Saturday, 18 April 2020 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us as Christians are called to get rid of faithlessness and unbelief from our hearts and minds. We are all called to reflect on what we have heard in our first reading on the faithlessness of the Pharisees and many other members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, as well as the lack of faith of the disciples of the Lord Jesus as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, which spoke of how the Lord appeared to His disciples right after His resurrection from the dead.

In our first reading today, we heard of the culmination of the story of the healing of a crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Apostles St. Peter and St. John. The two Apostles made many people to believe in the Lord by their miraculous works and by their courageous testimony of faith. They were feared by the Sanhedrin because they apparently invoked the Name of the very same Jesus Whom they thought they had successfully gotten rid of through the crucifixion.

But many of those who were opposed to the Lord and His works remained adamant in their refusal to believe in Him and His teachings despite what they had themselves witnessed and heard, and despite having heard how the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead as He Himself proclaimed and predicted it, something that could not have happened had Jesus not been the real and true Messiah. Yet, those who were opposed to Him refused to open their hearts and minds to believe in the truth and in their hardened state of heart and mind, they were astounded by the miraculous healing.

They even tried to prevent the teachings and efforts of the Lord and His disciples to spread any further, by attempting to contain them through fear and pressure. But the Apostles, encouraged and strengthened by the Lord through the Holy Spirit were no longer the same people who cowered and hid in the fear of the repercussions from the authorities. Instead they openly defied the orders from the Sanhedrin and continued to carry out the missions which God had called them to do and entrusted to them.

In our Gospel passage today then we heard of the disciples of the Lord who did not believe at first that the Lord had risen from the dead, and even when some of them had seen the Lord and shared the news to the other disciples, many among them still refused to believe. It was only when the Lord Himself suddenly appeared before them all that they came to believe in Him and in His resurrection. The Lord reproached His own disciples for their lack of faith in Him and told them to trust Him more.

Now, we may be quick then to criticise those people for having little faith, but before we do so, perhaps we may want to think and reflect of our own lives and actions. Have we not, in our own lives, been doing the same as what they had done? Have we not been disobedient and unfaithful at times, just like those doubters among the Sanhedrin and those disciples of the Lord who refused to believe in His resurrection at first? Certainly we have encountered those moments or times when our faith is being tested and wavered.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the significance of these Scripture passages for us today is that all of us ought to put greater emphasis in our faith in God. As Christians, we are God’s chosen people, all those who have believed in Him and chosen to dedicate ourselves through our Creed in Him. Therefore, we should know what it is that we should have, and essentially, it is faith in God that we need to have, trusting in Him and putting our lives in His hands. We are truly fortunate to have God by our side, and we really need embrace God and His love for each and every one of us.

Being reminded today of the unfaithfulness of men, let us all strive to get rid from ourselves all taints of unfaithfulness, disobedience and sin, and instead begin a renewed life without the corruption of sin. Are we able to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to lead a truly Christ-like existence and life from now on going forward in our respective lives?

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always, and may He strengthen us all in faith and help us to be ever more committed in all and every moments of our daily lives. May the Lord be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 18 April 2020 : 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, 18 April 2020 : 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, 18 April 2020 : 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, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we continue celebrating the Easter joy, we are brought to reflect on what we have been called to do as Christians, all who believed in Christ and His truth, His resurrection and glory, and the salvation which He has promised to all of us. In our first reading today we heard how the Apostles faced stiff opposition from the members of the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council. Then in the Gospel we heard of the appearance of the Lord Jesus before His disciples in Galilee.

In the first reading, we heard how the Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin after they healed a crippled man by the gate of the Temple of Jerusalem, and made many people to believe in Jesus and His truth and teachings. This, coupled with the baptism of over three thousand people at Pentecost were seen as a great threat by many of the members of the Sanhedrin, many of whom were the members of the Pharisees and the elders who viewed the Lord Jesus as a fraud and a threat to their authority and power.

That was why the Sanhedrin interrogated the Apostles and were hostile against them as many of the Sanhedrin tried to prevent the teachings and works of Christ from spreading any further among the people. But the Apostles could not be silenced and they spoke with such great wisdom and courage that they stunned the members of the Sanhedrin who knew that the Apostles were merely uneducated fishermen of Galilee following Jesus. What they did not know is that the Lord had given His disciples the strength and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

And it was with great courage therefore the Apostles spoke of the Lord’s resurrection and their faith in Him as they have themselves seen the Lord risen from the dead with their very own eyes on several occasions, one of which was described in our Gospel today. In that passage, we heard of the Lord appearing by the shore of the lake of Galilee, initially not recognised by His disciples who were in the boats looking for the fishes. The disciples initially could not find any fishes, but when they followed the Lord’s instructions, immediately they caught plenty of fishes and then they recognised the Lord.

Through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, therefore we are reminded of what the Lord had called us to do, to go forth to the nations and gather the people of God in His Church. What we heard in the Gospel is the symbolic representation and revelation of what the Lord had called His Church and all of His faithful ones to do, namely to be witnesses to their faith and to the salvation in Christ, by being ‘fishers of men’, alluding to the disciples catching the large number of fishes in the lake by the Lord’s instruction.

The Church is often represented with a boat, and in that occasion, the boat the disciples were in represented the Church of God, with the disciples as the leaders of the Church at the helm. Those multitudes of fishes were those that God had gathered through His Church, with the number one hundred and thirty-three representing the traditional belief of the number of nations and peoples that God had created in this world, from the descendants of men.

Therefore, essentially the message that we have received is that all of us are part of this Church, and as we are members of this Church, we also share the responsibility and the calling to reach out to our fellow men, to all those who have not yet heard of the Lord’s salvation and truth. And the readings also remind us that we are bound to encounter challenges and difficulties, obstacles and even persecutions as how the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord were persecuted for their steadfastness in faith and their refusal to back down from ministering to the people of God amidst the threats from the Sanhedrin and other authorities.

But we do not need to worry since ultimately, God is and will always be with us in our journey. As He was always with His Apostles and disciples throughout their ministry and journeys, and with His guidance, all of us and His Church will be in good hands, as He guided His followers in standing up courageously for their faith and proclaim the truth of God to every ends of the earth. The Lord gave them the strength and wisdom to do so, and in the same way we too will be provided for.

Are we able to devote ourselves in the same way as the Apostles had done? They had brought God’s light and hope to a darkened world, and they had restored the hope of many and brought many closer to the path of salvation. Are we able to do the same in our own respective communities as well, in bringing hope to our world especially since so many people suffered through numerous challenges this year alone. Are we able to bring consolation and happiness once again to those who are sorrowful and despairing?

Let us all spend some time to reflect on our calling as Christians in life, and discern how we can best give our lives in the service of God and His people alike. Let us all be the bearers of God’s Good News and also His fishers of men, encouraging more people to believe in God through our own faith and commitment from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 21 : 1-14

At that time, after Jesus appeared to Thomas and His disciples, He revealed Himself to them by the lake of Tiberias. He appeared to them in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas who was called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together; and Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They replied, “We will come with you.” And they went out and got into the boat, but they caught nothing that night.

When day had already broken, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus called them, “Friends, have you anything to eat?” They answered, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find something.” When they had lowered the net, they were not able to pull it in because of the great number of fish.”

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” At these words, “It is the Lord!” Simon Peter put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and jumped into the water. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; they were not far from land, about a hundred metres.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed into the boat and pulled the net to shore. It was full of big fish – one hundred and fifty-three – but, in spite of this, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And not one of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after rising from the dead.

Friday, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2 and 4, 22-24, 25-27a

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

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

Save us, o Lord, deliver us, o Lord! Blessed is He Who comes in the Lord’s Name! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God; may His light shine upon us.

Friday, 17 April 2020 : Friday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 1-12

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

Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message believed and their number increased to about five thousand. The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there.

They brought Peter and John before them and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose Name did you use?” Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean.”

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

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture on this Thursday of the Easter Octave, all of us are reminded of the mission which the Lord Jesus has entrusted to us, for us all to continue His works and the works of the Apostles, in bearing witness to His truth and to proclaim the salvation of God and the Good News to all peoples of all the nations, through our works and deeds, words and actions.

In our first reading today we heard the continuation of the story of the moment when St. Peter, leading the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, spoke to the multitudes of people gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of the Pentecost. He spoke bravely and passionately of the Lord and the salvation which He has brought to the world through Christ, His Son, and the sacrifice which He has offered on the Cross at Calvary.

By the wisdom given to him through the Holy Spirit, the Apostle St. Peter spoke convincingly to the people by explaining the Scriptures and showing how the Lord Jesus was indeed the Saviour of Whom the prophets and the leaders of Israel had been preaching and prophesying about from the time of Moses to the days of the kings, the prophets and beyond. And by the healing of the crippled man by the Temple Gate, this served to prove that the Lord Jesus is indeed the one and true Messiah.

For the Apostle healed the man by the power of the Lord invoking His Holy Name, by Whom the man was therefore healed. Had the Lord Jesus not been the Messiah of God, or a fraud or false leader as many of the Pharisees and the members of the Jewish High Council always argued, then the crippled man could not have been healed from his ailment. Therefore, many people believed in God that day and gave themselves to be baptised, beginning the first community of Christians.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the time when the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples for the first time after His Resurrection right after He appeared to the two disciples who were on their way to the town of Emmaus. The Lord appeared before His surprised and frightened disciples, telling all of them not to be worried of what they had seen and witnessed, as it was indeed happening as all that He had been telling them about His upcoming suffering, death and resurrection.

The Lord reassured them all and showed them that it was indeed Him Who appeared to them in the flesh, alive and well, and not as a ghost or as a dead being. That was why He asked them for food to eat, as it was known then that spirits and ghosts do not eat or consume any food. He showed them His wounds to show that He indeed suffered and died, and the crucifixion was all real. And yet, before them, the same One Who suffered on the Cross, was all alive and triumphant, having won the ultimate victory against evil, sin and death.

Having seen and witnessed all of these on a few occasions, it is no wonder that the Lord’s disciples were willing to give it all to the Lord and to the mission that they had been entrusted with, persevering through persecutions and challenges, oppositions and obstacles along their way. And although we ourselves have not seen or witnessed the Risen Lord in person, but surely we believe, inspired by the sacrifices of the numerous faithful and dedicated servants of God who had given their all in the service of the Gospel of truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are therefore reminded and even challenged yet again to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles of the Lord, all those who have dedicated their whole lives to serve God and to commit themselves to speak up for the truth even amidst opposition, persecution and suffering. Are we able to accept our part in the greater works of the Church, embracing our calling as Christians to be witnesses of our Lord in our respective communities?

Let us all listen to the Lord’s call and give our very best, and let us be more attentive to Him, give Him more of our focus and attention from now on. May the Lord strengthen us all and give us the courage and resolve to be faithful in each and every moments of our lives. May God, our Lord and Saviour bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 16 April 2020 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”)

In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”