Sunday, 5 June 2022 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday marking the fiftieth and the last day of the entire glorious and joyous season of Easter. The celebration of the Pentecost had its roots in the Jewish custom, in which fifty days after the celebration of the Jewish Passover, the Festival of the Pentecost is celebrated, and hence, a lot of people were assembled in Jerusalem for that occasion, coming from different countries, likely both the Jewish people and diaspora who lived in those places as well as some others who were attracted to the celebrations that were happening in Jerusalem.

In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the account of how on the Festival of the Pentecost, fifty days after Our Lord’s glorious Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came down upon all the disciples who were assembled and in hiding from the Jewish authorities, Mary, the Twelve Apostles and the other disciples who were there in the same room and place. The Holy Spirit came down like tongues of fire, resting on each of the disciples and gave them all the strength, courage and power to proclaim the Lord and His truth to all the people they encountered, beginning with those who came to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost.

This is a fulfilment of what the Lord has always promised His followers, that He would send them the Holy Spirit, the Helper and Advocate Who would strengthen them and give them the courage and power to do the will of God and to carry on what He had entrusted to them to do in this world. When He ascended into Heaven, the Lord promised that the Holy Spirit would come and help His disciples, and that they ought to wait in Jerusalem and pray. True enough then, that about ten days after the Lord ascended into Heaven, on the Pentecost celebrations, the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples.

Pentecost Sunday does not only mark the fiftieth day of Easter and the final day of that joyous season. It is also according to tradition, the ‘birthday of the Church’ as it was on that day that the Church became tangible, visible and apparent to the world. Before that moment, the disciples were all hiding in fear but afterwards, they courageously went forth and proclaimed the Word of God to the masses without fear anymore. That was the moment when the Church began its mission of evangelisation, reaching out to the world, to more and more people so that more may come to know the Lord and be saved through finding out the truth.

Pentecost is the day when the Church of God began its ministry to the world, when the Body of Christ, that is the Church, became visible to all and began calling on all to turn towards the Lord and to believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour. This is all possible because of the wisdom and strength bestowed on the Apostles through the Holy Spirit. Before that, the disciples were all lacking confidence and the drive to do the mission they have been entrusted with, and many among them were also illiterate and uneducated, hence explaining even more why they were hesitant to make themselves shown prior to the Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit gave them all the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, of faith and hope, of strength and courage, allowing them to do everything that we now know as the amazing things that the Apostles and the saints had done, only some of which were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and the rest of the New Testament. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord guided His faithful disciples who embarked on the journey of faith to proclaim His truth to the nations, to the many people they visited and lived with, and they spoke of the Lord and His love openly and without fear, guided by the strength, wisdom and passion that came from the Holy Spirit inflaming their hearts and minds.

They all went to proclaim the truth of the Lord, revealing the generous love which God has shown us, and they lived according to the Lord’s commandments of love, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. They loved the Lord most wholeheartedly and at the same time, they also showed the same love towards their fellow brothers and sisters, to all man equally and without discrimination, be it Jews, Greeks, Romans, Persians or any other people. They loved them all as fellow children of God, and it was this love, together with the wisdom that God has shown them through the Holy Spirit, which made the Christian faith so popular among the people, and many decided to believe in God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realise that the works of the Church and the Lord have not yet been completed but instead are still ongoing this very moment. There are still a lot of areas and opportunities for the Church and the faithful to reach out to those who have not yet known the Lord and to all those who have lapsed in their faith. There are still many parts of the world and many communities who have lived in ignorance of the Lord’s truth, and it is we as Christians who have the responsibility and calling to bear the truth of God, His love and hope, His compassion and mercy, His path and light to those who have not yet known Him.

We are all called as Christians to continue the great and wonderful works that our predecessors, the Apostles, the innumerable saints and martyrs, and many others who had faithfully obeyed the Lord’s commandments and laws, following His will and doing His good works in this world. Through baptism all of us have become part of the Church and received the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that the Apostles and disciples of the Lord had received. And many of us have also received the Sacrament of Confirmation, in which after period of preparation and prayer, we have been affirmed in faith and received a more complete gift of the Holy Spirit.

What are these gifts of the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Church teaches us that there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirits. Those gifts are the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. Each of these gifts are related to the seven Virtues of our Christian faith, namely Charity or Love, Faith, Prudence, Courage, Hope, Justice and Temperance. All these gifts have been given to us, to strengthen us and to help us in how we live our lives, so that each and every one of us can become great role models and inspirations for one another, to encourage and help each other on our way to the Lord and His salvation.

Through Wisdom and Understanding we have all been given the clarity and ability to appreciate the depth of the truth of God, the knowledge of God’s love and His laws, His commandments and ways, understanding the ways of the Church and its practices, and how to explain it to others, and to discern carefully the path that we are to choose in life. While through Counsel and Fortitude, we are brought to the ability to resist the temptations to sin, the ability to consider carefully what each of our actions will lead us to, and how to stand up for things that are right, in defending our faith and the actions that are just against the wickedness of this world, against the temptations to sin.

The gift of Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord then allows us to know more about God and to get ourselves closer to Him, allowing us to love Him ever deeper and more, desiring to be ever closer to Him, and by knowing more of the great infinity and boundlessness of God’s Almighty power and majesty, we may grow to fear Him more, not because we are afraid of Him, but because we know well what it means for us to reject and abandon Him and His path, falling into the depth of sin and eventually hell, out of which there is no escape and no hope of salvation. Hence, we will strive to get ever closer to God and avoid doing things that are against God and His will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have received those wonderful gifts from God through the Holy Spirit, as well as other abilities, talents and opportunities that are distinct for each and every one of us. However, if we do not open our hearts and minds, and embracing those gifts and talents, opportunities and all presented to us by the Lord, then all those gifts would have been naught and useless for us. We have to embrace the Lord and His gifts for us, the Holy Spirit and all of His blessings and do our best to make use of them for the purpose that He has revealed to us. Otherwise, we are not doing what the Lord has commanded us to do, to be the disciples that go forth to the world, to proclaim His truth before all mankind and calling them all to His presence.

Today, this Pentecost Sunday, as we celebrate this joyous celebration of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church of God, and the birthday and beginning of the Church, let us all discern carefully our respective calling in life. Are we all doing what we can in answering God’s call, His call for us to make good use of the talents, gifts, abilities and opportunities that He had provided to us? Each one of us as Christians have been given different sets of skills, talents, gifts and blessings, and have various vocations and calling in life. Are we willing to do what we can, within our means and within the capacity that God has provided us, to do His will and to live our lives virtuously and faithfully as good and devoted Christians?

Let us all hence commit ourselves anew to the Lord this day, and remind ourselves that Pentecost is not there to mark the end of the season of Easter. On the contrary, on this day we celebrate the Descent of the Holy Spirit, we remind ourselves that the Church’s primary mission is to evangelise and spread the Word of God, His truth and love to the whole world, and the best way for us to do this, is by living our lives virtuously as exemplary and good Christians, as otherwise how can we expect others to believe in us if we ourselves do not act and live our lives in the manner that we tell others to live theirs?

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide us, and may each and every one of us continue to walk faithfully in God’s path at all times. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us and strengthen us, now and always. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of all Christians who are faithful and committed to God, and enkindle in the fire of Your love. Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of this Earth, purge hatred and evil from this world, and allow us Christians to strive to love one another and advance the cause of peace and harmony between all the children of God. Come Holy Spirit, and be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 4 June 2022 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday beginning with the celebration of this Vigil Mass of the Pentecost. On this Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the coming and descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of the Lord, fifty days after the Lord’s glorious Resurrection and ten days after His Ascension into Heaven. That is why we call this celebration as the Pentecost, as Pentecost itself has the meaning of ‘fifty’, a celebration that has roots in the Jewish law and traditions, of the Pentecost festival fifty days after the Passover which was why there were a lot of people assembled in Jerusalem at the time when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles.

And as we listened to the readings from the Scripture, one of the first readings from the Book of Exodus related the moment the first Covenant God made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, the mountain of God after they have left Egypt behind and was freed from their slavery. According to tradition, this happened about fifty days after the time of the Exodus, which the Passover commemorated every year, the moment the Israelites were saved from their slavery and passed from Egypt safely through the Red Sea, while the forces and armies of the Egyptians were crushed and destroyed by the raging waves as they tried to pursue the Israelites.

The Passover itself has been made complete and renewed with the true Passover made by Christ Himself, that He, as the Lamb of God, offered Himself for our sake so that by His death, on the Cross, and the outpouring of His Blood, that brought salvation to all of us, while by passing through the waters of baptism, made holy and sanctified by His power and grace, like the Israelites of old passing through the Red Sea, all of us as Christians have passed through death to our old way of life, washed and cleansed away, freed from the slavery to our sins and evils, and beginning the journey towards our ‘Promised Land’, which is Heaven, to be with God forevermore.

Hence, based on what I mentioned earlier, we can see a very clear parallel and link between the old and new Passover, the death and Resurrection of Christ our Lord with the freedom of the Israelites from the Egyptians, and this is exactly how all of us who believe in the Lord and has been baptised, received into the Church, pass through the domains of sin and death, freed from their dominion and through Christ, enter this journey of a new life in which we are all called to a new existence, just as the newly freed Israelites were journeying towards the Promised Land of Canaan. The Lord made a New Covenant with us through His Son, just as He had made a Covenant with the Israelites back then. This time, it is not just the Israelites that were His chosen people, but all of mankind, those willing to answer and embrace His call.

Now, back to the moment the Covenant was made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, there were also parallel between what happened there and what happened at the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples of the Lord. At the time of the old Covenant, God gave His Law to His people through Moses, written as the Ten Commandments carved on two slabs of stone, and also other laws unwritten but passed through God’s wisdom to Moses, and from Him to the people of God. At the New Covenant, at Pentecost, God gave His faithful ones, the wisdom to understand His Law which He has revealed and brought into our midst through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who Himself is the embodiment of the Law.

The Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples just as the Lord had promised to them, to be their strength and guidance, to inspire them and to grant them the wisdom and understanding to proclaim His truth and salvation to the whole world. God’s works of saving His people, all of mankind began at that moment, as the Apostles and disciples were previously very afraid to leave their dwelling place, always constantly in hiding after the Lord’s Passion and death, as the Jewish authorities were strictly forbidding anyone from teaching and preaching in the Name of Jesus, openly opposing and persecuting those who were doing so.

But as the Holy Spirit came into them, the disciples gained great courage, strength and wisdom, and all of them went forth out from their hiding place, proclaiming Christ to all the assembled people in Jerusalem, who could all understand what they said even though they came from various places. That was the gift of tongues and language that the Holy Spirit granted to the disciples, a symbolic reversal of what happened if we read the story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis, where in yet another one of our possible first readings today, last time used to be all read for the Pentecost, mankind who used to speak the same language were punished and confused in their language and speech because of their pride, disobedience and sins, in trying to upstage God by building the Tower of Babel pointing towards Heaven itself.

Through what we have heard, God is calling all of us sinners back to Himself, wanting each and every one of us to be reconciled to Him. He loves us very dearly and does not want any one of us to be lost to Him. Our disobedience has led us to sin, and sin sundered us from God, separating us from His grace and love. But through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, all of us have been called back from among the nations, all the lost sheep of the Lord gathered back into the same one flock of Christ, our Good Shepherd. Through baptism, we have entered this New Covenant that He had made and sealed with His own Precious Blood on the Cross.

At Pentecost, three thousand people were convinced and received baptism from the disciples, which is interestingly a comparison and contrast to what happened back then at Mount Sinai. As we all should know, the Israelites rebelled against God and disobeyed Him there when they built and raised up a golden calf idol that they treated and worshipped as god over them, and this led the whole people into sin, where according to the later part of the Book of Exodus, three thousand people sided with the idol and were crushed and killed when Moses pronounced the judgment of God against them. The three thousand people saved at Pentecost was a clear reversal of what happened at Mount Sinai.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Pentecost Sunday is also often known as the ‘birthday of the Church’ and it is rightly so because the Church of God is the physical gathering and assembly of the people of God, of all the faithful who have shared in the gift of baptism, to be that One Body of Christ. As Scripture says, we have all been made one body, one spirit, in Christ. That is what the Church is, and as the disciples went forth from hiding to begin in earnest their work of evangelisation, converting the three thousand people and possibly more, that established the very first tangible community of the faithful people of God, the visible Church. Hence, that is why this Pentecost is considered as the birthday of the Church.

Now, having discussed in detail what Pentecost is about, and how it is closely linked to the past events in the history of salvation, let us all then discern what we are to do ourselves going forward from now on. Just as the Israelites did not reach the Promised Land immediately after God made His Covenant with them at Mount Sinai, and how they had to endure a lot of challenges, punishments and hardships along the way, thus as I mentioned earlier, that this Covenant that God made with us all as Christians mark only the beginning of our journey of faith towards Him, towards our hopefully final destination that is Heaven.

That is why we must never think of our baptism as the end of our journey. On the contrary, it is the beginning of our new life with God, beginning a new existence and life in Him, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, that each and every one of us enter into this journey that we are all expected to walk through in our journey and path towards God, and each one of us as Christians are called to live our lives in accordance to the way that God had taught us and expected us to live them. If we do not do so, then we are hypocrites and even in the worse case, we may even scandalise our faith and the Lord just as how some among the faithful had acted wickedly not in accordance to what Christians ought to act and believe in.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate this great rejoicing at this Pentecost Sunday, let us remind ourselves at all times that even though it marks the end of the season of Easter, but it does not mean that the spirit of Easter ends here. On the contrary, as I mentioned earlier, we must remember that our Christian living is a journey towards God, and the struggles and challenges have not yet ended. In fact, as we continue to progress in faith and through this journey of life we may realise that we will encounter more and more challenges and trials along the way, and we may have to persevere through those difficult moments and trials.

But yet, we are not alone, brothers and sisters! The Holy Spirit is with us, as our Advocate and Helper. And just as the Holy Spirit was with the Apostles and disciples of the Lord back then, guiding them, inspiring and strengthening them, the Holy Spirit is also now with us, bestowing on us the gifts that are meant to help us. However, we have to open our hearts and minds, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our path, as we can easily be tempted or shaken by fear that we lose our trust in God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us hence ask the Lord to continue to strengthen us and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide us in our journey towards the Lord and eternal life that we shall enjoy with Him forevermore. May all of us always ever be righteous and strive to do our best to walk in the path of God, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 4 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we almost come to the end and conclusion of the season of Easter, with tomorrow being the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, the last day of the fifty glorious days of Easter. Today we are therefore reminded that the works of the Lord and His Apostles are far from being completed, and in fact they are still being done and continuing even to this day, and even beyond to the future. The mission that the Lord has entrusted to each and every one of us still continues through us, the same mission that God told His disciples, to go forth to all the peoples of all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Lord has called us all to follow Him, to do the same as His disciples had done all those years ago, just as we heard from our first reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles, of St. Paul the Apostle who went to Rome and continued his ministry even as he was waiting for his appeal to the Roman Emperor for his case. He was free to go anywhere and in that way, he ministered to the faithful Christians in Rome, and the Jewish people as well as the Gentiles there who were interested to know more about the Lord Jesus and His teachings and truth. St. Paul continued to work there until he was martyred during the Great Fire of Rome and the intense persecution of Christians after that.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples after He had risen from the dead and just before He was about to ascend into Heaven in glory. He spoke to them regarding what was to come and what they ought to expect. The disciples asked about St. John, the disciple who was closest to the Lord, and He mentioned that St. John would not die or perish before the end of times, when the Lord comes again. This can be understood in many different ways, but most common opinion is that St. John would see the end comes as he received it in a vision as he related them to us through the Book of Revelations. Alternatively, some believe that St. John, the only Apostle not to die a martyr, was just sleeping and still waiting for the coming of the Lord.

Nonetheless, whatever the case is, the sufferings of the Apostles and the many other disciples and holy people of God highlighted to us that the work of the Church and the ministry that we all share in various different ways in our world today, are far from over. On the other hand, the challenges awaiting the Church and the faithful in the present day are just as hard and difficult for the faithful to endure and overcome. Often times in our world today, we have to struggle and face rejection, hardships and obstacles as we walk down this path that the Lord has set before us, as we follow the guidance of Our Lord and Shepherd.

But those should not then become excuses for us not to follow the Lord faithfully as we must remember how our predecessors have suffered for their faith, and yet they faced those sufferings with great courage and faith. They carried on their crosses in life, and dedicated their time and efforts to walk in the path shown by them through the Holy Spirit. They showed how even if one were to suffer and were persecuted and challenged in their faith, they could not be shaken and they could remain firm in faith even if they had to go through worst of treatments, and they also inspired one another to remain committed and trusting in God as well.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, the responsibility is ours to continue the good works that our predecessors had done, and there are indeed still a lot to be done. There are still a lot out there who have not yet been touched by the light and hope of Christ, and many have yet to hear the Good News of His salvation. It is up to us to continue the good works that the Apostles had begun and which their many successors throughout the generations had continued, the Popes, bishops, priests and many others, all those who committed themselves to the spreading of the message of the Gospels, the salvation of God to all mankind.

As I mentioned earlier, we have to stay firm in our faith in the Lord and trust in His guidance and providence. The saints and martyrs, many of our holy predecessors were inspired and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that came onto them from God, giving them the power and courage, the ability and desire to commit themselves to the Lord in ever greater way. They might have been ordinary people, but they allowed God to lead them and guide them, and giving them the strength to do even things that man might have considered impossible. That was how they endured through even the hardest challenges and persecutions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves to a new life inspired and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and as we commemorate Pentecost tomorrow, let us all ask for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and our path, and give us the courage to step forward and commit ourselves for the benefit and good of all, in obeying the laws and commandments of God, and in being truly faithful and worthy sons and daughters of God, all of us who call ourselves as Christians, who through our common baptism share in the same mission to evangelise the whole world. May God bless us and be with us always, with our every work. Amen.

Friday, 3 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of God, reminding each and every one of us yet again that becoming Christians and walking faithfully in the presence of God is something that is not easily done and which likely will end up bringing us hardships and challenges, just as we have been constantly reminded especially in the past few days through the Scripture readings of this week. Following Christ often required us to make sacrifices and to experience those hardships and trials mentioned, just as our predecessors, and the saints and martyrs can easily attest.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the conversation between King Agrippa of Judea and that of Festus, the new Roman governor in charge of the case surrounding St. Paul. If we had been following the Scripture readings from the earlier part of this week, all these happened due to the opposition that the Apostle faced due to his work and ministry, in proclaiming the Christian truths and evangelising to many people, Gentiles and Jews alike that earned him the ire of many among the Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council, which then persecuted him and handed him over to the Romans to be judged for the accusations they levied on him.

This was pretty much just like what the Lord Jesus Himself experienced earlier on, but St. Paul was following the guidance and lead of the Holy Spirit, Who told him that he was destined to travel to Rome and to die there, in martyrdom just like the other Apostles and many other disciples. However, this would not happen before he brought the word of God, His truth and love to the people in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, planting the seeds of the faith there, at the very heart of the Empire and superpower of that time, which would soon become the greatest persecutor of Christianity.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the calling that God gave to St. Peter, His foremost and chief disciple, as He called on him after His resurrection to be the one to lead the people of God and to shepherd His entire flock, as the leader of the Church on His behalf, His Vicar on earth. St. Peter has been appointed to be the leader of the Church, as the first Pope because of the faith that he had shown and all the commitment that he would later on do for the sake of the Church, as the Lord Himself knew that St. Peter would become His most faithful servant, and he truly loved Him from his heart, and God knew all that is in man’s hearts and minds.

Hence, St. Peter dedicated himself and his life to love and serve the Lord, to feed the flock of the sheep of the Lord, to fulfil what the Lord had entrusted to him and the other leaders of the Church, the Apostles and those whom they had chosen to be their successors, the Popes and bishops. St. Peter himself would also eventually go to Rome, and according to tradition, he and the other Christians were persecuted by the intense persecutions under the Roman Emperor Nero, at whose rule and command, the Apostle St. Paul as mentioned earlier eventually faced martyrdom by beheading.

Apostolic tradition states that St. Peter fled Rome with some of the other faithful because of the intense persecutions, and on the way out of Rome, he saw the Lord carrying His Cross in the opposite direction, towards Rome, which led to St. Peter asking Him where He was going. The Lord replied to St. Peter that He was going to Rome to be crucified again. That encounter according to Apostolic tradition gave St. Peter the courage and strength to endure the bitter persecutions that he had to endure in Rome, and was eventually martyred by crucifixion, and he chose to be crucified upside-down as in his own words, St. Peter said that, he was unworthy to die in the same way as his Lord, Master and Saviour. Thus, everything happened just as the Lord predicted it for St. Peter as we heard in our Gospel today.

Today we also mark the Feast of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, also known as the Ugandan Martyrs, St. Charles Lwanga and his many companions in martyrdom in Uganda, where they who were persecuted, arrested, tortured and killed for their faith in Uganda, during the early years of Christian mission in that area. There were missionaries and local converts amongst the martyrs, all those who have given themselves for the service of God, and all those who remained faithful to the Lord despite the persecutions and sufferings they encountered. They faced intense challenges just to live their lives faithfully as Christians.

At that time, Christian missionaries just arrived in Uganda, over the several years in which they ministered to the locals. Many among the locals welcomed the missionaries and many chose to become Christians, including that of St. Charles Lwanga, who was an important official in the court of the king of Buganda, the largest local kingdom. The king saw the increasing conversion to Christianity among his people as a threat to his own power and influence, and began to persecute Christianity throughout his realm. But this did not stop the Christian faithful from continuing to endure the persecutions and remaining faithful to God.

All these became worse when the converts among the royal pages and courtiers refused to obey the king’s debaucherous desires and shunned his wicked actions. The king ordered all Christians in his court and also foreign missionaries to be rounded up and put to death, and the locals if they would not abandon their faith. St. Charles Lwanga and his companions in martyrdom refused to abandon their faith, and in prison, he even managed to convert some more people, before being martyred by being burnt alive after refusing again to abandon the Christian faith. And not only that, but through martyrdom, they had shown many others what true faith in God is like.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these courageous and great examples of faith despite persecution and hardships, all of us are reminded to be strong and faithful ourselves, to steel our resolve to be good and dedicated Christians at all times. We should not let the challenges and hardships we encountered and will face in the future from changing this faith and commitment we have in God. Let us all look upon the examples of the Apostles, the saints and martyrs like the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, St. Charles Lwanga and his companions. Holy Martyrs of Uganda, courageous servants of God and beloved disciples of Our Lord and Saviour, pray for us! Amen.

Thursday, 2 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are presented with the moment when St. Paul reached Jerusalem and caused a great uproar there as the members of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council and their supporters, both from the party of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, had gathered to persecute St. Paul and to condemn him. However, they could not agree on how they were to handle him.

St. Paul knew that they would do whatever they could to persecute him and even condemn him to death, but that was not what the Holy Spirit had guided him to do. He still had one last mission to do, to evangelise to the people in the city of Rome, the capital and centre of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was not yet time for St. Paul to be persecuted to his death. And that was why he incited the two opposing groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees to a near riot simply because he said that he was a Pharisee, and it was his belief in what the Pharisees believed that led him to be put on trial there.

St. Paul as Saul was indeed a Pharisee and a zealous one at that, before he was called by God and was redeemed, turning over a new leaf and embracing a new path in life as God’s servant. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were often at loggerheads as they were diametrically opposite in their beliefs, with the Pharisees believing firmly in the spiritual and immaterial world, the resurrection of the dead, the presence of spirits and Angels, while the Sadducees represent the secular party, those who firmly reject all those, and particularly oppose the notion of life after death and the resurrection.

That declaration by St. Paul was enough to drive the assembly into a frenzy, each group defending their own viewpoints and attacking the other, to the point that some of those same Pharisees even defended St. Paul and said before the assembly how he was innocent and not to be punished, totally contradicting their own stance earlier on. It was also proof that whatever false charges and accusations they wanted to impose on St. Paul was not valid and right in the first place. Nonetheless, St. Paul allowed the Holy Spirit to guide his path, and he was rescued by the guards who led him to the Roman governor, before whom the Apostle would claim trial and appeal before the Emperor himself, paving for his final missionary journey to Rome.

As we have heard in those readings today, including in the Gospel where we heard the Lord praying for the sake of His disciples, that they would be blessed and protected, united and kept as one flock, hence, as Christians we have to realise that in following the Lord, we may often have to endure trials and challenges, and we may have to suffer a lot just as St. Paul had experienced. Many of our predecessors throughout the history of the Church were persecuted and had to face prison and all sorts of torture in their faithful living of their lives and their dedication to God.

And these include St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, the two renowned saints who were told to have perished in the most severe persecution to ever face the Church in its early days, under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ordered the persecution of all Christians, the burning of all Christian texts and bibles, and the destruction of churches and Christian properties. Many martyrs were born of that persecution, and yet there were many tales of those who persisted in their faith, laying down their lives for the Lord rather than choosing apostasy.

The question is, what are we then going to do? In the face of opposition and persecution, should we then turn away from the Lord for the sake of convenience and happiness, for respite and joy? Or are we going to follow the examples of the Apostles and the saints, like St. Paul, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter among many others? The temptation for us to give in to the pressure of the world, to conform to the path of sin and abandoning our faith can be really great at times, but that should not be a reason for us to turn away from God and find the way out and seeking convenience and pleasures for ourselves.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us that we may be always ever faithful to Him and strong in our convictions to walk in His path, despite the persecutions and oppositions, rejections and hardships that we may have to endure. And may all of us remain resolute in living our lives with faith to the fullest, respecting one another while at the same time, standing up courageously for our faith in God, so that each and every one of us may inspire each other in faith, that in all the things we say and do, we will help our fellow brothers and sisters to remain firm in their own faith and life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of both the sufferings and joys we will likely experience as part of the Church, as the disciples and followers of Christ. There will always be both successes and challenges that are part of our lives as Christians, as those who profess the faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, as Our Saviour and King. But that should not dampen our spirit or desire to serve Him wholeheartedly, as each and every one of us have to trust in Him and not be afraid because He will always be by our side.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the farewell that St. Paul spoke to the assembled faithful in Ephesus, before he was to embark on his final journey, his final mission by heading willingly to Jerusalem. St. Paul knew, by the wisdom and knowledge given to him from the Holy Spirit, that this trip to Jerusalem would be the beginning of his final mission, as he would be arrested and tried by the forces of the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, and set off the chain of events that would lead to his martyrdom in Rome.

St. Paul was not deterred by the challenges, trials and sufferings that he might have to face. He has suffered quite a few times earlier on as he faced rejection and opposition by quite a few of those who refused to believe in God, the Jewish authorities and their supporters as one of the many examples. Of course he also encountered a lot of successes as well, that due to his tireless works and ministry, he had managed to spread the word of God, His Good News and truth, to more and more people, establishing firm foundations of the Church and faith in numerous places, including that of Ephesus, which we heard of today.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus as He prayed to His heavenly Father asked that all those who believed in Him ought to be protected and taken care of, that none of those whom He had gathered, those who have listened to the truth of God and received His grace and love, will be lost again from Him. Those same people to whom St. Paul and the other Apostles and missionaries had evangelised to, were these same flock and people that Christ had gathered to Himself, through His Church.

To all of the faithful, the Lord had entrusted the mission to reach out and to evangelise to more and more people, those who have not yet known Him and His truth. He has given His guidance and strength to us all, through His Holy Spirit, that He has sent and bestowed to His Apostles and disciples, and through them, through the Church, to each and every one of us, we have received this same Holy Spirit that strengthens us and gives us the courage to do what is necessary to accomplish the missions that He has given us.

We must not be afraid of the challenges and trials that we may have to face, and instead we have to be inspired by the dedication showed by St. Paul the Apostle, and many other saints who have given their all in order to make the Lord better known by those who have not yet received His truth and love. We have been given the same blessings and courage, the same gifts of the Holy Spirit as what the faithful servants of God had received, but the question is, are we willing to follow their examples?

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned early Church Father and philosopher who was once a pagan but then after a fateful encounter with a wise old Christian man, came to know of the Lord and His infinite wonders, and then he chose to become a Christian afterwards. He established a well-known school of philosophy in Rome, gaining quite a few followers, many among whom also decided to become Christians. Through his writings, it was told that he managed to get the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, another famous philosopher, to end the persecution of Christians by the Roman state.

While later on St. Justin would be arrested and martyred together with some of his followers, after a dispute with another philosopher who then incited the authorities to arrest him, St. Justin showed us through his works and interactions, with pagan philosophers and even with the Emperor himself, that it was indeed possible to be fully faithful and committed to God and yet also live in harmony as a law-abiding member of the community and the state. In fact, it was this harmonious coexistence that often gave rise to various opportunities at evangelisation of the faith.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard the passages of the Scriptures today and the examples set by St. Justin the Martyr, by St. Paul and all the other saints, whose life and dedication we know of, let us all therefore commit ourselves and strive to do whatever we can, in whatever capacity and opportunities presented to us, that even in the smallest things we do, we may glorify the Lord by our lives, and show to everyone the truth of His love and grace, and bring more and more of our fellow brethren to share in the same salvation and grace that we enjoy in Christ. May God be with us always and bless us in our every good endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day when we celebrate the moment when Mary, the Mother of God visited Elizabeth, her cousin, who was also the mother of St. John the Baptist, the Herald who would bring forth the news about the Messiah and proclaim Him to the world. Mary visited Elizabeth who was with St. John the Baptist in her womb while she has also already had Jesus in her Immaculate womb. Mary and Elizabeth’s moment together also revealed to us more of the truth of both infants present in their wombs.

Mary came to Elizabeth after hearing the news about her miraculous pregnancy that happened in her old age, a sign of God’s blessings, which happened to her as well because she had also conceived a Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Word and Son of God incarnate in the flesh through her. Jesus was already in Mary’s womb when she went to visit Elizabeth. It is a truly joyous occasion when two women affirmed and supported each other, both having been blessed by God and through whom the salvation of God would come for all of mankind, one to proclaim the coming of that salvation, while the other One is the Saviour Himself.

Both Mary and Elizabeth showed us the virtues of their faith and dedication to the Lord. Both were righteous and anchored themselves on the Lord. They have been faithful to the Lord and obeyed the Lord’s commandments and allowed themselves to be part of God’s plan of salvation. Elizabeth was willing to become the mother of the Saviour’s Herald, and in her old age, the Lord took away from her the shame of her barrenness. And by the will and power of God, Mary also conceived the Son of God in her, willingly accepting the role that the Archangel Gabriel had proclaimed to her, to become the Mother of God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, after all of us hearing what had happened during the Visitation and all that Mary and Elizabeth had done, and what they represented, all of us are reminded that we should follow the Lord faithfully in the way that those two amazing women had done. We are all, as Christians, called to be role models and inspirations to one another in faith, and in how we should live our lives as Christians, as the holy people of God so that all those who witness our works, hear us and see us in our daily living, our interactions and our activities may come to share our faith in Christ and to believe in Him as well.

Elizabeth’s joy and proclamation upon seeing Mary, her cousin, saying that the Mother of her Lord had come to see her, and all the joy accompanying their encounter should also be our response when we come to seek the Lord through Mary, His mother. We should rejoice and desire to come to the presence of the Lord, whenever we come and enter into His House, the Church and where He is truly present, enthroned in His Real Presence in the Tabernacle and in the Holy Mass. And we should rejoice to come to see Him, to glorify the Lord and strive such that more and more people may come to know the Lord.

Yet, many of us are lukewarm in faith, not being excited to come and see the Lord, and we end up spending a lot more time doing things that are against God and His truth. We did things that scandalise our faith in God and His Church, and even the sanctity of His Name and Presence. This is what caused others to turn away from the Lord, and to be hesitant to come and follow the Lord as well. Often times, the answer given by those who were asked why they did not become Christians or refuse to become one and be baptised is that they had seen Christians doing sinful things and living wickedly, and hence, those things discouraged and hindered them from believing in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all remind ourselves of the faith that we should have in the Lord, and how Mary, the Mother of God showed us, each and every one of us should give our lives to God and to commit ourselves to His path, doing God’s will and walking in the path that He has shown us and called us to go through. We are all called to embody our faith in our every words, actions and deeds, so that we can lead more people to come closer to God and to inspire others to remain strong in their faith and belief in God.

May the Lord bless us all in our every day moments and lives, and may through His Blessed Mother Mary, and all the great saints, holy men and women who had dedicated their lives to God, all of us may also be more inspired to live in the same way that they had done, be ever more worthy of God in all of our actions, words and deeds. May God be with us always, now and evermore. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners and help us to live our lives in the manner you have lived yours. Amen.

Monday, 30 May 2022 : 7th Week of Easter (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 presented with the revelation of what all Christians are expected to do, in proclaiming the truth of God to all people, so that more people may come to know of God through us, and know Him well and correctly, that we share the same Christian truth we have upheld for all these while through the Church. Each and every one of us are called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, in proclaiming the love and truth of God. This is our calling as Christians.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of how St. Paul evangelised to the people of Ephesus, continuing his ministry to the people of God. As mentioned, it was there that St. Paul spoke and preached to some of the faithful there who had followed and learnt through St. John the Baptist, the one who heralded for the coming of the Messiah, the One true Lord and Saviour of all. St. Paul revealed more of the truth of God to them and made them true believers as well, calling on them to follow Christ, and then, they received the Holy Spirit, beginning to proclaim God’s truth on their own.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord revealed to His own disciples, more of the things that He would do before all of them, the truths and revelations that He had brought unto their midst. The Lord spoke to them at that time just before He was about to suffer and die, at the time of the Last Supper, when He revealed to them not just that He would be betrayed and abandoned by His own disciples, but that He would be handed over to His enemies and suffer a most painful and humiliating death. Everything would eventually come true as the Lord went on through His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross.

The Apostles themselves had been witnesses of everything that had happened, while those who did not witness them firsthand received the same revelation through the Holy Spirit and through the words and traditions passed down to them by the Apostles and their successors. The Church has always kept those traditions as one of its fundamental pillars together with the Scriptures and the teachings of the Magisterium, the leadership of the Church. They henceforth delivered that same message and truth to all those whom they encountered and ministered to, in every possible opportunities and places they went to.

Now, each and every one of us as Christians have also been called to follow the footsteps of St. Paul and all others who have devoted their lives and service to the Lord. We are all given the wisdom and courage of the Holy Spirit, and we have been the recipients of the same truth and traditions through the Church. And we have to realise that we all thus share the responsibilities to carry on the works of evangelisation, spreading the word of God to all those who have not yet known Him, or those who have been separated from Him, so that hopefully through us, we may bring back many more souls to God and His salvation.

How do we do that then, brothers and sisters in Christ? First of all, we have to live our lives as true Christians, spending the time and effort to live well in accordance with the way of the Lord. It means that we cannot just be Christians in words alone, but also through deeds and actions. In fact, if we profess and claim to believe in Christ, and yet, our actions speak otherwise, and what we do in our lives do not match that of our words and proclamations, then not only that we are making empty proclamations and words, but we in fact have scandalised the Lord and our faith in Him, His Church and the whole body of the faithful.

That is not what we should be doing. On the contrary, we should try our best to be good role models for one another, living our lives as best as we can, so that in all that we do, we will be inspiration for our fellow men and women, our brothers and sisters, leading everyone closer to God. We should not do things that instead make people to distance themselves away from God. Remember, brothers and sisters, that each and every one of us have been entrusted with this same mission, and whatever we do, to fulfil it or to do things contrary to our mission, will be held on our account, and if we and our faith are found wanting, then let us not be full of regret later on if we find ourselves on the wrong side of the fence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all ask the Lord to help and guide us so that we may be courageous and strong enough to proclaim His truth and love in our respective communities today. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless all of our efforts and works, that we will always do our best in every opportunities that God has provided us. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, and we are all reminded that as the glorious season of Easter is coming to a close soon, with the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday next week, we are all called as Christians to be always full of Easter joy and hope, and to carry out the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us, the mission to bring forth His truth and love to all the nations, to all the peoples of every race and every origins, so that everyone may come to know the Lord, His salvation and grace, His love and most generous mercy for us all, His beloved ones.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church. St. Stephen was falsely accused by the opponents of the Lord and all those who resented him and his efforts in proclaiming the Christian faith and truth to the people. St. Stephen despite facing such an opposition and persecution, going up against the whole assembly of those who have been full of determination to persecute and destroy him, did not fear for his life. On the contrary, encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen courageously proclaimed the Lord and all that He had done for our salvation before those same people.

St. Stephen spent the time to reveal to them the truth of God and he spoke very convincingly guided by the Wisdom granted to him through the Holy Spirit. Yet, the people refused to listen to him, close off and shielded their ears, rushing towards him and angrily stoning him to death. And despite everything that happened to him, St. Stephen did exactly the same as the Lord had done, forgiving and praying for the sake of all those who had persecuted him, asking the Lord not to hold their mistakes and faults, their sins against them, but to forgive them and to show mercy on them. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are asked to emulate in our own lives.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the vision that St. John received while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. St. John received the vision of the things that will happen in the future, and today, we heard the conclusion of that account of his vision of the future. After having seen all that will transpire and happen in the end of times, the Second Coming of the Lord and the final triumph of the Lord against Satan and the forces of evil and sin, St. John saw the Lord speaking to him and telling him that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that He will come again at the end of time, everything to happen just as St. John had seen them.

That is why the Lord told him and through him, His Church, all of us to be His faithful witnesses, and to speak of this same truth, the truth that St. Stephen had spoken courageously about, and had died defending. St. Stephen died defending the same truth that has been entrusted to us all, and which we all also ought to defend and proclaim courageously in our own present day and time. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, and God has given us all various gifts, talents and opportunities for us to be inspirations to each other, so that by our lives and actions, we may all inspire more people to come to believe in God and be saved.

That is why today, this Sunday we also commemorate the occasion of World Communications Sunday. In the context of our faith, we are all called to be good communicators of our faith, as faithful and devout witnesses of our Christian truths, of the Lord’s love and kindness. This is our mission as part of the Church of God, the Great Commission that our Lord had entrusted to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. And although He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer physically visible in our midst, but He is in truth always with us, guiding us along the way, and the Holy Spirit that He has granted to us through the Church, gave us the wisdom and courage to proclaim Him just as St. Stephen had done.

Nonetheless, in order for us to do this properly, we have to be connected to the Lord and we have to regularly in communication with Him. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus praying to His Father in Heaven, asking Him to bless His disciples and to give them strength and guidance, we should always look up to the Lord and keep ourselves connected to Him, just as the Lord Himself often prayed to His Father. Jesus has showed us the example of how we all should pray and stay connected to our loving Father and Creator, and we should heed and emulate His examples in our own lives.

That brings us to think of what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not like what some of us may think it is. Prayer is not the means for us to attain or achieve what we wanted, that just by asking the Lord what we want through prayer, then God will then give us what we wanted. That is among some very common misconceptions that we normally had on what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not a litany of demands or petitions made by us, demanding that God does something for our sake or on our behalf. Let us not forget that God does not owe us anything or in any way beholden to us, that He has to accede to our demands.

On the contrary, true prayer is our way of communicating wholeheartedly to the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, in the manner how the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His Father, and how the Apostles and saints like St. Stephen prayed. Prayer is about opening ourselves and our hearts and minds, entering into genuine communication and dialogue with God, speaking to Him and letting Him speak to us as well, in the depths of our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, more often than not we allow ourselves to be distracted and we were also unwilling to listen to God, while forcing God and demanding on Him to listen to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the World Communications Sunday, each one of us as Christians are not only just reminded of our calling and mission in life, to evangelise and proclaim the truth of God in our world today, but we must also learn to be good communicators in order to do so. As mentioned, first of all we must be connected to God and know how to communicate with Him, through prayers and other means, and not only sporadically, but as often as we are able to, from our hearts and allowing God to speak to us, so that we may know of His will and what He intends with our lives.

And in our work of evangelisation and proclaiming the words of God’s truth, we must also be good and effective communicators as well. We cannot convince others to believe in God unless we also listen to them and communicate with them, reaching out to them and their hearts. Imposing our will and demanding others to listen to us only do not make use good evangelisers and examples of our Christian faith. Not only that, but we can even risk causing others to distance themselves further away from God and His Church, as we must be mindful that our actions can both bring people closer to God, as well as driving people away from Him.

Hence, as Christians, we have truly great responsibilities, to proclaim the Word of God and the Christian teachings and truths through our lives. We should not just speak with our words, but we must embody our Christian faith through our way of life, in every single moments of our lives, so that others who see us, witness our actions and way of life may come to believe in God through us. In fact, if we do not live our lives according to what we profess or proclaim, then we are no better than hypocrites who do not live their lives and practice what they themselves had preached. And in that way, hardly anyone will believe in us, no matter what we tell them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth to the nations. We do not have to seek to do great things in life, but rather, even in the smallest things we do, in our every interactions with each other, we should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and beliefs. We have to allow the Lord to lead and guide us, through the wisdom and courage of His Holy Spirit, that we do not end up falling into the wrong path in life, or mislead others into the path of sin. Let our lives be good examples and let us communicate our faith well to others, and strengthen each other’s faith through examples of our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our own respective journeys of life. May He empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God bless us in our every actions and way of life, and may He remain in our midst and lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, on the fortieth day of Easter or on the seventh Sunday in the Easter season, we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the moment when the Risen Lord Jesus, after having appeared to His disciples, ascended in glory to Heaven, returning to His place at the side of God the Father. On this day we remember the time when the Lord, as He ascended into Heaven, sent out His disciples and followers with the final commandment, also known as the Great Commission, to go forth to the whole world and make the disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Today we are all reminded that while God has ascended into Heaven, it was not because He abandoned us or left us behind. Instead, as He Himself had said, that He went before all of us to prepare a place for us, and also as He has said and promised, that He will come again in the end, at His Second Coming, to gather all of His faithful ones and to win a final triumphant victory against the forces of evil, leading all of us, God’s beloved children to the true and fullness of happiness which had been intended and meant for us from the very beginning. The Lord ascended into Heaven to show us that He truly came from there, and by His love for us, He has willingly come to us in order to touch us and to show His most generous and enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Solemnity of the Ascension, we are presented with the full circle of the Lord’s work in bringing His love and salvation into our midst. We have seen the Lord’s love made flesh, the Son of God made Man, Who entered into this world as the Son of Man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and made the love of God and His salvation tangible and approachable to us. The Lord has shown Himself to us, and as He came of age and revealed Himself through His Baptism, He began His ministry and work among us, and revealing the truth that He has brought into this world.

And today we mark that moment after He has completed all of that world He had to do in this world, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father. He completed His many works, healing the people, casting out demons and performing countless other miracles and signs, showing everyone that He is truly the One Whom the prophets and messengers of God had spoken and prophesied about. He would then face suffering for our sake, willingly and voluntarily taking up His Cross for our sake, accepting the burden of that Cross on our behalf, bearing on His shoulders the whole burden and the consequences due for our sins. By His Passion, suffering and death, He has united us to Himself and we who share in His death and then later, His Resurrection, have become sharers and partakers of this promise of eternal life.

Hence, after He has completed all of these and made a New Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant between God and us, sealed and purchased by His own Precious Blood, which He offered for our sake, as our High Priest, on the Altar of His Cross, as mentioned in our second reading today, so that by the offering of the most worthy Precious Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Holy Paschal Lamb of God, then the atonement of our innumerable sins can be made a reality. We are truly so fortunate that we have such a loving God on our side, caring for us and protecting us, and even reaching out to us and loving us when we have often spurned His love and rejected Him and His mercy.

The Lord ascended into Heaven after He has risen from the dead, after His triumphant victory against evil and death. And as He ascended gloriously by His own power and might, it proved to all those who had witnessed Him in His Risen glory and that He did not die but had risen from the dead, that truly Jesus Christ is the Holy One Who had come down from Heaven as prophesied by the prophets and the servants of God of ages past, and the Lord has delivered unto us the unmistakeable proof of His love, by His sacrifice on the Cross. His ascension and return into Heaven then serves as the proof that whatever He had said was true, and the disciples who witnessed it, believed in Him as they had always done.

The Lord also did not leave His disciples alone, as He has promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would continue to guide them henceforth, to do what He commanded them all to do, the Great Commission to go forth to all the people from all the nations, proclaiming the truth of God, the Good News of His salvation and to gather them all to Himself, by baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This has been, is and will always be the primary mission of the Church, as God entrusted this very important mission to His Church, to this very day, so that many more people who had not yet known Him, may come to be saved as well.

That is why, today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, it is very important that each and every one of us realise that as parts and members of the Church, each one of us as Christians ought to take up this same mission which God has entrusted to us, to be His witnesses and to evangelise to all the people of all the nations. We are all called to share in the very same mission that God has entrusted to His Apostles, until He comes again at the end of time, at the time of His Second Coming, as shown in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when God will come once again to gather all of His faithful and win a final victory against evil.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters. Have we truly lived our lives faithfully as Christians all these while? Or have we instead been idle and ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, or even worse still, have we instead been acting in ways that brought scandal to our faith and to the Lord, which caused others to distance themselves from the Church and from the Christian faith and truths? These are important questions that we really need to ask ourselves and to serve as good reminders even as we celebrate this Ascension of Our Lord today, so that it will not be merely just another celebration and then life goes on as usual for us, without a profound change in our life attitudes.

If we wonder whether we are worthy or capable of the calling and the mission which the Lord had entrusted to us, then we do not need to look any further from the Apostles themselves, many of whom were illiterate and came from backgrounds and origins that would have made them unlikely, even ineligible to be the followers and champions of the Lord. And yet, that was what exactly had happened, and the Lord called His disciples and followers even from among the unlikeliest of sources, because ultimately what we think as impossible, by our standards, are perfectly possible for God, because everything is possible for Him, Who knows all things and rules over all.

We do not need to do magnificent or wonderful things. Even if we can live our lives righteously, in accordance to the teachings of the Lord and the laws and rules of the Church, in even the smallest things and parts of our lives, then that will already be sufficient for us. What we need to do is to do our best even in the smallest of things, in the every words we utter, every actions and interactions we have done, and in our every works and dealings. We are all called to be good examples, role models and inspirations to one another with our every day living and in all that we say, act and do. That is the best way for us to proclaim the Lord and to evangelise, reaching out to all those who have not yet known the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our every day living, from now on if we have not yet done so, to be good and committed disciples of Our Lord, spreading His Good News, truth and love to all, and continuing His many good works that He has entrusted to His Church. We are all God’s people, and we should do our best to follow Him and obey His will as best as we can. We should reflect on this well as we celebrate this glorious day of the Ascension. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all and to strengthen us just as He has guided the Apostles and disciples in doing their best for the greater glory of God.

May our Lord, Who ascended in glory and Who has shown us His everlasting love, continue to guide us and be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our path so that we may always ever be ready to embark on the journey of faith and be great witnesses and missionaries of His cause, glorifying Him by our every actions and deeds in life. Amen.