Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord Jesus has risen in glory! As the time of Easter finally comes, we celebrate after the long wait and expectation during the season of Lent, because we have had true joy in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour by all that He has done for us. He has released us from the tyranny of sin and the bondage of death, and showed us all the path to eternal life.

On this day Christ showed His power and might, revealing His victory over even sin and death, two things that have kept us under their dominion all these while. He has fulfilled completely all that the Lord has promised His people from the beginning of time, their liberation and reconciliation, which He has done by His loving sacrifice on the cross, and bringing the souls of the faithful to God, their loving Father and Creator.

On this day, the despair of man gives way to hope, as the veil of darkness that have blinded and surrounded us all these while has been pierced by the Light that Christ has brought into our midst. He renewed us and made our existence meaningful again by His Passion, His suffering, death on the cross and ultimately, His resurrection from the dead. He is in fact showing all of us the glory that is to come, if we remain steadfast in our faith and love for Him.

As we enter into this holy and blessed season of Easter, it is therefore important that we understand its significance and also what is expected of us all as Christians, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. We must remember that the celebration of Easter does not last just for this day only, as the liturgical celebration of the Easter season lasts for a total of fifty days until the Solemnity of the Pentecost.

But even more importantly, we must also realise that the celebration of Easter does not also last just until Pentecost Sunday, but also through the rest of the days of our life. It means that the spirit and celebration of Easter must extend so completely and pervades so well into our lives that we exhibit that spirit of Easter, that joy and passion to live out our calling as Christians at every moments of our respective lives.

The most important aspect of Easter that we must realise is one of transformation of our lives. Through Easter, by Our Lord’s resurrection, and earlier on through His suffering and death, God has united us all to Himself, and we have been called to share in His suffering and death, to endure the pain and suffering, the challenges and difficulties of denying our own selves, our prideful, our egoistic, our greedy, our lustful and our sinful selves, and embrace the new existence in Christ.

It is not easy to change ourselves, and to resist the many temptations of this world that are ever present and ever pervasive around us. And we will indeed face many opposition, hurdles and obstacles, rejection and refusal even from those whom we deem to be close to us and dear to us. And it will be difficult and challenging for us to endure the physical, mental and even spiritual sufferings of committing ourselves to the way of the Lord.

It is because Satan, that is the devil and all of his allies, the forces of darkness, are unwilling to let us go away into our freedom. They will do whatever is within their power, in order to tempt us, to persuade us, and even to force and pressure us into bowing once again to sin. They were once our slavemasters, as they enslaved us through sin, and they wanted nothing less than our own ruin and downfall.

But the Lord is always with us, even when we do not realise it. Even in the moments of our greatest sufferings and pain, we must remember that Christ, Who Himself has endured suffering and pain far greater than any one of us have ever suffered, as He bore down the enormous weight of the cross of our sins, is by our side and He will not abandon us to those who seek our destruction and annihilation.

In the Gospel passage often used for the Evening Mass of Easter Sunday today, we heard the famous story of the encounter between the Lord and the two disciples who were on their way to the neighbouring town of Emmaus showed us, that the Lord is always there to encourage us and to give us strength, and a lot of times we did not even know that He was there, just as the two disciples did not recognise Jesus even as He was walking with them. They only recognised Him when He broke the bread before them and their eyes and minds were opened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard all of these and having spent some time discussing about what Easter truly means and how it is filled with joy that each and every one of us must carry on in our own lives, now we should reflect on how we can follow the examples of the Apostles and the followers of the Lord, who carried with them the knowledge and witness of the Lord’s truth, His Passion, death and resurrection.

We heard how in our first reading today, St. Peter the Apostle was very passionate and spirited in his testimony of faith before the people, and this was made when he went to the house of Cornelius, a Roman who became a believer of Jesus and His truth, and by the testimony of faith which St. Peter spoke before him and his family, they all became firmer in their conviction of faith, and the Holy Spirit Himself came down upon all of them, encouraging them and strengthening them in their commitment and faith.

And this represents what we all need to do as Christians, in how we live out our lives with faith, in how we dedicate ourselves as the witnesses and as the bearers of God’s truth as presented in the wholeness of our Christian faith and teachings. Each and every one of us must be bearers of God’s truth and dedicate ourselves to live up to our faith in our daily living, so that all of those who see us and all that we do, will recognise the presence of God in our midst, for through our actions, filled with faith and love for God, God Himself will be present in our midst through them.

What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? And how do we then carry on with our lives from now on as Christians? It means that first of all, we must have the resolve to live our lives with righteousness and dedication to God, we must keep away from ourselves all actions and thoughts, all things that lead us to sin and disobedience against God. We must be role models of faith for our fellow brethren, and show in us, the Light of God as He has revealed to us this Easter.

And then, we should also have that firm hope in the Lord and strong trust in Him, knowing that He is always there with us, even when at times it may be difficult for us to feel and to know of His presence. That is why we often need to spend more time with God, as many of us are frequently distracted by numerous worldly temptations and pressures, that prevented us from truly being able to know God’s presence in our midst.

We need to deepen our relationship with God, by spending more time with God in prayer. And when we pray, we are actually opening up our minds, hearts and senses to be more attuned with God, and that is when, we will be better able to sense God’s presence in our midst, and thus, we will remain close to Him no matter whatever troubles and challenges we may face in life. And by our faith, many more will come to believe in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this joyous and blessed season of Easter, let us all no longer despair or be doubtful, for God Himself has shown His faithfulness through the cross, and by His resurrection He has shown us the path forward towards eternal life. Let us all be ever closer to God and realise that He is always with us, guiding us along the journey of our lives.

Let us all turn wholeheartedly towards Him from now on, and be truly filled with the spirit of Easter joy, that we may be committed to share this joy with one another, especially with those who are doubting, those who are unsure about their faith, and those who are faltering in their dedication to God. And let us also bring the light of Christ to more people, to all those who are still enslaved by sin and by the darkness of this world. May the Risen Lord bless us and all of our endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 1-4

So then, if you are risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. For you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, reveals Himself, you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.

Alternative reading

1 Corinthians 5 : 6b-8

Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out, then, the old yeast and be new dough. If Christ became our Passover, you should be unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast, which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread, that is purity and sincerity.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 117 : 1-2, 16ab-17, 22-23

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

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 stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.

Sunday, 21 April 2019 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34a, 37-43

Peter then spoke to them, “No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power.”

“He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him; we are witnesses of all that He did throughout the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem itself. Yet they put Him to death by hanging Him on a wooden cross.”

But God raised Him to life on the third day and let Him manifest Himself, not to all the people, but to the witnesses that were chosen beforehand by God – to us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from death. And He commanded hs to preach to the people and to bear witness that He is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead. All the prophets say of Him, that everyone who believes in Him has forgiveness of sins through His Name.”

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! On this most blessed night, the greatest of all nights and the greatest of all days in the entire liturgical year, we celebrate the long awaited moment of when the Lord Jesus Christ has been risen from the dead, the coming of Easter after the long wait during our Lenten observance for more than forty days including the sacred Holy Week observances. On this day we mark the great culmination of the work of the Lord’s salvation, the triumph of the Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord in glory.

The Resurrection completed the Passion of Our Lord, the suffering, pain and trials He had suffered as He endured the pain of the Cross, which would have all been meaningless and fruitless had He not risen from the dead, and therefore remained dead as all other men were. He rose from the dead by His own glorious might and power, to show that not even death had the power and dominion over Him, as He is truly the Master over life and death.

On this night, we celebrate that very moment when Christ overcome the tyranny of death, which is caused by sin. Death is the sting of sin, and all of us have been freed from its power by the Lord’s own action, His selfless offering on the Cross, by which He united us all to His death, in dying to our own sinful selves, and through which He then united us all to His resurrection, as we enter into the new life blessed and filled with God’s grace.

In the many Scripture passages and readings we heard on this blessed Easter Vigil, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament, we are constantly reminded of the Lord’s many good works, providence and love for each and every one of us mankind, throughout the history of our world, from the beginning of time and creation, and leading through the ages to the culmination of God’s saving works in the glorious resurrection.

We are reminded first of all, of the creation of the world, when God imposed order on chaos that existed before then, and the first thing that God did, was to bring forth Light into the world, into a world that was once filled with darkness. And then, He created all things, all creatures that were all made good and perfect, just as their Creator Himself is all good and perfect. And in the same manner, all of us mankind, were made as the culmination of God’s work of creation, created in His own image and likeness.

Thus, that was how God created the whole world, and all of us mankind, created good and perfect in all that God had intended. But unfortunately, through our disobedience and by our refusal to obey the Lord’s commands, and by our choice to side with the devil and follow his tempting words, we have been made unclean and unworthy, sundered from God’s grace and separated from His love. That was how we have fallen into sin and into our unfortunate state.

Yet, the Lord continued to love each and every one of us regardless of the sins we have committed. Indeed He despised all of the sins we have committed in life, but He did not despise us all, those whom He Himself had created with His hands, made out of His love for each and every one of us. If God has not loved us so dearly, He would have destroyed us outright the very moment we chose to abandon Him and to commit abominable sins in our lives, and cast us immediately into hell.

It was God’s enduring love for all of us that we have come to celebrate throughout the entirety of this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, as we recall the love that He has for every one of us, so great that He willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, and humbled Himself to bring about the salvation of all the world, of all mankind. And He did all these by assuming the flesh of Man, that He might share with us our humanity, and therefore, uniting ourselves to His suffering and death, He might bring us through the journey to embrace the fullness of His redemption and mercy, and receive from Him, the fullness of grace and eternal life.

And through the mysteries celebrated this Holy Week and Paschal Triduum, we saw how God restored to us all, the graces He has intended for us all mankind since the beginning of time. We may have been deterred temporarily through sin, and we probably had faced this obstacle in our journey due to the many temptations present in our respective lives, but God is calling on us to embrace the new life that He is now calling us into, a new life and existence in Him.

We heard from the second reading today, how God established His Covenant with Abraham, promising him that his descendants would be numerous and would form many nations, and Abraham promised to be faithful to God and to His Covenant, and that his descendants would do so as well. This is the Covenant that the people of Israel upheld, and which they carried with them as they went through what we heard in our third reading passage today, of the time of the salvation of Israel from the hands of their oppressors.

And on this day, on the occasion of the Easter Vigil, the third reading from the Book of Exodus invites us to reflect on the moment of our own baptism, and on those who are going to be baptised in the Rite of the Christian Initiation later on in today’s liturgy. We heard how the Israelites were fleeing from their former masters and oppressors, the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, who hardened their hearts and changed their minds about letting the Israelites to go free to the land promised to them by God.

The Egyptians chased them to the edge of the Red Sea, when the Israelites despaired having seen themselves pressed between the sea and their enemies. But God reassured them and stood between them and death, and through Moses, opened the sea itself before their eyes. They walked through the dry seabed, and crossed to the other side safely, while their oppressors were destroyed by the same waters, when the Lord crushed them all with the rushing waves as they tried to pursue God’s people.

And this is a reminder to each and every one of us, how God has brought us through the water of baptism, as we have all been sealed by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, in the Name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and for those who are about to be baptised tonight, this moment was just about to come, like the Israelites who were once frightened and fearful for their lives at the edge of the Red Sea, and yet, God made them to walk safely through the water.

Water is capable of both destruction and of nurturing lives. Water in its destructiveness can cause such harm that led to the loss of much property and human lives, and how it destroyed the armies and chariots of Pharaoh was ample proof of how water was capable of destruction. Yet, water is also capable of bringing life to us, for without water, nothing can live and survive, and water nourishes and nurtures life.

Therefore, by reflecting on the salvation of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea, we recall our own baptism, and prepare ourselves to witness our brethren who are going to have theirs this very night. Through baptism, we have been united to the Lord’s own Passion, suffering, death and most important of all, His glorious resurrection. By the water of baptism, we have entered into death, just as Christ truly died on the cross, and we die to our past, sinful and unworthy lives.

But we did not remain in death, just as the Lord did not remain in death, but rose in glory, the glory of His Easter Resurrection. And thus, just as the Israelites emerged from the Red Sea unharmed, into a new life of freedom from slavery, we too have left behind our old slavery to sin, and enter into a new life, resurrected from our sinful selves, and become sharers in the new Covenant that the Lord Himself had made with each and every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as mentioned in the beginning of this homily, the occasion of Easter Vigil celebrates the culmination of our Lord’s Passion and work of salvation, completing perfectly what He had begun, by the offering of His own Body and Blood, which He shared with His disciples on the Last Supper, as we share in His own Real Presence in us. Through our sharing of His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we enter into the New, True and Everlasting Covenant that He Himself established with us, the children of Abraham, our father in faith.

And this Covenant is the restoration of the grace and the goodness that are ours at the beginning of time, as God Himself has become the bridge by which all of us pass through safely through the danger of death. Between us and God, there had been a chasm that separated us all because of our sins, but Jesus Christ, Our Lord, through His sacrifice on the Cross, has offered His own Precious Body and Blood, to be the atonement for our sins, and by that sacrifice, restored to us the grace that we have lost through sin.

On this day, the day of most wonderful Easter joy, we rejoice because we have been freed from sin, and through the water of baptism, either as the newly baptised or as those who have been baptised earlier on, we have received the promise of eternal life and glory from God. And we have also received the wonderful Light of Christ, reminding us of the moment of Creation, when God brought order to all chaos and created everything good and perfect. The Light of Christ has penetrated through the darkness that surrounded us, casting out from us the sins and all things that have kept us enslaved, that is our sins and wickedness.

On this day, we recall the promises which we made at baptism, when we resoundingly and resolutely reject Satan’s false promises and shows, all of his temptations, and abandon all the darkness of this world, and instead, embrace wholeheartedly the Light of Christ, our Lord and Saviour. On this day, Light has triumphed over darkness, Christ has triumphed over sin and death, our enemies and all those who sought our downfall and destruction.

On this day, we rejoice together as the whole entire Universal Church, as God has renewed in us again and again, the hope of His salvation, reminding us of the love which He has given us through the Passion of His own Beloved Son, Who suffered so grievously all of the persecutions and pains He had received, but which He endured willingly, out of His love for us. It was this enduring love and His liberation of each and every one of us from our sins that we rejoice for today.

Let us all now carry on this Easter joy in our own respective lives, and have that courage and faith in us, to bring forth the Light of Christ to the whole world. And this is our calling and responsibility as baptised Christians, to be the witnesses for the Lord, and proclaim His Risen glory to all, through our own lives, by living the message of the Good News of the Lord, by practicing in our own lives, fundamentally the love for God and the love for our fellow men.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, that all of us will grow ever closer to God and be more attuned to His ways and be more obedient to His commandments and laws. Let us all bear the joy of Easter to all of our brethren, especially all those who are probably unable to rejoice in the same way as we do because of various reasons, either because of persecutions or because of the many distractions of the world. And let us also bear this joy of Easter to encourage all those who have not yet received or seen the light of Christ, by showing that Light in our own lives and actions.

Let us all be joyful bearers of Christ’s truth, and let us all share this Easter joy, living fully our lives with faith from now on, being role models to one another, inspiring each other to be closer to God and to be more faithful to Him. May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord and Saviour be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 20 April 2019 : Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 1-12

At that time, on the Sabbath the women rested according to the commandment, but the first day of the week, at dawn, the women went to the tomb with the perfumes and ointments they had prepared. Seeing the stone rolled away from the opening of the tomb, they entered, and were amazed to find that the Body of the Lord Jesus was not there.

As they stood there wondering about this, two men in dazzling garments suddenly stood before them. In fright the women bowed to the ground. But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You will not find Him here. He is risen. Remember what He told you in Galilee, that the Son of Man had to be given into the hands of sinners, to be crucified, and to rise on the third day.” And they remembered Jesus’ words.

Returning from the tomb, they told the Eleven and all the others about these things. Among the women, who brought the news, were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. But however much they insisted, those who heard did not believe the seemingly nonsensical story. Then Peter got up and ran to the tomb. All he saw, when he bent down and looked into the tomb, were the linen cloths, laid by themselves. He went home wondering.