Saturday, 2 May 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 44-52

The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose with insults whatever Paul said.

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s word  be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord : ‘I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced when they heard this and praised the message of the Lord, and all those destined for everlasting life believed in it. Thus the Word spread throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas.

Finally they had them expelled from their region. The Apostles shook the dust from their feet in protest against this people and went to Iconium, leaving the disciples filled with joy and Holy Spirit.

Sunday, 18 May 2014 : Fifth Sunday 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.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial Feast of our Lady of Fatima (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 11 : 19-26

Those who had been scattered because of the persecution over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message, but only to the Jews. But there were some natives of Cyprus and Cyrene among them who, on coming into Antioch, spoke also to the Greeks, giving them the Good News of the Lord Jesus.

The hand of the Lord was with them so that a great number believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the manifest signs of God’s favour, he rejoiced and urged them all to remain firmly faithful to the Lord; for he himself was a good man filled with Holy Spirit and faith. Thus large crowds came to know the Lord.

Then Barnabas went off to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they had meetings with the Church and instructed many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

 

Alternative Reading (Mass of our Lady of Fatima)

 

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Sunday, 4 May 2014 : 3rd Sunday of Easter (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate and continue to glorify God who is risen in glory, and we know this God, who has been revealed to us, as the Saviour Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary as a Man, but unlike that of other man, He is without sin and perfect, as He is both God and man at the same time. And this truth is kept on being repeated in this holy season of Easter, so that we may know and understand this and be faithful.

Brethren, Christ had been revealed to us through His Apostles, and He had revealed Himself to those who believed in Him, that they all may believe and be affirmed in their faith. He had taught His precepts to the people, and showed them His truth and His nature as both the Son of God and the Son of Man. He came in love for them and for us, for a singular reason, that is to save all of us from certain death for our rebelliousness and sins.

The Messiah had been promised by the Lord since the beginning of creation and time, when God first told of the promised rescue and salvation of mankind through Adam and Eve, the first of mankind. But this Messiah is not one who comes in glory and power, or rule the people by the force of power or strength. Instead, as written in the Book of the prophet Isaiah, this Messiah would be a healer and brought healing to the souls of the sick and the wicked.

And also that this Messiah would be a suffering Messiah, who suffered for the sins and the rebellions of God’s beloved people. This blameless and innocent servant of God would suffer that we may not suffer the consequences of our sins, that is death, separation that is eternal from God, and hence, hell. He descended into hell so that we would not fall into hell ourselves, and be risen with Him in glory, as He rose on Easter day.

Those who did not believe in Christ failed to see how impossible it is for them to comprehend that the Messiah should suffer for their sake. The Jews in particular refused to believe in Him because of the lies of the elders and chief priests desperate to retain their teaching authority amongst the people, even though that amounted to lying and having blatant disregard for the truth. They blinded the people against the truth itself, and even agitated them to resist and reject the truth.

Thus were the people led to sin, and to reject the salvation of God. But the Lord did not give up on them, and instead He sent them His servants, that were the Apostles, by sending them the Helper, the Advocate He promised them, the Holy Spirit of God. Thus then in the first reading today, St. Peter preached with great courage about the truth of Christ, and in the process gained many for the cause of the Lord.

The same happened to the disciples who walked on the way towards the village of Emmaus from Jerusalem, they were in doubt and their hearts were in tatters, but the Lord Himself who was risen, appeared to them and guided them along the way, that from doubt, they turned into faith, and their tattered hearts He made anew with the words of courage and love. The Lord appeared to them and strengthened their minds, hearts and souls.

Then these two disciples when they recognised Jesus at the breaking of the bread became courageous and vigorous proclamators of the Lord and His resurrection. They courage that God had placed in their hearts turned into the courage to spread the Good News of salvation, which they joyfully spread to the Apostles who were themselves in fear, that they too may believe. They courageously ran the entirety of the distance back to Jerusalem, with joy and adulation, where previously they had walked with doubt and fear in their hearts.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through Easter, today we are all challenged, to be true disciples and faithful people of God, with the necessary change in attitudes and hearts as experienced by the servants of God mentioned, that we undergo a profound and complete transformation from our old lives that we lived in sin, into a new life that is anchored firmly on the faith and love of God.

We have to be courageous, like that of Peter, the Apostles and the other disciples of Christ, and also that of the holy martyrs who defended the faith even unto suffering and death, and yet rejoice because they managed to gain for the Lord the salvation of many souls and their liberation from the darkness of sin. We have to be strong and motivated in our lives to always preach the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ, through none other than our own actions, words and deeds, that in all the things that we do, we will always proclaim and reflect the truth of the Lord in us.

May God be with us all, guide us as we go through this life, that not only our lives may be holy, but we may have the energy and strength to carry out what He has laid down for us, that is to bring the Good News of His glorious resurrection and the hope He brought, to all the peoples of all nations. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 3 May 2014 : Feast of Sts. Philip and James, Apostles (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. James and St. Philip, two of the Twelve Apostles of Christ, who brought the faith to faraway lands, dedicating themselves to the Lord and His mission that He had entrusted to them. Today we learn from the readings that we ought to be firm in our faith, and to proclaim the truth about the Christ, that is Jesus our Lord.

For Jesus is the Son of God, anointed with power, and through Him the salvation of all had come. Through Jesus, God worked His great miracles and brought His mercy to all peoples, bringing them closer to the embrace and eternal life He had offered freely to us. Yes, freely through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is the bridge that connects us to God our Father, as the only way through which we can return to the Father who loves us and wishes nothing more for us other than that we all may be saved.

Brethren, we have to preach Christ our Lord and the Good News He bore to all the nations, beginning from those who are around us. How do we do so? Remember what Christ told us in the Gospel today, that those who believe in Him, will do even greater things than He had done, but doing similar works nonetheless, for we are the extensions of God’s good works which He began when He came into our world through Jesus.

This means that we have to carry out the teachings of our faith and practice it concretely in our communities and in our surroundings, that having our actions and deeds based closely on Christ and His teachings, we become the reflection and living manifestations of that teaching, and thus show the truth about Christ to all those who see us, and therefore they may believe in Him too, through us and our works.

Therefore, just as Jesus had reflected the will and nature of the Father, we too should reflect the nature of Jesus and be like the Father in all things, that we be worthy of Him. We have to open our hearts and minds to listen and understand the will of the Father, through Jesus and His teachings, that we may walk in His ways and hence remain in His grace.

The holy Apostles had laboured hard for the sake of the Gospel, and they encountered enormous difficulties and challenges as they went on their ministries to the people of God. They went on delivering the words of God’s salvation to all the peoples regardless of these, and they persevered despite the oppositions.

They passed on the truth that had been revealed to them by Christ Himself. From them they passed on this truth which is kept for generations as a deposit of the faith and is kept in the teachings of the Church. And this is why we must uphold with the greatest care and devotion what the Church had taught us and kept the faith we have with greatest effort. We cannot be complacent in this, just as the Apostles were not complacent in their works to evangelise the people of God.

St. James the Apostle, also known as St. James the Lesser, went on to spread the Good News in the western parts of the Roman Empire, evangelising the people where none had heard the Word of God before. He was eventually martyred in Hispania, the place known as Spain today. His most important shrine and place of remembrance is at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the well-known and famous pilgrimage site of our faith.

Meanwhile St. Philip the Apostle was known for his conversion of the attendant or official of the ruler of Ethiopia as he made his way through Judea in a carriage. This is a well-known story in the New Testament, in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, telling us how the Ethiopian official discussed the faith with Philip, and in the process, convincing him of the truth about Jesus who came as the Messiah and Saviour of the world. Philip baptised the official and from him came the seed of faith that is preserved even until today in Ethiopia.

He went on to spread the Good News to areas of Greece, the province of Roman Asia and other areas, until he too was martyred for his faith and missionary works. St. Philip even in his suffering and death managed to do good works for the people of God, converting many to the cause of the Lord. Together with St. James, both these Apostles are truly role models for all of us the faithful ones in Christ.

Yes, brethren, we are also called in this modern era to be the Apostles and disciples of Christ of our times. We should not be afraid or reluctant to proclaim the truth about the Lord just as the Apostles had done before. This world lies in darkness, and many languished in that great darkness, bereft of the opportunity to see the Lord and His light, having been barred by the darkness itself. It is often up to us, to be the ones to bring them into the light and therefore show them the path towards eternal life.

May God bless us and guide us, as we walk in this path, that we may follow the footsteps of the Apostles St. James and St. Philip, that we too may be courageous in our lives that we may do our best to bring the people of God ever closer to salvation and perfection in God. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.”

Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching. When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in.

But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.”

Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

Saturday, 26 April 2014 : Saturday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 4 : 13-21

The chief priests and the elders were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John, considering that they were uneducated and untrained men. They recognised also, that they had been with Jesus, but, as the man who had been cured stood beside them, they could make no reply.

So they ordered them to leave the council room while they consulted with one another. They asked, “What shall we do with these men? Everyone who lives in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign has been given through them, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them never again to speak to anyone in the Name of Jesus.”

So they called them back and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God. We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Then the council threatened them once more and let them go. They could find no way of punishing them because of the people who glorified God for what had happened.