Saturday, 9 May 2020 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion today as we continue to live through the glorious season of Easter, each and every one of us are continuously reminded that as Christians all of us have the obligation to be the bearers of God’s truth in our lives and within our every communities. We are all called to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and to show our faith through our every words, deeds and actions. We must no longer be lukewarm in our faith but instead we must live our faith with ever greater enthusiasm and zeal from now on.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have known God and the truth about Him has been revealed to us all through His Church, through the same Apostles to whom God Himself had revealed Himself. Those Apostles and many other disciples had followed the Lord, witnessed His many wonderful works and miracles, and through the revelation of truth and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit they had received knowledge and understanding of the Truth and the salvation of God through Christ.

It is from these Apostles then that all of us, many people had received the truth and the Good News of salvation of God. St. Paul and St. Barnabas among the many other missionaries of the faith had travelled far and wide, and preached the Good News in various places and communities. But at the same time, as we heard in our first reading today, they did not have it easy and had a lot of challenges as they carried out their mission. They encountered tough opposition from the Jewish community in one of the cities they visited during their missionary travels.

At that time, many of the cities and towns across various parts of the Mediterranean region and beyond had sizeable Jewish populations and communities, as the descendants of the Israelites spread during the few centuries since their exile in Babylon and in further lands, and during the past few centuries of increased openness and migration patterns during the Hellenistic era that lasted through the early years of the Christian Church and faith. Just like the Jews in Judea, Jerusalem and Galilee, the Jewish diaspora communities were also divided in their outlook of things, their way of life and the diversity of their thoughts.

Quite a few among the Jews were open minded and they were very receptive of the foreign practices of the Greeks, the Romans and the other Gentiles, and in fact some even adopted some of these practices themselves, while others had been pretty much assimilated into their respective greater societies. Meanwhile, there were also quite a few among the Jews who were still very conservative then, keeping closely to the traditions and customs of the Jewish people, much like the Pharisees in the land of Israel. In fact, some of these Jewish diaspora were themselves likely to be member of the Pharisees, like that of St. Paul himself before his conversion.

That was why, the Apostles encountered a lot of resistance during some parts of their travels and works, as some of the Jews carried on the same attitude and prejudices of the Pharisees, while others might have heard the news of what had happened in Judea and Jerusalem, and toed in the line of the Sanhedrin and the Jewish elders in rejecting Jesus and His teachings. This went even to the extent of those people inciting a riot in the city and also spread false news in order for the whole town to reject and cast the Apostles out of their place.

This was just some of the challenges that the Apostles and the disciples then had to face, as they also encountered tough challenges and oppositions from the Gentiles. While quite a few among the Gentiles were willing to learn more about the faith and some were very enthusiastic in welcoming Christ into their hearts and into their communities, there were also quite a few of those who disliked the Christian faith and viewed it as a threat against their own pagan faith, worship and also way of life. And hence, persecution, challenges and oppressions came from many origins for our first Christian brothers and sisters.

Yet, these did not dampen their spirits or their courage to continue to preach the Good News and reaching out to others, even to those who have rejected and persecuted them. The first Christians, the many saints and martyrs walked in the path of the Apostles and that of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, fearlessly being witnesses of their faith in God in all occasions, and because of this, countless souls had been saved and many more were brought closer to God’s salvation.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been entrusted with the responsibilities to carry on the good works of our devoted predecessors. Are we able and willing to follow in their footsteps in serving God? Are we able to spend the time and effort to be the bearers of the Good News and the witnesses of our Lord’s truth and resurrection to all those whom we encounter in life? Let our every words, actions and deeds be exemplary and bring hope to many people around us.

May the Lord be with us always and may He strengthen us in our resolve and courage to live our lives with faith and dedication from now on. May the Lord bless us all and may He guide us in our journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 9 May 2020 : 4th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 9 May 2020 : 4th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 9 May 2020 : 4th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 8 May 2020 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day from the words of the Sacred Scriptures, all of us heard the message of truth and hope, the message of God’s salvation that He has revealed to us through Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. In what we have heard today, we heard the reassurances from God that He will always be faithful to the Covenant which He had made with us and He will always provide for us and what we need, and He will not abandon us to destruction.

In our first reading we continue to hear the story of the encouragements that St. Paul spoke to the Jewish community in Antioch in Pisidia, telling them of bow although the people in Jerusalem had treated Jesus, the Messiah and Lord badly, rejecting Him and condemning Him to death, a most painful and humiliating death on the Cross, but God has turned all of that into joy and salvation, as everything had indeed been part of His plan of saving us mankind.

God has loved us so much and provided us with so much all these while, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we have to understand and appreciate all of these. But God has been always so patient with us despite all of our disobedience and lack of faith. He has given us reassurances again and again, as He said to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, to trust Him and to put their faith in Him despite the doubts they might have had. St. Thomas, one of the Apostles, ever the doubter and last one to believe expectantly asked the Lord if they should trust in Him.

And the Lord said that He is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life. It means that the Lord is the only Way for us to go forward, and He is the Truth that all of us should be following, and the Life that we have all been looking for. The Lord is the heart of our existence and everything we have, have come from Him. It is just that many of us have been ignorant of this truth, and we prefer to follow our own path and way rather than to trust in God and obey Him.

That is why on these days, when the world is indeed filled with so much darkness, uncertainty and fears all abound, when everyone are so frightened and worried over so many things, we must be the bearers of the Good News of the Lord’s hope, truth and salvation. We must be the beacons of God’s light in the midst of all these darkness, at we may shine God’s light on all who have been afflicted by the darkness, that everyone may have hope again, and hope that lasts because this hope comes from God.

There are many people out there who are in despair and low on hope, low on love and care, and it may be up to us to show them the way out of their despair, and to bring God’s love, compassion and encouragement to them. This is why we should really have that strong and genuine faith in each one of us that we may truly proclaim God’s glory through our every day lives and actions. As Christians we have been called to bring hope to our fellow men in their moments of distress and to help others to know God and to find Him when they are in need.

Let us therefore put our complete trust in God from now on, knowing that in Him alone we can find true way and path out of the predicaments and trials we are facing now. We must believe that God will help and guide us in our journey, and if we trust in Him we shall not be disappointed. We must ourselves be patient, because everything will happen as God wills it, and God wants only the best for us. Let us all keep up our hope in Him and trust in Him no matter how difficult our lives and conditions may be at the moment.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all bring the hope of Christ into our lives, by living our lives to the fullest, showing care and concern for the least, the last and the lonely among us. Let us touch the lives of others around us, through our own faith and inspiring examples. Let us fear no more and follow the Lord in the path that He is showing us. Let us trust in Him, our Way, our Truth and our Life from now on.

May God be with us always and may He guide us in this journey of faith and in our lives. May He bless us all, now and always in our every good works and endeavours, and may He help us all to bring His hope and light to our fellow brothers and sisters that the Light He has brought unto us may triumph over the darkness of our lives. Amen.

Friday, 8 May 2020 : 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, 8 May 2020 : 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!