Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter marks the Feast of the Divine Mercy, as instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in the Year of Our Lord 2000 based on the visions of the Divine Mercy by St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who received mystical visions and experienced the Lord’s Divine Mercy before her, showing His wounds and hurt, all that He had done in offering Himself, Body, Soul and Divinity for the salvation of the whole entire world. We are reminded today through this important Feast and also through the Sacred Scriptures, of the reason why we celebrate so joyfully this Easter, not just for one day but for one entire season lasting fifty days until Pentecost Sunday.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the works of the Apostles among the people of God as they had been entrusted with the mission by God to bring forth the salvation and the graces He has willingly bestowed to His beloved people. They performed many miracles and wonders among the people of God, in various places, courageously proclaiming the Risen Lord and Saviour by their words and actions. The people witnessed those miracles and believed in the Lord Jesus, Who has once also performed those same miracles, and healed the hurt of their body and soul. He has touched them, either directly or through His disciples and made them whole again.

The people were all seeking the Lord, all bringing their sick ones to Him, and they also brought the same sick ones to the disciples and the Apostles of the Lord. Through them, God continued the works of His love and mercy in our world, as He showed His generous mercy and compassion, by which He had desired to gather all the people to Himself, and to be reconciled with us. And that was why He sought even the worst of sinners, the tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals and all those who had been ostracised by the society, that He might touch their hearts and change their lives for the better. And it was proven well enough by the response that those people long considered sinners and unworthy had been giving the Lord.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard for ourselves that even among His own closest confidants, there were sinners and people who doubted Him, as I am sure we are all familiar with how St. Thomas the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles reacted to the news of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Throughout the Gospels, St. Thomas had always been a skeptic of the Lord, and he had a lot of doubts, even to the point of openly doubting the Lord and being sarcastic at Him, for example, when He was going to Judea to face His Passion and death, as St. Thomas sarcastically commented that they, the disciples, should all follow the Lord to their deaths.

We have to remember and take note how the Lord called interesting mix of people to be His followers and disciples. He had among them, a tax collector in Levi, who was later known as St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, and then four poor and likely illiterate fishermen from the lake of Galilee, the first ones whom He had called, namely St. Peter and his brother, St. Andrew, and then the brothers, St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee. Then of course we have St. Thomas himself, who always ever doubted the Lord, and St. Simon, a former zealot who was probably part of the rebellion against the Romans and thus was perhaps a fugitive or criminal in the eyes of the law, and Judas Iscariot, the traitor who betrayed the Lord.

We see that the Lord chose the poor, the marginalised, the ordinary and sinners to be His disciples. There were mix of different characters and personalities among His followers, and this represents exactly what the Lord wanted to do among His people. He came to gather all the lost sheep of the Lord, those who have fallen astray and fell into the wrong paths, scattered and lost from Him, so that through Him, and through the truth, light and hope that He has brought into our midst, He may restore us all to grace, and strengthen us to be once again a people that is holy and worthy of God.

Through His appearance before all the disciples in today’s Gospel, and before St. Thomas, who had defiantly proclaimed before all the others that he would not believe in the Lord’s resurrection unless he could directly prove it by touching His wounds and putting his finger into the wound at the Lord’s side. The Lord appeared before him and all the other disciples, surely as a direct response to what St. Thomas had said earlier on regarding the resurrection. And sure enough, He asked St. Thomas directly to do what he had said that he would do in order to prove the truth about the Lord’s resurrection.

We heard how St. Thomas responded immediately with faith, most likely both awed and ashamed at his own words, actions and doubts earlier on. He said, “My Lord and my God”, the same words that we always say at every moment after the Agnus Dei, or the Lamb of God segment in the Holy Mass. St. Thomas earlier on had been inflicted with doubt, with his own pride and ego became his own undoing. Why did he refuse to believe in God earlier on? That is because he operated on his own standards, and he placed a lot of trust in himself and in his own judgment rather than believing in God and His truth. He was skeptical because in his mind and logic, it was impossible for something like that to happen.

And yet, it did happen. The Lord, Who is God Incarnate, the Son of God, had descended into our midst, to be with us, and to suffer and die for us. And not only that, He rose gloriously from the dead, and all those things are impossible for man, and yet, for God, everything is possible. He came into our midst, and through His love, His patience and mercy, His compassionate care for us, His outreach even to the worst of sinners, and to those who doubt like St. Thomas and many others who still refused to believe in Him, the Lord revealed that He came to save us, to make us all to be reconciled with Him, He, the Divine Mercy, made manifest in the flesh.

In the Holy Mass, whenever the priest or any of the celebrants raised the consecrated bread and wine, the Most Holy Eucharist, which had been transformed by the power of God through His Holy Spirit and by the power and authority entrusted by the Lord through His disciples, and when the words are said, ‘This is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.’, we are presented with this seemingly impossible event, of a mere bread and mere wine, transformed completely into the reality and nature of Our Lord’s own Precious Body and Blood.

And yet, He is there, for us, on the Altar, just as at the Altar of His Cross at Calvary. The Holy Mass, as we all should know, is the same sacrifice and offering that Our Lord Himself had offered on the Cross, two millennia ago, which then, mystically and most wonderfully, is shown to us again and again, at every celebration of the Holy Mass. At the Mass, as the Lamb of God is presented to us, and we respond to the celebrant with the same words that St. Thomas had spoken, we are all reminded that by Our Lord’s most compassionate love and mercy, He, the Divine Mercy, had availed Himself to give unto us the finest path towards reconciliation to Him, through the Eucharist.

He broke His own Body and shed His own Blood at His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross, because He loved us all so dearly and tenderly. Each and every single one of us are so precious to Him, that His love for us transcends and surpasses even our sins and wickedness, which had kept us separated from God and the fullness of His grace and love. That is why this Sunday, on this Feast of the Divine Mercy, celebrated so close to the Easter Sunday, we are reminded of everything that Our Lord had done for us, all that He had done, because of the overflowing love and generous mercy which He had shown us, from the beginning right up to now.

At the same time, we have to realise that while Our Lord’s love and mercy are infinite and boundless, but our sins remain as obstacles in our path towards the full reconciliation with God. Sin is borne out of our disobedience against God and our refusal to listen to Him, and each and every single one of our sins have to be accounted for before we are to be fully reconciled with God, and enjoy the fullness of our joyful and wonderful inheritance. And God had given us plenty of means for us to find this, through His Church, in the Sacraments that He had provided for us, but which we often rejected and ignored.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves these important questions before we move on with our lives. As Christians, have we truly wholeheartedly believed in God, in all of His truth, in His love and His mercy? And in our actions and words, in our attitudes and dealings in life, have we truly reflect what a Christian is expected to be and what a Christian should do? Or have we instead been more like St. Thomas, doubting and refusing to believe in the Lord, full of pride and ego, to admit that we can be wrong and that we are in need of healing and forgiveness for our sins?

As Christians, all of us are called to be faithful and dedicated witnesses of Our Lord’s truth, His love and resurrection, His mercy and compassion. That is why in our daily lives, all of us must do our best to proclaim this truth, not just with mere words, but also through our actions. It is not enough for us to just believe in the Lord, but we must also be filled with the courage to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters around us, with the love and mercy of God shown through us and our actions. It means that in all of our interactions and dealings, we must indeed be missionaries of mercy, and to remind everyone of the love that God has for each one of us.

Let us all remind one another, that as long as our sins are not forgiven, because we still stubbornly refuse the Lord and reject His generous mercy, then we will be stuck in this state, separated from God, and in real danger of falling into eternal damnation. Let us remind one another that God is ever merciful, and He has always patiently loved us, despite our many transgressions. Let us stop being stubborn, humble ourselves and open our hearts and minds to allow God and His love to enter into us and transform us from beings tainted by sin and darkness, to be true children of the Light, and to be witnesses of Our Lord’s truth and resurrection.

May the Lord, the Divine Mercy, continue to shine His loving face and show His most merciful and compassionate love towards us. And may all of us draw ever closer to His love and mercy, and do our best in each and every moments of our lives to be ever more exemplary sons and daughters of God, and as genuine and faithful Christians, beloved ones of the Lord, at all times. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world! Amen.

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 19-31

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 1 : 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

I, John, your brother, who shares with you, in Jesus, the sufferings, the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island of Patmos, because of the word of God and witnessing to Jesus. On the Lord’s day, the Spirit took possession of me and I heard a voice behind me, which sounded like a trumpet, “Write down all that you see, in a book, and send it to the seven churches.”

I turned to see who was speaking to me; behind me were seven golden lamp stands and, in the middle of these, I saw Someone, like a Son of Man, dressed in a long robe, tied with a golden girdle. Seeing Him, I fell at His feet, like one dead; but He touched me with His right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. It is I, the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead; and now I am alive, for ever and ever; and Mine are the keys of death and the netherworld.”

“Now write what you have seen, both what it is and what is yet to come.”

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 2-4, 22-24, 25-27a

Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let those who fear YHVH say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was YHVH’s doing and we marvel at it. This is the day YHVH has made; so let us rejoice and be glad.

Save us, o YHVH, deliver us, o YHVH! Blessed is He who comes in YHVH’s Name! We praise You from the house of YHVH. YHVH is God; may His light shine upon us.

Sunday, 24 April 2022 : Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 12-16

Many miraculous signs and wonders were done among the people, through the hands of the Apostles. The believers, of one accord, used to meet in Solomon’s Porch. None of the others dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. So, and ever-increasing number of men and women, believed in the Lord.

The people carried the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and on mats, so, that, when Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits; and all of them were healed.

Saturday, 23 April 2022 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded again of our obligation as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord’s resurrection and triumphant victory over sin and death, to be His witnesses and missionaries in our world today, in proclaiming His truth and love among all the people, continuing the many good works that His Apostles and disciples had begun, in all that we have heard in the past one week of this holy Easter Octave, the works of the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles.

In our first reading today, at the conclusion of the narrative of the events that happened due to the miraculous healing of a crippled beggar at the gate of the Temple of Jerusalem by St. Peter and St. John, in the past few readings we heard how the Apostles had courageously spoken up and preached about the Risen Lord to all the people who witnessed the miracle and then later on to all the members of the Sanhedrin who opposed the Lord and His Apostles. We heard today in our first reading of the reaction of the Sanhedrin upon listening to the words that St. Peter had spoken courageously before them, revealing the folly and error of their actions in having persecuted the Lord and His disciples.

In their discussion and debate with each other, the members of the Sanhedrin could not agree on how to deal with the Apostles and their actions in preaching about the Resurrected Christ and the miracles that they had performed in His Name. They wanted to stop them and to order them not to do it again, but at the same time, they knew that what the Apostles had performed, all the miraculous occasions and healings performed had been witnessed by so many people that it would have been impossible for the Sanhedrin to refute and deny that the miracles had occurred.

We see here the bitter stubbornness of many of the members of the Sanhedrin who were still adamant in their refusal to listen to the Lord and believe in His truth. Many of them, members of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the teachers of the Law and elders had witnessed the miracles of the Lord themselves, heard Him and His wisdom, and yet, they still refused to believe in Him. All these despite them being supposedly the most educated and best people among the community of the people of God, many of whom were knowledgeable of the Scriptures and the teachings of the prophets.

They should have been the first ones to believe in the Lord and to welcome Him and His disciples. Yet, most of them except some like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea chose to ignore the truth, hardened their hearts and minds, preferring to continue in their prejudices and in their judgmental attitudes towards the Lord. They saw the Lord as a great rival and threat to their power, influence and privileges in the community, and hence, they tried their best to curb the spread of the news and the truth behind the Resurrection, but they could not stop the Apostles and the other disciples from speaking up despite the threats and other efforts they made. And that was because the Lord was with His servants, and His Spirit strengthened them, giving them the courage to go up against even the opposition from the powerful Sanhedrin and others.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord appearing to His disciples after He had risen to the dead, revealing that He had indeed risen and triumphed over sin and death just as He had predicted to His disciples and followers. The Lord had appeared in the flesh and communicated with His disciples, which became truly tangible evidence of His truth, and those same disciples had seen themselves the undeniable truth of the Lord’s risen glory. And they therefore proclaimed courageously this same truth, and would not be silenced by those who opposed the truth of God. Many of them were willing to endure sufferings and persecution in the midst of their works of evangelisation.

Brothers and sisters, now that we have heard these readings from the Scriptures, and if we have been following the readings in the past few days during the Easter Octave, we are all reminded that we have also been part of this same Church, the Church that the Lord had established and built on the foundation of His Apostles, especially that of St. Peter. All the saints, the holy men and women of God, the many people who had dedicated themselves, their time and efforts and even their lives, for the sake of the Lord, His glory and for the salvation of His people, all of them had shown us what it means for us to be true Christians, in proclaiming the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour.

There are still plenty of areas and opportunities for us to carry on the great works and deeds that the Apostles had begun, in reaching out to those who have not yet known the Lord or have not yet discovered the truth. And if we are not sure of what we can do or should do in this matter, we often do not have to worry about it. And we have to realise that God does not call the extraordinary and the powerful to do His will. In fact, it was all those qualified ones who had ironically rejected the Lord and decided to oppress His truth and persecute His faithful ones. Instead, the Lord called the ordinary ones and made them to be extraordinary in His presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what matters is our faith and also the grace of humility in our lives. Let us all allow the Lord to work through us and with us, and let us walk faithfully in His path, doing our very best to be good role models for our fellow brothers and sisters, for all those who have not yet seen the Lord’s truth or known about His salvation and grace. May all of us be the beacons of the Light of our Risen Lord and Saviour, and may He strengthen us all to walk ever more dedicatedly in His presence, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 23 April 2022 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 9-15

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

After this He showed Himself in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. These men also went back and told the others, but they did not believe them. Later Jesus showed Himself to the Eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their unbelief, and stubbornness, in refusing to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

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

Saturday, 23 April 2022 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1 and 14-15, 16ab-18, 19-21

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Joyful shouts of victory are heard in the tents of the just : The right hand of the Lord strikes mightily.

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has stricken me severely, but He has saved me from death.

Open to me the gates of the Just, and let me enter to give thanks. “This is the Lord’s gate, through which the upright enter.” I thank You for having answered me, for having rescued me.

Saturday, 23 April 2022 : Saturday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 13-21

The Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognised also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply.

So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the Name of Jesus.”

So they called them back and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people who glorified God for what happened.

Friday, 22 April 2022 : Friday within Easter Octave (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 trials and challenges that we will often have to face as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord and His Resurrection. We believe in the Risen Lord and like the Apostles, we may have to endure opposition and trials for our faith in His truth. Yet, we must never waver from our faith and from the commitment that we have to show in our daily lives, as those who have been entrusted with the same mission as that of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, in proclaiming His Good News and salvation to all the peoples.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Acts of the Apostles telling us of the opposition that St. Peter and St. John, two of the Lord’s Twelve Apostles had to face due to their proclamation of the Lord Jesus and His salvation before the assembled people. At that time, based on our earlier readings from the Acts of the Apostles, the two Apostles had just miraculously healed a beggar who had been paralysed since birth, and whom everyone knew and recognised as being crippled. That this miracle had happened right by the gate of the Temple where the beggar usually lingered at, showed us how the chief priests and the members of the Sanhedrin could quickly find out about what had happened.

The Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, composed of the most influential members of the Jewish community at that time, had been firm in their opposition against the Lord, as most of its members had refused to listen to the Lord and His teachings, with some of them even branding the Lord as a blasphemous and heretical Man, Who was swaying the people to His side with His teachings and popularity. And that was why they judged and condemned the Lord in the first place, arresting Him and handing Him over to the Romans, that He might be condemned to death and crucified.

That was why they were still adamant in their opposition against the Lord even when they heard that the Lord had risen from the dead just as He Himself had predicted and revealed. They spread false news that the disciples had stolen His Body and preached falsehoods in His Name, and expressly ordered that anyone who spoke in the Name of the Lord Jesus or supported His teachings would be arrested and persecuted. That was the obstacle facing the Apostles, who had to endure the opposition from the powerful members of the community, those who refused to believe in the Lord and His truth. But that did not stop the Apostles and the many other disciples from doing their best to proclaim the Good News whenever they could.

St. Peter courageously spoke before the whole assembly of the Sanhedrin just as he had done so earlier before the people in Jerusalem. He spoke fearlessly regarding the Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who had been rejected by those to whom St. Peter was speaking to, right there and then, the same Sanhedrin and its members also condemned Christ to death and giving Him up to the Romans to be crucified. It was to these people that St. Peter testified again about the Lord, His truth and His resurrection. He proclaimed the truth courageously as he himself had seen and witnessed the Risen Lord as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

St. Peter had witnessed the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, and how He revealed Himself after His resurrection on several occasions. As highlighted in our Gospel passage today, the Lord revealed Himself to His disciples in Galilee just as the disciples went there and were in the midst of catching fish in the lake. They had not been successful in gaining any fish when the Lord told them to do as He said, and immediately a huge number of fishes ended up in their catch, and they almost could not handle the entire catch of fishes. And St. Peter himself was the first one to recognise that it was the Lord Who was there with them.

Having witnessed the Risen Lord, the disciples, and having also been strengthened by the Holy Spirit, as shown by the examples of St. Peter, they stood up for their faith, and while many among them suffered, as the Apostles themselves had endured for a long time, and how many of their successors had also suffered, but these did not stop them from continuing to speak up and to proclaim the Good News of the Lord’s salvation. The Lord has called them all to His service and they had answered His call with great faith. They rejoice greatly in His Resurrection, and they had passed down this great joy and truth to all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that each and every one of us are the inheritors of the Lord’s mission which He has entrusted to us, to be the ones to bear the Good News of His salvation to the whole world. There are still many people out there who have not believed in God and who have been lukewarm in their faith. We are called here to be the ones to bring forth the light of our faith and the wonders of the Lord’s saving grace to them. Like the Apostles, St. Peter and many other holy men and women of God, all of us have been entrusted with the same truth and message that the Lord wants us to proclaim in our world today much as how St. Peter had proclaimed it that day before the people and before the whole Sanhedrin.

Are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter and the many other holy men and women of God, many of whom had suffered trials and persecutions, opposition and oppressions for the sake of their faith in God? Are we willing to contribute our time and effort to glorify the Lord by our lives and by our actions? Each and every one of us should listen to the Lord calling on us to action, and to follow Him wholeheartedly from now on. Let us seek the Lord with a new spirit and commitment from now on. May God be with us all and may He bless us in our every actions and good works, all for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.