Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, on the fortieth day of Easter or on the seventh Sunday in the Easter season, we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the moment when the Risen Lord Jesus, after having appeared to His disciples, ascended in glory to Heaven, returning to His place at the side of God the Father. On this day we remember the time when the Lord, as He ascended into Heaven, sent out His disciples and followers with the final commandment, also known as the Great Commission, to go forth to the whole world and make the disciples of all the peoples of all the nations.

Today we are all reminded that while God has ascended into Heaven, it was not because He abandoned us or left us behind. Instead, as He Himself had said, that He went before all of us to prepare a place for us, and also as He has said and promised, that He will come again in the end, at His Second Coming, to gather all of His faithful ones and to win a final triumphant victory against the forces of evil, leading all of us, God’s beloved children to the true and fullness of happiness which had been intended and meant for us from the very beginning. The Lord ascended into Heaven to show us that He truly came from there, and by His love for us, He has willingly come to us in order to touch us and to show His most generous and enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Solemnity of the Ascension, we are presented with the full circle of the Lord’s work in bringing His love and salvation into our midst. We have seen the Lord’s love made flesh, the Son of God made Man, Who entered into this world as the Son of Man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and made the love of God and His salvation tangible and approachable to us. The Lord has shown Himself to us, and as He came of age and revealed Himself through His Baptism, He began His ministry and work among us, and revealing the truth that He has brought into this world.

And today we mark that moment after He has completed all of that world He had to do in this world, in obeying the will of His heavenly Father. He completed His many works, healing the people, casting out demons and performing countless other miracles and signs, showing everyone that He is truly the One Whom the prophets and messengers of God had spoken and prophesied about. He would then face suffering for our sake, willingly and voluntarily taking up His Cross for our sake, accepting the burden of that Cross on our behalf, bearing on His shoulders the whole burden and the consequences due for our sins. By His Passion, suffering and death, He has united us to Himself and we who share in His death and then later, His Resurrection, have become sharers and partakers of this promise of eternal life.

Hence, after He has completed all of these and made a New Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant between God and us, sealed and purchased by His own Precious Blood, which He offered for our sake, as our High Priest, on the Altar of His Cross, as mentioned in our second reading today, so that by the offering of the most worthy Precious Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Holy Paschal Lamb of God, then the atonement of our innumerable sins can be made a reality. We are truly so fortunate that we have such a loving God on our side, caring for us and protecting us, and even reaching out to us and loving us when we have often spurned His love and rejected Him and His mercy.

The Lord ascended into Heaven after He has risen from the dead, after His triumphant victory against evil and death. And as He ascended gloriously by His own power and might, it proved to all those who had witnessed Him in His Risen glory and that He did not die but had risen from the dead, that truly Jesus Christ is the Holy One Who had come down from Heaven as prophesied by the prophets and the servants of God of ages past, and the Lord has delivered unto us the unmistakeable proof of His love, by His sacrifice on the Cross. His ascension and return into Heaven then serves as the proof that whatever He had said was true, and the disciples who witnessed it, believed in Him as they had always done.

The Lord also did not leave His disciples alone, as He has promised to send them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would continue to guide them henceforth, to do what He commanded them all to do, the Great Commission to go forth to all the people from all the nations, proclaiming the truth of God, the Good News of His salvation and to gather them all to Himself, by baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This has been, is and will always be the primary mission of the Church, as God entrusted this very important mission to His Church, to this very day, so that many more people who had not yet known Him, may come to be saved as well.

That is why, today, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, it is very important that each and every one of us realise that as parts and members of the Church, each one of us as Christians ought to take up this same mission which God has entrusted to us, to be His witnesses and to evangelise to all the people of all the nations. We are all called to share in the very same mission that God has entrusted to His Apostles, until He comes again at the end of time, at the time of His Second Coming, as shown in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, when God will come once again to gather all of His faithful and win a final victory against evil.

Now, let us ask ourselves, brothers and sisters. Have we truly lived our lives faithfully as Christians all these while? Or have we instead been idle and ignorant of our calling and mission as Christians, or even worse still, have we instead been acting in ways that brought scandal to our faith and to the Lord, which caused others to distance themselves from the Church and from the Christian faith and truths? These are important questions that we really need to ask ourselves and to serve as good reminders even as we celebrate this Ascension of Our Lord today, so that it will not be merely just another celebration and then life goes on as usual for us, without a profound change in our life attitudes.

If we wonder whether we are worthy or capable of the calling and the mission which the Lord had entrusted to us, then we do not need to look any further from the Apostles themselves, many of whom were illiterate and came from backgrounds and origins that would have made them unlikely, even ineligible to be the followers and champions of the Lord. And yet, that was what exactly had happened, and the Lord called His disciples and followers even from among the unlikeliest of sources, because ultimately what we think as impossible, by our standards, are perfectly possible for God, because everything is possible for Him, Who knows all things and rules over all.

We do not need to do magnificent or wonderful things. Even if we can live our lives righteously, in accordance to the teachings of the Lord and the laws and rules of the Church, in even the smallest things and parts of our lives, then that will already be sufficient for us. What we need to do is to do our best even in the smallest of things, in the every words we utter, every actions and interactions we have done, and in our every works and dealings. We are all called to be good examples, role models and inspirations to one another with our every day living and in all that we say, act and do. That is the best way for us to proclaim the Lord and to evangelise, reaching out to all those who have not yet known the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore strive to do our best in our every day living, from now on if we have not yet done so, to be good and committed disciples of Our Lord, spreading His Good News, truth and love to all, and continuing His many good works that He has entrusted to His Church. We are all God’s people, and we should do our best to follow Him and obey His will as best as we can. We should reflect on this well as we celebrate this glorious day of the Ascension. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us all and to strengthen us just as He has guided the Apostles and disciples in doing their best for the greater glory of God.

May our Lord, Who ascended in glory and Who has shown us His everlasting love, continue to guide us and be with us, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our path so that we may always ever be ready to embark on the journey of faith and be great witnesses and missionaries of His cause, glorifying Him by our every actions and deeds in life. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 46-53

At that time, Jesus 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. And that is why I will send you what My Father promised. So remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus led them almost as far as Bethany; then He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And as He blessed them, He withdrew, and was taken to heaven. They worshipped Him, and then returned to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple, praising God.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 9 : 24-28 and Hebrews 10 : 19-23

Christ did not enter some sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the True One, but Heaven itself. He is now in the presence of God, on our behalf. He had not to offer Himself many times, as the High Priest does : he, who, may return every year, because the blood is not his own. Otherwise, He would have suffered many times, from the creation of the world.

But no; He manifested Himself only now, at the end of the ages, to take away sin by sacrifice, and, as humans die only once, and afterward are judged, in the same way, Christ sacrificed Himself, once to take away the sins of the multitude. There will be no further question of sin, when He comes again, to save those waiting for Him.

So, my friends, we are assured of entering the Sanctuary, by the Blood of Jesus Who opened, for us, this new and living way, passing through the curtain, that is, His Body. Because we have a High Priest in charge of the House of God, let us approach, with a sincere heart, with full faith, interiorly cleansed from a bad conscience, and our bodies washed, with pure water.

Let us hold fast to our hope, without wavering, because He, Who promised, is faithful.

Alternative reading

Ephesians 1 : 17-23

May the God of Christ Jesus our Lord, the Father of Glory, reveal Himself to you and give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you may know Him. May He enlighten your inner vision, that you may appreciate the things we hope for, since we were called by God.

May you know how great is the inheritance, the glory, God sets apart for His saints; may you understand with what extraordinary power He acts in favour of us who believe. He revealed His Almighty power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and had Him sit at His right hand in heaven, far above all rule, power, authority, dominion, or any other supernatural force that could be named, not only in this world but in the world to come as well.

Thus has God put all things under the feet of Christ and set Him above all things, as Head of the Church which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God ascends amid joyful shouts, the Lord amid trumpet blasts. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 1-11

In the first part of my work, Theophilus, I wrote of all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when He ascended to heaven. But first He had instructed through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles He had chosen. After His passion, He presented Himself to them, giving many signs that He was alive, over a period of forty days He appeared to them and taught them concerning the kingdom of God.

Once when He had been eating with them, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise about which I have spoken to you : John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit within a few days.”

When they had come together, they asked Him, “Is it now that You will restore the Kingdom of Israel?” And He answered, “It is not for you to know the time and the steps that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight. While they were still looking up to heaven where He went, suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up at the sky? This Jesus Who has been taken from you into heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen Him go there.”

Saturday, 28 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures which spoke to us about the revelation of truth that has come to us from God, and how each one of us as Christians are all called to be His witnesses and to proclaim His same truth and love to all the people, as we believe that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, has come into our midst from the Father in order to reveal the love of God to all of us. Just as we have received these from Christ, our Lord and Saviour, hence, each one of us have been called to pass them on to many others who have not yet known Him.

In our first reading today, as we continued to listen from the passage from the Acts of the Apostles as is the case for this entire season of Easter, we heard the continuation of the works of the Apostles and today we heard in particular the story of Apollos, also known as St. Apollos, who was a Jewish convert to the Christian faith that came from the region of Egypt. He came from Alexandria in Egypt to Ephesus, where there had been a growing community of early Christians like in Alexandria. He came to Ephesus and began to preach to the people, based on his understanding of the faith. He was known to be very eloquent and wise, but at the same time, according to the Acts of the Apostles, he was still lacking the full knowledge of the teachings of Christ.

It was likely that Apollos received the teachings of Christ through the Jewish community in Alexandria in Egypt, as well as from the earlier knowledge passed on from St. John the Baptist and his disciples. However, he had not yet received the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and had not yet fully known the fullness of the Christian truth and faith. And hence, some of the faithful who were there in Ephesus helped to get Apollos up to date and henceforth, this courageous Jewish preacher continued to proclaim the Word of God, endowed with the Christian truth and teachings, as he travelled all around the Mediterranean much as St. Paul had also done.

St. Paul, Apollos and the many other disciples of the Lord went to do many wonderful works for the sake of the Lord and His people, spreading the Good News and the Christian faith to more and more people all around the whole Mediterranean and beyond, building up firm foundations of the Church and helping the nascent Christian communities to flourish and grow beyond anyone’s imaginations. They spoke the same truth that they had received from the Lord Himself, in all that He had delivered to them, and through the guidance and wisdom given to them by the Holy Spirit, Whom they have all received and passed on to one another, the gifts of faith, hope and love, the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord spoke to His disciples in continuation of what we heard yesterday, as He continued to encourage them and showing them of all the truth that He had brought into their midst, and how He called on them all to continue His good works, and to put their trust in Him. They shall be blessed and strengthened by God, and they will not need to worry for the Lord Himself will guide them in the path of truth. They are the servants of the truth of God, the witnesses of all that He had done, and of everything that He had proclaimed, and they are to bring all of these into the world so that more and more people may come to know of this same knowledge and be saved as well through faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, each and every one of us as Christians are the successors and as the ones who are expected to continue the good works begun by the Apostles and all those who had first answered the Lord’s call. There are still a lot of areas where the works of the Church and the Lord are still yet incomplete, and there are still plenty of opportunities that have been given to us, for us to embark on this journey of evangelisation, to proclaim to more and more people the light of God’s truth, His love and kindness, His compassionate mercy and care for each and every one of us, the children of mankind.

All of us should therefore do our best to commit our time, effort and attention, following in the footsteps of the Apostles and the saints, like St. Paul, Apollos, and the innumerable other servants of God who had served Him faithfully at all different periods of time, in different and various places all over the world, all proclaiming the same Gospels of God’s truth and love, proclaiming His Good News and salvation, the joy of the light of Christ’s promised eternal life that will overcome even the deepest darkness that is present all around in this world. We are all called to be the disciples and witnesses to go forth to the nations and proclaim God’s truth, now and always.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Saviour, be with us always, and may the Holy Spirit give us the strength and encouragement so that all of us may devote ourselves, our time and energy, courageously in the path of evangelisation, and commit ourselves in our everyday living, in our every words, actions and deeds to glorify the Lord always, so that more and more people may come to believe in the Lord as well, and be saved together with us. May God bless all of us and our every good endeavours and works, for His greater glory. Amen.

Saturday, 28 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 23b-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. So far you have not asked in My Name; ask, and receive, that your joy may be full.”

“I taught you all this in veiled language, but the time is coming when I shall no longer speak in veiled language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. When that day comes, you will ask in My Name; and it will not be for Me to ask the Father for you, for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and you believe that I came from the Father.”

“As I came from the Father, and have come into the world, so I am leaving the world, and going to the Father.”

Saturday, 28 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 46 : 2-3, 8-9, 10

Clap your hands, all you peoples; acclaim God with shouts of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared; He is a great King all over the earth.

God is King of all the earth; sing to Him a hymn of praise. For God now rules over the nations, God reigns from His holy throne.

The leaders of the nations rally together with the people of the God of Abraham. For in His hands are the great of the earth, God reigns far above.

Saturday, 28 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 18 : 23-28

After spending some time at Antioch, Paul left and travelled from place to place through Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. A certain Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived at Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and an authority on the Scriptures, and he had some knowledge of the way of the Lord.

With great enthusiasm he preached and taught correctly about Jesus, although he knew only of John’s baptism. As he began to speak boldly in the synagogue, Priscilla and Aquila heard him; so they took him home with them and explained to him the way more accurately.

As Apollos wished to go to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly strengthened those who, by God’s grace, had become believers, for he vigorously refuted the Jews, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.

Friday, 27 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop (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 joy that will come to us as disciples and followers of our Lord, even if we may have to encounter hardships, trials and challenges along the way. We must realise that as we walk along this path shown to us by God, we are never alone, and God will always be with us, guiding us and strengthening us on our way, helping to get through whatever persecutions and oppositions that we may have to endure as we continue to be faithful and dedicated Christians, in each and every days of our lives.

In our first reading today, as we heard from the Acts of the Apostles, the story of St. Paul and his continued ministry and journey is recounted to us, as he went on to the region of Achaia in what is now modern day Greece. Back then, he had encountered significant persecutions and hardships, had been plotted on and arrested on several occasions, attacked by his opponents and enemies, and was left almost dead in some of those instances. But God was with St. Paul and his companions, and we heard in our reading today that the Lord continued to encourage and strengthen St. Paul as he continued his missionary work.

In Achaia, St. Paul would encounter even more opposition and challenges to his mission, as the local Jewish community, likely siding with the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin against St. Paul and the Christian missionaries, plotted to have him arrested and punished. They made all sorts of false accusations against him, much like how the Lord himself was treated when He was rejected, persecuted, arrested and eventually condemned to death. St. Paul suffered similar persecution, but fortunately the Roman governor was not convinced by the Jewish community and did not arrest St. Paul. St. Paul was free then to continue with his mission there and elsewhere.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus encouraging His disciples as He told them that while they would have to face persecutions, sufferings and challenges but there would be time when they would enjoy a reprieve and time of gladness in the end, when their sufferings will end and everything will be good once again, and the Lord will never abandon His faithful ones, as they will always be precious to Him, no matter what. Hence, the disciples should continue to put their trust in the Lord and allow Him to guide them wherever He would send them to, just as how St. Paul followed the Lord and continued his missions regardless of the challenges that he faced.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard in our Scripture passages today should remind us all as Christians that we have been called to follow the Lord and to do His will, to carry out the mission of evangelising to the people. We often have doubts and reservations in doing so, or are ignorant of the calling and the vocations that we have been called to by the Lord. Many of us as Christians have been idle and passive, not living our faith in the way that we should live them. Hence, that is why we should herd these callings and also the examples as shown by St. Paul and the other faithful servants of God.

Today, we also mark the occasion of the Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury, a dedicated servant of God, a courageous missionary and bishop who has spent many years as missionary in England to establish the Church and its structure and foundation there. His examples and good works should and can inspire us all to follow the Lord in the same sense. St. Augustine of Canterbury was sent from mainland Europe by Pope St. Gregory the Great, another great saint of the Church, to reestablish the Church in England after over two centuries that it was ravaged by the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and the Church there was isolated from the rest of Christendom.

St. Augustine of Canterbury laboured for many years in England, establishing a firm foothold for Christianity in southern and eastern parts of England, becoming the first bishop of the See of Canterbury. He converted many of the pagans and even their kings to the Christian faith. St. Augustine spent all those years ministering to the faithful and many others, despite the hardships and challenges that he had to face from those who refused to believe in the Lord. His good works and all that he had done for the sake of God and His Church should inspire each one of us to do the same as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we remember the glorious memory of St. Augustine of Canterbury, his actions and works, and St. Paul and the other servants of God, let us all continue to commit ourselves to the Lord in our own ways, and endeavour to live actively our Christian faith from now on. We should no longer be just idle onlookers or to be on standby mode anymore. As Christians we are all expected to follow the Lord faithfully and to spend our effort and time to glorify Him more and more each days, now and always. May God bless us all and strengthen us that we too may do great things like what the saints had done, for the glory of God and the salvation of all people. Amen.