Saturday, 7 April 2018 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded yet again of ourselves as Christians, and our obligations to be witnesses of our faith before God and before His people. In the first reading, we heard how the testimony of faith of the Apostles had created a great furore amongst the Sanhedrin or the Jewish high council. They were divided on the matter of the truth in the teachings of the Apostles.

There were those who saw the truth in what the Apostles had said and testified before the people, while there were even many more amongst these elders and the leaders of the people who hardened their hearts, closed off their minds and their ears from hearing the words of the truth. Yet, nonetheless, the Apostles courageously stood by their faith and defended themselves with zeal and wisdom that day.

The Apostles were ridiculed, persecuted, and those who did not want the truth and the teachings of Jesus to be propagated tried to threaten them not to teach in the Name of the Lord. However, the Apostles and the disciples stood firm by their faith, as God was with them. They were once afraid and unsure of their faith, but the Holy Spirit has given them the strength and the courage to carry on with their mission.

They spoke of the Lord, God Incarnate in the flesh of Man, Jesus Christ, Who has suffered and died on the cross, but He did not remain in the state of death or stayed in a tomb. They saw Him risen from the dead, and there were many witnesses among them who saw Jesus, in the flesh, appearing before them, walking among them, and even ate with them, to show that He has truly indeed risen.

This is the testimony of faith that the disciples of the Lord shared with many others, beginning with the time of the Pentecost and thus, the Church was born. More and more people gave themselves to be baptised in the Name of the Lord, and more and more people devoted themselves to God, and turning away from their sinful past, they allowed themselves to be worthy of the salvation that God has freely offered us.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, in our world today, more and more among us Christians are drifting away from the faith, and we no longer have the same zeal, devotion and commitment as that of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. We have lost our compass of faith, and we have wandered off away from God’s path, by our falling into temptation and the persuasions of the world.

There are many lies and the falsehoods which the devil is using to spawn confusion and challenges amongst us, and unless we devote ourselves to the Lord with all of our hearts and with zeal and conviction, as the disciples of the Lord had, we are likely to fall to Satan’s trap, and therefore fall away from God’s mercy and forgiveness. Is that what we want, brothers and sisters in Christ?

What do we need to do then? It is not enough for us to come for the Sunday Mass and say to ourselves that we have fulfilled the obligation which the Church has given us. No, that is not nearly enough. Indeed, to be present in the Mass is the greatest and most important part of our faith, but at the same time, in order to be truly faithful to God, we must have an active faith life, through constant and fervent prayer, by which we communicate with God and know what it is that He wants from us, and of course by actually committing ourselves to do what the Lord has asked us to do, to love one another.

May the Lord be with us, guiding us and providing us with the way forward, that we may find our way to serve Him with all of our hearts, with all of our strengths, and with all of our efforts. May we all be true Christians, in our words, in our actions and in everything we do in our lives, beginning this Easter, and continuing forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 6 April 2018 : Friday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are called to reflect on the readings from the Scriptures that we heard, that we may know what it is that all of us as Christians ought to be doing in order to dedicate ourselves to God’s cause ever more wholeheartedly in this Easter season and beyond. That is why we should reflect on the words we have just heard and put them in our hearts and minds.

In the first reading today, as it had been for the past few days throughout this Easter Octave, we continue to hear the proclamations and the works of the Apostles, who testified about the Lord Jesus, His resurrection from the dead and His triumph over sin. They professed their faith in Him and how others who heard them should also follow in their footsteps and give themselves to be baptised in the Name of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, they spoke of a God, Who has willingly given Himself to us and Who has suffered and died for our sake, that all of us may be saved from our fated destruction and damnation. That is what Christ had done for each and every one of us. He died so that we may live, and He rose from the dead so that by His resurrection, we may share in His glory together.

And in the Gospel that we have heard today, He made it clear to us His intentions and desires for the Church. The Gospel passage today is full of rich symbolisms, which if we do not scrutinise more closely, we would have easily missed their meanings. First of all, the disciples were fishing in the lake of Galilee in a boat, and throughout the night, they did not manage to catch any fish at all. But, when the Lord came upon them and told them what to do, suddenly plenty of large fishes and small fishes were caught.

The boat in which the disciples were in, represents the Church, steered by the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. However, as we just heard, for an entire night, they fished and searched for catch without success, and only when the Lord instructed them on what to do, they managed to get so many fishes such that the boat almost sank. In this, we see how the Church ultimately draws its inspiration and authority from the Lord, Who delegated the authority to His Apostles and disciples, as well as their successors.

The fishes caught by the Apostles in the morning time represent all of us as Christians, whom God had brought to be His disciples and as members of His Church. This is the main purpose and mission which the Lord had commanded His disciples to do, calling all the people of God to be united as one people, God’s Holy Church. And the disciples of the Lord went forth to many places, calling on the people to repent from their sins and turn wholeheartedly towards God.

Thus, all of us, Christians living in this time and age are called to be true servants of God, to continue the good works which the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord have started. We need to listen to the call which the Lord had given to us, just as He called the Apostles to be the instruments of His will among His people. Are we able to follow the Lord as we are supposed to do?

Let us all be part of the great efforts of the Church, calling all of us faithful Christians to devote ourselves to the Lord’s way and give our best to serve Him, every day of our lives. May we draw ever closer to God’s grace, and may all of us work together with faith and zeal, in all the things we do, so that through all of our actions and dedications of faith, we may bring ever more souls to God’s salvation. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 5 April 2018 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened more to the story of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord as they carried on their lives after the Lord’s death and resurrection. In the first reading, continuing with the story of the healing of the paralysed man at the Temple, in which the Apostles St. Peter and St. John healed the man by the authority and power of the Lord Jesus, the Risen Christ and Saviour, we heard how they testified before the assembly of people of their faith in the Risen Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the chief priests and the elders were angry because the Apostles were preaching about Jesus, Whom they thought that they had crucified and won against, but then they heard how He had actually risen from the dead just as He had said earlier to the people. To them, Jesus is a rival and a dangerous person to contend with, and that was why they tried to silence the Apostles and the other disciples, without avail.

For God was with His Apostles and disciples, and the wisdom and the courage of the Holy Spirit was with them. They were not afraid of the threats that the Sanhedrin or the Jewish ruling council had placed against them, but instead, it had encouraged them even more to speak out in the Name of Christ, the Risen Lord. They themselves have seen the Lord in person, Risen in glory and overcame death itself, as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

It was this experience and their witnessing to the wonderful works of the Lord, risen from the dead, that they testified before many others, with zeal and conviction. They refused to be silent and to fear the threats of worldly rulers who were only concerned about their own selfish thoughts and desires to maintain their position and influence in the society. Those people wanted to preserve the status quo and not what is good for the people.

But the Lord guided His disciples to be courageous preachers and witnesses to His resurrection and His truth. He wanted the whole world to know about His truth and the message of the Good News that He has brought into the world. In Him alone lies the sole hope for the salvation of all mankind, and not through any other ways. Ultimately, for someone to be saved, they must walk in God’s ways, believe in Him and entrust themselves to His love.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what all of us as Christians need to know today, is the fact that the works of the Apostles, their ministry and courageous engagements amongst the people of God were not yet complete. There are still many areas in which more can be done, by the Church and by all of us Christians, to make this world a better place, and to fulfil what the Lord has commanded us to do, to bring His light and truth to all the nations.

Therefore, all of us are called to be the people of Easter, a renewed and more courageous people, who are willing to devote our effort, our time and our every actions for the glorification of God, and for the salvation of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who have fallen astray in their journey of life, and also all those who have not yet heard of God’s truth and have not yet known His saving grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves more wholeheartedly to God, and let us all spend more time with Him, and let us draw our strength from Him, so that day after day, we may always walk in His ways, undeterred by the challenges facing us, just as the Apostles had walked fearlessly amidst the opposition from the Jewish authorities at that time. May we always be worthy of God, and by our actions, may we be justified in our faith, that we may receive from God, an eternity of glory with Him. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us firstly about the works of the Apostles St. Peter and St. John, performing their first miracles on their own, after the Lord has ascended to heaven and gave them the Holy Spirit on the occasion of the Pentecost. The two Apostles healed a paralysed beggar who was always begging at the entrance to the Temple of God.

The Apostles healed him in the Name of the Lord Jesus, showing that although the Lord was no longer physically in their midst, but He was still always with His followers and disciples, and He worked His wonders and miracles through them. The Risen Lord showed the proof of His resurrection from the dead not only through His appearances to His disciples and Apostles, but also through His works still present in our midst even unto this very day.

That was what the two disciples who were walking towards the town of Emmaus also experienced, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The two disciples had felt a great anguish and loss of hope, having followed the Lord and hoped that He would be the One, the King Who would restore the earthly glory of the kingdom of Israel, only to be rejected and condemned to death, a death on the cross in the hands of the Romans.

They were debating about the happenings and events surrounding the Passion, the crucifixion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and then the latest news and rumour of how the Lord had actually risen from the dead, and seen by quite a few of His disciples. Here, we can see how the Lord was reaching out to those two disciples, appearing in their midst and walked among them.

By His words and by His teachings, He opened the senses of the two disciples which had been dulled and closed off by the worries and the temptations of the world. He showed them the truth about Himself, and the reason why He had to suffer and die for the sake of His people, fulfilling the promises and the prophecies He had given to them through His prophets.

By explaining to them the truth and the meaning behind the Scripture passages, He opened their minds and hearts to be able to realise the presence of God in their midst. Their hearts were inflamed by God’s words and the Holy Spirit stirring them. And they eventually realised that it was Jesus Who was journeying with them and speaking to them along the way to Emmaus.

Why have the two disciples failed to realise that the Lord had been with them all along? That is because they have their minds clouded and their senses dulled and blinded by the despair and the sense of hopelessness, after their Lord and Master had been crucified. It is likely that they thought in worldly terms, thinking that the Messiah would lead the nation of Israel to liberate them from their Roman conquerors and rulers.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? All of us are often also unaware of the presence of God in our midst. We are often too preoccupied in our own worldly pursuits and business, that we end up getting more and more distant from God, and we end up falling away from God’s grace as a result. That is why we falter in our faith and why our lives become empty of purpose and meaning.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and our actions thus far. Have we lived our lives realising that God, Our Lord and Master is always present in our midst? Or have we walked our lives in the darkness, without proper destination in mind and without guidance? God is in our midst, as we who are Christians believe that the Lord Jesus has died for us, and most importantly, He has risen from the dead.

Thus we believe in Him Who has risen from the dead, that all of us who believe in Him will also overcome death, for we have also overcome sin, as sin causes death. Now, do we truly believe in God and in all that He has done for us? If we believe in Him wholeheartedly, then truly, like the paralysed beggar, who was healed from his troubles, we can, according to St. Paul, do all things in He Who strengthens us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully and dedicate ourselves to Him, in all the things that we do in our respective lives. May He bless us all and all of our works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018 : Tuesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continue to hear the testimony of St. Peter the Apostle, who spoke to the multitudes of people gathered in Jerusalem, about the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind, by Whose death and resurrection He had given all of us a new hope of being saved and being liberated from the tyranny of sin.

Then in the Gospel, we heard about the Lord Who appeared to Mary Magdalene, one of His closest disciples, right after He was risen from the dead. Mary was distraught and sorrowful, thinking that someone had indeed stolen the body of the Lord, but the Lord appeared to her and showed her the truth, how He has conquered death, and by appearing to her in the flesh, He proved that He has indeed truly risen from the dead.

Whatever St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalene has witnessed, of the Lord Who fulfilled all of His words and promises, was based on true witness and true senses, as the disciples saw with their own eyes, heard with their own ears, and touched with their own hands and limbs, the Lord resurrected from the dead, in the Body and in His real presence. He was not a mere Spirit or Ghost, but present again amongst them in Body, until the day when He ascended into heaven.

And that is why the Apostles and the disciples were so courageous and so devoted in spreading the truth and their witness of the Resurrection. Had the resurrection of the Lord been a lie, as propagated by the chief priests and the Pharisees, who tried to prevent the truth from going out to the public, the disciples would not have done what they have done, even risking suffering and martyrdom for the sake of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, although we have not seen the Lord risen in person, but we too believe in the Risen Christ. Why is that so? That is because the Apostles who witnessed to the truth, spoke up about the truth, and did not hide anything from those to whom they spoke. In that way, they passed on the faith they had to their successors, the bishops and priests of the Church, and from them, to all of us the faithful throughout the ages.

Now, we are called to the same calling and to the same ministry as the Lord has given to His Apostles and disciples. All of us who have received the sacrament of holy baptism and therefore become a member of the Church are called to be witnesses of the Lord’s life, work, death and resurrection that is to speak the same truth as the Apostles and the disciples of Christ had spoken.

This is what each and every one of us as a baptised Christian have to do. It does not mean that we should go to the streets and preach about the Lord’s Good News, as indeed, we can speak directly of His truth to others just as St. Peter had done, but more importantly, have we embodied our faith in our own respective lives? Have we lived our lives filled with actions that truly mark us all as people worthy of God’s grace and love?

Let us all make this to be our Easter commitment and resolution, to be ever better Christians, devoting our time and effort to be the Lord’s faithful and hardworking servants, that through us and our works, we may bring more and more souls closer to God’s redeeming grace. As such, more and more people will come to receive God’s salvation and more souls will be saved from the threat of eternal damnation in hell.

May the Lord be with us all, that we may be ever more courageous in our faith, so that we will always persevere through the challenges we may face if we continue to be faithful Christians, devoted to the Lord our God. Amen.

Monday, 2 April 2018 : Monday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard two testimonies and indeed, two versions of the story of what happened on Easter Sunday from the Scripture passages. From the Acts of the Apostles, we heard from the Apostle, St. Peter, who during Pentecost was testifying before the people about Christ, Who has been crucified for the sake of all mankind, betrayed and put to death by His enemies, and yet risen into glory by His own glorious power.

Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage today, we heard of a different story propagated by the chief priests and the Pharisees, who were surely astounded by the news of the Lord’s resurrection after His death on the cross. Everything had occurred exactly as how He has said it would be, and even the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees might likely have heard about it as well. However, they still refused to believe in Him, to the very end, and chose to come up with a false story to preserve themselves.

They paid off the guards who were at Jesus’ tomb to spread the story that the disciples of the Lord had come at night while the guards were sleeping in order to steal His Body away and hence to make it as if He had risen from the dead. Even though this story was unreliable and untrue, many yet believed in it, as the chief priests and the elders of the people promoted their version of the story, and even persecuted those who believed otherwise.

Nonetheless, St. Peter and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord spoke up openly about the Lord, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Whom God gave to them at the moment of the Pentecost, when they spoke up with courage, conviction and true faith in God, and converted no less than three thousand people to the cause of the Lord, establishing the first Christian community.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all as Christians aware of the obligations and the duties which the Lord has given to us, just as He entrusted the same to His Apostles and disciples? All of us are called to be witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection and also His truth and Good News as well. However, as we all can see, from what had happened in the time of the Apostles and the early Church, there were numerous challenges and troubles they had to endure, persecutions and martyrdom.

To be a true Christian, we cannot be idle or be passive in our lives. We cannot just think that to be a Christian, all that we need to do is to believe in God and that is all. No, to be a Christian means that we must have a faith that is filled with zeal and true commitment to God. We have to walk righteously and faithfully in God’s presence, and that means, we must have genuine faith in us, founded upon the love that we have for God, as well as for His people, our fellow brothers and sisters.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Easter season, all of us are challenged to live a new life, with a new sense of purpose, and with a renewed faith, zeal and conviction, just as the Apostles had done. The Lord has commanded us all to go forth to all people of all the nations, being witnesses of His truth and Good News, and ultimately to baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Yet, many of the people refused to listen to God, simply because we as Christians ourselves have not been truly faithful to God. On the contrary, there were even some among us who scandalised our faith and the Lord. How can we expect others to believe in God, if we ourselves did not believe in Him wholeheartedly and even acted in ways contrary to that of His ways?

Let us all relive the promises made at our baptism, when we promised to be truly faithful and committed to God, in all of our words, our actions, our dealings and our works. Let us do our very best to be devoted to God in all the things we do. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to watch over us and guide us along the way. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.