Saturday, 17 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us through the Sacred Scriptures, we are reminded to put our trust always in the Lord and not to be worried or easily swayed by the many trials and challenges that we may encounter along the journey of our faith. We must not be afraid to follow the Lord and to commit ourselves to Him, and we should look up to Him, entrusting ourselves to Him as we journey through the storms and the trials of life.

In our Gospel passage today, this is what we have heard as the disciples went to the sea of Galilee on a boat while the Lord was not with them, and then later on, as the sea was getting harsh and stormy, they saw the Lord coming up to them walking on the water. The Lord reassured the frightened disciples on the boat who thought that they had seen a ghost, that it was indeed Him Who was walking towards them, and then as the Lord came to them, the disciples and their boat immediately reached their destination.

In this miraculous and wonderful occasion mentioned by the Gospel today, we heard how the Lord came to His disciples and rescued them at their time of need, and at the same time, guided them to where they were to go, leading them to the shore. Through these things that we have heard, we are reminded that God is indeed our strength and guide, our source of encouragement and our compass, the Light that shows us where we are to go, just as He has led His disciples and others to Himself.

Unfortunately, it is very often that we ourselves do not recognise the Lord especially when we are in the midst of challenges, trials and difficulties in life. When we encounter problems and dilemma in life, very often we panicked and became worried, stressed and filled with fear, and not realising that the Lord is in fact by our side, journeying with us and guiding us throughout the journey. Just as the Lord revealed Himself in the storm to the frightened disciples, He wants us all to know that no matter what, He is always with us, even to the worst things we encounter in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the early Church faced difficulties when there was division and disagreement between the Jewish and the non-Jewish or Gentiles among the Lord’s followers, as the latter felt that they had not been equally treated in the distribution of goods, likely because of the prevailing bias against the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people by the Jews among the early Christians, even after they had adopted the Christian faith.

The Apostles, through the wisdom and guidance of the Lord in the Holy Spirit decided to choose seven exemplary men among the faithful, to be the first Seven Deacons of the Church, tasked with the works and distributions of the goods, as well as in assisting the Apostles and the elders in the Church and in managing the faithful people of God. Through the holy and inspired Deacons, the Lord had guided His people through a tumultuous times, and helped them to overcome their differences and be reconciled to each other.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in what we have heard, again we have been reassured of God’s guidance and providence among His people, in His guidance towards those whom He had called and chosen, in those whom He loves and considers as precious. That is why we should not be afraid to do whatever He has commanded us all to do, to be courageous and faithful as Christians, that in everything we say and do, we will always be exemplary in whatever we do, at all times, as great role models and inspiration for one another.

We are all called to be faithful and to be active in our Christian lives and in how we dedicate our daily efforts, for the greater glory of God. Let us all be inspired by the examples of the Apostles, the works of the Holy Deacons, the courage of St. Stephen, who died defending his faith, and the many other saints and martyrs who had gone before us, each of them truly exemplary in their lives. May God be with us all, and may He strengthen us all in our every endeavours and efforts. May the Lord be with us always, and may He give us the necessary capacity and energy to walk in the Lord’s presence, at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 17 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 16-21

At that time, when evening came, the disciples went down to the shore. After a while they got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the sea, for it was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them. But the sea was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing.

They had rowed about three or four miles, when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and He was drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, but He said to them, “It is I! Do not be afraid!” They wanted to take Him into the boat, but immediately the boat was at the shore to which they were going.

Saturday, 17 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are just, praise is fitting for the upright. Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises.

For upright is the Lord’s word and worthy of trust is His work. The Lord loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

But the Lord’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving-kindness to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

Saturday, 17 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we continue to be reminded of the wonderful deeds of the Lord, the love by which He has showered upon us as the concrete proof of His dedication and commitment to the Covenant which He has forged with us, that He wants us to be reconciled and to be together with Him as we come closer to Him and receive His truth and love.

In our first reading today, we heard of the intervention by the respected member of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel, a senior member of the Pharisees and one of the chief priests who urged caution and moderation in terms of the Sanhedrin’s opposition to the works and the efforts of the Lord’s Apostles and followers in preaching His truth and doing miracles in His Name, as he cited how the previous attempts by false Messiahs to claim their identity had failed and their followers dispersed and disbanded shortly afterwards.

Therefore, Gamaliel said that they should leave the disciples and the Apostles be as if they and their mission did not come from God, then it would fail in a short while and everything would fall apart just as what had happened to all the other false Messiahs. On the contrary, if the works of the Apostles were truly divine inspired, then the Sanhedrin, no matter what they were doing, would be going against God and thus it would have been futile to try to stop the works of God.

Through those words of wisdom from Gamaliel, we can see how indeed the fact that the Church and the works of the Apostles that had persevered for the past two thousand years, and not only that, but as how the history of the Church had shown us, the works of the Apostles and their successors had expanded the reach of the Lord and countless souls had been saved all throughout these past two millennia, heeding the Lord’s call for repentance and to be reconciled to Him.

The Lord had gathered all of His faithful ones to Himself just as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that just as we heard the well-known account of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and thousands of other women and children, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have God Who is always ever on our side, loving us and wanting to be reconciled with us, and Who selflessly and ever willingly giving Himself to us.

In that moment when the Lord saw over five thousand men and thousands others gathered before Him, He showed pity and love for them, feeding them all miraculously with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. He broke the bread and shared the fishes, feeding them all just as He has fed their ancestors the manna in the desert. And that was only a prelude to an even far greater giving, that in the discourse that would come after this event, He alluded to how He would be the Bread of Life to all, as the Bread broken and shared for all, so that all who partake in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

That is how the Lord offered Himself and sacrificed Himself on the Cross, shedding His own Most Precious Body and Blood, for all of us who believe in Him, so that by sharing in His Precious Body and Blood, freely offered and given for us, we can share in the everlasting life and true joy and happiness which He has promised to all of us. He has showed us all His love and grace all these while, and how do we respond to this love from God, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Are we going to just pretend that His love did not exist? Or are we going to pretend that nothing had happened at all? God so loved the world, all of us that He has given us all His only begotten Son, for our sake that we may live and not perish, and yet, more often than not we have rejected Him, ignored Him, abandoned Him and betrayed Him. Yet, the Lord still patiently tries to reach out to us and help us, and He still wants to be reconciled with us.

Are we willing to embrace God’s love and mercy, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all harden our hearts and minds no more, and do our very best to seek Him at every possible opportunity, that we may come ever closer to Him and be more worthy to share in His glory and love. May God be with us all and may He strengthen us to live our lives with commitment and faith, with each and every passing moments in our lives. May God bless us all and guide us in our journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One Who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him King; so He fled to the hills by Himself.

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 16 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the members of the Council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law highly respected by the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin. He ordered the men to be taken outside for a few minutes and then he spoke to the assembly.

“Fellow Israelites, consider well what you intend to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas came forward, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed and all his followers were dispersed or disappeared.”

“After him, Judas the Galilean appeared at the time of the census and persuaded many people to follow him. But he too perished and his whole following was scattered. So, in this present case, I advise you to have nothing to do with these men. Leave them alone. If their project or activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. If, on the other hand, it is from God, you will not be able to destroy it and you may indeed find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Council let themselves be persuaded. They called in the Apostles and had them whipped, and ordered them not to speak again of Jesus Saviour. Then they set them free. The Apostles went out from the Council rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the Name. Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they continued to teach and to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Thursday, 15 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, once again we are brought to focus on the mission that God has entrusted to us all as Christians, as those whom He has chosen and called to be His own, that each and every one of us be part of the same mission He has entrusted to His Church, that is to all of us who are also members of His Church, the One Body of Christ, the faithful people of God.

We have all been called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, the same Apostles whom as described in our first reading today, stood before the whole Sanhedrin or the Jewish High Council facing opposition and bitter resentment from most of its members. The Sanhedrin clearly made known what they wanted, that they all ceased their works and efforts to preach in the Name of the Lord Jesus, recently crucified by the Sanhedrin’s works, and risen from the dead.

St. Peter and the other Apostles firmly rejected and resisted the commands of the Sanhedrin, and stated with great determination and conviction that they would rather obey God and His commandments rather than to obey and follow the commands of fallible men, those who failed to understand the truth of God and those who stubbornly refused to believe in Him because of their pride and arrogance, their desire for fame and power.

Then, in the Gospel today, we heard of the testimony of truth that both the Lord Jesus Himself and St. John the Baptist, His herald had revealed and spoken of, revealing the fullness of the long planned salvation of mankind, that only the One Who had come down from Heaven would have known of. St. John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and called the people to repentance and to abandon their sinful ways that they may come to accept the Lord and His truth when He came.

For all of that, he had to suffer, and the Pharisees and the chief priests doubted him, just as they would later on also refused to believe in the Lord when He came, and he would suffer martyrdom at the hands of king Herod and his unlawful wife, Herodias when he spoke courageously against the immoral behaviour and adultery between the two. And the Lord Himself also suffered as He spoke the truth and was rejected by many among the Sanhedrin, who handed Him over to the Romans to be condemned to death and crucified.

Thus, as we can see here, often, to walk in the path of the Lord is to endure the opposition, challenges and sufferings that are likely to be in that path, and which we have to endure as we walk in His path. The Lord calls us to follow Him nonetheless, and as we embark on this journey of faith, and are we willing to commit ourselves to His cause? Rest assured that the Lord will be with us just as He has been with His Apostles, guiding them and giving them the strength to persevere over their challenges and trials.

Today, in this world there are still many who have not yet known God and who have not witnessed His love and His truth. And we are all as Christians are the ones who have been called to be those who shall bring the Good News of God, His love and presence into the midst of those who have not yet known God and are still in darkness and in ignorance of God’s truth. We are all called to be faithful witnesses of our Christian faith and we should not just be idle or be Christians in name only.

That is why, thus far, as we rejoice during this season of Easter, we are constantly being reminded again and again that the Lord is calling on us to be active and devout Christians, to be genuine in our beliefs and faith, and to be zealous and dedicated in how we live our lives, so that we can become good role models for one another, as we reach out towards our fellow brothers and sisters, and speaking the truth about the Lord, His truth and love, and the salvation He has promised all of us.

Let us all discern carefully therefore what we should be doing, as we move forward in life. Let us make good use of the time and opportunities which we have been given, and be fruitful in all of our good efforts and endeavours, in what we do in each and every moments of our lives to glorify the Lord and to be ray of hope for our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering especially during this and the past year, that through us, they may also come to know of God and His love. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 15 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 31-36

At that time, John the Baptist said, “He Who comes from above is above all; he who comes from the earth belongs to the earth, and his words belong to the earth. He Who comes from heaven speaks of the things He has seen and heard; He bears witness to these things, but no one accepts His testimony. Whoever does receive His testimony acknowledges the truthfulness of God.”

“The One sent by God speaks God’s words, and gives the Spirit unstintingly. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything into His hands. Whoever believes in the Son lives with eternal life; but he who will not believe in the Son will never know life, and always faces the justice of God.”