Monday, 22 April 2019 : Monday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture as we progress through the Octave of Easter, rejoicing together in the Easter joy of Our Lord. And we are constantly being reminded that as Christians filled with the joy of Easter, we are to be role models for one another, and to be the bearers of this same joy in our evangelising mission towards all those who have yet to know of Christ and His salvation.

The Lord has truly risen from the dead, and His resurrection brought about a great new hope for all of His disciples, especially because they were filled with fear by the sudden loss of their Lord and Master in such a humiliating and terrible way. They were fearful of the repercussions from the Jewish authorities, all those who have arrested the Lord and sentenced Him to death, sending Him over to the Romans to be crucified, a punishment reserved to the worst of criminals.

As we heard in the Gospel passage today, there were many who witnessed firsthand the resurrection of the Lord, both at the tomb as we heard in today’s Gospel, as well as in the subsequent apparitions of the Risen Lord to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. Yet, the Sanhedrin or the Council of the elders of the Jewish people bribed the guards who also witnessed the resurrection of the Lord, to tell a false story that the disciples had stolen the Lord’s Body and hid Him in order to cover up the truth.

They opposed the Lord and His disciples such that they put a very harsh opposition and even oppression on all those who taught and preached in the Name of Jesus. They forbade all people from mentioning or teaching in His Name, and all these efforts to eradicate the truth of the Lord made many among the disciples to be fearful. They already fled and were scattered right at the moment when the Lord was arrested, and did not dare to stand by Him at the moments of His distress.

Yet, in the first reading today, we heard the great, courageous and wonderful testimony made by St. Peter the Apostle. This is the same St.

Peter who had denied the Lord three times at the night of His agony and suffering, despite his earlier promise that he would even die for the sake of the Lord. But as we heard, St. Peter has been totally transformed by the Holy Spirit, as he and the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord received the promised Spirit of God at the Pentecost.

We saw how St. Peter spoke openly and plainly on the truth that has happened and which Christ has spoken before them all, even when the Sanhedrin, the chief priests, the Pharisees and the opponents of the Lord threatened to take severe actions against them. In various occasions throughout the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we can see how those same disciples of the Lord who had once fled in fear, had become courageous servants, who even willingly embraced martyrdom for their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today, as we continue to progress through the season of Easter, we must remind ourselves that we have to follow the examples and the courage of the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord. We have received the same Holy Spirit as they have received, at the time of our Baptism, and for those among us, who have also received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us have been affirmed and strengthened.

And we have been called to continue the same mission which the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord have received, and that is to bring forth the truth of God and to bear witness to Him, Our Risen Lord and Saviour, before the people of various nations and origins, that we may truly show, not only by words, but even more importantly, through our every actions and by the sincerity of our attitudes in life, that each and every one of us may inspire many others to also follow us in our journey towards God.

May the Risen Lord Jesus, Our Saviour be with us always, and may He strengthen in us our faith and dedication to Him, that we may endure more patiently the challenges in our lives and that we may do our very best to live our lives in the most Christian way, so that more may come to believe in God, Our Risen Saviour, through us and our exemplary lives. May God bless us always. Amen.

Monday, 22 April 2019 : Monday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 8-15

At that time, the woman left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to Jesus’ disciples. Suddenly, He met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The women approached Him, embraced His feet and worshipped Him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell My brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see Me.”

While the women were on their way, the guards returned to the city, and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the elders, and decided to give the soldiers a large sum of money, with this instruction, “Say that His disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the Body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will explain the situation and keep you out of trouble.”

The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.

Monday, 22 April 2019 : Monday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 15 : 1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

Keep me safe, o God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “O Lord, my inheritance and my cup, my chosen portion – hold secure my lot.”

I bless the Lord Who counsels me; even at night my inmost self instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; for with Him at my right hand, I will never be shaken.

My heart, therefore, exults, my soul rejoices; my body too will rest assured. For You will not abandon my soul to the grave, nor will You suffer Your Holy One to see decay in the land of the dead.

You will show me the path of life, in Your presence the fullness of joy, at Your right hand happiness forever.

Monday, 22 April 2019 : Monday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 2 : 14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed them, “Fellow Jews and all foreigners now staying in Jerusalem, listen to what I have to say. Fellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited Him and through Him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as you well know.”

“You delivered Him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and in this way the purpose of God from all times was fulfilled. But God raised Him to life and released Him from the pain of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in the power of death. David spoke of Him when He said : I saw the Lord before me at all times; He is by my side, that I may not be shaken.”

“Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body too will live in hope. Because You will not forsake me in the abode of the dead, nor allow Your Holy One to experience corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, and Your presence will fill me with joy.”

“Friends, I do not need to prove that the patriarch David died and was buried; his tomb is with us to this day. But he knew that God had sworn to him that One of his descendants would sit upon his throne and, as he was a prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah. So he said that He would not be left in the region of the dead, nor would His Body experience corruption.

This Messiah is Jesus and we are all witnesses that God raised Him to life. He has been exalted at God’s right side and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to Him; this Spirit He has just poured upon us as you now see and hear.

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.