Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Seventh Sunday of Easter we mark also the occasion of the World Communications Sunday, through which our Scripture passages today highlight to us the need for us to be involved in the outreach and evangelisation mission and efforts of the Church, and we also keep in mind at the same time all those who are involved in the field of communications especially those who are in the work of communication on behalf and as part of the Church. Communication is truly a very important aspect of our faith, and all of us need to understand its significance.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the discussion which the Apostles had in deciding what to do with the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, after the traitor chose to betray the Lord that led to the Lord’s arrest, and eventually killed himself in regret for what he had done. As such, one of the seats of the Twelve Apostles had been vacated, and in order to make the Twelve once again complete, they discerned and discussed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to choose from among the disciples, who was to be the one fit to be the twelfth Apostle.

Eventually, St. Matthias was chosen to be the twelfth Apostle, and therefore, the number of the Twelve Apostles was once again complete. If we are wondering why it is so important that the Twelve Apostles ought to be complete, then we must understand that the Twelve Apostles were those whom the Lord had chosen to be His own most trusted ones, to be the pillars of the Church that He has established in this world, of which St. Peter then also served as the foundation, the ‘Rock’ of the Church, on which Christ has built His Church.

The Lord has also showed His love for them and prayed for them as we heard in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how before the Lord was about to embark on His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, He prayed for all of His disciples, that they would be kept together and as one people, one Church, one body of disciples, and not to be lost from God. He prayed for them that they may be consecrated in the truth, to be holy and dedicated to the mission which they had been entrusted with, that they would be the ones to steer the Church through the challenging and difficult times that the faithful would encounter.

And this prayer that the Lord Jesus made to His Father for the sake of the disciples, just as the Apostles during their decision to add St. Matthias to the ranks of the Twelve, are examples of how communication is such an important aspect and part of our faith. We cannot be a true Christian unless we open ourselves to the Lord first and foremost, to communicate with Him regularly and to know His will, and to communicate with Him genuinely, listening to one another, the best method of which is through prayer, for prayer is the most intimate communication we have with God, our loving Father and Creator.

The Apostles prayed before they made any decisions, during the time when the made the decision to replace the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, during the time when they discerned regarding other important matters pertaining to the Church, as well as when they sent out the Apostles and disciples such as when they prayed over St. Paul and St. Barnabas and sent them to minister to the Gentiles. They prayed for the Lord’s guidance and for the Holy Spirit to come down upon those whom the Lord has chosen and sent to be His missionaries and workers.

Whenever the Church does things, they always pray before anything, and prayer is truly a very integral part of our faith, that in all things, we have to stay connected and united with God, staying in touch and communicating with Him. And we also pray and ask for the intercessions of the saints, from Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, her Spouse and the Apostles, saints and martyrs. Each and every one of these saints intercede and pray for us, and they still stay in communion with us, communicating with us and never forgetting about us who are still in this world, and as they are nearer to God than us, they pray with even greater efficacy and contact with the Lord, on our behalf.

That is why, it is important that each and every one of us as Christians stay connected to the Lord through prayer and through love. Through various means we should build and sustain our relationship with Him, just as we should also build and sustain our relationships with one another, with our fellow brothers and sisters. A genuine relationship takes time and effort to be built and maintained, and we need to learn how to be good communicators, not just in words but also in various other means. A good communicator does not necessarily have to speak a lot, and what matters is how well we deliver our thoughts clearly as much as possible.

That is why the most effective prayer is often not the longest and the best phrased or verbose ones. On the contrary, the best prayers came from the heart, from deep within our heart and soul filled with true love for the Lord, and with deep longing for His truth. That is the true way of communication between us and God, one between our hearts and His most loving Heart, and not with our brains and mouth only as many had often mistakenly done with their prayers. Prayer is not a litany of requests or worse still, demands that we make of the Lord, thinking that God is One Who can solve all of our problems.

And within the Church, there is also much need for great communication as well, as mentioned by St. John in his Epistle, which is our second reading today, in which the Apostle spoke about how the Lord and His love has been given to us most generously and wonderfully, manifesting through none other than by the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son, adopting the flesh and essence of Man, entering into this world to make the love of God no longer something intangible and invisible, but now having become visible in full through His sacrifice on the Cross.

God communicated His love to all of us through His appearing in our midst, the Love of God made Flesh, and by His actions, He has truly communicated His love and true intention towards us, that while He is our Lord and Master, He is also our loving Father, and while He chastises us for our sins and wickedness, He also shows mercy and compassion, and the desire to be reconciled with us. That He is God Who is not distant and unapproachable, but instead a loving and most caring God Who is always approachable and filled with genuine love and care towards us, at all times.

Having revealed all these through Christ, He made Himself visible, that we may witness Him, know Him, understand Him, touch Him, and get close to Him. And even when He has ascended into Heaven, He reassured all of us that we are never alone, for He is always with us, as He sent us the Holy Spirit to be our strength and guide, to lead us to the right path in life. And through His giving of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist, that we receive at the celebration of the Holy Mass, we share in His Presence, that exists within each and every one of us.

And now that we should have realised just how God had communicated His love and intentions very clearly to us, all these while, then all of us are called and challenged to show the same kind of love, care and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters. And this is exactly what He has commanded and taught us as Christians to do, to love Him first and foremost, and then to love one another in the same way. That is the essence of what being a Christian is all about. And yet, there are many Christians who are still acting in ways contrary to the faith, and there are many who scandalised the faith by showing selfishness and hatred instead of love as they should.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Seventh Sunday of Easter and the World Communications Sunday, we are all called to be genuine communicators, be it in our relationship with God or in our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters. We should begin from ourselves and from within our own small circle of family and friends, and from those whom we interact with and encounter in life. Let us ask ourselves and think if we have shown them the love as expected of us, or whether we have instead ignored them or even hate them, all this time.

Being Christians means that we are called to follow in the examples and in the footsteps of the Lord in how He has cared for us, showed His love so genuinely and communicated all these to us clearly. We should therefore also build up our relationship with Him, leading a better, more prayerful life, and at the same time, show more love towards our fellow men. If we have held grudges or hatred, or any other negative emotions in our hearts, let us learn to forgive and to communicate our desire to love and forgive those who have hurt us and made our lives difficult clearly.

Let us be genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith, by showing more love in our actions in life, and in how we interact with our fellow brethren. It is by our actions that people will truly know that we belong to the Lord and not by mere empty faith alone. And through us and our actions, we can inspire ever more and more people to come and follow the Lord as well, to believe in Him and His truth, and it is our mission as Christians to proclaim the Lord and His truth, and the best way is by leading a good and exemplary Christian life as best as we are able to, and to communicate our faith through real, concrete and genuine actions.

That means, we should not be hypocrites who profess to believe in the Lord and yet act in a different manner, so as to contradict or scandalise our faith. And neither should we also be ignorant or passive in how we live our lives as Christians. We should step up to the opportunities that the Lord has given us to reach out to more and more people. This is how we fulfil our Christian obligations, and the mission God has entrusted to each and every one of us. Let us challenge ourselves to seek the Lord ever more wholeheartedly with each and every passing moments.

Let us lastly also remember to pray for those who have devoted themselves in the field of communication, especially those working hard to establish the reach of the Church through various forms of the media, including the social media. May the Lord be with them, and may He also strengthen and encourage us all to walk faithfully, and to be good witnesses of our faith in the Lord and be ever more prayerful and better in our relationship with Him, now and always. May God bless us all and our every endeavours and efforts, for His greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 11b-19

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “Holy Father, keep those You have given Me in Your Name, so that they may be one, as we also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in Your Name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this, the Scripture was fulfilled. And now I come to You; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom You gave Me, might have joy – all My joy within themselves.”

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world, I do not ask You to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

“I have sent them into the world as You sent Me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 11-16

Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God and God in him.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

YHVH has set His throne in heaven; He rules; He has power everywhere. Praise YHVH, all you His Angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 15-17, 20a, 20c-26

It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community – about one hundred and twenty in all – and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry.”

“In the Book of Psalms it is written : ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to His resurrection.”

Then they proposed two : Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed : “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two You have chosen to replace Judas in this Apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.”

Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven Apostles.

Saturday, 15 May 2021 : 6th 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 Scripture we are all told that the Lord has revealed His truth to us through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour. Through Him, the Lord has revealed what His desire is for all of us, the promise of eternal life and happiness with Him, through which He has called on all of us to be turned into a people of the Light, to be saved and freed from the chains of sin and evil that had bound us all these while.

The Lord said to His disciples in our Gospel passage today that He shall reveal everything to them, and in due time the truth would all be revealed, and all would know everything that He has brought into our midst, the whole truth of God’s love and wonderful grace. He also said how He would go to the Father and ascending to Him, referring to His Ascension after He has risen from the dead. Thus, all these then has been fulfilled when He ascended into Heaven at the fortieth day after His glorious Resurrection.

And while He has ascended into Heaven, He did not leave all of His faithful ones behind without any guidance or help. On the contrary, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has not just revealed the fullness of His truth, but also gave great wisdom and guidance to all of His disciples and followers, encouraging and strengthening them all at the time of a great trial and a most challenging and crucial moment, as the faithful were facing great opposition from the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council and its members of authority.

Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the many other disciples began to establish a firm foundation of the Church as they went from many places to places, spreading the words of truth and the Good News of God to more and more people, to the Jews and the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people alike. More and more became convinced to follow the Lord and to entrust themselves to Him, and as we heard in our first reading today, the Church expanded greatly due to the efforts of St. Paul and others like the charismatic Jewish preacher named Apollos.

Apollos was likely one of the followers or even a disciple of St. John the Baptist, as it was mentioned that he was only familiar with the teachings and the baptism of St. John. He was eloquent and very charismatic, and made a large following among the Jewish diaspora throughout many parts of the Mediterranean. As mentioned in today’s first reading, some of the women among the believers, Priscilla and Aquila, both of whom were Roman names and were therefore Romans, noticed that Apollos did not have the fullness of truth that they themselves had received from the Apostles.

As a result then, we heard the very curious and interesting encounter, how two Gentile women, Priscilla and Aquila, revealed the fullness of truth to Apollos, a Jew, which was quite unusual in those early days of the Church, as the Apostles and most of the earliest disciples of the Lord were Jewish, and initially there were only few disciples from among the Gentiles. However, thanks to the efforts of St. Paul and other disciples who went on missionary journeys with him, as well as the efforts from others, many Gentiles came to accept the faith and the Holy Spirit descended on all of them as well.

We see here the great beauty of the Church, how its members help one another to seek the truth of God, sharing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to those who have not yet known the Lord and His truth, just as Priscilla and Aquila revealed the truth to Apollos, whom having received the truth and enlightenment, then went on to proclaim the truth as most courageous missionary of the Christian faith to more and more people, bringing even more souls back to the Lord and His salvation.

Through all these we have heard today from the Scriptures, we are therefore reminded as those who have received the truth of the Lord, His love and salvation through the Church, that each and every one of us have also been called to be evangelising and missionary disciples of the Lord, that is to proclaim His truth and Good News at every possible opportunity. It does not mean that we need to go to foreign and faraway places as the Apostles had done all those years ago, or that we have to do amazing and wonderful actions.

Instead, it is at our every little and small actions that we glorify the Lord, through our sincere and most genuine efforts, in showing our faith by our actions, committed to the Lord, in walking down through His path and obeying His commandments, in showing love for Him above all other things, and in showing the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, especially to those who are in need for love and compassion, mercy and help. We are all called to do our best at even the smallest opportunity, working together so that through all of our actions, we may come to glorify the Lord all the more.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us with the courage and the guidance, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, which we have received, and share as the members of the same one Church of God. Let us all devote ourselves, our efforts and attention, to serve the Lord at all times, to be good Christians not just in name only but also in our words, actions and deeds, at all times. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 15 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 23b-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. So far you have not asked in My Name; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full.”

“I taught you all this in veiled language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak in veiled language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. When that day comes, you will ask in My Name; and it will not be for Me to ask the Father for you, for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and you believe that I came from the Father.”

“As I came from the Father, and have come into the world, so I am leaving the world, and going to the Father.”

Saturday, 15 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 8-9, 10

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

The leaders of the nations rally together with the people of the God of Abraham. For in His hands are the great of the earth, God reigns far above.

Saturday, 15 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 18 : 23-28

After spending some time at Antioch, Paul left and travelled from place to place through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. A certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived at Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and an authority on the Scriptures, and he had some knowledge of the way of the Lord.

With great enthusiasm he preached and taught correctly about Jesus, although he knew only of John’s baptism. As he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila heard him; so they took him home with them and explained to him the way more accurately.

As Apollos wished to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly strengthened those who, by God’s grace, had become believers, for he vigorously refuted the Jews, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

Friday, 14 May 2021 : Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of one of the Lord’s great Apostles, namely St. Matthias, the one who was chosen as Apostle and as member of the Twelve Apostles to replace Judas Iscariot, who was the one that betrayed the Lord to the chief priests, and subsequently killed himself in grief, as noted in the Acts of the Apostles passage today in our first reading. The other Apostles had also abandoned the Lord and fled in fear when the Lord Jesus was arrested, and St. Peter also denied Him not once but three times.

However, what made the actions of Judas Iscariot to be different is that while the other Apostles returned to Him and were reconciled to Him, as especially illustrated by the encounter between Jesus and His Apostles and disciples at the Lake of Galilee after He has risen from the dead. St. Peter was called by the Lord, Who then asked him, ‘Peter, do you love Me?’, not only once but three times, at which each time, St. Peter reaffirmed his love and dedication to his Lord and Master, ‘Lord, You know that I love You.’ And through these words, the Lord did not only forgive St. Peter and the other Apostles, but also then entrusted them with the care of His faithful people.

Judas Iscariot did not have the faith in the Lord, and instead gave in to despair and regret, to fear and doubt, and he took his own life as a result. He did not trust in the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness, and allowed Satan to make him in the first place, the instrument of betrayal by which the Son of Man would be betrayed and handed over to the chief priests and the Pharisees. He had the free will to choose his course of actions, but he chose to follow his desires and temptations, and to side with his fears and despair, rather than to trust in the Lord.

Hence, as the Apostles decided in the first reading today, chaired by St. Peter, the place once occupied by Judas Iscariot had to be replaced, as their number of twelve was not just a mere number. For twelve is a truly significant number, representing the number of the sons of Israel and henceforth later on, the twelve tribes of Israel. And as seen in the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelations, the Twelve Apostles will sit on the twelve seats of judgment representing these twelve tribes, as a symbol of the unity of God’s people, with the Apostles as its pillars, for the Church is indeed the new Israel, the new chosen people of God, formed from all peoples from all the nations.

St. Matthias was chosen from among those who had followed the Lord from the beginning, to fill the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, and hence he became the twelfth Apostle, who then was instrumental in the efforts of the early Church in expanding and establishing the firm foundations of the faith in various places, as all the Apostles went on journeys and trips to the many countries and places to proclaim the faith to more and more people who had not yet known the Lord and His truth. St. Matthias went to the region of Asia Minor, to Cappadocia and areas around the Caspian Sea, and then as far as Ethiopia.

According to some Apostolic traditions, St. Matthias was martyred in either Ethiopia, where he was stoned to death for his works and efforts by the pagans, or in Jerusalem itself by the local populace, who stoned him and then beheaded him for his commitment to the Lord and for his fearless preaching of the truth of God. Nonetheless, regardless of the details of his martyrdom, what is certain about St. Matthias is that he is truly a devoted servant of God, a great Apostle who had laid the firm foundation of the Church and the Christian faith in many places, and became the source of inspiration for many people.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate today this great feast in honour of one of Our Lord’s great Apostles, we are called to remember St. Matthias’ great commitment and love for the Lord, his passion in spreading the truth of the Gospel and all that he had done for the sake of all the faithful. And all of us should be inspired by his courageous example and faith, and doing the very best in our own lives to glorify the Lord by our lives and by our faith.

As Christians, all of us are the ones who have been entrusted to continue the great works and efforts which have been begun by the Apostles, to reach out to more and more people, and to lead more and more to the salvation in God. This is the same mission which our Lord has entrusted to His Apostles, including St. Matthias, and this mission is still far from being done, and on the contrary, it is still ever ongoing, with more and more people are in need of the Lord’s truth and light, and how many still do not yet truly know the Lord.

It is up to us then to be the bearers of this truth, and we can do this by being good role models of our faith in our own respective communities, in our own families and among our own relatives, within our own circles of friends and among those who are acquainted to us, lastly even to the strangers whom we meet and encounter in each and every moments of our lives. Even in the small and little actions, words and things we do in our lives, in what may seem to be insignificant, in truth, we all are being witnesses to the Lord among all those whose lives we have touched and even influenced, often without us realising it.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we then going to do in order to fulfil the mission and the commandments that the Lord has entrusted to us? Are we going to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him and to His cause? Or are we going to pretend that we have no responsibility or anything to do with our faith? As Christians, we are all called to be active in living up our faith, and we should therefore discern very carefully how we are going to live our lives from now on in accordance to God’s will. This is what we should do, brethren, and what we are all called to be as part of our baptism.

Let us all therefore be inspired by the faith and examples of the Holy Apostles, especially that of St. Matthias, in entrusting ourselves to God and in following His will and commandments, wholeheartedly devoting ourselves to serve Him each and every moments of our lives. Let us all be inspired by the zeal and courage of all of our holy predecessors, the innumerable saints and martyrs through which we may also follow in their footsteps in glorifying the Lord and in revealing His truth and light more and more in our darkened world today.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, giving us the courage and will to persevere in our own vocations and calling in life, to be faithful in our lives that through us many more people may find their way to the Lord and His salvation. May God bless us all in our many good works and endeavours, in our efforts for His greater glory. Amen.