Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 30-35

At that time, the Jews said to Jesus, “Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe You. What sign do You perform? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert; as Scripture says : They were given bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. The Bread God gives is the One Who comes from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they said to Him, “Give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in Me shall never be thirsty.”

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 3cd-4, 6ab and 7b-8a, 17 and 21ab

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Into Your hands I commend my spirit; but I put all my trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your love, for You have seen my affliction.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your love. In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from human wiles; You keep them in Your dwelling.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.

Monday, 19 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Sixteenth Anniversary of the Papal Election of Pope Benedict XVI as Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (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 called to renew our faith in God and to recall our calling as Christians to be the faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth and Resurrection, the bearers of the Gospels and the Good News of God’s salvation in our world today, just as St. Stephen, the holy Deacon and Protomartyr had done it during his own ministry, and how the other holy men and women of God, our predecessors, had done it.

In our first reading today, we heard the discourse on St. Stephen, one of the seven first Deacons of the Church appointed by the Apostles in establishing the Order of Deacons to minister to the needs of the people of God. St. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, and passionately carried out his mission, doing the good works for the Lord and His people, as well as preaching the truth of God and the Gospels, and performing wondrous miracles before many.

It was not long that his efforts met tough resistance from the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council. The same people had attempted to stop the works of the Apostles and restrain them by ordering them not to continue the work in the Name of the Lord Jesus. However, as the works of the Apostles and the other disciples, including that of St. Stephen continued to flourish and grow, the Sanhedrin began to find ways to suppress their works, and what happened to St. Stephen was the result of this.

As St. Stephen went up against his opponents, who publicly challenged him and even those who had been paid to make false testimonies, those who were assembled against him realised that not even those were able to discredit, stop or argue against St. Stephen’s wisdom and power given to him by the Holy Spirit. St. Stephen was there alone in the assembly, as many gathered in opposing him and wanting to stop him and condemn him for his efforts and works. But the Lord gave him the courage to continue to preach the truth, and speaking without fear, even before those who hated and despised him and the Lord.

St. Stephen still in fact patiently ministered to those people who were assembled against him, and he spoke in great detail in the parts after today’s first reading in the Acts of the Apostles regarding God’s plan of salvation and how God had patiently led and guided His people throughout the past with love, and finally gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to be the Saviour of all, that by dying, He has taken up all of mankind’s sins, the sins of those same people assembled against St. Stephen, in order to redeem all of them from their sins and to free them from its chains and bondage of death.

This is the truth that the Lord Himself has also spoken before the people of God as mentioned in our Gospel today when He spoke to the assembled multitudes right after He had fed them all, five thousand men and many thousands more of others, with the miraculous breaking of the bread and the fishes. He spoke of Himself as the One Whom God had sent into the world, and as One Who has given Himself, as the Bread of Life, broken and offered for us, for our salvation.

All of us are witnesses and inheritors of the truth, of God’s amazing love to each and every one of us, His providence and blessings, His ever loving presence in our midst, and all that He has done for us, in loving us and in showing compassion towards us. St. Stephen and the many other saints and martyrs all spoke of this same truth, and many among them suffered and died for this truth. As Christians, we are all called to follow in their footsteps and partake in the effort to reach out to our fellow brethren.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to take up our crosses and follow the Lord wholeheartedly? Are we willing and ready to follow in the footsteps of our holy predecessors, St. Stephen and so many other saints and martyrs, to stand up for the truth and to deliver this same truth to this darkened world? We have all been called to be the beacons of God’s light in this world, and therefore, let us all commit ourselves thoroughly to serve Him, and to be His faithful and good disciples at all times.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, in each and every moments of our lives. May He empower all of us to be His true disciples, and may all of us grow ever closer to Him, and also grow in faith and love for Him, always. Amen.

Monday, 19 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Sixteenth Anniversary of the Papal Election of Pope Benedict XVI as Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 22-29

At that time, the next day after Jesus fed the five thousand men, the people, who had stayed on the other side, realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with His disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone.

Bigger boats from Tiberias came near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.”

Monday, 19 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Sixteenth Anniversary of the Papal Election of Pope Benedict XVI as Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 118 : 23-24, 26-27, 29-30

Although princes conspire against me, Your servant will observe Your decrees. Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

When I explained my ways, You responded; instruct me then in Your precepts. Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Monday, 19 April 2021 : 3rd Week of Easter, Sixteenth Anniversary of the Papal Election of Pope Benedict XVI as Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.

Sunday, 18 April 2021 : Third Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the third Sunday in the season of Easter, we are all called to speak of God’s salvation that has come down into our midst through Christ, the Son of God, Who has willingly taken up on Himself all of our sins and all of the punishments due for those sins. He has endured all those sufferings, humiliations and trials for our sake, out of love for us. God has planned everything for our salvation, and we have been blessed because of that.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, the Jewish people in Antioch in Pisidia called upon St. Paul to speak to the Jewish diaspora in the synagogue on the Sabbath, to give them encouragement and strength. They were open and willing to listen to what St. Paul was to say to them about the Lord Jesus and His teachings. And thus, St. Paul spoke to them about how God rescued the ancestors of the Israelites from Egypt, how He led them out of the land of Egypt, and brought them to the Promised Land and guided them through the desert against their enemies.

Through this, St. Paul wanted to remind the people of God, the Jewish people of his time and also all of us Christians throughout the generations of the salvation promised by God, the love which He has held for all of us since the very beginning, and which He has faithfully kept as part of the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us. And God will never abandon us to the darkness, to sin, evil and death, as He has shown how He broke the bonds of slavery from the Israelites by the Egyptians, and which He later on then showed even more wondrously by breaking the chains of sin and death from all of us.

As we heard our Gospel passage today, which was centred on the Resurrection of the Lord, we heard of how He appeared to the assembled disciples just after He appeared to the two disciples who were on their way to the village of Emmaus. At that time, the disciples hid themselves in fear in Jerusalem, because their Lord and Master had just been condemned and crucified to death by the Sanhedrin and the Romans, and they were left leaderless and lost.

When the Lord appeared before them, in all of His Risen glory, the disciples were astonished and stunned, unable to believe all that they had seen. Many would likely have thought that they had seen a ghost, and they were truly scared, as they could not believe that the Lord had truly returned to life, as death was truly something not only feared but also a certainty, from which no one could escape from. This is the fact, even when the disciples themselves had seen on few occasions how the Lord raised Lazarus and some others, including the daughter of a synagogue official from the dead.

Hence, the Lord showed them all that He was truly alive, returned from the dead, not merely a ghost or a spirit. Truly, He was risen from the dead in the Body and Spirit, having overcome death itself and destroyed the bondage of sin. As He ate before all of them, He proved to them all that He has overcome death, as no spirit or ghost could have done so. Eating is something that only the living could have done, and the Risen Lord was truly alive, in all of His risen glory.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is what we believe in, at the very core of our Christian faith, that we call ourselves as Christians because we believe in Jesus Christ, the One Whom God had sent into the world, His own only begotten Son. And through Christ, all of us have received the promise and assurance of eternal life by the Covenant which He has established with us and sealed with His own Precious Blood. We believe that the same Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed over death, and through His death and resurrection, He has shown us the proof of the saving power of God.

The Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection are fulfilment of what the prophets had been speaking about in the previous centuries before His coming. However, many of the ones who were supposed to know about the truth, such as the intellectual and wise Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who were educated about the Law, the Scriptures and the words of the prophets, refused to believe in the truth and opposed the works of the Lord and His efforts, as they viewed Him as a rival to their power and influence within the community.

What prevented them from believing in God, in His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour? It was their pride and desire, their attachment to the privileges, prestige and power they possessed, and their desire for fame and glory, for praise and acknowledgment that they wanted, and they feared to lose all of those things, and they did not want to be parted from the attachments they had to worldly glory and power. As such, these became great obstacles in their path towards believing in God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are therefore called to live our lives from now on as a true testimony of our faith in Him, learning from the experiences of those who have been held back by their many attachments and distractions in life. We are called to live our lives each day with genuine and sincere faith that in our every actions, words and deeds we shall always live up to what the Lord had called us to do, and embrace fully the path that He has shown us.

If we truly believe in the Lord, then we should indeed make the effort to live our lives according to the way that He has shown us, and dedicate ourselves each day to be true to our respective calling and vocation in life as Christians, as those who believe in Christ and His truth. As St. John made it clear in our second reading today, in the Epistle he wrote to the faithful, that if we truly believe in Him then we ought to walk in His path and be genuine witnesses for the Lord through our lives and actions that become good inspirations for others.

Otherwise, if we do not do so, then we may end up being no better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom outwardly expressed their faith, and yet their faith were rather empty and superficial. Their love and attachments towards their worldly power and fame ruined them and misguided them down the wrong path. That was why the Lord criticised them as hypocrites who were outwardly faithful and yet, as per St. John’s words, were liars as they did not truly have the faith for God in them.

As Christians we are all called to be genuine and true disciples of Our Lord, at all times. And as such, we should truly put our trust and faith in Him, and should not allow fear and doubt to distract us or prevent us from seeking God and doing His will. We have all been entrusted with the most important mission and commandment from the Lord, to be His witnesses in our respective communities, in all of our actions and outreach, in our every interactions with one another.

The Apostles and the disciples have seen the Risen Lord and truly witnessed the truth about His resurrection. They have also received the wisdom and truth through the Holy Spirit that they had been given at Pentecost, which they passed on to their successors and the faithful through the Church. We are inheritors of this truth, and therefore the responsibility is also passed on to us, to be faithful and committed witnesses of our Christian faith and truth, our belief in the Risen Lord and His teachings.

That is why, having received the assurance of freedom and liberation from the bondage of sin and the chains of death, all of us should share the joy of the resurrection with others, by living our lives in a genuine, most Christian manner. For it is by our lives and actions that people shall come to believe in God through us, and not through mere words alone. Worse still if our actions do not compare or even contradict what we say, how can we then expect others to believe in us? We may end up leading people further away from the Lord, and their loss will be weighed down on us on the Day of Judgment.

As we gather together on this Third Sunday of Easter, let us all discern carefully our path forward in life, that we may consider well how we are to live our lives that we may indeed be inspiration and good role models for one another, in testifying for the Christian faith and truth. We cannot be idle or act in manner that is contrary to our faith, as doing so is hypocrisy and we will end up being no better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who once had made the same mistakes.

Instead, especially during the dark and difficult times that the world and many of our communities are enduring these past few months and throughout the past one year, due to the terrible impact of the global pandemic and other associated troubles, we should be the beacons of light and hope in our communities, among our families, our relatives and friends, our co-workers and all those whom we encounter in life, even acquaintances and strangers.

That means, when there is despair and darkness in the midst of our communities, we should bring hope and encouragement, and we should show care, concern and love for those who are needy, suffering and are struggling to make ends meet. After all, the Lord’s most important commandments are to love the Lord our God, with all of our hearts and strength, and then also to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the same way that we love God and ourselves.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to be charitable, caring and loving, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to make our lives truly worthy of God by our contributions and faithful commitments, no matter how small they may seem to be? We are all called to be a holy people, a people filled with the Easter hope and light, the hope and light brought by the Lord’s Resurrection. If we are not able to show that through our life, then how can we expect others to follow our examples to believe in the Lord and in His Resurrection?

Let us all therefore be the beacons of God’s light in the darkness of our world today, that through our every words, actions and deeds, we may bring the light of God into the midst of our communities, restore the hope to the downtrodden and those who are despairing, filling with love those who have been unloved and abandoned, and bringing therefore more and more people ever closer to God and His salvation. May God, our Risen Lord and Saviour, bless us all in our every good efforts and endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, 18 April 2021 : Third Sunday of Easter (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.”

Sunday, 18 April 2021 : Third Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 1-5a

My little children, I write to you, that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One. He is the sacrificial victim, for our sins, and the sins of the whole world. How can we know that we know Him? If we fulfil His commands.

If you say, “I know Him,” but do not fulfil His commands, you are a liar and the truth is not in you. But if you keep His word, God’s love is made complete in you.