Saturday, 5 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the works of the Apostles preaching throughout many places in the Eastern Mediterranean region as they preached the Good News of God to the people living in those places. Many people came to believe in God and asked to be baptised as Christians because of the work of the Apostles. However, at the same time, there were plenty of problems as well, because there were also solid opposition against them by the pagans and the Jews alike.

This was foreseen by the Lord Jesus Himself, Who in our today’s Gospel passage told His disciples that they too would be persecuted by the world, by the virtue of being those who followed His way and obeyed His commandments. There were those who have persecuted the Lord, and rejected His message because of their refusal to leave behind the way of sin, and just as they have done such things to the Lord, they would also therefore do the same to the disciples of His as well.

The Lord told His disciples the truth about what it would really mean to be His disciples. If they came to Him seeking worldly glory and power, wealth and influence, or ease of mind and pleasure, then they would be seeking these at the wrong place and occasion. To follow the Lord means that they must instead be prepared to suffer for His sake, and be persecuted just as their Lord and Master had been persecuted.

That was what the Lord told to the people He taught, that in order to become His disciples, they must be ready to pick up their own crosses and follow Him. It is our crosses to bear, to bear the same kind of humiliation, suffering, persecution, prejudice, rejection and opposition as what our Lord Himself has experienced. And besides that, there would also be ample temptations and persuasions through which the devil would try to snatch us from the hands of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now all of us as Christians also have the same obligation as that of the Apostles. We have to pick up our crosses in life and walk in God’s way, as there are still many things that we have to do. There are still many people out there, many souls who are still lost to the Lord. Unless we do something, many of these will end up falling into damnation and eternal suffering in hell.

However, as we have heard and seen, it is indeed not easy to be a faithful disciple of the Lord. There will be lots of temptations and persuasions for us to wander off the good path, and there are plenty of allures of worldly glory, power, wealth, pleasure and all sorts of things which will become obstacles in our way to the Lord. And there had indeed been many of our predecessors who could not bear the pressure or resist the temptations and fall.

Now, we need to see the brave and courageous examples of those who resisted the temptations of the devil, all those Apostles and holy disciples, all the holy saints and martyrs, who in their own respective ways, devoted themselves, heart, mind, body and soul to the Lord. These are the good examples that we need to follow, so that in everything we say and do, we will always do them for the greater glory of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us therefore no longer be passive or ignorant in our faith, and let us no longer be lukewarm in our faith. Let us be courageous to stand up for our faith when necessary, and be proud of who we are, as Christians, as those whom God has chosen from this world, with the hope that more will come to join us, in glorifying God. May the Lord be with us and be with our endeavours, that through us, He may call more and more people to be saved. Amen.

Saturday, 5 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 18-21

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that the world hated Me before you. This would not be so if you belonged to the world, because the world loves its own. But you are not of the world, since I have chosen you from the world; because of this the world hates you.”

“Remember what I told you : the servant is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you, too. If they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. All this they will do to you for the sake of My Name, because they do not know the One Who sent Me.”

Saturday, 5 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Saturday, 5 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 1-10

Paul travelled on to Derbe and then to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy lived there, whose mother was a believer of Jewish origin but whose father was a Greek. As the believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him. So he took him and, because of the Jews of that place who all knew that his father was a Greek, he circumcised him.

As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions of the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem, for the people to obey. Meanwhile, the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number every day.

They travelled through Phrygia and Galatia, because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

There one night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” When he awoke, he told us of this vision and we understood that the Lord was calling us to give the Good News to the Macedonian people.

Friday, 4 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the earlier story about the struggle of the Jewish and non-Jewish factions in the early Church, as recounted from the Acts of the Apostles. In that account, we see how the Apostles mediated the two factions, and found an ideal solution, the middle way between both factions’ ideas and desires.

The Jewish faction wanted a strict observation of the Jewish law, even among the Christians of non-Jewish background. This made difficulties in the work of evangelisation among the Greeks and the other Gentiles, as some of the provisions of the Jewish law were difficult to be followed by the non-Jewish peoples due to the cultural differences and practices.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles wanted a relaxation of the laws and the rules pertaining to the Jewish customs and tradition, not requiring those Christians of non-Jewish origins to follow those rules and regulations. Instead, as long as the faithful, those who have been newly baptised, obeyed all the rules and commandments as stipulated by the Church elders, which were much simpler and meaningful than the extensive Jewish traditions, then that would have been enough.

The dispute went on to the Apostles, who came together with the entire Church to settle the issue once and for all. They prayed to God over the matter, asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be with them in their decision-making, and they decided that all the faithful, regardless of their prior background or customs, must adhere to a set of basic and fundamental rules, essentially, what the Lord has revealed to His disciples, as the true Law He has given us.

And this, is what the Christian faithful were exhorted to believe, and not the additional rules which became a burden to the faithful people of God. The Apostles agreed that the faithful should not be burdened by additional rules and regulations which have no meaningful impact on the genuine faith life as expected of all Christians, and this was the decision which was relayed to the entire Church at the time.

All of these ultimately redirected the focus of the Christian faith, back to what we have heard in today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus said to His disciples, “Love one another just as I have loved you.” In that short sentence, the Lord Jesus summarised essentially all that is meant for us to be a good and faithful Christian, that is by obeying God’s commandments and laws, the Commandments of Love.

For love must be at the centre of every Christian persons, and at the very heart of our faith. Otherwise, our faith and indeed, our life is empty and meaningless, for God is not inside our hearts and beings. First of all, of course, we must love the Lord our God, with all of our heart, with all of our strength and capability, doing our best to focus ourselves on Him and do everything for the greater glory of His Name. This is the first and foremost thing that all of us as Christians must do.

If we do not love God, then of course we cannot call ourselves as Christians. And yet, that is what many of us often do in our lives. How is that so? Let us just see at how we often lived out our lives, in our daily actions, and in all that we do. We often spend so much time trying to attain for ourselves earthly pleasures and satisfactions, that we end up forgetting about God and putting Him aside, in our seeking of power, of wealth, of worldly pleasures and satisfaction?

And then, if we do love God, then we have to show it in our interactions with one another, for each and every one of us are God’s children, the ones whom He loves. If God loves each and every one of us, then how can we not love one another as well? If we hate someone, would it not mean then that we do not love God as well? For surely God also loves the one whom we hate or are angry with?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are therefore called to fulfil our Christian obligation to love, and to serve the Lord with love. Let us all from now on, if we have not done so, love the Lord our God and put Him at the centre of our lives and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. And then, let us all love each other, just as we have loved God, and just as He has first loved us all.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our endeavours, so that in all the things we do, we will always be blessed and be filled with God’s grace and love. May God bless all of us, and walk with us, all the days of our lives. Amen.

Friday, 4 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 12-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “This is My commandment : Love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are My friends, if you do what I command you.”

“I shall not call You servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learnt from My Father.”

“You did not choose Me; it was I Who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. This is My command, that you love one another.”

Friday, 4 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 56 : 8-9, 10-12

My heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul, awake, o harp and lyre! I will wake the dawn.

I will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to You among the nations. For Your love reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness, to the clouds.

Be exalted, o God, above the heavens! Let Your Glory be over all the earth!