiding us at all times, through the Holy Spirit that He has given us, leading us through life. Often times we will have to make tough decisions and to resist the temptations to walk away from the Lord’s path. And that is why we must always anchor ourselves strongly to the Lord at all times.

Today we should be inspired by the examples set by St. Christopher Magallanes and his companions, holy martyrs of the faith, who have steadfastly dedicated themselves to the glory of God. St. Christopher Magallanes was a devoted priest in Mexico who lived and endured through the difficult years of persecution of the Church and Christians by the government that was deeply anticlerical and even anti-Christian at that time, as seminaries and schools ran by the Church were forced to close and many were deprived of the sacraments.

St. Christopher Magallanes was among the many priests who had to endure the most challenging conditions as everything were arrayed against them. Although he preached patience and refused to support pro-Christian rebellions, he was accused falsely of promoting rebellion and arrested under false charges. He was summarily executed with other Christian faithful, and to the ver end, he remained faithful and committed to the mission that God has entrusted to him and others. Many other Christians also perished during that time, and yet, their continued devotion to God despite the worst that happened to them became a great inspiration for many.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be inspired by the examples of these great saints and martyrs who have gone before us. Let us follow in their footsteps and walk ever more courageously in the defence of our faith in the Lord, speaking up the truth of God and living our lives to the fullest possible as best as we can. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 20 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard of the time when St. Paul was in Jerusalem, having followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and then was accused and attacked by the Jewish leaders from both the members of the Pharisees party and from the Sadducees party. These two groups were very influential and powerful groups of people during the time of the Lord’s ministry and the early Church, both opposing St. Paul in his missionary efforts while at the same time were also bitterly divided against each other.

The Pharisees were the spiritual leaders in the community, those with intellectual knowledge and wisdom, knowledge of the Law and the teachings of the prophets, yet because of their pride and their refusal to admit that someone else could have a greater and more complete truth than them, they failed to recognise the Lord Jesus as the Saviour and the One Whom God had sent into the world, and of Whom the prophets and the Scriptures were all speaking about. They were blinded by their own vanity and their pride, and as a result, they also opposed and persecuted St. Paul for his faith. St. Paul himself was a Pharisee before he converted to the Christian faith.

Meanwhile, the Sadducees were the secular leaders and powerful members of the community whose beliefs were almost diametrically opposite that of the Pharisees. These people did not believe in matters spiritual, in Angels and spirits, or in the Resurrection unlike the Pharisees. They represent the materialistic and worldly segments of the society, and they opposed St. Paul and the Lord because of their beliefs and the belief in the Resurrection, which the Lord Himself had gone through, as these were opposed to their own fundamental beliefs.

As such, while they both opposed St. Paul and wanted to arrest and punish him, they were not united at all in their purpose and intentions. The moment that St. Paul exposed this, when he mentioned how he was once a young Pharisee before his conversion, the whole place went up in great uproar as the Pharisees and the Sadducees went against each other instead of St. Paul, showing in the end just how bitterly divided they were, and this is especially so because neither of them had the fullness of truth, having denied Christ and His teachings, and His Apostle St. Paul.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord in the continuation of His prayer for the sake of His disciples, on the night before He was to be arrested and put to death. The Lord Jesus prayed over His disciples, asking His heavenly Father to guide them and to strengthen them, and to keep them in the perfection of unity and truth, just as He and His Father are One, with the Holy Spirit. The Lord wanted to stress to all of His disciples that through the truth that He has brought into their midst and which He has revealed to them, He would keep them to Himself and that they would remain united and strong so long as they anchored themselves in Him.

This is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called today to embrace the truth of God wholeheartedly. We should not be stubborn like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who clung to their thoughts and way of life so much that they refused to listen to the Lord and His truth even when He Himself has patiently explained and revealed all these to them throughout His ministry, and which is then later on continued by His disciples like by St. Paul and the other Apostles. We should allow the Lord to knock on the doors of our hearts and minds, that we may understand His truth and know Him more so that we may love Him all the more.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena, a famous missionary priest, whose life was dedicated to the Lord, and whose works brought so many people back to the embrace of the Mother Church and many were converted to the truth. St. Bernardine of Siena was born into a noble family though orphaned at a young age. He then joined the Franciscans and became a priest, ministering to many people throughout Italy, in his various journey of preaching and outreach to them.

St. Bernardine of Siena was a great preacher, one who is truly convinced of the truth he was preaching, and although he was weak in voice and stature, his preaching and words were so powerful that throughout his more than three decades of ministry, countless people turned to the Lord and the faith was rejuvenated in so many others, leading to a great period of religious revival all over Italy, throughout all the places he has been preaching and ministering in. St. Bernardine followed in the footsteps of St. Paul and the other Apostles, reaching out to those who have not yet known the Lord and making Him known to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be inspired by the examples showed by St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Paul and all of our holy predecessors, all those who have gone before us and showed us what it means to be true Christians in actions, deeds and words. Are we all willing to commit ourselves to the Lord wholeheartedly as they had done? We have been entrusted with the same truth and are called to commit ourselves to be part of the efforts of the Church in evangelisation and conversion of the whole world.

Let us all therefore be genuine Christians not just in words but also in deeds, and do our best in whatever we do, in even the smallest and the simplest things that we do, to glorify the Lord by our lives. This is what we are all expected to do, and what each and every one of us should be inspired to do at all times, throughout our lives. Let us all seek the Lord with renewed conviction and desire to love Him and serve Him at all times, and let us reach out to our fellow brethren, proclaiming the truth of God at all times.

May God be with us all, and may He strengthen us and encourage us to walk ever more faithfully in His path, following the zeal and piety of St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Paul the Apostle, and all the other courageous and faithful saints and martyrs, our most noble inspirations in faith and life. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles in the first reading the exhortation that St. Paul the Apostle gave to the faithful community in Ephesus as he said his farewells to them as he was about to embark to Jerusalem for his last mission, which is then compared to the words that the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples just before He was about to embark on His Passion, His suffering and death as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

St. Paul reminded all the faithful, the elders and the other members of the community to remain true to their faith and to be strong despite the challenges and trials that they might encounter in their lives and in their community. He shared with them the story of his own faith and actions, and how God had been with him even through the most challenging and difficult moments. He reminded the faithful that while there would indeed be trials to come, but the Lord’s promised inheritance and true happiness would be well worth all the sufferings.

That is the same as what the Lord Jesus has revealed to His disciples that night before He was to embark on the last and most important part of His ministry, as He told them that there would be hatred laid against them by the world and there would be trials that they would have to face as they remain faithful to Him. But all those things were not things that the disciples had to worry about as the Lord prayed over them that they would be consecrated in the truth, strengthened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, that they would later on receive, to be courageous and strong in their commitment and defence of their faith.

The Lord sent His disciples forth out to the nations, to proclaim His truth and to call on all to be His followers and to believe in the truth He has revealed, that through this, more and more may be saved and freed from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of evil. And He encouraged, strengthened and guided them all through the long journey, helping them to persevere through the challenges and trials that they might encounter along the way. It was this strength that allowed them to remain firm in their conviction and faith.

That was how St. Paul was able to dedicate himself so thoroughly to his mission, despite having encountered so much opposition and persecutions, not only from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the Pharisees, but also from the pagans and their priests, from the Roman authorities and other local authorities who made it difficult for him and his compatriots in faith to do their mission, and the various other obstacles that they had to endure throughout. Many had been imprisoned and made to suffer in various ways, all those who have been martyred, all these had endured great sufferings for the sake of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember this well as we ourselves are embarking on this journey of faith of our own. We are never alone and we should never easily give up just because we encounter any difficulties in life. Instead, we have to trust in the Lord and encourage one another, especially those who are in doubt and are lagging behind in their faith life. Just as the Lord has always been with us, and just as He has always ever been faithful to us, we too have to show this solidarity towards our fellow brothers and sisters, and show it through prayer and actions.

This year, as it has also been for the past year, we have so many challenges and obstacles in life, and many are struggling daily to make ends meet, and while others are persecuted for their beliefs and faith, and yet still there others also who are suffering from conflicts and wars, from various uncertainties and problems. It is exactly at this moment that we should show solidarity and care, compassion and love for our fellow men, as much as we are able to do so, instead of selfishness and hatred.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we encounter in life. Let us show compassion and love for those who need these, those who are lonely and unloved, those who have been left behind and are suffering and sorrowful. This world already has enough sorrow and bitterness, suffering and pain this past year due to the pandemic, conflicts and all other troubles we ourselves may have encountered thus far. It is up to us to restore the happiness, joy and smile to others.

Let us therefore be life-giving in all of our actions, bring hope and encouragement, positivity and enthusiasm through our interactions with one another. May the Lord be our inspiration and strength, and may He give us all the courage to reach out with love to our fellow men, at all time, and at every opportunities available to us. May God bless us all in our every endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. John I, Pope and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the story of St. Paul who was then in Ephesus, speaking among the gathered Church elders and the faithful. At that time we heard St. Paul saying to those assembled how he was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News and the truth to the many peoples all across various parts of the Eastern Mediterranean. And he told those assembled in Ephesus that he would then be going to his suffering and martyrdom, as the Spirit led him on to go to the city of Jerusalem for the final leg of his mission.

St. Paul knew that he would be facing sufferings and trials, and he would have to be led in chains, imprisoned and brought from place to place, as later on he would be brought from Jerusalem to Rome, the capital of the Empire, after he appealed to the Emperor for the charges brought against him by the Jewish leaders and elders. He could have avoided that fate by not going to Jerusalem and staying on amongst those who cared for him like in Ephesus, but he followed and obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the truth in his last mission, and to bring that truth the city of Rome before he was to be martyred.

The same also happened to the Lord Himself as seen in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord was having His Last Supper with His disciples, and revealed to them how He would be taken away from them, and that He would no longer with them. This was a reference to how He would very soon be arrested, that very night, and would be condemned to death on the Cross and die for the sake of all. Again, here the Lord could have chosen to avoid it all, and if He had wanted to be out of all the trials He had to endure, He could have easily done it, for after all, is He not the Almighty One?

Yet, He willingly accepted His Cross and went on through all the sufferings, so that everything that He has designed and planned for the salvation of all could be fulfilled perfectly, right up to the moment of His death. He did so out of love for us and so that we can also be freed from the slavery to sin and death. If it not had been for His sacrifice on the Cross, all of us would still be enslaved to sin and have no hope or freedom from death. Instead, we have this hope and new light thanks to Our Lord and His love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, being a Christian is not something that is easy or simple, and it often requires plenty of effort, dedication and even sacrifices on our side. And we have to trust in the Lord and follow His guide, through the Holy Spirit that He has given us. We should not be afraid to follow Him, or give in to our doubts and fears. As the Lord Himself and St. Paul had shown us, we should entrust ourselves to the Divine will and providence, and we should allow Him to transform our lives, and how we are to act and do things in life.

Now, as we have received the truth of God, know of the mission that He has entrusted to us through His Church, and heeded His call and will to be Christians, what are we then going to do with our lives from now on? This is what we need to discern carefully from now on as we consider what it is that we all have to do in each and every moments of our lives that we may be good role models and examples for all of our fellow men, our brothers and sisters, that like St. Paul and the other Apostles and saints, we may encourage one another to be faithful and to be more committed and dedicated to God.

Today all of us celebrate the feast of Pope St. John I, one of the great and holy Popes, a faithful servant of God and martyr of the Christian faith that can be one of our great inspirations in how we are to live our lives. He was elected to the position of Pope, Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff during a turbulent time in the history of the Church, as conflict between the Arian heresy adopted by the Ostrogothic king of Italy, Theoderic the Great and the Nicene faith of the rest of the Roman Empire came to head.

Pope St. John I, at that time, despite being frail and in poor health when he was elected to the Papacy, he dedicated his time and effort to mediate between both sides, as both were unwilling to give grounds and concessions to the other. In the end, Pope St. John I managed to gain a compromise, only for the Gothic king to arrest him and put him in prison, suspecting the Pope of cooperation and collusion with the Roman Emperor and the Nicene party. He died in prison a martyr not long afterwards.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us are called to follow in the footsteps of Pope St. John I, in his courage and dedication to follow in the path set before him by the Lord. Despite the challenges and the risks he knew that he had to face, much like St. Paul and the Lord Jesus before him, he embarked on the mission entrusted to him nonetheless, and fulfilled faithfully all that he had been called to do, as a true Christian, a true follower and disciple of Christ to the very end.

Are we willing and able to do the same, brothers and sisters in Christ? We are all called to follow in the footsteps of those who had gone before us, and to bear our Christian faith in words, deeds and actions, in even the smallest things we do in life, from now on, if we have not done so yet. Let us hence seek the Lord with renewed zeal and vigour, and with the same energy and strength let us reach out to our fellow men, bearing witness of our Christian faith, at all times.

May the Lord be with us, being our Strength and Guide, through the Holy Spirit He has sent to us, to invigorate and empower us to be ever genuine and faithful Christian, always and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 17 May 2021 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to proclaim the Lord and His truth before all the people, following in the footsteps of His Apostles and disciples, all those who have given their lives for the sake of the Lord, those who dedicated themselves to be witnesses of the Lord’s Resurrection, His light and truth among the nations, calling more and more people to turn towards the Lord.

In our first reading today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the Apostle St. Paul went to Ephesus and encountered some of the disciples and believers over there. He preached to them and taught them having heard that they had only known and received the revelations and teachings of St. John the Baptist, but not that of the Lord and His fullness of truth. St. Paul ministered to those disciples, and they were baptised, receiving the Holy Spirit Who guided them and strengthened them.

In our Gospel passage today then we heard the disciples speaking to the Lord at the hour near His moments of suffering and death, as He was about to embark on His journey to save His people, when He spoke plainly and clearly, as He prayed over them and revealed even more of what the Lord had intended to do, and at that same occasion, the Lord also predicted how His disciples would be struck and scattered when He was later arrested, and how they would then be gathered back and strengthened once again.

For the Lord has never left us all alone, as He has constantly and continuously always been by our side, encouraging us and helping us, through His faithful servants like St. Paul and many others who have given themselves for the cause of the Lord, for the salvation of all and the liberation of all from the tyranny and bondage of sin. He has always watched over us, and by His sending to us the Holy Spirit, to be our Guide and Advocate, He has shown us His perfect love, His faithfulness to the Covenant that He has established with us through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, what is the significance of all that we have heard today, brothers and sisters in Christ? All these are reminders for us that as part of the Church of God, all of us have been made the sharers in the Lord’s work of salvation, and in the same Holy Spirit that He has sent to all of His beloved ones, guided and strengthened by the Advocate and Helper, through Whom we have been given many gifts and talents, abilities and opportunities to do whatever we can in our respective capacities, and to proclaim the greater glory of God in everything that we say and do.

We are all called to be genuine witnesses and exemplary Christians in all the things we say and do, in everything we commit in life, by living our lives with faith, obeying the will and the commandments of the Lord, by showing love that is first and foremost directed at the Lord and then by showing that same love towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow men and women. And at this time and age, when there is so much darkness and wickedness in the world, we are all called to be ‘Cooperators of the Truth’ of God’, to be the beacons of God’s most wonderful Light among the nations.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the Lord, to what He has called us to do, and to do what we can in each and every moments of our lives, even to the smallest of things so that we may glorify Him and His Name through our own actions, words and deeds? We are all called to bring the same words of truth and encouragement just as St. Paul had strengthened, encouraged and devoted his time to his brothers and sisters, the faithful disciples in the city of Ephesus. His care and love for them, and his genuine faith were all that persuaded the people to turn fully towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore help one another to remain firmly attached to the Lord, and to be firmly and strongly anchored in Him in all things. We should not remain idle anymore or ignorant of our responsibilities and parts to do as Christians from now on. Instead, let us devote as much of our time and effort, our focus and attention to live our lives as good, faithful and loving Christians, loving one another, our fellow brothers and sisters, that all who sees us, hears us and witnesses our actions and deeds, may see the Lord Himself reflected in us and our lives.

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage and hope, to always remain firm in faith, exemplary in life and deeds, as good Christians and brothers and sisters to our fellow men. Amen.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Seventh Sunday of Easter we mark also the occasion of the World Communications Sunday, through which our Scripture passages today highlight to us the need for us to be involved in the outreach and evangelisation mission and efforts of the Church, and we also keep in mind at the same time all those who are involved in the field of communications especially those who are in the work of communication on behalf and as part of the Church. Communication is truly a very important aspect of our faith, and all of us need to understand its significance.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the discussion which the Apostles had in deciding what to do with the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, after the traitor chose to betray the Lord that led to the Lord’s arrest, and eventually killed himself in regret for what he had done. As such, one of the seats of the Twelve Apostles had been vacated, and in order to make the Twelve once again complete, they discerned and discussed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to choose from among the disciples, who was to be the one fit to be the twelfth Apostle.

Eventually, St. Matthias was chosen to be the twelfth Apostle, and therefore, the number of the Twelve Apostles was once again complete. If we are wondering why it is so important that the Twelve Apostles ought to be complete, then we must understand that the Twelve Apostles were those whom the Lord had chosen to be His own most trusted ones, to be the pillars of the Church that He has established in this world, of which St. Peter then also served as the foundation, the ‘Rock’ of the Church, on which Christ has built His Church.

The Lord has also showed His love for them and prayed for them as we heard in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how before the Lord was about to embark on His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, He prayed for all of His disciples, that they would be kept together and as one people, one Church, one body of disciples, and not to be lost from God. He prayed for them that they may be consecrated in the truth, to be holy and dedicated to the mission which they had been entrusted with, that they would be the ones to steer the Church through the challenging and difficult times that the faithful would encounter.

And this prayer that the Lord Jesus made to His Father for the sake of the disciples, just as the Apostles during their decision to add St. Matthias to the ranks of the Twelve, are examples of how communication is such an important aspect and part of our faith. We cannot be a true Christian unless we open ourselves to the Lord first and foremost, to communicate with Him regularly and to know His will, and to communicate with Him genuinely, listening to one another, the best method of which is through prayer, for prayer is the most intimate communication we have with God, our loving Father and Creator.

The Apostles prayed before they made any decisions, during the time when the made the decision to replace the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, during the time when they discerned regarding other important matters pertaining to the Church, as well as when they sent out the Apostles and disciples such as when they prayed over St. Paul and St. Barnabas and sent them to minister to the Gentiles. They prayed for the Lord’s guidance and for the Holy Spirit to come down upon those whom the Lord has chosen and sent to be His missionaries and workers.

Whenever the Church does things, they always pray before anything, and prayer is truly a very integral part of our faith, that in all things, we have to stay connected and united with God, staying in touch and communicating with Him. And we also pray and ask for the intercessions of the saints, from Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, her Spouse and the Apostles, saints and martyrs. Each and every one of these saints intercede and pray for us, and they still stay in communion with us, communicating with us and never forgetting about us who are still in this world, and as they are nearer to God than us, they pray with even greater efficacy and contact with the Lord, on our behalf.

That is why, it is important that each and every one of us as Christians stay connected to the Lord through prayer and through love. Through various means we should build and sustain our relationship with Him, just as we should also build and sustain our relationships with one another, with our fellow brothers and sisters. A genuine relationship takes time and effort to be built and maintained, and we need to learn how to be good communicators, not just in words but also in various other means. A good communicator does not necessarily have to speak a lot, and what matters is how well we deliver our thoughts clearly as much as possible.

That is why the most effective prayer is often not the longest and the best phrased or verbose ones. On the contrary, the best prayers came from the heart, from deep within our heart and soul filled with true love for the Lord, and with deep longing for His truth. That is the true way of communication between us and God, one between our hearts and His most loving Heart, and not with our brains and mouth only as many had often mistakenly done with their prayers. Prayer is not a litany of requests or worse still, demands that we make of the Lord, thinking that God is One Who can solve all of our problems.

And within the Church, there is also much need for great communication as well, as mentioned by St. John in his Epistle, which is our second reading today, in which the Apostle spoke about how the Lord and His love has been given to us most generously and wonderfully, manifesting through none other than by the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son, adopting the flesh and essence of Man, entering into this world to make the love of God no longer something intangible and invisible, but now having become visible in full through His sacrifice on the Cross.

God communicated His love to all of us through His appearing in our midst, the Love of God made Flesh, and by His actions, He has truly communicated His love and true intention towards us, that while He is our Lord and Master, He is also our loving Father, and while He chastises us for our sins and wickedness, He also shows mercy and compassion, and the desire to be reconciled with us. That He is God Who is not distant and unapproachable, but instead a loving and most caring God Who is always approachable and filled with genuine love and care towards us, at all times.

Having revealed all these through Christ, He made Himself visible, that we may witness Him, know Him, understand Him, touch Him, and get close to Him. And even when He has ascended into Heaven, He reassured all of us that we are never alone, for He is always with us, as He sent us the Holy Spirit to be our strength and guide, to lead us to the right path in life. And through His giving of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist, that we receive at the celebration of the Holy Mass, we share in His Presence, that exists within each and every one of us.

And now that we should have realised just how God had communicated His love and intentions very clearly to us, all these while, then all of us are called and challenged to show the same kind of love, care and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters. And this is exactly what He has commanded and taught us as Christians to do, to love Him first and foremost, and then to love one another in the same way. That is the essence of what being a Christian is all about. And yet, there are many Christians who are still acting in ways contrary to the faith, and there are many who scandalised the faith by showing selfishness and hatred instead of love as they should.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Seventh Sunday of Easter and the World Communications Sunday, we are all called to be genuine communicators, be it in our relationship with God or in our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters. We should begin from ourselves and from within our own small circle of family and friends, and from those whom we interact with and encounter in life. Let us ask ourselves and think if we have shown them the love as expected of us, or whether we have instead ignored them or even hate them, all this time.

Being Christians means that we are called to follow in the examples and in the footsteps of the Lord in how He has cared for us, showed His love so genuinely and communicated all these to us clearly. We should therefore also build up our relationship with Him, leading a better, more prayerful life, and at the same time, show more love towards our fellow men. If we have held grudges or hatred, or any other negative emotions in our hearts, let us learn to forgive and to communicate our desire to love and forgive those who have hurt us and made our lives difficult clearly.

Let us be genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith, by showing more love in our actions in life, and in how we interact with our fellow brethren. It is by our actions that people will truly know that we belong to the Lord and not by mere empty faith alone. And through us and our actions, we can inspire ever more and more people to come and follow the Lord as well, to believe in Him and His truth, and it is our mission as Christians to proclaim the Lord and His truth, and the best way is by leading a good and exemplary Christian life as best as we are able to, and to communicate our faith through real, concrete and genuine actions.

That means, we should not be hypocrites who profess to believe in the Lord and yet act in a different manner, so as to contradict or scandalise our faith. And neither should we also be ignorant or passive in how we live our lives as Christians. We should step up to the opportunities that the Lord has given us to reach out to more and more people. This is how we fulfil our Christian obligations, and the mission God has entrusted to each and every one of us. Let us challenge ourselves to seek the Lord ever more wholeheartedly with each and every passing moments.

Let us lastly also remember to pray for those who have devoted themselves in the field of communication, especially those working hard to establish the reach of the Church through various forms of the media, including the social media. May the Lord be with them, and may He also strengthen and encourage us all to walk faithfully, and to be good witnesses of our faith in the Lord and be ever more prayerful and better in our relationship with Him, now and always. May God bless us all and our every endeavours and efforts, for His greater glory. Amen.