Saturday, 22 April 2017 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded again by the Scripture passage on the mission which the Lord our God had entrusted to us at the time when He had risen from the dead. All of us are in fact called to proclaim the Good News of the Lord to all, and not to remain in unbelief and fear that we would be persecuted or rejected if we are to do such good works for the sake of the Lord.

At the time of the Apostles, as we all heard in the Acts of the Apostles, the chief priests and the elders of the people were all trying very hard to stop the works of the Apostles by various means, including arresting them, coercing them and forcing them to stop teaching in the Name of the Lord. They used various means in order to prevent the teachings of the Lord from spreading any further, but without avail. For the Lord was with His servants and His people, and the truth of Christ continued to spread unabated.

The disciples of the Lord were mostly uneducated people, and yet we heard how they spoke with conviction, wisdom and strength, filled with courage and genuine intellect, surprising all those who have heard them, all who attempted to silence them and prevent the spreading of the Lord’s Good News. That was because the Lord was with them, and the Holy Spirit gave them the courage, strength and wisdom to do so.

The chief priests and elders stubbornly opposed the Lord’s good works because they were hindered by their own human intellect, their wisdom and their ways, which to them were their treasures in life. They allowed their pride to come in the way between them and their acceptance of God’s truth. As a result, even though they had seen so many miraculous deeds which Jesus had performed during His ministry, throughout all those times when they harassed Him and made His works difficult, they refused to believe, because they had hardened their hearts.

They opposed the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord, harassing them and attacking them in the same manner just as they had harassed the Lord. They wanted to silence them and stop them from declaring God’s truth, but they would not have it that way. They placed their trust in the Holy Spirit which had been granted to them. They resisted the demands of the chief priests and elders, and spoke out about Christ regardless, even in the face of punishment and persecution.

This is the spirit and commitment which all of us Christians also ought to have in our respective lives. We must not be lukewarm in our faith, and we cannot be ignorant and lacking in action in living through our faith. Our faith must be one that is genuine and true, so that everyone who sees us and hears us may truly recognise the presence and the work of God inside each and every one of us.

This is the true spirit and joy of Easter that each and every one of us should have. We should be glad that the Lord had done such great things for us, giving us hope beyond all other hope, when we were in despair and engulfed with darkness. He has brought us all out of that darkness, and show us the path to His salvation. It is only right that we should share that light which we have received, with one another, with all those who are still living in darkness and in the state of sin.

Let us all show by our conviction and commitment to live out this life we have filled with zeal and devotion to God, through prayer, through faith, through charity and love, especially for the sick and the dying, to those who have no one to comfort them, to even our enemies and all those who have persecuted us. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that even Jesus our Lord forgave His enemies and condemners from the cross.

Let us bring the light of Christ to one another, by our upright and just actions, and by our showing of care and concern to each other, so that many more people will come to believe in us, just as many believed in the words and actions of the Apostles and the saints, who have reflected the glory of the Risen Lord in their lives. Let us all become the beautiful windows through which the truth and glory of our Lord Jesus may be seen by all of mankind, that all will come to God through us and our works. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 22 April 2017 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Mark 16 : 9-15

At that time, after Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary of Magdala, from whom He had driven out seven demons. She went and reported the news to His followers, who were now mourning and weeping. But when they heard that He lived, and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

After this He showed Himself in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. These men also went back and told the others, but they did not believe them. Later Jesus showed Himself to the Eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their unbelief, and stubbornness, in refusing to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

Then He told them, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”

Saturday, 22 April 2017 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 117 : 1 and 14-15, 16ab-18, 19-21

Alleluia! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Joyful shouts of victory are heard in the tents of the just : The right hand of the Lord strikes mightily.

The right hand of the Lord is lifted high, the right hand of the Lord strikes mightily! I shall not die, but live to proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has stricken me severely, but He has saved me from death.

Open to me the gates of the Just, and let me enter to give thanks. “This is the Lord’s gate, through which the upright enter.” I thank You for having answered me, for having rescued me.

Saturday, 22 April 2017 : Saturday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 4 : 13-21

The Jewish leaders, elders and teachers of the Law were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognised also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply.

So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the Name of Jesus.”

So they called them back and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people who glorified God for what happened.

Friday, 21 April 2017 : Friday within Easter Octave, 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, we heard how the Lord appeared to His disciples by the lake of Galilee, where the disciples had been fishing for day and night without any success. Then, He asked them to follow His instructions, and they obeyed Him, and immediately, they caught so many fishes, that the boat almost sank. And immediately, St. Peter and then the other Apostles recognised Jesus as He was.

In today’s Gospel passage, we saw the fulfilment of what the Lord Himself had spoken to the Apostles when He called them at the same spot, calling His first Apostles from among humble fishermen plying their trade on the lakeside. He called them to leave their nets and livelihood behind, that they would no longer be fishermen catching fishes at the lake, but would become fishers of men. That was the symbolism of the miracle which Jesus performed at that time.

The Church is often portrayed as a boat, helmed by the saints and the martyrs. The Apostles were the ones whom the Lord had entrusted with the foundation of His Church. And they were the workers who ensured that the boat was guided properly and thus was capable of gathering as many fishes as possible into the boat. The fishes represent the people of God, those to whom the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had been sent to.

In the beginning, when the Lord called them, the disciples followed the Lord, Who asked them to put the net out into the deep waters, and as a result netted plenty of fishes, which was actually a symbolism of what they would be doing as God’s disciples and messengers of His will. God sent His Apostles and disciples to places they would not normally go, to the distant and foreign lands, so that they might be able to preach the Good News and the words of God in those places.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, had the Apostles not done what they had done in preaching the Good News amidst the difficulties and challenges that they faced, and despite all the opposition and lack of faith they encountered, even from the powerful such as the Sadducees and the Pharisees, then many people would not have come to believe in the Lord and His salvation.

There would have been many people who lingered on in the darkness, lacking hope for salvation, because no one had come to them bearing the truth which the Lord had brought with Him into this world. That is why, it is important for us to be courageous in living our faith, so that we may follow in the footsteps of the holy Apostles and martyrs, all those who have listened to the truth of God, and then passed them on to all those who have yet to hear of God’s Good News.

Let us all be inspired by the examples of St. Anselm, the holy bishop and renowned saint, a Doctor of the Church, who lived in the Medieval era Britain, known also as St. Anselm of Canterbury. He was a devout and holy servant of God, who dedicated much of his life in service to God. He strengthened the faith in many of the people entrusted to him as his flock. He stood up for the rights of the Church when it was under threat by the secular government trying to impinge upon the works of salvation and mercy that the Church took up.

St. Anselm was a holy and devout, and yet humble and dedicated man, who committed his life to bring the people of God closer to Him, by helping them to overcome the temptation and falsehoods of the devil as they lived their lives. He was not afraid even to oppose the kings and their followers, especially when they went wayward and abandoned the righteousness that they ought to have done.

He opposed the attempts by the kings and their noble supporters in trying to impose control over the Church and the spiritual matters of the faithful. He courageously stood up for his faith, even to the point of having endured exile and persecution, and yet he never gave up. This is the same kind of commitment and faith which all of us will need to have in our lives, the same devotion and passion to live out our faith as the saints and martyrs of the Lord had once done.

Let us all renew our commitment, and spend our time to help bring the truth of God, not just by words, but also through our actions and deeds. How do we do so? It is by embodying our faith through all and everything that we do, that we can convince others that the Lord’s truth is the one for them. How can we convince others if we ourselves do not practice what we believe in?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to a life of honesty, of justice, of righteousness, and of goodness, so that we will truly become a people worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us all be joyful this Easter season, by being filled with Easter joy and spirit, that we may always be willing and desiring to help our brethren, all those who are still living in ignorance of the Lord and in the darkness, so that everyone may be saved. Let us all follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord, bringing God’s salvation to all as fishers of men. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 21 April 2017 : Friday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 21 : 1-14

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 21 April 2017 : Friday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

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

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

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

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

Friday, 21 April 2017 : Friday within Easter Octave, Memorial of St. Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 4 : 1-12

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion, all of us heard about the doubt and the lack of faith which were evident from the two readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel which we have just listened to. We heard how the Apostle St. Peter spoke to the Jewish people and all those who witnessed the amazing wonders of God, having healed the man born paralysed, who then could walk again and praising God.

In the Gospel we heard how the disciples of the Lord, the Eleven Apostles were stunned when Jesus suddenly appeared to them in their midst, through the locked doors, even though earlier on they had seen and heard from one another, from Mary Magdalene and other witnesses on the empty tomb of Jesus and His missing Body. They were still unable to believe that Jesus had not remained dead, but lived again, risen from the dead as He Himself had foretold.

In all these examples which we have heard, we saw just how often times, we mankind can be stubborn in many things, including in trying to understand things in our own way. We often try to rationalise things before we believe and put our trust and faith in something. This is nothing wrong, as indeed it is important for us to be able to truly understand and know the details about something which we want to believe in, or else we will be easily led to falsehoods and lies.

However, there are indeed certain things that are beyond the realm of our normal and usual human understanding and comprehension. There are many who doubted because they were not capable of putting into reason what they had heard about the resurrection of the Lord, and thought that it was impossible for someone from death to return into life.

Yet, there were many witnesses of what Jesus had done in His life and ministry in this world, all the healing miracles He had done, and even when He raised Lazarus up from the dead. There were many people who witnessed this and believed in the Lord. And indeed, Jesus also appeared to many people who had seen Him after His resurrection from the dead, and could testify to the truth of the resurrection, and all the miraculous deeds which His Apostles and disciples had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let me now ask all of you. How did we receive our faith? How is it that we are now believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it just by mere fact or coincidence that we are believing in God now? Certainly, for many of us our answer would be that we received our faith from the instruction of our parents and relatives, all of whom had received their own instruction of the faith from their own parents and relatives, and affirmed with the teachings passed down through the Church.

And for all of those who have been baptised as adults, we also received our faith through our friends and through all those who have inspired us and called us to receive the Lord. And we have been affirmed by the faith that was passed down to us through careful instruction in the faith through the Church, by our catechists and guides, who helped us to grow in the faith. We all went through Catholic education, be it in schools or in our parishes and churches, and we grew together in the faith because of that.

That is how we came to believe in God, because we treasure and keep that same faith which our predecessors had received, all the way to the time of the Apostles, who themselves had seen the glory of the Risen Lord. And they also certainly did not have any reason to lie or to make any falsehoods, for they even were ready to lay down their lives defending that faith they had in the Lord. That was why there were so many martyrs in the days of the early Church, when the faithful were oppressed and persecuted just because they believed in the Lord Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now it comes to the difficult part for all of us. All of us now need to also pass on this faith which we have in us to our next generation, and also to all others who have yet to hear of the Lord and His goodness. It is not an easy task, and challenges will be upon us. And at the same time, we must also fully embody our faith through our own words, deeds and actions. If we do not act as what we have believed in, no one will believe in us.

In fact, if we act contrary to what the Lord had taught us and shown us through His disciples, we are actually bringing scandal to our faith and to the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all today pray together as the whole Church, that each and every one of us may live our Easter joy through our own lives, by our loving actions and by sharing our love and happiness with one another, especially to those who had no one to love them.

May the Lord help us and strengthen us in our faith, so that in everything we do, we will always do them in good faith to the Lord, and that through everything we say and do, we will always declare the glory of God to all the people, and thus help to gather together all the scattered people of the Lord, and come together to embrace His mercy and love. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”)

In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”