Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the one who was once Saul, a great enemy of the Church and the bane of many of the faithful in the earliest days of the Church, and yet, later on would become the greatest champion and defender of the faith. St. Paul’s story of conversion to the faith is truly an inspiration to all of us.

Why is that so? That is because we are all sinners like St. Paul, and we have once been without hope and wicked, just as Saul had been. We may think that we are unworthy of God, and that we are far away from God and His salvation. But we should not forget the fact that God wants each and every one of us to be saved, by accepting the forgiveness and mercy He has given us freely and generously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what God has wanted to do with us, to love us and to reconcile us to Himself. And He has done it through the ultimate giving of Himself, that He gave us everything, even His very own life. From the cross came outpoured the gift of ultimate love and grace, by the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb of God, the giving of His own Flesh and Blood, the Living Bread that came down from heaven.

That is what the Lord meant when He said in our Gospel passage today, that He is the Living Bread, by Whom all of us mankind, God’s own beloved people, would be saved and receive eternal life. He gave us through the Apostles and their successors, His Real Presence in the Eucharist, that in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, the bread and the wine we offer, become truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord, which we then partake as one family of the Church.

The Lord Himself has chosen to dwell among us, as one of us, sharing our humanity, and now, He has chosen to commit Himself even deeper, by choosing to dwell within us, as we partake His Real Presence, His Body and Blood, and thus, the Lord Himself is in us, in our bodies, our minds, our hearts, in our whole being. We are therefore, God’s Holy Temple, as St. Paul himself had written in one of his Epistles.

And because of that, we need to be aware that we have to do our best to make ourselves worthy to be God’s own dwelling house. The Temple of God in Jerusalem at the time of Solomon was decorated with the most precious metals and riches of the world, just as it was at the time of Jesus, to show just how glorious God was, and how mighty He was, and that we mankind were trying our best to glorify Him in whatever way we could do.

Then, should it not be the same with each one of us? As Christians who have received baptism, and shared in the same Body and Blood given to us by Our Lord Jesus, all of us are God’s Holy Temple, in the entirety of our being, our bodies, our minds, hearts and souls. Yet, many of us treat our body and our being with such contempt and lack of respect for its status as God’s Temple and dwelling amongst us.

Therefore, we are all called, that from now on, we may do our best in order to treat ourselves and our whole being as God’s worthy House, dwelling in us by the Real Presence in the Eucharist which we partake together at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostle, who devoted all of his time to serve the Lord, turning away from all of his sinful ways and past history of persecuting the people of God.

Let us all remember that there is always hope for all of us sinners, as long as we are willing to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy in our lives. Let us all commit ourselves to good and honest Christian lives from now on, turning our attention fully to the Lord. May He be with us always, and may He continue to guide our actions and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.

Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, lives in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.

Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus Whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the story of the conversion of an Ethiopian official or envoy by St. Philip as he was on his way back to his Ethiopian homeland. St. Philip explained the meaning of the Scripture passage which the official was reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, that foretold the suffering of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus crucified.

St. Philip revealed the truth to the official, and his explanation awakened the faith in the heart of the Ethiopian official, who came to believe in the Lord Jesus and in the salvation that He brought into the world. Thus, he opened his heart and mind, and bared his soul before the Lord, requesting the Apostle to baptise him right there and then at a spring along the way. Later on, he would bring the faith to his homeland, and probably, made more converts there.

Thus, that was how God did His marvellous works, calling on people from various nations and from different backgrounds, to become His disciples and followers. The Apostles themselves were called from different origins and backgrounds, as some were sinners, some were fishermen, and still there were tax collector and delinquents counted among them. God called them from their past lives and occupations and made them His servants.

In the Gospel passage today, all of us heard about the Lord Jesus revealing Himself as the Living Bread Who has come down from heaven, sent from God Our Lord, to reveal unto us the truth about Himself. God Himself had sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour and as the source of all our hope. Once we have been dejected and without hope, but now because of Christ and all that He had done for us, He has given us a new hope and light to follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on these words which we have heard and received from the Scriptures. How have we, as Christians, been faithful to God? Have we been like the Apostles and the disciples, who braved suffering, prison, torture, rejection, ridicule, and even death for the sake of the Lord. They remained strong in their conviction and faith despite all that they had to face for His sake.

It was their exemplary faith which had inspired many more people to turn towards the Christian faith, to believe in God Who has guided His disciples and Apostles to preach in His Name and deliver the truth to all mankind. The Holy Spirit guided their actions and helped in their words, that many were turned to the Lord and repented from their sins. They have received the truth from God Himself, and received the Body and Blood which the Lord had given them willingly from the altar of His cross.

Therefore, they were filled with courage and strength, to carry out the mission entrusted to them, to bring the salvation of God to all the peoples, of all the races and all of the nations. Now, all of us Christians are entrusted with the same mission, to continue the good works of the Apostles and the holy saints and martyrs who had gone before us. But, are we able to commit the same commitment as the Apostles had done before?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to a renewed faith and a new life, that if once we have been unfaithful and lacking in our faith, then now, we can renew our commitment to live in accordance to the Lord’s will. Let us all seek to be ever more faithful and be closer to the Lord, day after day. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 44-51

At that time, Jesus said to the Jews, “No one can come to Me unless he is drawn by the Father Who sent Me; and I will raise Him up on the last day. It has been written in the Prophets : They shall all be taught by God. So whoever listens and learns from the Father comes to Me.”

“For no one has seen the Father except the One Who comes from God; He has seen the Father. Truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Though your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, they died. But here you have the Bread which comes from heaven, so that you may eat of it, and not die.”

“I am the Living Bread which as come from heaven; whoever eats of this Bread will live forever. The Bread I shall give is My flesh, and I will give it for the life of the world.”

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 65 : 8-9, 16-17, 20

Praise our God, o nations, let the sound of His praise be heard, for He has preserved us among the living and kept our feet from stumbling.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. I cried aloud to Him, extolling Him with my tongue.

May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.