Thursday, 9 April 2020 : Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this night we begin the solemn three days of great celebration and commemoration of the most important events in the history of the salvation of all mankind, collectively called the Easter Triduum. On this night we remember that Last Supper which the Lord Jesus had with His disciples, as He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is why today’s celebration is truly very significant, as it established one of the core tenets of our faith, believing that the Lord has given us His own Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, the bread and wine turned into this Body and Blood of the Lord.

Today’s important celebration cannot be overlooked as we have the Lord Jesus, as the Eternal High Priest of all, offering His own Body and Blood, in the form of bread and wine He had at the Last Supper, the very first Sacrifice of the Mass, lifted up as offering to God the Father, and which is turned into the essence and substance of His own Body and Blood offered on the Altar of the Cross at Calvary, where this Sacrifice is finally completed. The Lord Jesus Himself indicated this just before He was about to die with the words, ‘It is accomplished’.

On this day, we also remember the ‘Mandate’ from the Lord to His disciples, which is the reason why today is also known as Maundy Thursday, the word ‘Maundy’ originating from the Latin word ‘Mandatum’ which means ‘Mandate’ and commission that the Lord had given to His disciples, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. That we practice the custom of the washing of the feet during the Mass today came about from the action that the Lord Himself took, as He humbled Himself like a servant, even a slave, before His disciples and washed their feet.

This is something which only a slave would do to his master, and that was why St. Peter was so reluctant to accept that the Lord would do such a denigrating and humiliating thing before his own eyes. Yet, the Lord told him to obey, and to follow, as in the end, whatever He has done to them, they were to do to each other as well. What this means is that, just as the Master has loved His disciples that is all of us so much, that He was willing to do everything for us, then we too should love one another in a genuinely Christian way and show authentic love, care and compassion.

Through this institution of the Holy Eucharist today, the Lord has established the institution of priesthood as well, as He instituted and made His own disciples to be priests just like Him as the High Priest. To them, He has given the power and authority to celebrate and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as He has done, which is why He also commanded them to ‘Do this in the memory of Me’. Every time the Holy Mass is celebrated, it is not a new sacrifice being celebrated, but the same sacrifice which our Lord has offered on the Cross.

That is why we all truly believe that the bread and wine offered in the Mass has been completely transformed and changed in essence and substance to the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, although their appearance may still be that of bread and wine. We believe that by the hands of our priests, who have received the same power and authority passed onto them from the Apostles and their successors, our bishops, we have received the Lord Himself, Body and Blood, in the Eucharist.

Today therefore we are called to reflect on this great gift of God for us, that He has willingly shed His own Body and Blood that we who partake in the Body and Blood of Christ, may be united to Him, and share in His death on the Cross, and by dying to our past existence, we may then have a share too in His glorious Resurrection. If we do not receive Him worthily and with faith, then we will not have part in Him just as the Lord had said. We will remain separated and sundered from Him.

We should not treat the celebrations of today and the upcoming Good Friday and Easter Vigil separately, but instead as one unity, which is why they are celebrated together as the Easter Triduum. It is this supreme moment of our human history and existence that we celebrate that time when the Lord saved us all by His perfect, loving and willing sacrifice, emptying Himself of all things and taking up upon Himself all the punishments, burdens and sufferings for the redemption of our sins.

And as we enter into these most sacred moments in the entire liturgical year, let us all have this renewed faith in God, that particularly amidst our current difficult situation all around us, the global spread of the coronavirus pandemic among other things, all the economic downturn and instabilities, all the despair and darkness all around, we still have hope in the Lord. In God is the light that is ever present and ever trustworthy even in the most challenging moments of our lives, and we need to hold on to this faith.

Let us all spend these three days of the Easter Triduum deepening our faith and dedication to the Lord, making good use of the time to reflect on how fortunate all of us to have been beloved by God so much that He was willing to go through all the troubles and sufferings for our sake. Let us all also spend the time to reflect on our lives and discern carefully how we can live our lives in a more Christian and Christ-like way, in serving others and in loving our fellow brethren, like how the Lord Jesus Himself taught us and His disciples, in being humble and obedient at all times.

And let us also not forget our brothers and sisters who are now suffering, either because they are sick and dying from the pandemic and from other diseases and ailments, or because they are separated from their loved ones and families, particularly our frontline healthcare staffs and peoples involved in various efforts to restore normalcy in our communities. Let us all keep them in our prayers and do whatever we can do to help and support them.

Of course, lastly we must also continue to support our priests, our bishops, our Pope and the Church, that they will continue to be faithful and strong in their dedication to serve the flock of the Lord according to the Mandate that the Lord had passed on to His disciples. Let us pray for them, our shepherds that they may remain strong and courageous in leading us and serving us even through these very difficult times. Let us be united with them and the whole Church in our renewed faith and obedience to God from now onwards.

May the Lord help us and guide us through this Easter Triduum beginning today that we may benefit as much as possible from this time of reorientation of our focus in life towards God. May God strengthen us all in faith and may He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence, now and always. May God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 9 April 2020 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Chrism Mass which is the time when all the holy oils are blessed and made ready for the use in the diocese. On this day also all priests ordained to serve the Lord in sacred ordination renew their commitment to God and are called to remember the sacred vow and promise they have made before God and their bishops, to obey the laws of the Church and to be dedicated in their works and ministry of the Sacraments to the people of God.

The Lord has called those priests to serve Him, that those who responded to this call to the holy order of priesthood be endowed with the Holy Spirit of God, consecrated and made holy, set apart from others to be the ones to shepherd His people. The Lord has brought His light to the people He loved through these priests, as these are called to reflect His light and love, and bring them to the people who are still living in the darkness of this world.

And especially for this year, the significance of what we celebrate this morning at the Chrism Mass is even greater, in light of the current terrible pandemic that had engulfed most of the world and caused so many deaths and many more people who are sick because of this pandemic. It is not just because the holy oils are used for many good purposes, one of which, the Oil for the Sick or Oleum Infirmarum is used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, but also because many of our priests are also at the frontline tending to many of the people.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not just the doctors and nurses who are at the forefront of this fight against the coronavirus pandemic and other diseases. The priests and all the servants of God are also at the forefront of an even greater battle, the battle against despair and against falsehoods, against all sorts of wickedness that already exist in this world and more of others that have sprung up because of this current dire situation. We have seen how people suffer in despair, losing hope and acting irrationally because of all these, a lot of selfish and terrible attitudes shown all these past few weeks.

We have seen how people can be so nasty against each other, and we have seen how people are divided against each other. And all these are caused by the lack of faith in many, and our priests are still on the forefront of that spiritual battle, the battle of faith for those souls. It is not enough that we just save the person physically but also spiritually as well. Of course the current efforts done by the doctors, nurses and other healthcare warriors are extremely important, but we must not forget our spiritual healthcare warriors, that is our priests and all the ordained ministers of God.

We may have heard how priests in various places around the world tried their best to reach out to their flock through various means, some through online conferencing and meetings, some through online activities, or even arranging smaller scale activities. We heard of how priests travelled around the empty roads and streets, bringing the Blessed Sacrament on the monstrance, that people who are locked in their homes due to quarantine may still feel the presence of God in their midst and not lose hope.

And we may have heard also how many priests have even died because of the pandemic. Some of them died from the disease while they ministered to the people whom they cared for so much, those who were without hope and those who were sick and dying. That is the reality of the works and the lives of our priests, brothers and sisters in Christ. To follow the Lord as how our priests have been called to, is truly a great cross to be carried, in the footsteps of the Lord Himself. Many had indeed responded to this call, as we have just discussed.

It is important therefore that today we spend some time to pray for our brave and courageous priests, all those who have given their lives for the service of the Lord and His Church. Let us all pray that they may be given the strength, the courage and the energy to continue to serve the people of God despite all the challenges and difficulties that they may be facing. Let us always give them our support and encouragement, for they are indeed the pillars that support the Church and our Christian communities together in this difficult time.

We should give encouragement to our priests, as many of them are definitely stressed up with many concerns and works at the moment. Many of them had to make many sacrifices of time and energy to support us in turn during this difficult moment. They are using the same holy oils blessed today to bless many of our houses and hospitals, and more importantly to anoint the sick and the dying ones among us. They need our prayer and support, and we should be more united with them and the whole Church during this time of crisis.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore today at this celebration of the Chrism Mass implore the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to all of our priests to sanctify them and to strengthen them, that they may remain strong and resolute despite all the challenges that they may face. Let us all stay united with them in prayer, and work together to keep up hope despite all the darkness, fears and uncertainties. Let us also prepare ourselves wholeheartedly to prepare for the celebration of the Easter Triduum beginning tonight and be ready to celebrate the upcoming glory of Easter.

May the Lord also give us His strength and hope that we too may be strong and courageous like our brave and faithful priests, that we too may be bearers of hope and the light of God to encourage our fellow brethren in this time of great need. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, traditionally as indicated in the Gospel passage of the day, the Church remembers the moment when Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, went to the Temple to collude with the elders and the chief priests that he might betray and hand Him over to them. It was at this moment which Judas Iscariot received the thirty pieces of silver in exchange for his betrayal of the Lord, as we are preparing ourselves heart and mind for the coming of the Easter Triduum.

As prophesied in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, part of which is our first reading today, the Lord had to suffer, that He as the Saviour of the world had to go through much pain and great difficulties because of His commitment to bring to us His salvation and grace. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this suffering Servant of God, to Whom the Lord would give all the punishments and sufferings due for us, that He might suffer them all instead of us. And yet, He would neither protest or grumble against this, as it was by His own desire and will that He had taken up His Cross and suffer for our sake.

But through these events which we commemorate during this Holy Week and the upcoming Easter Triduum, we are called to reflect on the wonderful love by which God had redeemed us and liberated us from the certainty of death and sin. God has willingly endured the worst of indignities and humiliations, to be treated like a servant and slave, and even less than a human being, as He was arrested, treated with such terrible and harsh treatment from all those who persecuted Him, sent to the Romans to be sentenced to death on the Cross.

The Lord has endured all of these for us because He genuinely loves us all. As St. Paul said, that no one would be willing to suffer and die for another person, unless that person is indeed very virtuous and good, and perhaps if that person is truly beloved and dear to us. And even in that case, many of us are likely to think twice, thrice if not more, before we commit ourselves in such a total manner, in giving of ourselves to the other person. Yet, this is what the Lord had done for each and every one of us, even when we are still sinners and still disobedient and wicked in His sight.

And that is just how wonderful God’s love for us is, how magnanimous He has been to us, and how generous and compassionate He is in His merciful ways, that He is willing to forgive us our sins and in fact He wants to be reconciled with us through that forgiveness. But forgiveness and reconciliation cannot truly happen without that commitment and desire from us to seek reconciliation and forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings.

We also have to realise that for every sins we have committed, we are no better than Judas Iscariot who had betrayed the Lord for the gain of money and for his own selfish purposes. The devil tempted him just as he had tempted us with various temptations, and we have fallen just as Judas had fallen into sin. When we sin, no matter whether that sin be great or small, we are still betraying the Lord for our own various selfish desires and wants in life. We should therefore spend some time thinking about all these as we are about to enter into the great mystery of the Easter Triduum beginning tomorrow.

Now, as we are also currently still struggling from the terrible worldwide pandemic that is still causing many deaths and many more people to suffer everywhere in the world, perhaps it is indeed the best time for us to focus our attention away from all the fears, uncertainties and darkness present all around us now, and focus our attention instead on God and His light. There is hope for us in God, and if we put our trust and hope in Him rather than in any human and worldly solace, we will surely gain consolation and strength amidst this difficult time.

And as Christians, we are all called to be more Christ-like in our lives, in how we live our lives from now on and especially during these difficult moments. Rather than being selfish as how Judas Iscariot had been selfish, causing hurt and sufferings to others by our own attitudes and behaviours, let us instead show love, care and compassion to our fellow brethren. If we see someone around us who is in need of love and hope, let us bring these to him or her.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all enter into the glorious Easter Triduum with a new heart of love, and with a renewed faith in Our Lord and Saviour. Let us all devote more of our time and focus on Him our attention, placing our hope in Him in the midst of these dark and uncertain times. Let us be the bearers of His light in our world, that we may brighten the lives of others who are struggling, sorrowful and are in difficulties. Let us empathise with them and share with them God’s generous love, which He has so generously poured onto us, by His sacrifice on the Cross. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020 : Tuesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we draw closer to the glorious Easter Triduum, we should all be preparing for the celebration of this venerable and great celebration, by spending more time with God, devoting our time to reflect on our lives, doing spiritual exercises and focusing our attention on the Lord and on what He has done in order to bring His salvation to all of us. He has willingly embraced the burden of the Cross and endure all the pain and suffering for our sake, that we may be saved.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord speaking to His people about the coming of His Servant by Whom salvation of the world would come. The light of the nations shall come forth from the Saviour sent by God, and all of these brought hope to the people of God then suffering and oppressed, with the northern kingdom of Israel then having been conquered by the Assyrians and its people brought into exile in far-off lands. The southern kingdom of Judah then were also troubled by the Assyrians who once sent a great army to besiege Jerusalem.

God essentially promised to save His people, and all of these were to be fulfilled through Christ, the Son of God, Whom He sent into this world to be its Saviour. And in our Gospel today, we heard the narrative heading towards its climax, as the Lord and His disciples talked about His impending suffering and death, and the Lord speaking openly before all of them how He would be betrayed by one of His own closest confidants, namely Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And He also foretold of St. Peter’s denial of Himself, which would happen when He was arrested.

All of the readings today help us to focus our attention to the upcoming celebrations of the Easter Triduum when we are going to enter into those most important moments in the history of our salvation. We are called to spend this time to reflect on God’s amazing and ever enduring love for us all that He was willing to go through all the challenges and troubles to save us from our distress and troubles. We are called to look towards our Lord and Saviour especially in these dark and difficult times.

We all know how the current global pandemic has been severely affecting many communities and peoples all around the world. Many people have suffered and are still suffering, hundreds of thousands are being hospitalised, tens of thousands had perished from this disease. Many others had lost their jobs and employments, many of them were struggling to make ends meet as they were breadwinners for their respective families. Many are worried how they are going to live through these difficult moments, with all the restrictions and limitations in place.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is exactly where more importantly for us all that we must direct our attention to the Lord, and commit ourselves with greater zeal and faith in God. This is the time for us to remember that no matter how dark and difficult the times may be, but God’s love and providence are even more powerful and are greater than all the sum of our fears and insecurities. We must have faith in God and trust in Him that He will provide for us and will not abandon us to the darkness.

Sadly this is where we know that the devil is very cunning, in trying to heighten our fears and make us distracted from God, by making us feel scared and lonely in this difficult moment, with all the fake news and fear-mongering being everywhere all around us. Because of this, we see all the selfish attitudes of people who are hoarding goods and essential items, which denied those people who really need them of the things necessary for them to sustain themselves.

And many of these attitudes and selfishness are sadly shown by some of us Christians, who placed our own needs and desires above that of the rest, even causing harm and hurt to others just so that we can safeguard our own interests and indulge in our own desires. And this is where we must be always vigilant, that we do not end up falling into temptation like how Judas Iscariot fell into the temptation of quick money and personal benefit, ending up committing a great sin before God and mankind alike. We must make use of this opportunity instead to allow our Christian faith and virtues to shine brightly in the midst of all the darkness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of this Holy Week and make it a meaningful time for each and every one of us. May we bear in our lives the spirit of openness and humility, allowing God to be glorified through our actions and our lives, that we may bring the light of Christ and the hope of Easter to our brothers and sisters, to all those who are now suffering and in despair. Let us all bring forth God’s light and dispel the darkness of fear, uncertainty and evil in our midst. Trust in God and put our complete faith in Him, for in Him alone is our sure assistance. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 6 April 2020 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of God and as we enter into the Holy Week proper, we are called to focus our attention on our Lord and Saviour, the Servant of God Whom has been prophesied about and promised to us all through the prophet Isaiah. In our first reading, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the One Whom God sent into the world to bring forth justice and peace, and to reconcile the world with Himself.

This prophecy reminds us yet again that God has so kindly sent us His Redeemer in Christ His Son, Who has revealed the truth of His salvation and desire to save His people, by His coming into this world and by His readiness to take up the Cross and suffer for our sake, which is highlighted again through today’s Gospel passage, from which we heard about the story of how Mary anointed the feet of the Lord just before He was about to commence into His Passion, suffering and death.

It is this same Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, of whom her own sister Martha complained against the Lord because she chose to listen to the Lord attentively rather than to help her sister, not because she purposely wanted to make her work difficult, but because Martha was being too preoccupied with all the hassle of her preparations and plans, all the concerns she had, that she had forgotten what is truly the most important thing for her at that time, and that is to welcome the Lord wholeheartedly into our hearts and into our beings.

In the same way, in our Gospel passage today we heard then of the moment when the Lord was anointed on His feet by the same Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and how one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot immediately criticised Mary for doing such an action, saying that the perfume used for the anointing should have been used by selling the proceeds to be given to the poor. Yet, as mentioned in the same passage, Judas said this not because he was righteous or faithful in any way, but rather out of the greed and desire for the benefit he could have gained from his habit of stealing the money from the common treasury for himself.

The Lord rebuked Judas because of this hypocrisy he had, his lack of sincere faith and commitment, unlike that which Mary had, in humbling herself before everyone who were present. Judas gave in to the temptations to sin, by continuing to remain in his wicked practices, that he eventually fell deeper into sin, betraying the Lord for the price of a mere thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. His lack of faith and focus on the Lord should indeed be contrasted with Mary’s great faith and attention she gave to Him.

Through all these which we have heard in today’s Scripture passages, we can see how our greatest enemy is indeed our pride, ego and our greed and desire. It was Martha’s pride that prevented her from spending time with God and preoccupied her with all the things she was busy preparing for the Lord. It was Judas’ pride that made him to disdain the actions of Mary and his greed made him to crave for that ‘dirty money’ he had gained from his sinful actions, which eventually led to his downfall.

Meanwhile, Mary humbled herself such that she stooped down to do something that only a slave would do, to wash the feet of a person, and worse still, she used even the crown of her beauty, the hairs of her head to do that. This is the symbolism of a great and enduring love that one has for another person, that one is willing to do such a feat and humble oneself to love the other person, which is true sign of Christian love and virtue. And this is exactly what the Lord Himself had done, in humbling Himself and in emptying Himself, taking up the position of a slave, to show His love for each and every one of us.

We are called today to reflect on the great significance of this Holy Week for us. Holy Week is truly a time for us to redirect our attention to God and all that He had done for us, in caring for us and providing us with all that we need, and ultimately, in how He has saved us from certain death and destruction through His Passion, suffering and death. Are we able to appreciate this great love of God better, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to turn wholeheartedly towards God, and draw closer to Him in this blessed Holy Week, from now and beyond?

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us in our resolve to live our lives faithfully, that we may be more humble and be more open and willing to listen to God, and get rid from ourselves all the pride, ego, ambition and hubris in our hearts, all the desires and greed that can lead us to fall into temptation to sin. May He empower us all to live ever more faithfully in His presence from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 9 June 2019 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great occasion of the Pentecost Sunday, marking the end of the fifty glorious days of Easter. On this day we mark the time when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord just as He has promised to them, giving them the courage and the strength to be witnesses to their faith in God. They received the gift of the Holy Spirit strengthening their heart and mind, body and soul.

The great celebration of Pentecost therefore also marks the beginning of the Church, as the tangible Body of Christ in this world that He Himself had established and founded upon the secure foundation and support of the Apostles. That was because the moment the Holy Spirit entered into their hearts, the Holy Spirit strengthened them and they spoke up freely of their faith and convinced many to become believers.

Three thousand people were baptised on that day alone, and that became the beginning of the Church community, which from then on began to grow and spread throughout all over Judea, and not just Judea but gradually throughout the entire Roman Empire itself and beyond. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very important that all of us to know that Easter does not truly end with Pentecost, but in fact continues further beyond Pentecost.

The Pentecost marks a new beginning for the faithful, the continuation of the Easter joy of the Lord’s Resurrection which now becomes the expectation and the joy of looking forward to our own glorious Resurrection to come. And what is known as the Ordinary Time after this celebration of the Pentecost is in fact nothing ordinary at all, for it is the time for the work of the Church to be carried out, continuing the joy of Easter as the Lord has commanded us all.

And in the Gospel passage today, the Lord gave us all clearly His commandments through His disciples. He has once revealed His laws and commandments through Moses, in what was known as the Ten Commandments. And then, He explained and revealed more completely and fully the true meaning of the commandments by what the Lord Jesus stated to His disciples, that is the commandments of love.

It was love that the Lord showed to His people, all of us when He gave us His own Son to be our Saviour and Deliverance from our sins and death. It was love that allowed Him to bear the full weight of the Cross, the incomparably heavy and massive burden of all of our sins, enduring immense pain and suffering for the sake of our salvation. It was love that allowed Him to go through all of that, and through His love, our salvation was made whole and complete.

Yet, He continued to love us even more, sending us the Holy Spirit to be our source of strength and power, amidst the difficulties and challenges we may have to face in this world, the opposition from all those who refused to believe in God, from those who oppressed the Church and persecuted the Lord’s faithful ones. The Holy Spirit brought with Him the power of God’s own love into our midst, into our hearts, allowing the seeds of faith, hope and love in us to grow and germinate.

Yes, to all of us God has given His gifts of faith, hope and love, and the most important of these three is love. For there can be no true faith without love, and there can be no true hope without love. We believe in the love which God has for each and every one of us, and we love Him that we have faith in Him, and we hope in Him because of the love which He has evidently shown us, we can be confident that He is always by our side and will never abandon us.

And for us to grow in God’s grace and favour, we need to have love in each and every one of us. It is love for God, first and foremost before all else, which is the essence of the Commandments of God. If God has loved us all so much and gave us everything we need, life being the foremost of all gifts He has given, then how can we not love God in the same way? God ought to be at the very centre of our very lives and in everything we do.

If we love God then naturally we should also show the same love to our fellow brethren. If we do not love our fellow brothers and sisters then we cannot truly call ourselves as people who love God, because God loves each and every single one of us without exception, from the least to the greatest amongst us, from the most wicked and greatest sinners to the most pious and holy persons. Everyone is equally loved by God.

It is only through love that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will bear fruits in us, the good fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If our every words, actions and deeds, our interactions with one another and indeed, our every breaths and moments are filled with love, not selfish love for ourselves but genuine love for God and for others, then naturally all those fruits of the Holy Spirit will flourish in us.

That was what the Apostles themselves had done. Their love and dedication for God, inflamed into a strong fire by the Holy Spirit has allowed them to do what was seemingly impossible and unlikely just before the moment the Holy Spirit came to them. Where there was fear and doubt in the hearts and minds of the Apostles before, so much so that they hid fearfully from the Jewish authorities, they went forth courageously afterwards filled with love for both God and for their fellow men.

That was the love which inflamed them and helped them to endure many bitter sufferings and persecutions which they and the faithful people of God had to endure, the many martyrs and saints of the Church. The same Holy Spirit was also given to the faithful by the laying of the hands, and as a result, the Holy Spirit of God has always been in the midst of the wonderful works of the Church from the very beginning until this very day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, it is our turn to continue the good works which God has begun in the Apostles, and we are called to follow in their footsteps, for the same Holy Spirit has been given to us at Baptism, and strengthened in us through the Sacrament of Confirmation for all of us who have received that Sacrament. And having received the Holy Spirit and God’s presence in us, are we able and willing to commit ourselves to love God and our fellow men as the Apostles had done?

Let us all contribute our effort, our time and our abilities to be part of the good works of the Church that is still ongoing in fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to His Church, the conversion and of all of His beloved people, all of us sons and daughters of man. Let us all by our own faith, love and devotion to God become inspiration and examples for each other, and become shining models of God’s love through us, that all who see us and what we say and do, will believe in God as well.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your people, that we will be filled with courage and strength to carry out our mission with faith and conviction. Come, Holy Spirit, inflame us all with Your love and strength. Let us all go forth and continue to proclaim the joy of Easter, of Christ’s Resurrection and salvation to all the peoples, from now on and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 8 June 2019 : 7th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day before the Solemnity of the Pentecost we come to the last weekday of the whole Easter season and therefore consequently the Scripture concludes the passages taken from the Acts of the Apostles, at the end of which was related to us the activities of St. Paul in the city of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. At that time, St. Paul was still relatively free to move about and perform his works in Rome.

According to the Apostolic traditions, St. Paul later on was martyred when Christians in Rome were persecuted and blamed for the great fire that caused most of the city of Rome to be burnt. St. Paul was beheaded as one of the leaders of the local Christian community while St. Peter, the leader of the Church and the first Bishop of Rome would also suffer martyrdom at about the same period of time through crucifixion.

All of these were the shares of the Apostles who have willingly embraced the way of the Lord and devoted themselves completely and wholeheartedly to His service. And despite knowing that they would suffer persecution, pains and sufferings, they gladly welcomed those nonetheless because they placed their complete trust in God, knowing that God would always be by their side no matter what.

And this is the same courage and commitment which the Lord also expects of us all, His disciples and followers. All of us are the successors of the works of the Apostles and many of these works are still ongoing even as we speak now. The Lord’s mission, entrusted to His Apostles, the evangelisation of the peoples and the propagation of the Good News are things that we still have to do, as there are still many out there who have not yet seen or received God’s salvation.

Tomorrow marks the Solemnity of the Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, the day which marked the conversion and baptism of three thousand people into the faith and therefore marking the beginning point of the Church. And from that moment onwards, the Apostles went forth to work the good works of the Lord and went to many places preaching the Good News of God.

And as mentioned earlier, they did all these despite the many challenges and oppositions that they encountered, from all those who refused to believe in God and from those who were outright hostile against them and their teachings. But the Lord was with them all the way, guiding them and protecting them, giving them the necessary strength and power to carry out the missions entrusted to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on our lives and actions, on how each and every one of us can be good and contributing members of God’s Church, as Christians who truly believe in the Lord and not just on the exterior faith only. Are we able to give our time, effort and dedication in the same way as our holy predecessors have done? Let us all think carefully about this and discern how we can be more committed each and every days of our lives.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He give us the strength and encouragement through His Holy Spirit, that we may grow ever more committed and may fearlessly proclaim His truth and love to all those who encounter us, see us in our actions and witness our deeds. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to watch over us, now and forevermore. Amen.