Sunday, 20 March 2016 : Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Holy Week (Passion Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 22 : 14 – Luke 23 : 56 (Palm Sunday Year C)

When the hour came, Jesus took His place at the table and the Apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

Then they passed Him a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

And after the supper, He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in My Blood, which is poured out for you. Yet the hand of the traitor is with Me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for Him. But alas for that one who betrays Him!”

They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing. They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hard-hearted rulers claim the title, ‘Gracious Lord.'”

“But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

“You are the ones who have been with Me, and stood by Me, through My troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to Me by My Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at My table at My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers.” Then Peter said, “Lord, with You I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know Me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let hm sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says : ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in Me, and now everything written about Me is taking place.”

Then they said, “See, Lord, here are two swords!” But He answered, “That is enough.”

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. When He came to the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.” Then He went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down He prayed, “Father, if it is You will, remove this cup from Me; however, not My will but Yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give Him strength.

As He was in agony, He prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When He rose from prayer, He went to His disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to Him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the HIgh Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against Him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and He said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest Me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest Me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

Then they seized Him and took Him away, bringing Him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance. A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard, where people were gathered, and Peter sat among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light if the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with Him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

A little later, someone who saw Him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!” After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat Him. They blindfolded Him, struck Him, and then asked, “Who hit You? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning Him, “Tell us, are You the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet from now on, the Son of Man will have His seat at the right hand of the MIghty God.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.” Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from His own lips.

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how His body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day, they rested, as the Law required.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 23 : 1-49

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation : “We found this Man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claming to be Christ the King.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this Man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with His teaching. He began in Galilee and now He has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the Man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see Him because of the reports about Him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while, the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed Him and with his guards mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on Him, he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this Man before me and accused Him of subversion. In your presence, I have examined Him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent Him back to me. It is quite clear that this Man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have Him scourged and then release Him.”

On the Passover, Pilate had to release a prisoner. Therefore, shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this Man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder.

Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with Him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have Him scourged and let Him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Him; among them were women, beating their breasts and grieving for Him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!'”

“And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, He was crucified together with two criminals – one on His right and another on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the guards cast lots to divide His clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Him, saying to one another, “Let the Man who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the chosen One of God!” The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the king of the Jews? Free Yourself!”

Above Jesus there was a inscription in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” And saying that, He gave up His Spirit.

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God, “Surely this was an upright Man!” he said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts.

But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed Him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Friday, 28 June 2013 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, Great Feast Day of the Church of Rome (First Reading)

Acts 3 : 1-10

Once when Peter and John were going up to the Temple at three in the afternoon, the hour for prayer, a man crippled from birth was being carried in. Every day they would bring him and put him at the temple gate called “Beautiful”; there he begged from those who entered the Temple.

When he saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple, he asked for alms. Then Peter with John at his side looked straight at him and said, “Look at us.” So he looked at them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you : In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, walk!”

Then he took the beggar by his right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankles became firm, and jumping up he stood on his feet and began to walk. And he went with them into the Temple walking and leaping and praising God.

All the people saw him walking and praising God; they recognised him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were all astonished and amazed at what had happened to him.

Sunday, 2 June 2013 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Scripture Reflection)

Brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate a great mystery of our faith, that is the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, in which God gave His own flesh and blood for us to consume, that He may live in us, and we in Him, that we can gain eternal life through Him. He gave up Himself that we may live, that we have a share in His death and His glorious resurrection.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist is the centre to our faith, and the Real Presence of Christ our Lord in the consecrated bread and wine is what makes our faith truly Catholic. That is because we believe that in the Holy Mass, whenever the priest offers the bread and wine and consecrate it before the Lord, in the same words that Christ had used on the Last Supper, the bread and the wine truly become the Real Body and Blood of our Lord, and not just a purely symbolic or memorial reenactment of the Last Supper, but a real transformation of the material of the bread and wine, into the Body of Christ.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, what we receive in the Eucharist is the real Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, and therefore, as the Eucharist is divine, being the essence of God Himself, we must treat it with the greatest deference and respect. For this is the God who came down to us as man like us, and died for us, by shedding His blood, the Blood of the Lamb of God, that all mankind may be saved.

The Lamb of God had been slaughtered, and He did not resist, nor did He protest against His unjust sentence of death, even though He is without sin, because without His death, without His sacrifice, as the only completely perfect sacrificial lamb, there is nothing that can match the severity of all the sins of all mankind combined together. Only Christ, God incarnate as man, has this power and authority over sin, and by His sacrifice, we are made pure again, white as snow.

But Christ did not give us His Body and His Blood in the Eucharist without reason, ever since He gave His disciples the first Eucharist in the Last Supper, and as He had always mentioned, that those who eat that Bread, the Bread of Life, and drink from the cup of salvation, will gain eternal life, because Christ Himself would dwell within all of us, and we would then have a share in His glorious resurrection, and therefore eligible for salvation. Only if we accept Christ, live according to His commandments, and receive Him in the Eucharist, then we gain the fullness of salvation.

As Christ would dwell within all of us who receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, our bodies must be worthy of Christ, of God who is good and perfect. We may be lowly and weak mortals, but as long as we keep our faith in God and strive to do only what is good in the eyes of the Lord, we are worthy of Him. Remember the saying, that our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit? That is because the Lord Himself through His Real Presence in the Eucharist has been willing to come to us, through the bread and wine transformed that we consume, that He would then dwell in us forever more.

That is why, we must not defile our bodies and minds with sin and corruption of evil, because our very body itself has become the very Temple of God, where the Lord resides, just very much like the Temple of Jerusalem, at the time of King Solomon, when God was willing to come down and reside in the Temple built by Solomon, and His presence overwhelmed all the people who witnessed it, so great is His majesty and power.

The Lord had decreed that no filth of evil and sin should enter the Temple, and there were large dedicated places where the people can wash and purify themselves prior to entering the Holy Temple, so that they would not defile the place physically and spiritually with the filth of their sin. It is kind of parallel to how we purify ourselves with the holy water as we enter the church building at the holy water font, and seal ourselves in purity, with the Name of the Holy Trinity and the sign of the victorious cross, in which we rebuke evil and reject Satan, and therefore, would then enter the holy place of God and preventing us from defiling that Holy Temple.

The same therefore, should apply to all of us. Ever since the Lord is willing to dwell within all of us, through His Real Presence in His Most Holy Body and Blood, we have become the new Tabernacle, the new Temple of the Lord, each one of us, who had been baptised, and who had received the Eucharist in good standing in the faith through the Church. We must therefore respect the same with regards to ensuring the purity of our own beings, that we, as the Temple of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, will not be defiled by our human weaknesses and sin.

St. Paul, in the same book as our second reading today, in his first letter to the people of Corinth, confirm this, that our bodies are indeed the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit also dwell within all of us who have received the Spirit, ever since the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles in Pentecost. Thus, our bodies became ever greater in terms of the need to maintain its purity, against the evils of the world, and against the temptations of the evil one through worldly pleasures and desires, that corrupts and bring darkness to our otherwise pure and holy Temple, where God resides.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, our God has indeed dwelled within each one of us, and this is symbolised by yet another great event in the history of salvation, when Christ gave up His Spirit and died on Calvary, when He finally shed His own life and blood, for the redemption of all mankind. At that moment, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant and the Lord Himself supposedly reside, from the rest of the Temple in Jerusalem, tore in two pieces from top to bottom, at the moment when Christ died on the cross.

That moment, when the veil was torn, was a defining moment. It symbolises that the Lord is no longer limited to just that holy space within the Temple in Jerusalem, as He had been, ever since He chose to dwell at the Temple, since the time of the King Solomon of Israel. Through the tearing of that veil, God made His new covenant, which He proclaimed in the Last Supper, complete, with all mankind.

That new covenant is the redemption offered by the death of Christ on the cross, through which we receive His Body and His Blood, given freely to all of us. So that, ever since, Christ, who is God, dwells within all of us who receive Him in the Eucharist, ever since the time of the Apostles, who was commanded by Christ Himself to continue the celebration of the Eucharist, in memorial of His Sacrifice on Calvary.

But beware, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where exists a danger in misunderstanding the meaning of Christ, when He said about the Eucharist as a memorial. Many wrongly interpreted it as the sign that the celebration of the Eucharist is nothing more than a memorial, a symbolic celebration and imitation of the real sacrifice on Calvary. That the bread and wine that we consume are mere bread and wine, and not the Body and Blood of Christ.

Beware, brethren, that we do not fall into confusion and falsehoods spread by the evil one. For within that Eucharist, within the bread and the wine, Christ is present, really present, in His complete being, and that is what we call and know as the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist. We believe that our priests, with the same authority that Christ had given to the Apostles, in the consecration of the offerings of bread and wine, bring about the complete transformation of that bread and that wine, to become the Most Precious Body and the Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, some of us may ask, why then the bread still look like bread, and the wine still look like wine? And there seems to be no change in the physical appearance or substance of the bread and wine? That is exactly the wonder of the mystery of our faith in Christ. Because, yes, the bread and wine’s outside appearance remains that of physical bread and wine in shape, but it has in fact been completely transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in what we call as transubstantiation, because there is a real change or ‘trans’ in the substance of the bread and the wine, into the flesh and blood of our Lord.

Remember! That Christ Himself often repeated that those who did not partake in His flesh and His blood, those who did not receive His body and blood, will have no part in Him, and will not have eternal life. Only those who willingly, and in worthy state receive the Lord into themselves, through the Eucharist, will gain the eternal rewards from Christ, that is eternal life and glory with Him in heaven. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very important that we take the Eucharist seriously, that from now on, we begin to participate more in the Mass and in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, that we truly understand our faith, and why we have to regularly receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

The Body and the Blood of Christ, each is Christ complete in themselves, that means, if we only receive the Body, that is the ‘bread’ or the Blood, that is the ‘wine’ we do not receive half of Christ, but in fact, we have received the fullness of Christ in each of them. When we receive either the Body of Christ or His Blood, we receive Christ in His fullness, in His glorious majesty and power, into ourselves. That is why, brethren, we must be worthy! We must be worthy to have the Lord dwell within us, as His Temple!

Remember that if we willingly and knowingly receive the Lord when we are in the state of mortal sin, we will be damned instead of being saved, because we did not keep our house in order, and did not receive the Lord properly and worthily. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, keep our bodies, our Temple of the Holy Spirit, away from fornication and corruption of sin. Keep ourselves pure, as best as we are able to, and welcome Christ every time we receive Him in the Eucharist, that He will see that our ‘house’ that is our heart, in good order, and therefore reward us with His grace and blessings.

If we had sinned and in the state of mortal sin, which prevents us from truly accepting the Lord into ourselves, into our defiled Temple, that is our being, we must first abstain from receiving the Eucharist, from receiving our Lord. What we must do is indeed, first to ask the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness, and seek a priest to be forgiven from our sins. Remember that to our priests, God has given the authority to absolve sins, if only we ourselves are humble and willing enough, to admit our own sinful nature, and seek to return once again to God’s love and embrace. Only once we have been absolved, then we can receive the Lord again, and He will once again dwell within us, transforming us from inside with His love.

Let us reflect on the mystery of our faith, that is the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on this sacred occasion, that from now on, we will increase our dedication for our Lord, really present in the Blessed Sacrament, in the form of His Body and His Blood, which He had given freely, so that we may live, and we may share in Him, the fruits of eternal life and salvation. God bless us all, now and forever more. Amen!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem,  just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord.

The assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stand the courts of justice the offices of the House of David.

 

Alternative Reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Friday, 12 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Acts 5 : 34-42

But one of the Council member, 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 persihed 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, 11 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Acts 5 : 27-33

So they brought them in and make them stand before the Council and the High Priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders not to preach such a Saviour, but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend charging us with the killing of this Man.” To this Peter and the apostles replied, “Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority!”

“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging Him on a wooden post. God set Him at His right hand as Leader and Saviour, to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses to all these things, as well as the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

When the Council heard this, they became very angry and wanted to kill them.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013 : 2nd Week of Easter (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today in the Gospel reading, we heard the passage which many of us surely knew very well, that shows the degree of the love our God had shown us, that in His infinite love and mercy, He sent down to us a helper, a salvation, none other than His own Son, part of His Godhood, Jesus Christ, to be our Messiah and Saviour.

Yet, even though God loves us so much to this extent of allowing His only Son to descend to this world as a humble man as we are, and even unto death, persecuted and condemned by His own people, the Jewish people, God did not back down, and continued with the plan of salvation. On the hill of calvary, on that fateful day, when Christ was crucified, lifted high between the heavens and the earth, He completed the plan of salvation and snatched the final victory from the evil one.

But sadly, many still reject the words of our Saviour and His teachings, which He passed to the apostles, and from them to us through our priests and bishops who are their successors. The opposition to Christ was evident in the first reading that we heard today, on the capture and arrest of the disciples when they taught in the Temple on the truth about Christ and our salvation in His Resurrection.

The chief priests and the Sadducees represented the very words mentioned in the psalm, that despite the light sent by God to us, through Christ our Lord, who is indeed the Light of the world, many people still live in darkness, and prefer darkness to light. They preferred the entitlements and enticements made by the evil one, who offered them worldly glory, wealth, and honour, that in gaining these, they rejected Christ who is the true font of glory, honour, and salvation.

Even in our own world today, many people hate Christ, and hate the truth that He had brought upon us. They prefer to be mastered by the devil, and rejected the offer of eternal life that Christ had offered, for the sake of temporal enjoyment and temptations that this world has to offer them. Not only content on corrupting them, but the evil one is always at work, and they even entice many against those who believe in Christ, and ridicule us for our faith in God.

But fear not, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! For remember that the Lord is always with us, and He will always protect us from harm. Remember that in the first reading, we were told that the disciples were aided by God through the angels who released them from their captivity, that they can continue to work the mission God had entrusted to them.

Let us therefore, today, pray for our brethren in faith, who risked themselves and even their lives for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of our God. May God be with them and protect them against harm and the devices of the evil one. And may we also grow strong and courageous in our own faith, that we too can follow the footsteps of the apostles, in delivering the Good News of our Lord to all mankind, without fear, especially of the evil one. Amen.