Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us all of the commandments of God yet again, to love one another as we have loved God and ourselves, to give our love from our hearts and be sincere in the offering and giving of ourselves to our fellow men. And this has been the distinguishing feature of our Christian faith from the very beginning.

In the early Church, as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, there was once bitter division and feud between the opposing factions in the Church, between those who wanted to impose the rigours and strict observations and standards of the Jewish customs and laws on the whole community of the faithful and those who wished to relax the draconian and rigorous imposition of such laws on the whole Christian community.

But in all the bickering and conflict, they forgot that the most important thing for all Christians to do is not to be paying attention or putting the focus on these trivial matters that distract them all from doing what they have been called and commanded to do, that is to love. In their hastiness and focus on the external appearances, instead of doing the will of God, those early Christians ended up causing hurt and troubles to the Body of Christ, the Church.

And in all of these, we are all called to the examples shown by none other than Christ Himself, the Lord of all, Who has shown His love so generously and lovingly, that He sacrificed Himself for the good of all His people, bearing the burden of the Cross and endured the bitter humiliation and pain so that we may all live and not perish. If God had not loved us in such a way, all of us would have perished because of our sins.

And today we remember in particular all those who have also suffered with Christ because of the love and dedication that they had for Him, their faith and commitment in Him and their desire to be part of the larger Universal Church, which had been suppressed and prevented by the circumstances that they had to encounter. On this day we remember therefore our brethren of faith of the Church in China suffering persecution in a way how the early Christians had suffered.

Despite the challenges and difficulties they faced, the faithful there still held on fast to the hope in God and to the assurance that Christ had brought into this world that no matter how they had suffered, but God and His faithful ones will be triumphant in the end. God has always been with His people, and through His mother Mary, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary, God has always watched over them and protected them.

That is why today, on which day one of the Marian feasts recognised by the Church, that is of Our Lady of Sheshan, we also remember her as the Help of Christians, as when the troubles, challenges and persecutions of the world come upon the faithful, it is to Mary that many of them turn towards, just as children turn towards their mother seeking for protection, guidance and loving care, so do us the faithful turn to our blessed Mother for help and protection.

Today, let us all keep in our prayers, our brethren in faith in China, as well as many others around the world, who truly love God genuinely and desire to worship Him and to be His followers, and yet, facing intense persecution and challenges at the same time, just because they are Christ’s disciples. And this is where we can truly grow in our love for God, just as these brethren of ours truly love God so deeply and sincerely from their hearts.

If we have thus far taken our faith for granted and not being sincere and true in our love for God, then perhaps now is the time for us to change our mindset, our attitude and our way of living our faith lives. Let us all draw closer to God, thanking Him and loving Him for each and every moment He has loved us so dearly, and love our brethren and keep them in our mind, at every possible moment. Amen.

Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (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, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (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!

Friday, 24 May 2019 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan in China (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 15 : 22-31

Then the Apostles and elders together with the whole Church decided to choose representatives from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. These were Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men among the brothers. They took with them the following letter :

“Greetings from the Apostles and elders, your brothers, to the believers of non-Jewish birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We have heard that some persons from among us have worried you with their discussions and troubled your peace of mind. They were not appointed by us.”

“But now, it has seemed right to us in an assembly, to choose representatives and to send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. We send you then Judas and Silas who themselves will give you these instructions by word of mouth.”

“We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary : You are to abstain from blood from the meat of strangled animals and from prohibited marriages. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

After saying goodbye, the messengers went to Antioch, where they assembled the community and handed them the letter. When they read the news, all were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.

Friday, 17 May 2019 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the need for us to trust in God, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, He Who has come into this world to be our Saviour, to free us from our bondage to sin, and to liberate us from the power of death, as He has promised us all, and as He has delivered by His selfless and loving sacrifice on the Cross.

In the first reading today we listened from the Acts of the Apostles, about the message and truth which St. Paul delivered to the Jews in the city of Antioch in Pisidia, where the many of the Jewish people there hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to believe in the truth of Christ. And St. Paul still did not want to give up, as he reiterated before them yet again, the truth of God’s love and care for His people, that He has sent into this world, His own Begotten Son, to be our Saviour.

We are reminded therefore yet again that our hope and our trust should be in God alone, the One Who made everything possible for us. God has loved and cared for us so much that He has provided everything for us as He sent us the deliverance through His Son, Who did nothing less than baring down His own life and His own body to endure the painful torture and suffering of the Cross for our sake.

Through His Resurrection and triumphant victory over death, all of us have been brought to freedom and liberation from the power of sin and death, as His glory and resurrection show that not even the gates of hell and the power of death can chain Him. And He brought us all from the darkness into the new light and hope that He alone can provide us.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us truly have that genuine and strong faith in God, that commitment and devotion to Him, so that in our daily lives, we keep hold on God strongly and are able to live our lives in the way that He has shown and taught us to do? Let us all reflect on our own actions in life, whether we have walked in His path or whether we have rather put our hope in other things in this world.

And these things are distractions for us all, such as power, money, ambition, human and worldly glories, all the things that prevent us from being able to reach out to God and His saving grace. And many of us are currently trapped in these ambitions, as we are unable to get ourselves freed from the allures of those temptations and the pressure to conform to the norms and ways of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all reorientate ourselves and our lives towards God, and devote ourselves wholeheartedly from now on, so that in everything we do, in all of our actions and deeds, in all of our words and dealings, we will always put our hope and trust in God, in Him Who has willingly given us everything, and everything in the sense that He did not even hold back His own Son from us.

May the Lord continue to guide and bless us, and give us the courage and strength to carry out our lives from now on, with all sincerity and effort to be true disciples of the Lord. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 May 2019 : 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, 17 May 2019 : 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!