Sunday, 22 April 2018 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, we celebrate together the occasion of the Good Shepherd Sunday, known as such because of the Gospel passage of the Fourth Sunday of Easter that is about the Lord as the Good Shepherd, as well as the occasion of the Vocation Sunday, where all of us pray together for the vocations to the priesthood and life dedicated to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is a very important one to us all in the Church, as all those who are priests and consecrated to God are the lifeblood of the Church, and an important part of God’s Church together with the laity. Without these courageous men who listened to God’s call and answered Him with concrete action, there would have been no Church to speak of today.

Why is that so? That is because they are called to follow in the example of the Lord, the Good Shepherd, Who loves us all His people. It was God’s love for us that had allowed His Church to exist and flourish, and it was God’s love, that He did not destroy us outright for our sins, but instead He gave us the opportunity to be forgiven and to be reconciled with Him.

All of the readings from the Scripture today speak of God’s love for us, which is great and its extent unimaginable. And He has often alluded to us, the love of a shepherd for the sheep, especially that of a good shepherd, the shepherd of the flock, and not of the hired men. The hired men would only care for the sheep for the money they received, and as soon as they had to do something beyond their obligations, or when they had to face danger to protect the sheep, they would flee.

On the other hand, the good shepherd would do all he could to protect the sheep, to go all the way to search for a lost sheep and to do all he could to make sure that the sheep is safe and sound. And as the Lord Himself mentioned, that a true and good shepherd knows all of his sheep, and the sheep know him. And that is exactly Who the Lord is, our Good Shepherd Who loves each and every one of us.

Obviously God loves each and every one of us, for it was He Who created us from nothingness and gave us life, for each one of us. God did not create us without a good reason, and that reason is that He wants to share with us His perfect love. God has no need for our love, as He Himself is already perfect in love and having perfect love in His Trinity, between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, united in perfect love to each other.

Yet, He wants to love us, and to show His care upon us, to all He has created, and foremost of all, mankind, whom He created in His very own image, and who are the pinnacle of His creation. God is ever loving upon us, whom He considers to be His own children. And why is that so? That is all the more because Christ, His begotten Son, has willingly taken up our existence as Man, that just as He is Son, we too are sons and daughters of God.

The relationship between sheep and shepherd is a very close one, like that of parent and child. Hence, God as our Good Shepherd is yet another reinforcement of the fact of just how great His love for us is. He is our loving Father, our Guardian, our Protector, our Shepherd and our King. And because of that, He is always concerned about us, and worried about us, just as shepherds are always wary of the threats facing their sheep.

And like all sheep, which sometimes like to wander off on its own, all of us, God’s sheep also like to wander off the path that God has shown us. We have disobeyed the commands and laws that God has given us, and preferring to follow our own path. This is where the devil tries to come in, to prey upon us, just like wolves preying on sheep. And he is always ready to snatch those who are lost and separated from the rest of the flock, leading us to our downfall.

That is why the devil is never at rest, constantly trying to get his hands on us, especially those who are most vulnerable to his tricks and lies, to the temptations and persuasions with which he had swayed countless souls from their way to heaven, into the path leading towards hell. The devil is ever active, sending out his agents, demons and evil spirits, to harass us and to drag us into the depths of hell with them.

Of course, the Lord in all these does not stay silent or inactive. If we think that He has done nothing to help us, then let us remind ourselves by looking upon He Who was crucified on the cross. He, our Good Shepherd, above all else, laid down His very life for us, enduring the worst sufferings and pains, far beyond what we mankind can ever imagine or comprehend, so that by those sufferings and by His death, He could save us from a certainty of death and damnation.

He has become the fulfilment of His own words, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” A good and committed shepherd would do everything in order to protect his sheep, and if necessary, they might even put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect the sheep from danger. That is what a true and good shepherd would have done, as he loved the sheep as much as himself.

God, Who is our Good Shepherd, has done exactly the same thing, and as all of us are His beloved sheep, who have been scattered and cast away from Him because of our sins, He came between us and damnation itself, by accepting the punishment for our sins, that though He died, all of us may live because of His ultimate sacrifice. And that is not the end, but instead, a new beginning, because He conquered death and sin, by His glorious resurrection.

Now Christ, our Good Shepherd and Risen Lord has shown us the way forward, and He appointed His disciples, from the Apostles to their successors, all the way to the priests and bishops of our present time, to be shepherds of His flock. And these shepherds model themselves after the Good Shepherd Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of them have worked tirelessly, all throughout the ages, to serve the people of God and the Church, caring for the needs of God’s people, the flock entrusted under their care, as shepherds.

And it is important that today, we remember to pray for our priests and bishops, all those who are our shepherds, that they will remain strong in their faith, conviction and commitment to the vocation into which God had called and confirmed them. And not just that, we should also help them and take part in the activities of the Church together, as our shepherds cannot do their works alone. And there are many threats facing them that we need to be aware of.

Just as the Lord, our Good Shepherd, gave His life to protect us and to bring salvation unto us, many of our priests and bishops had to devote themselves, even to the point of suffering and laying down their lives as martyrs, just so that more and more souls of man may be saved from eternal damnation. That is why we need to pray for them and assist them in whatever way we can.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, Satan knows that if he wants to gain access at us, God’s flock, he must first strike at the shepherds. That was exactly what he has been trying to do, and what he will continue to do. Assaults after assaults, temptations after temptations await our priests and bishops, all those whom God had called and chosen. Now, let us all help them, and help each other, united as one Church, that we strive and persevere through these challenges together.

May the Lord continue to watch over His servants, especially those whom He had made shepherds over His people, our priests and bishops. And may He call even more young men who are destined for a life of service and shepherdhood, that they may discern well and take up the cross, to continue the good works which the Apostles and their successors had done, in shepherding God’s flock and finding their way to Him. May God be with all of our priests, our bishops, and with all of us. Amen.

Saturday, 21 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that as a disciple and follower of the Lord, we have a lot of responsibilities in our lives as well as work to do, in facing occasions when we need to stand up for our faith facing the challenges and obstacles that will be on our path if we remain faithful to God.

In the first reading today, we heard of how the Apostle St. Peter travelled from place to place, preaching about the Lord and performing many miraculous works, healing people who were sick, infirm and disabled. Eventually, he also performed what many people thought was impossible, that is to return someone who had died, back into life. Yet, that had exactly happened, just as the Lord Jesus Himself brought Lazarus back to life.

In the Gospel passage, the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples regarding what they have heard Him teaching the people, on Himself as the Living Bread, the Bread of Life, by the giving of His own Body and by the outpouring of His own Blood, which in fact turned off many people who could not believe that someone would give His own Body and His own Blood for others to eat and drink.

They could not understand in their simple minds about the revelation which God had brought to them. To them it is inconceivable and impossible for a man to do as what the Lord Jesus had said, and they could not bring themselves to believe it. But that is because they were thinking in worldly terms and not in terms of God. Yet, that is the reality and the truth, just as a man and a girl who had died, could return to life once again, as the Lord Jesus and His Apostle, St. Peter had done.

As Christians, all of us stand by the Lord’s ways, which often may seem to be strange or even incomprehensible to those who live by the ways of the world. And as such, there may be occasions when we will be ridiculed, rejected and shunned by others, even by those who are close to us, because we stand by firmly to our faith in God and not following what is common to those in this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us ask ourselves, are we able to stand by the Lord faithfully in the same manner as the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had done? Are we able to commit ourselves in the same way as they had? Many people refused to believe what the Lord had said, left Him behind and went on their own way. But the disciples remained firm in their conviction and faith, despite of all that they have just experienced and heard.

What all of these are telling us, is the fact that as Christians, all of us will be tempted from all sides and sources, to abandon the Lord and to walk on their own path. But we have to persevere through all of these challenges and temptations, for should we fail to do so, what is at stake is nothing less than the fate of our eternal soul. And it is through Christ alone that we can reach out to the Lord and be saved.

Let us all look at the faith that our holy predecessor, St. Anselm of Canterbury had once shown, which became inspiration for many others. On this day, as we celebrate his feast and remember his actions, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, who faithfully served his flock and cared for the needs of all those who have been entrusted to him. He even resisted the secular authorities, of kings and nobles who tried to intrude into the governance of the Church.

For that, he had to endure opposition, persecution and exile. He had to endure painful suffering and opposition from the powerful lords and especially the king of England who wanted to make the Church in his domains subservient to his rule and whim. He struggled faithfully and remained firm in his faith, not giving in to the temptations or to the persuasions. In the end, the truth triumphed and St. Anselm shared in the glory of God’s Apostles and His saints.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all walk in the same path as walked by St. Anselm, in his faith and devotion, in his commitment and outreach, all the effort he had put in place to serve the people of God with faith. Let us all seek to be faithful at all times, and devote ourselves, our time and attention to be with God, to love Him with all of our strength, as we should, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 20 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the one who was once Saul, a great enemy of the Church and the bane of many of the faithful in the earliest days of the Church, and yet, later on would become the greatest champion and defender of the faith. St. Paul’s story of conversion to the faith is truly an inspiration to all of us.

Why is that so? That is because we are all sinners like St. Paul, and we have once been without hope and wicked, just as Saul had been. We may think that we are unworthy of God, and that we are far away from God and His salvation. But we should not forget the fact that God wants each and every one of us to be saved, by accepting the forgiveness and mercy He has given us freely and generously.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what God has wanted to do with us, to love us and to reconcile us to Himself. And He has done it through the ultimate giving of Himself, that He gave us everything, even His very own life. From the cross came outpoured the gift of ultimate love and grace, by the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb of God, the giving of His own Flesh and Blood, the Living Bread that came down from heaven.

That is what the Lord meant when He said in our Gospel passage today, that He is the Living Bread, by Whom all of us mankind, God’s own beloved people, would be saved and receive eternal life. He gave us through the Apostles and their successors, His Real Presence in the Eucharist, that in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, the bread and the wine we offer, become truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord, which we then partake as one family of the Church.

The Lord Himself has chosen to dwell among us, as one of us, sharing our humanity, and now, He has chosen to commit Himself even deeper, by choosing to dwell within us, as we partake His Real Presence, His Body and Blood, and thus, the Lord Himself is in us, in our bodies, our minds, our hearts, in our whole being. We are therefore, God’s Holy Temple, as St. Paul himself had written in one of his Epistles.

And because of that, we need to be aware that we have to do our best to make ourselves worthy to be God’s own dwelling house. The Temple of God in Jerusalem at the time of Solomon was decorated with the most precious metals and riches of the world, just as it was at the time of Jesus, to show just how glorious God was, and how mighty He was, and that we mankind were trying our best to glorify Him in whatever way we could do.

Then, should it not be the same with each one of us? As Christians who have received baptism, and shared in the same Body and Blood given to us by Our Lord Jesus, all of us are God’s Holy Temple, in the entirety of our being, our bodies, our minds, hearts and souls. Yet, many of us treat our body and our being with such contempt and lack of respect for its status as God’s Temple and dwelling amongst us.

Therefore, we are all called, that from now on, we may do our best in order to treat ourselves and our whole being as God’s worthy House, dwelling in us by the Real Presence in the Eucharist which we partake together at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostle, who devoted all of his time to serve the Lord, turning away from all of his sinful ways and past history of persecuting the people of God.

Let us all remember that there is always hope for all of us sinners, as long as we are willing to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy in our lives. Let us all commit ourselves to good and honest Christian lives from now on, turning our attention fully to the Lord. May He be with us always, and may He continue to guide our actions and bless us all the days of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 19 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter, Thirteenth Anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff and Leader of the Universal Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles the story of the conversion of an Ethiopian official or envoy by St. Philip as he was on his way back to his Ethiopian homeland. St. Philip explained the meaning of the Scripture passage which the official was reading, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, that foretold the suffering of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus crucified.

St. Philip revealed the truth to the official, and his explanation awakened the faith in the heart of the Ethiopian official, who came to believe in the Lord Jesus and in the salvation that He brought into the world. Thus, he opened his heart and mind, and bared his soul before the Lord, requesting the Apostle to baptise him right there and then at a spring along the way. Later on, he would bring the faith to his homeland, and probably, made more converts there.

Thus, that was how God did His marvellous works, calling on people from various nations and from different backgrounds, to become His disciples and followers. The Apostles themselves were called from different origins and backgrounds, as some were sinners, some were fishermen, and still there were tax collector and delinquents counted among them. God called them from their past lives and occupations and made them His servants.

In the Gospel passage today, all of us heard about the Lord Jesus revealing Himself as the Living Bread Who has come down from heaven, sent from God Our Lord, to reveal unto us the truth about Himself. God Himself had sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour and as the source of all our hope. Once we have been dejected and without hope, but now because of Christ and all that He had done for us, He has given us a new hope and light to follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on these words which we have heard and received from the Scriptures. How have we, as Christians, been faithful to God? Have we been like the Apostles and the disciples, who braved suffering, prison, torture, rejection, ridicule, and even death for the sake of the Lord. They remained strong in their conviction and faith despite all that they had to face for His sake.

It was their exemplary faith which had inspired many more people to turn towards the Christian faith, to believe in God Who has guided His disciples and Apostles to preach in His Name and deliver the truth to all mankind. The Holy Spirit guided their actions and helped in their words, that many were turned to the Lord and repented from their sins. They have received the truth from God Himself, and received the Body and Blood which the Lord had given them willingly from the altar of His cross.

Therefore, they were filled with courage and strength, to carry out the mission entrusted to them, to bring the salvation of God to all the peoples, of all the races and all of the nations. Now, all of us Christians are entrusted with the same mission, to continue the good works of the Apostles and the holy saints and martyrs who had gone before us. But, are we able to commit the same commitment as the Apostles had done before?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to a renewed faith and a new life, that if once we have been unfaithful and lacking in our faith, then now, we can renew our commitment to live in accordance to the Lord’s will. Let us all seek to be ever more faithful and be closer to the Lord, day after day. May the Lord bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the story of the works of the Apostles, who went about from places to places, as exemplified by St. Philip, who went to the northern region of Samaria to preach to the people living there about the Lord Jesus Christ and His truth. The Church was still growing rapidly at that time, and more and more people came to believe in God, despite, at the same time, a vigorous persecution was launched against them by Saul, a fanatical Pharisee who was zealously and firmly against Jesus and His teachings.

The Apostles and the disciples of the Lord faced a great persecution and opposition from many of the Pharisees, and from many members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Council, many of whose members had once also opposed the Lord Jesus. Nonetheless, despite the challenges they encountered, and all the obstacles they had to go through, if we read on throughout the Acts of the Apostles, we will realise just how devoted they were to the mission entrusted to them.

But why, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why did the followers of the Lord as described in the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters that St. Paul and the other Apostles wrote had been so brave and courageous in their faith, and in how they stood up for their faith? What gave them such a great encouragement and energy, the strength and power to carry out such a mission?

The answer can be found in our Gospel passage today, in the truth which the Lord Jesus revealed to the people in one of His teachings. He said that He is the Bread of Life Who has come down from heaven, and not like any earthly bread or even the bread of manna with which the Lord fed the Israelites in the past, but the true Food and sustenance for all of us, God’s beloved people.

He gave all of those who believe in Him, His own Body and His own Blood, to be our sustenance, that all of those who share in His Body and Blood will never be in want ever again, and they will be truly satisfied and joyful, for the Lord Himself dwells in them and is with them. The Lord has given us everything, and He has given us all His love, poured down from the cross, a perfect and selfless love by which He cared for each and every one of us.

And as He said, those who eat and drink of the Body and Blood He gave, worthily and with faith, He will save and they will not perish. This is a good reminder for us all, especially when it is at a time when we realise what will happen to us should we choose to commit ourselves to the Lord in the same way, just as the Apostles and the followers of the Lord had done. The challenges and the tribulations they had to face were numerous, and so will ours be.

But those who place their trust in the Lord will not be disappointed, and those who worthily welcomed the Lord into their lives will have God on their side at all times. He will never abandon them, and they can be assured of His continued support. Those who put their trust in the world and in worldly things are those who are unable to look further beyond their immediate concerns and desires, and hence, they chose poorly for the wrong decision in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, shall we all devote ourselves anew to the Lord, that we do our very best, to spend more and more time with the Lord, and to draw closer to Him? Let us all reorientate our lives, our focus and our attention, that while once we might have been lukewarm in our faith, now we live a renewed existence in God, with a new zeal and with a new conviction, to stand up for our faith just as the Apostles had once done.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen in us our faith, that we may always persevere despite the challenges we may encounter in life, and regardless of the temptations to abandon the Lord, Our loving God. May God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the story of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, who died defending his faith in the Lord. He pointed out just how stubborn the people of God had been throughout time, having disobeyed the Lord and refused to listen to the words and reminders He had given them through His messengers and prophets.

In the same manner, therefore, they had also refused to believe in the Lord Jesus, even though the Lord and Saviour of the world had done all that He could to persuade them to believe, including performing numerous wonders and works among them, casting out demons and healing the sick, feats and works that are impossible in the hands of men, but perfectly possible for God.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus told the people yet another blatant truth about Himself, which they refused to believe, even though that was what the Lord truly had done for them. In that, we are reminded of the centre tenet of our faith and Christian belief, that we believe in God, Who has willingly given us His own Body and Blood, given to us freely as food and sustenance, just as much as He has fed His people Israel for forty years during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

Yet, the people of Israel refused to believe in God, and even though He had shown them much love, by providing all that they needed along the way, and protecting them from their enemies, they still became wayward and rebelled against Him, even to the point of worshipping the pagan idols and false gods abhorrent to Him. God has been so kind to them, and yet, they abused His love and rejected Him.

That was what they had done to the Lord Jesus and to His Apostles as well. And what had happened to St. Stephen, had also happened to numerous other followers of the Lord. They have been persecuted, facing arrest and also torture in order to stand up to their faith, defending what they held to be right against all those who refused to believe in God and in His truth. And all of these were due to the stubbornness in the hearts of men, who refused to submit to God.

Now, are we going to go the same way as those rebellious generations who have disobeyed God and His commandments? Are we going to follow in their footsteps? We have to realise that all of these disobediences are caused by our own inability to resist the temptation to follow our desires, our greedy nature and our pride. We refuse to believe in God because we think that we know it better and we want things to go according to our way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on our lives. Thus far, have we been disobedient and deliquent in our ways? Have we been wayward in our dealings and interactions with one another? These are some of the important questions that we need to ask our lives. However, we must also realise that there is a need for us to take action with our lives, by doing our very best to live in accordance to the Lord’s ways, even if that end up meaning that we have to go against the world.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that this world offers us many tempting and pleasurable things, that are indeed very tempting for us to follow through. However, we have to be farsighted, looking beyond what is immediately ahead of us. The path that the Lord offers us is more difficult and challenging, and certainly it is not a most enticing and encouraging one. And we must always be mindful that Satan is always out there, actively trying to sway us from finding our path towards God’s salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep this in mind as we carry on with our respective lives. Let us all commit ourselves wholeheartedly, devoting our time, effort and attention in order to stand up to our faith, just as St. Stephen and all the other holy saints and martyrs of God had done, all those who had gone before us and showed us how to be truly faithful to God.

Let us all therefore, persevere in our faith, that whatever it is that the devil is trying to do, in order to confuse us and to lure us away from God’s salvation, we will be able to resist them, as we look forward to our true inheritance, which God alone can give, that is the true joy and happiness, glorious together with Him. May God be with us all, and may He guide us all in our journey, that we will be able to overcome the world, and turning back on our sins, we may be made worthy of eternal glory in Him Who loves us all. Amen.

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened from our first reading, taken from the book of the Acts of the Apostles, about what had happened to St. Stephen, one of the seven first deacons to be chosen by the Apostles, who was also the very first martyr of the Church. As he performed his works among the people and teaching about the Lord Jesus and His salvation, those who were opposed to the Lord and His teachings came after St. Stephen and harassed him.

Nonetheless, even though they brought false witnesses against Him, just as much as they have also done against the Lord, St. Stephen spoke with great wisdom and clarity, defending the Lord with zeal and devotion. He pointed out how God had done so many great things and good deeds for His people throughout the ages, right from the beginning of time, towards the time of Abraham, and then Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, and then to the time of the prophets, but the people refused to turn away from their sins and repent.

Instead, they doubled down on their sins, and they rejected the Saviour Whom God had sent into their midst, Jesus Christ, Whose life and works St. Stephen was testifying on at that time before the Sanhedrin. And we saw later on, how these words further angered St. Stephen and made them to seize the holy servant of God, and stoned him to death. Thus, St. Stephen became the first martyr of the Church.

St. Stephen showed us that there will be challenges facing those who keep their faith firmly in God, as he himself had done. St. Stephen reminded us that if we want to follow the Lord and be His true disciples and servants, then we must first of all, believe in God and in all of His teachings, in all of our ways, in all of the words we utter, in all the actions we take and which we do in our daily lives, in how we interact with one another.

And if we truly believe in Him, and not just merely having a superficial faith, then all of us should be ready to defend our faith just as St. Stephen has done. No, it does not mean that we should all purposefully and intentionally seek martyrdom and death in God, but rather, we must be firm in our conviction and desire to live our lives faithfully and in full obedience to God’s will, regardless of what persuasions and temptations we meet in our lives may convince, persuade or even force us to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how many of us truly believe in God with all of our heart, our mind and our strength? How many of us are truly convinced that God’s ways are the way forward for us, and not that of our own? If we are true Christians, then we should indeed put God as the clear priority of our lives, turning towards Him in all of our ways and dealings, and turning away from sin.

But, the sad reality is that, many of us are so busy and so preoccupied with worldly concerns, for our needs, wants and desires in this world that we end up being distracted from God. Our priority in life is not God, but instead, the desire and pursuit for money, for success, for worldly prestige and honour, for sexual pleasures and for satisfaction of our ego and greed.

That is why so many of us have distanced ourselves from God, and unless we do something concrete in our lives, now and not delaying any further, we will end up falling into damnation in hell, when it is too late for us to turn back and regret all that we have done wrongly in our lives. Let us all therefore, spend time and effort to be more faithful to God, that each and every one of us, by our words, actions and deeds can be inspiration for one another, and also for all those who have yet to receive God’s salvation, that they too may be saved.

May the Lord bless us all and all of our endeavours, our good works and commitment to Him. May He strengthen us day after day, that we will always be faithful to the commandments and laws of God, and that we will always put God as our first and foremost priority before everything else just as St. Stephen, holy deacon and martyr had done. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.