Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the truth as revealed by the Lord, and which we have heard through the Church, having been passed down through the Apostles, and from the Apostles to their successors. And we call ourselves as Christians, because we believe in the message of truth which Christ, Our Lord Jesus Christ, delivered into this world.

Unfortunately, as we can see in both the Acts of the Apostles and in the Gospel today, there were many of those who were skeptical and who refused to believe in the truth that Christ had brought into this world, and this included initially even the Apostles themselves. They failed to believe at first, how He is truly the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.

They failed to see this truth at first, even though the Lord Jesus had stated it plainly from the beginning to them, and even though they have directly experienced and witnessed God’s miraculous works through Jesus, as no one else had ever done before. They saw how He had turned water into wine, healed and opened the eyes of the blind, loosened the tongues of the mute and opening the ears of the deaf, feeding five thousand and four thousand men and more with just a few loaves of bread and fishes.

And then, they saw how He even raised people who have been dead back into life. He raised Lazarus from the dead after four days, and all who saw these miracles were astonished. Yet, equally many of those who had seen these miracles, were also the ones who would later on condemn the Lord Jesus to death, death on the cross when they were instigated by the Pharisees and the elders of the people.

In the Acts of the Apostles, as St. Paul and St. Barnabas went around many cities and towns in the Eastern Mediterranean area, they preached about the Lord, the Saviour of this world. Many of the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, mostly Greek and some Romans, believed in their teachings and came to convert to the Christian faith. Some of the Jews also believed in them, and they enthusiastically welcomed them and asked them to preach to them.

However, there were many of those who refused to believe, some among the Gentiles because they saw the efforts of the Apostles as an affront to their traditional pagan gods and way of life. While there were quite a few among the Jews who believed in the lies spread by the elders about the disciples having stolen the body of Jesus and therefore spoke lies about the resurrection of the Lord.

Thus, they persecuted the Apostles and rejected their message, chasing them out of their town. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why with all the challenges and difficulties that the Lord and His disciples had faced throughout their work? These were all caused by our stubbornness, mankind’s pride and hardened hearts. The enemies of the Lord had many reasons to oppose Him.

They wanted to preserve their earthly influence, status and authority, and they saw the Lord as a great threat to all that they have accumulated for their own benefit. Now, these were the same things which faced the followers of the Lord, whose memory we remember today. St. Peter Chanel, missionary to the Oceanian islands of Wallis and Futuna, and St. Louis Marie de Montfort, founder of the Montfortians.

St. Peter Chanel was a missionary who went to the islands to evangelise to the people living there, who have not yet heard of the Lord and His truth, much like St. Paul and St. Barnabas who went to faraway places in the past. Many came to believe in the Lord through St. Peter Chanel’s works, and even the son of the king of the island came to believe, and asked to be baptised as a Christian.

The king was furious and did whatever he could to prevent that from happening. When that failed, he sent his son-in-law to murder St. Peter Chanel, and thus, eventually this courageous servant of God was martyred. Yet, his martyrdom proved to be fruitful in the end, as eventually, most of the people embraced the Christian faith, and even his murderer converted to the faith as well and repented his sin.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort was renowned for his effort at preaching and evangelisation, as well as commitment to the Catholic education of youths. Yet, he did not have it all easy during his ministry, as he had his share of opponents, who disagreed with him and refused to listen to him. He was assaulted and even poisoned before, all for his hard work in preaching the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what each one of us must realise is that God will always His enemies and all those who disagree with Him. And definitely, these will also be against us if we are faithful to the Lord and His ways. But are we going to side with those who oppose the Lord? Or are we going to stand up for our faith as St. Paul had done? The choice is ours to make.

Let us all pray therefore, asking the Lord for faith, that we may truly be able to believe in Him wholeheartedly, and not be swayed by the falsehoods of this world, or by the sweet lies of Satan and his tempters. Let us all pray also for strength and courage, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we may follow faithfully in the footsteps of the Holy Apostles, in their courage and outspokenness, in preaching the truth and standing up for their faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey of faith, that we may always draw closer to Him, day after day, and receive from Him the gift of eternal life. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 14 : 7-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do it.”

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Saturday, 28 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Acts 13 : 44-52

The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose, with insults, whatever Paul said.

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary, that God’s word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it, and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord : I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced, when they heard this, and praised the message of the Lord; and all those, destined for everlasting life, believed in it. Thus the word spread, throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class, and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas.

Finally, they had them expelled from their region. The Apostles shook the dust from their feet, in protest against this people, and went to Iconium, leaving; the disciples, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 27 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the continuation of St. Paul’s testimony before the Jewish community in a synagogue, which was recorded in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. In that testimony of faith, St. Paul mentioned how God had continued to show His love and mercy to His people, sending help after help to them through time, culminating in the coming of the Messiah, Who was promised to them.

But many of the people refused to acknowledge Him or to accept Him as their Lord and Saviour. Indeed, there were many of those who plotted to have Him destroyed and viewed Him as a threat to their own position and authority within the society. These included the Pharisees and many among the priests and the elders of the people. In the end, not only that they refused to believe in the Lord, but they arrested Him, levied false charges against Him and crucified Him.

Yet, having known all that would have happened to Him, the Lord Jesus continued on regardless with His mission, and He faced the challenges and oppositions courageously, knowing that by His obedience and by His commitment, He would save the people of God, and rescue them from their sins. That He would also do, even to all those who have wronged Him and rejected Him.

That was why, if we remember, the Lord Jesus, as He laid crucified on the cross at Calvary, prayed even for His very enemies and persecutors, asking His heavenly Father not to take into account what they had done on that day, for ‘they did not know what they were doing’. He forgave them, even after all that they had done, fulfilling what He Himself had taught His disciples, to forgive their enemies and to pray for those who have persecuted them.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what is the significance of these things to ourselves? How can these be relevant to us? Indeed, it is important that in order to appreciate and fully understand what we have heard today, that we reflect on our own lives and actions thus far. And let us all ask ourselves this question, how have we lived our lives as Christians all these while? Have we truly believed in the Lord as we should have?

The reality is that, for many of us, we have not been living a true Christian lifestyle, as we often put our own worldly desires and concerns ahead of our obligations and responsibilities as Christians. We often forget about God and we only remember Him whenever we are in need of something, a favour from Him, and once we get what we wanted, we often quickly turn away from God and forget Him yet again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why many of us are at the moment, merely Christians by formality only, as we do not truly embody our Christian faith in our actions and in our dealing with one another. Rather, we are like the Pharisees and the elders who rejected the Lord, doubting Him and turning their hearts from Him. We spurned His love because we love ourselves too much, and we are too engrossed in our own concerns that we forget how much God has loved us.

How often do we pray to the Lord? And how many of us always think that we do not have the time for Him? That is because God did not occupy a place of greatest honour in our hearts, as we all really should have done. When we are so self-centred and thinking only about ourselves, then it is easy for Satan to enter into our hearts and tempt us with all sorts of things that will prevent us from realising God’s presence and love in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the way that we must be taking in our lives. No, definitely it cannot be the path we walk through. Let us all remember that God must be the centre and the focus of our lives, as without God, truly we are nothing, and our existence mean nothing. Remember, that we have initially been doomed to an eternity of suffering and annihilation because of our sins, but God chose to allow us to escape that fate, because He loves us all.

Let us all from now on, devote ourselves anew to our God, remembering just how much He loved us all, to the point of accepting death, death on the cross, for our sake. And just as He has risen into glory, He wants us all to share in His glory as well, through our faith in Him, and by the virtue of our baptism and by our genuine and honest Christian life, that we may be saved.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our faith within us, that we will grow ever more devout and more committed as Christians, day after day. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 27 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 1-6

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not be troubled! Trust in God and trust in Me! In My Father’s house there are many rooms; otherwise, I would not have told you that I go to prepare a place for you. After I have gone and prepared a place for you, I shall come again and take you to Me, so that where I am, you also may be. Yet you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Friday, 27 April 2018 : 4th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 2 : 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

“Behold the King I have installed, in Zion, upon My holy hill!” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord. He said to Me : “You are My Son. This day I have begotten You.”

“Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall rule them with iron sceptre and shatter them as a potter’s vase.”

Now therefore, learn wisdom, o kings; be warned, o rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and fall at His feet; lest He be angry and you perish when His anger suddenly flares. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!