Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we continue to be reminded of the wonderful deeds of the Lord, the love by which He has showered upon us as the concrete proof of His dedication and commitment to the Covenant which He has forged with us, that He wants us to be reconciled and to be together with Him as we come closer to Him and receive His truth and love.

In our first reading today, we heard of the intervention by the respected member of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel, a senior member of the Pharisees and one of the chief priests who urged caution and moderation in terms of the Sanhedrin’s opposition to the works and the efforts of the Lord’s Apostles and followers in preaching His truth and doing miracles in His Name, as he cited how the previous attempts by false Messiahs to claim their identity had failed and their followers dispersed and disbanded shortly afterwards.

Therefore, Gamaliel said that they should leave the disciples and the Apostles be as if they and their mission did not come from God, then it would fail in a short while and everything would fall apart just as what had happened to all the other false Messiahs. On the contrary, if the works of the Apostles were truly divine inspired, then the Sanhedrin, no matter what they were doing, would be going against God and thus it would have been futile to try to stop the works of God.

Through those words of wisdom from Gamaliel, we can see how indeed the fact that the Church and the works of the Apostles that had persevered for the past two thousand years, and not only that, but as how the history of the Church had shown us, the works of the Apostles and their successors had expanded the reach of the Lord and countless souls had been saved all throughout these past two millennia, heeding the Lord’s call for repentance and to be reconciled to Him.

The Lord had gathered all of His faithful ones to Himself just as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that just as we heard the well-known account of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and thousands of other women and children, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have God Who is always ever on our side, loving us and wanting to be reconciled with us, and Who selflessly and ever willingly giving Himself to us.

In that moment when the Lord saw over five thousand men and thousands others gathered before Him, He showed pity and love for them, feeding them all miraculously with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. He broke the bread and shared the fishes, feeding them all just as He has fed their ancestors the manna in the desert. And that was only a prelude to an even far greater giving, that in the discourse that would come after this event, He alluded to how He would be the Bread of Life to all, as the Bread broken and shared for all, so that all who partake in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

That is how the Lord offered Himself and sacrificed Himself on the Cross, shedding His own Most Precious Body and Blood, for all of us who believe in Him, so that by sharing in His Precious Body and Blood, freely offered and given for us, we can share in the everlasting life and true joy and happiness which He has promised to all of us. He has showed us all His love and grace all these while, and how do we respond to this love from God, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Are we going to just pretend that His love did not exist? Or are we going to pretend that nothing had happened at all? God so loved the world, all of us that He has given us all His only begotten Son, for our sake that we may live and not perish, and yet, more often than not we have rejected Him, ignored Him, abandoned Him and betrayed Him. Yet, the Lord still patiently tries to reach out to us and help us, and He still wants to be reconciled with us.

Are we willing to embrace God’s love and mercy, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all harden our hearts and minds no more, and do our very best to seek Him at every possible opportunity, that we may come ever closer to Him and be more worthy to share in His glory and love. May God be with us all and may He strengthen us to live our lives with commitment and faith, with each and every passing moments in our lives. May God bless us all and guide us in our journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Friday, 9 April 2021 : Friday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 21 : 1-14

At that time, after Jesus appeared to Thomas and His disciples, He revealed Himself to them by the lake of Tiberias. He appeared to them in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas who was called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together; and Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They replied, “We will come with you.” And they went out and got into the boat, but they caught nothing that night.

When day had already broken, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus called them, “Friends, have you anything to eat?” They answered, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “Throw the net on the right side of the boat and you will find something.” When they had lowered the net, they were not able to pull it in because of the great number of fish.”

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” At these words, “It is the Lord!” Simon Peter put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and jumped into the water. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish; they were not far from land, about a hundred metres.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed into the boat and pulled the net to shore. It was full of big fish – one hundred and fifty-three – but, in spite of this, the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And not one of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” for they knew it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after rising from the dead.

Friday, 9 April 2021 : Friday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2 and 4, 22-24, 25-27a

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. Let Israel say, “His loving kindness endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His loving kindness endures forever.”

The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it. This is the day the Lord has made; so let us rejoice and be glad.

Save us, o Lord, deliver us, o Lord! Blessed is He Who comes in the Lord’s Name! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God; may His light shine upon us.

Friday, 9 April 2021 : Friday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 1-12

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them. They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming that resurrection from the dead had been proved in the case of Jesus.

Since it was already evening, they arrested them and put them in custody until the following day. But despite this, many of those who heard the Message believed and their number increased to about five thousand. The next day, the Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law assembled in Jerusalem. Annas, the High Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class were there.

They brought Peter and John before them and began to question them, “How did you do this? Whose Name did you use?” Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up, “Leaders of the people! Elders! It is a fact that we are being examined today for a good deed done to a cripple. How was he healed? You and all the people of Israel must know that this man stands before you cured through the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean.”

“You had Him crucified, but God raised Him from the dead. Jesus is the stone rejected by you the builders which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other Name given to humankind all over the world by which we may be saved.”

Friday, 2 April 2021 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the very important day of the Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, the day when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was crucified for our sake, when He took up His Cross up the hill of Calvary and died for all. It was all these that made today truly a ‘Good Friday’ because without the offering and selfless sacrifice of Our Lord, there would not have been any hope for us, and it was because of Him that we have seen the light of hope and salvation once again.

Today, on Good Friday we remember the Lord Who willingly emptied Himself of all glory, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father, stripping Himself of all dignity and glory so that He may bear the punishment for all of our sins, and by taking up all those with Him, He might offer a most perfect sacrifice, worthy for the redemption of all of us mankind, and for the atonement of our multitudes of sins. Today we remember God’s love that has manifested in the crucifixion, in a love so wonderful and selfless that He willingly endured all humiliation for us.

Through what the Lord had done that day, He has completed what He had begun the day earlier, in the Last Supper when He instituted the Holy Eucharist, giving His own Precious Body and Blood to be shared by the disciples. As we all just celebrated and remembered yesterday in the events of Holy Thursday, the Lord had the Passover meal with His disciples, in which He instituted the New Passover, one that no longer remembered the past event of how God rescued the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, but an even much greater event, that God has come to rescue all of His people from the slavery of sin.

At that Passover meal, we may have noticed yesterday that unlike the usual Passover meal of the Jewish Passover, where a lamb is slaughtered and eaten by the household, at the new Passover, the Lord offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, the Lamb of God to be slaughtered for all of us, to be the source of forgiveness for all of our sins and iniquities. This has been prophesied by many of the prophets, particularly that of the prophet Isaiah who spoke at length about the Messiah or Saviour Who would come into the world and Who would suffer persecution, rejection and death.

In comparison with the old Jewish Passover, the significance of the events of Good Friday together with the preceding events at the Last Supper cannot be underestimated or ignored. For at the old Passover, at the beginning of the meal, represented by the Last Supper, is the moment when the first of the four cups of wine is drunk, led by the father and head of the house, where the unleavened bread is taken out and eaten with the lamb as mentioned earlier, which is what the Lord Himself had done, offering His Body and Blood to His disciples in the bread and wine at the Last Supper.

Then, the second cup, the Cup of Proclamations and third, the Cup of Blessings was drunk afterwards, at the moment when the family spoke of the significance of the Passover, reminding the people and especially the young children on why the Passover was so important, for God has saved His people in the past through such great deeds from their certain destruction and annihilation. As indicated from the Scriptures and the accounts of the Last Supper, the last and fourth cup, the cup of Praise had not been drunk yet when the Lord and His three disciples went out of the meal and headed to the Gardens of Gethsemane.

That last cup, also known as the Cup of Consummation, was the cup that the Lord referred to in the Last Supper as of why He would not drink the fruits of the vine again until the coming of the kingdom of God, referring specifically to how the Passover meal, the New Passover He was bringing into this world, had not ended yet as of that night of the Last Supper, and instead would culminate on the Cross at Good Friday, with the death of the Lord as the completion of the New Passover. That was why at the Gardens of Gethsemane, when the Lord was in agony, He prayed that the ‘cup may pass Him by’ and yet, He remained firm in His obedience and dedication to His mission, no matter how tough and painful it would be.

When at the ancient, first Passover the lamb was slaughtered on the day of preparation for the Passover, it was on Good Friday that was the day before the Sabbath day, as has been noted in the Scriptures, that the Lord died on the day of the preparation for the Passover. Thus, indeed it was very symbolic and real how the Lord had chosen that very day to highlight how He was truly the Paschal Lamb, the One to be sacrificed for the salvation of all, the Lamb of the New Passover. While in Egypt, the Israelites used the blood of the lamb to mark the doors of their houses that they were spared the great plague of death coming upon Egypt, thus all of us have been marked by the Blood of the Lamb of God.

How is that then significant for us? It is significant because the Precious Blood that the Lord has shed sealed the New Covenant between us and God, reconciling us to Him, and bridging the gap that had once existed between us and Him. Through the Cross, by His Passion, His suffering and death, and importantly through His Resurrection, Christ has showed that there is hope beyond death, and there is the assurance of eternal life with God.

He has perfectly obeyed the will of the Father, to be the Mediator of the New Covenant between all of us and God. And as the New Adam, according to St. Paul the Apostle, Christ became the source of new life in God, bringing all mankind to a renewed life in grace. Just as the first Adam fell into sin by eating the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, out of desire and disobedience against God, falling into the temptations of Satan. Christ, the New Adam, persevered to the very end, nailed to another ‘tree’, that is the Cross, in full and perfect obedience to God, His Father.

Thus just as the first Adam led all mankind into sin, the New Adam, Christ, led all of us into the path out of the tyranny of sin, showing us that sin and death do not have the final say over us. For through His death and Resurrection, He proved that He truly is the Lord and Master of life and death, and that His grace is greater than sin and death. And that is why, He has willingly suffered for us that by uniting our humanity to Himself, we share in His death, death to our old, sinful selves, and then share in His glorious Resurrection, entering a new life and existence, with the promise of eternal life.

Hence, we should not treat the events that happened during this Easter Triduum as separate, unrelated events, but rather as one great event, the New Passover and the New Covenant that the Lord has established with us, beginning at the Last Supper, through Our Lord’s suffering and persecution, right through His crucifixion and completed through His death on the Cross. Through all these, right up to the events on Good Friday that we commemorate today, the Lord showed His mighty hands in delivering all of us His people from the tyranny of sin and the darkness of evil.

This is why on the Cross, as He was about to die, the Lord said, ‘I thirst’, and a mixture of sour and bitter wine was given to Him, symbolically showing the drinking of the Cup of Consummation, and the completion of the New Passover, which Christ spoke of as He said, ‘It is finished.’ Right after that very moment, the Lord gave up His Spirit and died, with the words, ‘Father, into Your hands, I commend My Spirit’ completing the sacrifice and offerings of the New Covenant and the New Passover.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all now look to the crucifix, to the Cross of Our Lord, bearing our Saviour Who had suffered and died for all of us. He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed and offered for us, as the perfect and worthy atonement for our sins. And He is also our High Priest, the Mediator of the New Covenant, just as Moses and Aaron once sealed the Covenant between God and Israel with the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the Altar. And thus, Christ, Our High Priest and the Lamb at the same time, offered Himself on the Altar of the Cross, to seal the New Covenant between us and God, and to be the source of healing and absolution for our many sins.

There, on the Cross, lies a reminder of the bloody and sorrowful offering of the Lamb of God, of God Who loved us so much that He is willing to suffer and die for us. And every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, brothers and sisters, we remember this very same sacrifice, for as I mentioned yesterday, on Holy Thursday, that the whole liturgy of the Eucharist in the Holy Mass is no less than the same sacrifice and offering, the same thing that happened two millennia ago, from the Last Supper to the Cross, from the moment that the Lord offered the bread and wine and turned them into His own Precious Body and Blood, and up to the completion of that Passover sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we focus ourselves on the very important events that happened on that day at Calvary, let us all bear in mind always how God loves us so much, that everything He had done and which we remember today, are for our sake and nothing else. Every time we sin and disobey God, let us remember that all those sins are what our Lord Himself bore on His Cross, the wounds He endured, and all the bitterness and humiliations He suffered, so that we may be forgiven and enter into a new life of grace through Him.

Let us all therefore unite our sufferings and ourselves to the Lord, through His crucifixion, His suffering and death. Let us all be truly ashamed of our many sins and all the things that we have done in contradiction to our Christian faith and calling, and in rebellion against God and His will. Let us not harden our hearts any longer, but seek our Lord, the Mediator of the New Covenant, that He may heal us through His Cross, and allow His outpoured Precious Blood to wash us clean and to purify us just as the saints and martyrs had purified themselves in the Blood of the Lamb.

As we all share and partake in the Holy Communion today, let us remember that we receive none other than the Lord Himself, the same Lord and the same sacrifice He made at Calvary, on the Altar of the Cross. The Eucharist we receive is the same crucified Lord and Saviour Who have marked us by His Blood, and bring us forth from the slavery to sin and bring unto us the New Passover, that we are ‘passed over’ from death into new life, which we will be further reminded on as we enter into the time of the glorious Resurrection in Easter.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all move forward in life, no longer looking back at sin and at all the wicked ways of the world, and instead, fill ourselves with the resolve and renewed conviction to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to glorify Him through our lives, our actions and deeds. May the Lord, our Crucified Messiah, Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, be with us always, and bless us all, His beloved ones, on this most good and wonderful day of our salvation, the salvation of His Cross. Amen.

Friday, 2 April 2021 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 4 : 14-16 and Hebrews 5 : 7-9

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation for those who obey Him.