Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion, all of us heard about the doubt and the lack of faith which were evident from the two readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel which we have just listened to. We heard how the Apostle St. Peter spoke to the Jewish people and all those who witnessed the amazing wonders of God, having healed the man born paralysed, who then could walk again and praising God.

In the Gospel we heard how the disciples of the Lord, the Eleven Apostles were stunned when Jesus suddenly appeared to them in their midst, through the locked doors, even though earlier on they had seen and heard from one another, from Mary Magdalene and other witnesses on the empty tomb of Jesus and His missing Body. They were still unable to believe that Jesus had not remained dead, but lived again, risen from the dead as He Himself had foretold.

In all these examples which we have heard, we saw just how often times, we mankind can be stubborn in many things, including in trying to understand things in our own way. We often try to rationalise things before we believe and put our trust and faith in something. This is nothing wrong, as indeed it is important for us to be able to truly understand and know the details about something which we want to believe in, or else we will be easily led to falsehoods and lies.

However, there are indeed certain things that are beyond the realm of our normal and usual human understanding and comprehension. There are many who doubted because they were not capable of putting into reason what they had heard about the resurrection of the Lord, and thought that it was impossible for someone from death to return into life.

Yet, there were many witnesses of what Jesus had done in His life and ministry in this world, all the healing miracles He had done, and even when He raised Lazarus up from the dead. There were many people who witnessed this and believed in the Lord. And indeed, Jesus also appeared to many people who had seen Him after His resurrection from the dead, and could testify to the truth of the resurrection, and all the miraculous deeds which His Apostles and disciples had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let me now ask all of you. How did we receive our faith? How is it that we are now believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it just by mere fact or coincidence that we are believing in God now? Certainly, for many of us our answer would be that we received our faith from the instruction of our parents and relatives, all of whom had received their own instruction of the faith from their own parents and relatives, and affirmed with the teachings passed down through the Church.

And for all of those who have been baptised as adults, we also received our faith through our friends and through all those who have inspired us and called us to receive the Lord. And we have been affirmed by the faith that was passed down to us through careful instruction in the faith through the Church, by our catechists and guides, who helped us to grow in the faith. We all went through Catholic education, be it in schools or in our parishes and churches, and we grew together in the faith because of that.

That is how we came to believe in God, because we treasure and keep that same faith which our predecessors had received, all the way to the time of the Apostles, who themselves had seen the glory of the Risen Lord. And they also certainly did not have any reason to lie or to make any falsehoods, for they even were ready to lay down their lives defending that faith they had in the Lord. That was why there were so many martyrs in the days of the early Church, when the faithful were oppressed and persecuted just because they believed in the Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now it comes to the difficult part for all of us. All of us now need to also pass on this faith which we have in us to our next generation, and also to all others who have yet to hear of the Lord and His goodness. It is not an easy task, and challenges will be upon us. And at the same time, we must also fully embody our faith through our own words, deeds and actions. If we do not act as what we have believed in, no one will believe in us.

In fact, if we act contrary to what the Lord had taught us and shown us through His disciples, we are actually bringing scandal to our faith and to the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all today pray together as the whole Church, that each and every one of us may live our Easter joy through our own lives, by our loving actions and by sharing our love and happiness with one another, especially to those who had no one to love them.

May the Lord help us and strengthen us in our faith, so that in everything we do, we will always do them in good faith to the Lord, and that through everything we say and do, we will always declare the glory of God to all the people, and thus help to gather together all the scattered people of the Lord, and come together to embrace His mercy and love. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 24 : 35-48

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 3 : 11-26

While the once crippled man clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if it was by some power or holiness of our own that we made this man walk?”

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.”

“It is His Name and faith in His Name, that has healed this man whom you see and recognise. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what He had foretold through all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when He sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For He must remain in heaven until the time of the universal restoration which God spoke of long ago through His holy prophets.”

“Moses foretold this when he said : The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to Him in all that He says to you. Whoever does not listen to that Prophet is to be cut off from among his people.”

“In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets and heirs of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors when He said to Abraham : All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you first that God sends His Servant; He raised Him to life to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Thursday, 4 April 2013 : Thursday of the Easter Octave (Scripture Reflection)

The Risen Christ is truly risen, our Messiah, and our Lord. He is not dead anymore, because God had given to Him a glorious life, to conquer death, that in Him, if we believe in Him, we would also find the same life, that is life eternal in God, and with God. He is truly risen, and truly has been raised from the dead, in body and in the spirit, that He is truly, bodily, our Risen Lord. That is why He said to His disciples when He first appeared to them. Why are you afraid? Why fear? It is I, Christ, and I am truly risen! My body is real, and I am not a spirit of the dead, unlike your ancestors!

Yes, while all mankind died in death that is our punishment for our rebellion against God, that from dust we had come, and into dust we would return, Christ was not worthy of death, because He is perfect and spotless, as He is without sin, and yet He suffered sin and death for our sake, and was unjustly punished and condemned for our faults. All these so that it would not be us who would have to bear the burden of our rebellion and that of our forefathers, but through Christ we would gain eternal life, that is our reward, if we would repent, believe in Christ, and put our hope in Him.

Through Christ lay forgiveness for our faults and our rebellion against our loving God, and through Him lay the only path to life, for is He not the way, the truth and the life? Yes, only if we put our complete trust in Christ, and put in Him all our beings and our dedication, that we can be brought from eternal death and separation from God, back into God’s favour. He offered all these freely as He hung from that cross on Calvary. His Blood He offered freely for all of us, as the blood of the new Covenant that would seal all who believe in Him and save them all.

Yet, many of us remain blind to Christ’s mercy and kindness, and blind from His redemptive works. The same happened to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and to all the disciples gathered in fear of the authorities, because all of them had lost their hope and pivot on Christ. Their faith and heart had wavered, and they had let the evil one to sow seeds of fear and uncertainties and let them grow within their hearts, that they were frozen with lack of faith when Christ appeared to them. Yes, to all of us it may seem that if Christ is to appear before us, given if we have no knowledge of Christ’s resurrection, which had been prophesied by the prophets, we may also not believe in Him.

But the disciples had listened directly from Christ Himself, that He was to suffer, and to die, and then to rise again from the dead in glory on the third day, which He had mentioned frequently to the disciples, especially as He approached the time of His Passion. It is the inflexibility and the hardness of their hearts that prevented them from truly understanding what Christ had said to them, and that also made them, and so many other people of Israel at the time, especially the Pharisees and the chief priests, that Christ is truly the Messiah, the suffering Messiah, through whom the world’s salvation was to come.

Yet Christ did not give up on them, and He opened their minds and hearts to His truth, just as He revealed Himself to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. Therefore brothers and sisters in Christ, will we then also welcome Christ into our hearts? That He will then come in and open the doors of our hearts and our minds, and also remove the veil of fear and doubt from our eyes, that we will see Him? in the great glory of His resurrection? Keep our prayer life strong, that we will always have the Lord within our hearts.

Remember, that our works and actions will not reflect God’s work if we do not keep a strong faith in Him, which can only be built up and maintained through prayerful life. Pray at all times, that God will always be with us, and strengthen us, and speak to us, to lead us into the path that God had desired for us, for the good of all of us. Let our faith in God shines within us, and with this great faith and strength, may all of us be courageous and strong, to carry out God’s mission to spread His words and love to all mankind, through service and love.

May God bless all of us, and may we make best use of this most holy season of Easter, to renew our commitment to our Lord and to our fellow mankind, to love ever more, and to be ever more faithful. Amen.

Thursday, 4 April 2013 : Thursday of the Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

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 didn’t 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.”

Thursday, 4 April 2013 : Thursday of the Easter Octave (Psalm)

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field,  the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.