Saturday, 23 April 2022 : Saturday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded again of our obligation as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord’s resurrection and triumphant victory over sin and death, to be His witnesses and missionaries in our world today, in proclaiming His truth and love among all the people, continuing the many good works that His Apostles and disciples had begun, in all that we have heard in the past one week of this holy Easter Octave, the works of the Apostles in the Acts of the Apostles.

In our first reading today, at the conclusion of the narrative of the events that happened due to the miraculous healing of a crippled beggar at the gate of the Temple of Jerusalem by St. Peter and St. John, in the past few readings we heard how the Apostles had courageously spoken up and preached about the Risen Lord to all the people who witnessed the miracle and then later on to all the members of the Sanhedrin who opposed the Lord and His Apostles. We heard today in our first reading of the reaction of the Sanhedrin upon listening to the words that St. Peter had spoken courageously before them, revealing the folly and error of their actions in having persecuted the Lord and His disciples.

In their discussion and debate with each other, the members of the Sanhedrin could not agree on how to deal with the Apostles and their actions in preaching about the Resurrected Christ and the miracles that they had performed in His Name. They wanted to stop them and to order them not to do it again, but at the same time, they knew that what the Apostles had performed, all the miraculous occasions and healings performed had been witnessed by so many people that it would have been impossible for the Sanhedrin to refute and deny that the miracles had occurred.

We see here the bitter stubbornness of many of the members of the Sanhedrin who were still adamant in their refusal to listen to the Lord and believe in His truth. Many of them, members of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the teachers of the Law and elders had witnessed the miracles of the Lord themselves, heard Him and His wisdom, and yet, they still refused to believe in Him. All these despite them being supposedly the most educated and best people among the community of the people of God, many of whom were knowledgeable of the Scriptures and the teachings of the prophets.

They should have been the first ones to believe in the Lord and to welcome Him and His disciples. Yet, most of them except some like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea chose to ignore the truth, hardened their hearts and minds, preferring to continue in their prejudices and in their judgmental attitudes towards the Lord. They saw the Lord as a great rival and threat to their power, influence and privileges in the community, and hence, they tried their best to curb the spread of the news and the truth behind the Resurrection, but they could not stop the Apostles and the other disciples from speaking up despite the threats and other efforts they made. And that was because the Lord was with His servants, and His Spirit strengthened them, giving them the courage to go up against even the opposition from the powerful Sanhedrin and others.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord appearing to His disciples after He had risen to the dead, revealing that He had indeed risen and triumphed over sin and death just as He had predicted to His disciples and followers. The Lord had appeared in the flesh and communicated with His disciples, which became truly tangible evidence of His truth, and those same disciples had seen themselves the undeniable truth of the Lord’s risen glory. And they therefore proclaimed courageously this same truth, and would not be silenced by those who opposed the truth of God. Many of them were willing to endure sufferings and persecution in the midst of their works of evangelisation.

Brothers and sisters, now that we have heard these readings from the Scriptures, and if we have been following the readings in the past few days during the Easter Octave, we are all reminded that we have also been part of this same Church, the Church that the Lord had established and built on the foundation of His Apostles, especially that of St. Peter. All the saints, the holy men and women of God, the many people who had dedicated themselves, their time and efforts and even their lives, for the sake of the Lord, His glory and for the salvation of His people, all of them had shown us what it means for us to be true Christians, in proclaiming the Risen Lord, Our Lord and Saviour.

There are still plenty of areas and opportunities for us to carry on the great works and deeds that the Apostles had begun, in reaching out to those who have not yet known the Lord or have not yet discovered the truth. And if we are not sure of what we can do or should do in this matter, we often do not have to worry about it. And we have to realise that God does not call the extraordinary and the powerful to do His will. In fact, it was all those qualified ones who had ironically rejected the Lord and decided to oppress His truth and persecute His faithful ones. Instead, the Lord called the ordinary ones and made them to be extraordinary in His presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what matters is our faith and also the grace of humility in our lives. Let us all allow the Lord to work through us and with us, and let us walk faithfully in His path, doing our very best to be good role models for our fellow brothers and sisters, for all those who have not yet seen the Lord’s truth or known about His salvation and grace. May all of us be the beacons of the Light of our Risen Lord and Saviour, and may He strengthen us all to walk ever more dedicatedly in His presence, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 23 April 2022 : 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, 23 April 2022 : 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, 23 April 2022 : 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, 22 April 2022 : Friday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the trials and challenges that we will often have to face as Christians, as those who believe in the Lord and His Resurrection. We believe in the Risen Lord and like the Apostles, we may have to endure opposition and trials for our faith in His truth. Yet, we must never waver from our faith and from the commitment that we have to show in our daily lives, as those who have been entrusted with the same mission as that of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, in proclaiming His Good News and salvation to all the peoples.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Acts of the Apostles telling us of the opposition that St. Peter and St. John, two of the Lord’s Twelve Apostles had to face due to their proclamation of the Lord Jesus and His salvation before the assembled people. At that time, based on our earlier readings from the Acts of the Apostles, the two Apostles had just miraculously healed a beggar who had been paralysed since birth, and whom everyone knew and recognised as being crippled. That this miracle had happened right by the gate of the Temple where the beggar usually lingered at, showed us how the chief priests and the members of the Sanhedrin could quickly find out about what had happened.

The Sanhedrin, or the Jewish High Council, composed of the most influential members of the Jewish community at that time, had been firm in their opposition against the Lord, as most of its members had refused to listen to the Lord and His teachings, with some of them even branding the Lord as a blasphemous and heretical Man, Who was swaying the people to His side with His teachings and popularity. And that was why they judged and condemned the Lord in the first place, arresting Him and handing Him over to the Romans, that He might be condemned to death and crucified.

That was why they were still adamant in their opposition against the Lord even when they heard that the Lord had risen from the dead just as He Himself had predicted and revealed. They spread false news that the disciples had stolen His Body and preached falsehoods in His Name, and expressly ordered that anyone who spoke in the Name of the Lord Jesus or supported His teachings would be arrested and persecuted. That was the obstacle facing the Apostles, who had to endure the opposition from the powerful members of the community, those who refused to believe in the Lord and His truth. But that did not stop the Apostles and the many other disciples from doing their best to proclaim the Good News whenever they could.

St. Peter courageously spoke before the whole assembly of the Sanhedrin just as he had done so earlier before the people in Jerusalem. He spoke fearlessly regarding the Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God Who had been rejected by those to whom St. Peter was speaking to, right there and then, the same Sanhedrin and its members also condemned Christ to death and giving Him up to the Romans to be crucified. It was to these people that St. Peter testified again about the Lord, His truth and His resurrection. He proclaimed the truth courageously as he himself had seen and witnessed the Risen Lord as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

St. Peter had witnessed the Lord’s Passion, suffering and death, and how He revealed Himself after His resurrection on several occasions. As highlighted in our Gospel passage today, the Lord revealed Himself to His disciples in Galilee just as the disciples went there and were in the midst of catching fish in the lake. They had not been successful in gaining any fish when the Lord told them to do as He said, and immediately a huge number of fishes ended up in their catch, and they almost could not handle the entire catch of fishes. And St. Peter himself was the first one to recognise that it was the Lord Who was there with them.

Having witnessed the Risen Lord, the disciples, and having also been strengthened by the Holy Spirit, as shown by the examples of St. Peter, they stood up for their faith, and while many among them suffered, as the Apostles themselves had endured for a long time, and how many of their successors had also suffered, but these did not stop them from continuing to speak up and to proclaim the Good News of the Lord’s salvation. The Lord has called them all to His service and they had answered His call with great faith. They rejoice greatly in His Resurrection, and they had passed down this great joy and truth to all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all realise that each and every one of us are the inheritors of the Lord’s mission which He has entrusted to us, to be the ones to bear the Good News of His salvation to the whole world. There are still many people out there who have not believed in God and who have been lukewarm in their faith. We are called here to be the ones to bring forth the light of our faith and the wonders of the Lord’s saving grace to them. Like the Apostles, St. Peter and many other holy men and women of God, all of us have been entrusted with the same truth and message that the Lord wants us to proclaim in our world today much as how St. Peter had proclaimed it that day before the people and before the whole Sanhedrin.

Are we willing and able to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter and the many other holy men and women of God, many of whom had suffered trials and persecutions, opposition and oppressions for the sake of their faith in God? Are we willing to contribute our time and effort to glorify the Lord by our lives and by our actions? Each and every one of us should listen to the Lord calling on us to action, and to follow Him wholeheartedly from now on. Let us seek the Lord with a new spirit and commitment from now on. May God be with us all and may He bless us in our every actions and good works, all for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Friday, 22 April 2022 : Friday within Easter Octave (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, 22 April 2022 : Friday within Easter Octave (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, 22 April 2022 : Friday within Easter Octave (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, 21 April 2022 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this day as we listened to the Scriptures we have been told to remember the salvation that has come down to us through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. The Scriptures passage today have spoken to us regarding the things that God had done for our sake, in Him sending to us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God, to be the source of our Hope and salvation. By His Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection, He has liberated us from the bondage to sin and death, and through Him, a new hope and light had been revealed to us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles of the courageous and fiery speech from St. Peter the Apostle, who together with St. John had healed a paralysed beggar waiting by the Beautiful Gate of the Temple of Jerusalem. The people who witnessed the miraculous healing of the paralysed beggar were all astonished, surprised and filled with joy upon seeing the healed man. They could not believe what they had seen, and yet, were filled with joy because of what they had witnessed, seeing a hopeless man filled once again with strength and hope from God.

St. Peter reminded the assembled people of everything that had just recently happened, how the Lord Jesus had come into their midst and revealed the extent of God’s most generous love for them, caring for them and providing for their needs, reaching out to those who were in need of healing and help. He empowered the people and gave them hope once again, bringing the light of God and true Hope amongst them, strengthening their resolve, healing those who were sick and were troubled, casting out demons and restoring those who were diseased back to good health once again.

Yet, despite everything that He had done for their sake, many among the people still stubbornly refused to believe in God and still rejected Him, doubting Him and His works. That was also why the people chose to condemn the Lord to death, a most humiliating and painful death on the Cross, which the Apostles then were proclaiming, as St. Peter did. St. Peter told the people how even though they had condemned the Lord to death, but it was part of God’s overarching plan to save all of mankind. Through His suffering and death, God had purchased for all of us the gift of eternal life and salvation, and by His resurrection, He has united all of us in a new life with Him.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples right after the resurrection for the first time. The disciples then were still shaken and unsure of what had happened on the day of the Resurrection. They had heard words from the holy women in Jesus’ company and from the two disciples who had returned from Emmaus, that they had seen the Risen Lord. Yet, they still had that fear and doubt in them, and they refused to accept the full truth that the Lord had indeed risen as He had revealed and promised earlier on. It took therefore the Risen Lord Himself appearing before them, to open their eyes and to stir them into the faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed the words of these Scripture passages today, the reminder from God of all that He had done for the sake of our salvation, our liberation from the darkness and despair of evil. All of us are called to put our trust and faith in the Risen Lord, the Light and Hope of all creation. Each and every one of us as Christians have put our faith and trust in the Lord, and believed that He is indeed the One from Whom our salvation has come. Yet, do we truly believe it with all of our hearts? Or are our hearts and minds still clouded with doubt as what had happened with the Lord’s own disciples?

Each one of us are entrusted with the same mission that the Lord had entrusted to His disciples. We are entrusted with the mission to evangelise, to speak the words of the Lord, His truth and the wonders of His love among all those whom we encounter in this world. The works of the Apostles, the saints and all the efforts of the Church had not yet been completed, brothers and sisters in Christ. There remains plenty of areas and many opportunities where there are still many who are ignorant of God’s truth and love, and many others who are still rejecting God and refusing to believe in Him. And it is up to us to be the bearer of God’s light and truth to them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith in God and let us commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord with new zeal and dedication. May the Lord continue to guide us and help to strengthen us in this journey of faith. May He empower us and strengthen us in our struggles and journey in this world, and give us the courage and power to walk ever more faithfully in God’s path, and to proclaim His truth and glory by our very own lives and actions. May God bless us in each and every one of our good deeds and works, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 21 April 2022 : 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.”