Sunday, 1 April 2018 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord is risen in glory, He has triumphed over sin and death. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we rejoice together as the whole entire Church celebrating the coming of Easter, after we have spent over a month, forty days to be exact, to prepare ourselves in our body, our mind, our spirit and our soul, to glorify together the Risen Christ, the Lord Our God Who has saved us by His death on the cross and by His defeat of death.

The Scripture readings of Easter Vigil detailed to us the important events in the history of mankind, in the history of our people throughout time, where from time to time, God continued to make His presence and works known to us, beginning with the creation of the world itself, as He created this whole world with all of its living things and all of us, the pinnacle of His creation.

At the same time, the Scripture passages showed us how God delivered His people from harm and renewed the Covenants He had made with them. Ultimately in all of these, God showed us just how much He has loved us, to the point that He was willing to go through all the pains, sorrows and all the persecutions which we remember and we commemorate during the entirety of this Holy Week, meaning His Passion, His suffering and death on the cross.

However, everything that we celebrated throughout the Holy Week, all of them have no meaning if the Lord Jesus has not risen from the dead. The Lord’s glorious entry into Jerusalem, and then the Last Supper where He gave His own Body and Blood to His disciples, and thus from them to us all, and then His crucifixion and death on the cross commemorated on Good Friday, all these had no meaning if the Lord Jesus remained dead. All the promises He had made with us and given us, would have no meaning if He had not risen from the dead.

But the Lord Jesus did rise from the dead, the only one among the sons and daughters of Adam to do so. That is because while He is the Son of Man, born of mankind through His mother Mary, He is also God, Son of the Father, the Divine Word Incarnate, as He took up the flesh of Man, He did not leave behind or be separated from His divinity. Instead, in the person of Jesus Christ, the two natures of Man and God is united while distinct, and in the person of Our Lord Jesus, our salvation has come.

Through His humanity, He has united all of us mankind, and brought us who believe in Him to accepting the death of our past physical existence, our sins and our wickedness. While He was sinless and pure Himself, He willingly took up upon Himself the punishment for all of our sins, which He bore upon the cross. As He died on that cross, all of us Christians have also died to our sins, and shared in the sufferings of Christ, bearing our own crosses in life.

Then, as He, by His own power and majesty, triumphed over death and sin, showing to all that He is God, Who rules over life and death. And as He is God, His divinity is eternal, and by that, He overcame death, and rose from the dead. This is the pinnacle and final event in the long planned salvation which God has promised to all of us, the children of Adam, by showing us that sin and Satan do not have the final say over us.

And just as all of us share in the death of Christ, then all of us who believe in Him, will also share in His resurrection. Through Christ, all of us have been brought to a new life, no longer enslaved to sin, liberated from the chains that bound us. How did He do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? As we all heard from the Scripture passages today, we should have heard about the moment when the Israelites were delivered from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh at the Red Sea.

At that time, God used His might to free the people of Israel from slavery under the Egyptians, and brought them out of Egypt towards the land He promised to all of them. Then, Pharaoh again hardened his heart and refused to accept the fact that the Israelites were free, and chased them to the Red Sea with his armies and the chariots. Then God told Moses to stretch his hands over the sea, and God opened the Red Sea before the Israelites.

The Israelites walked through the Red Sea to the other side, while the Lord held back the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. Then the Lord destroyed the armies of the Pharaoh of Egypt in the Red Sea after the Israelites have safely passed through the waters. This, brothers and sisters in Christ, is what was celebrated at the Jewish Passover, the most important event in the Jewish calendar and celebrations.

The symbolism of water is very powerful indeed, and it is linked to why baptisms of those who accepted the faith and converted to the Christian faith are conducted optimally during this celebration of Easter Vigil, or at least on Easter Sunday. That is because, in the Sacrament of Baptism, by the holy water blessed on this day, those who are baptised receive cleansing from their original sins, and made pure to be a clean and pure slate, a new life in God.

And water is both a symbol of death as well as life. Water can both destroy as well as bring life and sustain it. Water can be a very destructive force as we see in tsunamis and huge waves, as well as floods and heavy rains. And thus, our old life is ‘destroyed’ by the water and we are made anew by the life-giving property of water. At that time, the Israelites passed through the water of the Red Sea from their old life of slavery into a new freedom, while we passed through the waters of Baptism from our old, sinful life into a new life filled with God’s grace.

Thus, Easter is also a Passover which supersedes and far exceeds the original Passover. This Christian Passover marks the moment when the Lord liberates us mankind, His beloved people, from our slavery to sin. This is just as how the Lord liberated His people from their enslavement by the Egyptians. All of us who have sinned, are enslaved by those sins, and unless we are freed from those sins, we will endure death and damnation, separation from God.

Why is that so? That is because sins corrupt us, and corruption and wickedness have no place before God, Who is all good and perfect. Thus, if we have sinned, and did not have those sins purified, we cannot be with God, and that was why our ancestors Adam and Eve were banished from God’s presence in Eden in the first place, for their disobedience and thus sin against God.

God loves each and every one of us, brothers and sisters, and that is why, even though He despises our sins and wickedness, He loves each and every one of us regardless. From the smallest to the greatest of sinners, He loves us all, and He wants each and every one of us to be reconciled to Him. If He has shown His mercy and love to the Israelites, the people with whom He first made His Covenant, faithful to His Covenant with Abraham, His servant, then surely He also wants us all, every one of the children of Adam and Eve, to be saved from our slavery to sin?

All of us Christians have been given this great grace of forgiveness through our baptism. But, as we make the renewal of our baptismal promises this Easter, let us all reflect on our lives thus far. Have we lived our Christian lives earnestly and with faith in God? Or have we lapsed back into our old ways and to our sins that God has cleansed through our baptism? We need to reflect on this so that our Easter celebrations can be truly meaningful.

Let us ask ourselves this important question, “What is a Christian to us? What does being a Christian mean to us?” Does a Christian mean for us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, it does. And then, does a Christian mean that we need to go for the Holy Mass every Sunday? Yes, it does. But is that all that we need to do, brothers and sisters in Christ? No, certainly it is not.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us need to realise that as Christians, each and every one of us are called to the same mission which God has entrusted to us, that is to be His witnesses, the witnesses of His resurrection and as the bearers of His Good News to people of all the nations, by going forth to preach the Good News and the truth, not just by words, but also through our actions and exemplary deeds of faith.

Therefore, let us all be true disciples and followers of the Lord, that is as true and devout Christians, doing His will and walking righteously in His path always. Let us all be true witnesses of His resurrection, that even though we have not seen Him physically risen from the dead, but through our fervent and genuine faith, we will declare His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and death to all the people.

May the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, Our triumphant Lord and King be with us always, that together, all of us Christians, who believe in Him, in His Passion, in His suffering and death, and in His resurrection in glory, may share fully in Him, the glory of eternal life with Him. May the Risen Lord bless us all, and may He keep us all in His everlasting love and grace. Amen.

Sunday, 1 April 2018 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

At that time, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he, too, saw the linen cloths lying flat.

The napkin, which had been around his head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed. Scripture clearly said that He must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

Alternative reading

Matthew 28 : 1-10

At that time, after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake : an Angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came to the stone, rolled it from the entrance of the tomb, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his garment white as snow. The guards trembled in fear and became like dead man when they saw the Angel.

The Angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where they laid Him; then go at once and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. This is my message for you.

They left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The woman 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.”

Alternative reading (Evening Mass)

Luke 24 : 13-35

At that time, on the same day Jesus rose from the dead, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them. But their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveller to Jerusalem who does not know what haw happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, You know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place.”

“It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of Angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a Body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?” They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem.

There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Sunday, 1 April 2018 : 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, 1 April 2018 : 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, 1 April 2018 : 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.”

Reflections on Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ : the Easter Message

Alleluia! The Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour and God is risen, Alleluia!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, first I would like to share with all of you the joy of Easter, the blessings of the Risen Lord Jesus, who had died on the cross for us, and Risen in glory, overcoming the powers of death, and showing that death has no final say over all. Today is indeed a day of great joy, as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, that there is hope in all of us mankind.

For we who follow the Lord and His way, have died to our sins and to our past lives, as the Scriptures had mentioned, and then followed the Lord in His resurrection, and we were risen to a new life in Christ, filled with love, hope, and faith. Today is the day when Christ broke the hold of sin and death over all of us, we who had been once enslaved by the powers of sin, ever since our first ancestors disobeyed the will of God and followed their own will into destruction.

Christ is the dawn of new life and new hope, which God has given us as the perfect gift, the gift of Himself, to bring us away from our former lives in darkness and into the new purity that is worthy of God. In His resurrection, Christ washes away the darkness of sin and death and bring with Him a new light that will never be dimmed, and is the light of hope that is the beacon for all of us as we proceed towards the Lord, our final destination.

What is the significance of Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord? If Jesus Christ had just died for us on the cross and remain dead and buried, then we would have no hope at all, and there would be no salvation for us. It is precisely because Christ is the first of all and the first to rise from the dead, then we too have the hope to rise up from the ashes of our death and sinfulness, into a new life of hope in God, one that is filled with the hope of complete reunion and perfection in God.

Christ heralded the end of the long separation between God and His beloved creations, mankind by serving as the crucial and only link between us and God the Father. Through His cross, He had bridged the once uncrossable and impassable chasm existing between us and God. Through His resurrection, our redemption became a reality.

When Christ died, He passed into the realm of the dead, just as all those who were under the power of death. It was there too that countless people from the beginning of time awaited the coming of the Saviour who would release them from the enthrallment and tyranny of Satan and evil, and bring them into a new and eternal life of goodness with God.

This was the harrowing of hell, when Christ broke apart the chains holding those who were dead and righteous in their lives before God, freeing them from the dominion of death, and together with Christ, they went on to new life in God, in eternal bliss and happiness, having been reunited with God through the Resurrection of Jesus.

Such was the joy of the people who had long awaited the salvation that came through Jesus, and such was the joy of the angels and the saints of God when the Lord is Risen and show to the devil his final and utter defeat, the defeat of all his schemes and plotting against God and His beloved ones. This great joy is what we celebrate in Easter, and indeed in every time we come together to celebrate the Mass, that is in essence the celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

This joy is because we celebrate life, the dawn of a new life, one that is no longer marred by sin and evil, but one that is firmly anchored in God and His love. Easter is about life, the celebration and joy for life. That is why we rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for this bright, new life He had granted us through the resurrection of Jesus His Son. Easter is a time for renewal and rejuvenation, when the coldness and bitterness of our past is gone, and replaced with the hope and fresh breeze of new life.

If Christ died without being risen after three days in the realm of the dead, then we would have had no hope, as we know that death would eventually claim us for our sins and trespasses. Instead, we know that because Christ was risen, He triumphed over death and conquered it, so that again, as I had mentioned, death does not have the final say over us.

But Christ did not just do this for us to take advantage on. We also have to accept Him as our Lord and Saviour for us to be able to take part in the salvation that Christ had brought upon us. That is the essence of baptism, which we also celebrate particularly on this holy and great day. We celebrate with those who had finally accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and we praise God because more and more are brought to the light of God.

Baptism is in essence the celebration of Easter, because in baptism, our past sinfulness are washed away by the waters of baptism, and we are reborn again in Christ, who by His power makes us to be truly the children of God, and the inheritor of the vast goodness that God had promised us His beloved ones. Through baptism, like Jesus, we died to our old lives and sins, and we welcome a new life, risen together with Christ, a life that is hopefully filled with love, hope and faith in the Risen Lord.

Today we have to recall closely what happened on the day when we were baptised. For many of us, this is perhaps difficult since we are baptised when we were still infants, and therefore we could not recall the experience of our own baptism. For some of us, we are fortunate for we accepted the Lord when we were already at an age when we are able to make conscious decision and decide that we want to take the side of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, when we were baptised, the Lord claimed us as His own, and we were sealed with the seal of the Living God, none other than with the Most Sacred Name of the Holy Trinity. Baptism marked our moment of truth, when Christ who is Risen today brings us with Him to the glory of the new life and resurrection, and we are brought away from our past darkness and sinful lives.

But that does not mean that we should be complacent and leave it at as if we have already been assured the riches of the kingdom of God as our reward. Satan definitely will still try his best to persuade us back to return to his ways and will lure us with great pleasures of the world. Many have fallen along the way, even though they have seen the light of God. This Easter should serve as a reminder for us, that we have to be always vigilant and treasure what we have in the Risen Lord.

Let us help one another, that we may be ever closer to God, and let us reach out to the Lord, who had first reached out to us through Jesus His Son, who suffered for our sins and trespasses, wounded and scourged for our rebelliousness, died for our sake, and went to free those who were in darkness and brought them into the eternal light and peace in God. Let us help one another that all of us will be one in the Risen Lord.

May Almighty God and the Risen Christ, bless us on this wonderful day. Alleluia! Let our song of joy and praise resound throughout the earth, proclaiming our Risen Lord this day to all creations! Amen.

Sunday, 20 April 2014 : Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-9

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter then set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying flat, but he did not enter.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered the tomb; he too, saw the linen cloths lying flat. The napkin, which had been around His head, was not lying flat like the other linen cloths, but lay rolled up in its place. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.

Scripture clearly said that he must rise from the dead, but they had not yet understood that.

 

Alternative Reading

 

Matthew 28 : 1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. Suddenly, there was a violent earthquake : an angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came to the stone, rolled it from the entrance of the tomb, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his garment white as snow. The guards trembled in fear and became like dead men when they saw the angel.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where they laid Him; then go at once and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. This is my message for you.”

They left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to His disciples. Suddenly, Jesus 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.”

 

Alternative Reading (for Easter Sunday Evening Mass)

 

Luke 24 : 13-35

That same day, two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them, but their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems you are the only traveller to Jerusalem who does not know what has happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a Prophet, you know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We had hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place.”

“It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us. When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His Body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that the Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?”

They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.