Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded of the stubbornness of the world and its people in refusing to follow the Lord and believe in Him, despite all that the Lord had done for our sake, and despite all the guidance and patience with which He has given to us, in sending us prophets and messengers, leaders and guides to help us find our way. Instead of listening to Him, many of us and our predecessors persecuted His holy ones, His messengers and prophets, and made it difficult for them to carry out their mission.

It is what we heard in our first reading today in the Acts of the Apostles, the account of what happened when St. Paul and his companion, Silas was met with trouble in the city of Philippi in Greece, where the slave owners of the city rose up against them and got them to be arrested and thrown into prison. If you are wondering why is it that the slave owners rose up against the two servants of God, it was likely because both of them had such a great success in the city that the slave owners feared that the Christian faith would gain such a foothold there that the slaves would rise up against their owners.

That is because unlike the other pagan religions and beliefs, the Christian faith advocated justice and equality to all, that all are equally beloved by God, whether they are Jews, Greeks, Romans or people of any other origins or nationalities, and God does not distinguish between the rich and the poor, or the strong and the weak, and definitely neither whether they are free or enslaved. This is something that was against the social norms at the time, and was against the norms of slavery that was very common during that time throughout the Roman Empire.

That was the time when slaves were running large part of the economy, through their work in various segments of the community, treated with disdain and disregard, manipulated, exploited and humiliated, considered and deemed as less than human beings by many, shunned and rejected despite all that they had done for the greater community. Hence, the Christian message of love and hope certainly has a great hold on those people who have been marginalised and treated unequally, and this was something feared by those slave owners.

This is why St. Paul and Silas faced such difficulty, persecution and trouble, that they had to endure prison and suffering for the sake of the Lord. The greed and fears of man led to the refusal of those slave owners from listening to God’s truth and from obeying His laws and commandments. The Lord has patiently sought them, but many hardened their hearts and minds, refusing to accept that truth and the love which God’s servants had been bringing upon them. Yet, He still reached out to them and called on them to turn away from their sins and repent from their past mistakes.

The Lord mentioned in the Gospel passage today how the sin of the world is disbelief, the lack of faith in Him and the lack of trust, and often the inability to free oneself from the temptations of worldly pleasures, the allures of glory and power, the attraction of human desires and pride. And this is shown in the account of what happened to St. Paul and Silas. But yet, even through that suffering, as we heard, something good still came up, as when God rescued His servants, by causing a great earthquake to shatter the prison and free them, not only that He freed His disciples, but through that, more souls were saved, when the jailor and his whole family became believers through the efforts of St. Paul.

Through what we have heard, we have indeed seen a very symbolic occurrence, when the Lord freed His people, St. Paul and Silas from the prison and from their chains, while the jailor and his whole family, accepting the Lord as their Saviour, they have been released and freed from the chains and bondage of their sins. Ironically, it was those slave owners and slave masters who remained bonded to their sins due to their stubborn refusal to listen to the Lord and His truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard all of these things today, we are all reminded that in our own lives, we also should not be like those who have hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord. We have to reflect on our own lives and deeds, on our actions and interactions with one another, on whether we have been truly faithful to the Lord, or whether we have closed ourselves and rejected God, even if we do not actually realise it. These days, there are many people who are faithful in the Lord in name only, and not truly genuine in committing themselves to Him.

How do we know that we are truly faithful to God? It is when we allow God to lead us down the path, and to show us the way forward. Yet, are willing to spend the time and effort to get to know Him more and to listen to Him when He calls on us to follow Him? As long as we allow Him to enter into our hearts and are open to Him, then the path forward will remain open for us, and like the jailor, we too may turn away from our sins, and be saved together with all of our holy predecessors who have gone before us.

Today, we are all reminded to cooperate with the Lord, and learn to resist the temptations of the world, that we may remain faithful and that we may walk with Him courageously, guided through the gift of His Holy Spirit. We have been given the strength and courage through the Holy Spirit, and therefore are called to bear rich fruits in life by living our lives full of love for God and for our fellow brothers and sisters, and doing our best at every possible opportunities, to glorify the Lord through our lives. We should not allow sin and the temptations to sin to chain us and keep us in bondage.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He help lead us all to be free from the chains of temptations and sin, and may He lead us all to His light and truth, and may He also inspire each and every one of us to be the good witnesses of our faith, at all times. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our strength, with all of our heart, and let us all glorify His Name by our lives, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 5-11

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But now I am going to the One Who sent Me, and none of you asks Me where I am going; instead you are overcome with grief, because of what I have said.”

“Believe Me, it is better for you that I go away, because as long as I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go away, it is to send Him to you, and when He comes, He will vindicate the truth before a sinful world; and He will vindicate the paths of righteousness and justice.”

“What is the world’s sin, in regard to Me? Disbelief. What is the path of righteousness? It is the path I walk, by which I go to the Father; and you shall see Me no more. What is the path of justice? It is the path on which the prince of this world will always stand condemned.”

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bcd-3, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

You save me from the wrath of my foes, with Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 : 6th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 16 : 22-34

So the slave owners of Philippi set the crowd against Paul and Silas and the officials tore the clothes of them and ordered them to be flogged. And after inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to guard them safely. Upon receiving these instructions, he threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly a severe earthquake shook the place, rocking the prison to its foundations. Immediately all the doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell off.

The jailer woke up to see the prison gates wide open. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him, “Do not harm yourself! We are all still here.” The jailer asked for a light, then rushed in, and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. After he had secured the other prisoners, he led them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household will be saved.” Then they spoke the word of God to him and to all his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer took care of them and washed their wounds; and he and his whole household were baptised at once. He led them to his house, spread a meal before them and joyfully celebrated with his whole household his newfound faith in God.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Scripture passages today detailed the works of the Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who have been sent to the Gentiles to minister to them and to preach to them the Good News of God. And as we heard, they did not have it easy as they had to face opposition, rejection and persecution, all for the sake of the Lord. And God Himself has also reassured His disciples that they ought to have peace in them, that He is always with them no matter what, and they are never alone.

In our first reading today we heard about how some of the Jews struck at St. Paul and St. Barnabas during one of their missions, inciting the crowd to rise up and oppose the two Apostles. The two of them were left almost dead, but God was with them, and when the two of them survived and were strengthened by God, they continued with their mission with equal if not stronger zeal and commitment. They went on to Antioch where there they told the other disciples about what they had encountered.

Through this powerful testimony of God’s providence, St. Paul and St. Barnabas wanted to reassure all of the faithful then whose faith was wavering because of the constant persecution and rejection, that they should not give up against all those pressures and coercion. St. Paul and St. Barnabas encouraged the faithful to put their trust in the Lord and reminded them of the calling for each and every one of them to be good and faithful disciples, to be genuine witnesses of the Lord at every opportunities possible.

The Lord reassured all of His disciples in our Gospel passage today, and therefore, His reassurance is also extended to us. The Lord wants all of us to know that we are never alone in our struggles and in our most difficult moments, and that He is always journeying together with us and staying by our side at all times. God has always been faithful to the Covenant that He has established with us, no less through the shedding and outpouring of His own Precious Body and Blood on the Cross.

However, brothers and sisters in Christ, the question now is, do we realise just how fortunate and blessed we are to have received the love of God constantly in our lives? Do we realise just how beloved we are by God and just how wonderful His dedication is to each and every one of us without any exception? Too many of us are too busy and preoccupied with our worldly concerns and lives that we often failed to realise this truth.

That is why many of us faltered in faith whenever trials and challenges come our way, and many of us also chose to remain idle and ignoring the call for us to be active and committed Christians, not just in name or as formality only, but also in our real action and dedication as well. Many of us have not had that strong and genuine relationship with God, and we really should reflect on how we can be better followers and disciples of Our Lord in each and every moments of our lives, that we may grow ever more committed to Him and realise just how fortunate we are that God has been guiding us throughout our journey all these while.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all seek the Lord with renewed zeal and faith this Easter season, as we are constantly reminded again and again of all the courageous efforts and works of those who have dedicated themselves for the greater glory of God, His Apostles and all those saints and martyrs, all those who have willingly suffered and even died in remaining steadfast to their beliefs and their trust in the Lord. They have shown us what it really means for us to be Christians, to be those whom the Lord has called to be His own, to be His beloved people.

We must not be afraid of the trials and challenges that we will encounter in life as we labour and toil for the greater glory of God. We have to learn to trust the Lord and His providence, that He will guide us to the right path, and He will guide and assist us whenever we are in need of help, guidance and direction in life. What matters is, are we all willing to listen to Him and are we willing to allow Him to lead us and to show us the way? Or do we still stubbornly cling to our own ways and methods, and trusting in our own power rather than to entrust ourselves to Him, and do everything with Him by our side?

The Lord has freely offered us all His love and guidance, His providence and help, and then now it is really up to us how we will respond to His call and His generous offer of love and compassion, His attention towards us and His providence. Let us all renew therefore our love and faith in Him, and do whatever we can that in our every actions and deeds, in our every moments in life, we will be the faithful bearers of His Good News and truth, much like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, fearing not the persecution and ridicule of the world, but remaining steadfast in our desire to love and serve the Lord at all times. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 27-31a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do.”

Tuesday, 4 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 21

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His holy Name, forever and ever.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021 : 5th Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 14 : 19-28

Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against Paul and Barnabas. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, leaving him for dead. But when his disciples gathered around him, he stood up and returned to the town. And the next day he left for Derbe with Barnabas.

After proclaiming the Gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.”

In each Church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in Whom they had placed their faith. Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.

On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are reminded that we all are the sheep of the Lord, the members of His flock, and we are constantly guided and protected by Him, as our Lord and most loving Shepherd, the Good Shepherd of all. He extends His love and compassion, His mercy and grace to all those whom He loves. He wants each and every one of us to be truly beloved and filled with grace, and He is always with us no matter what, journeying with us and remaining with us.

In our first reading today we heard from the Acts of the Apostles on how the Church in its earliest days faced a lot of challenges, persecution and opposition from the authorities, and how they faced those obstacles frequently, and yet, the Church grew and flourished, gaining converts and new followers each day, as the Apostles went around many places, visiting communities of the faithful and strengthening their faith, while preaching the Good News and the truth of God to more and more people who were willing to listen to them.

Many people came to believe in the Lord, not only from among the Jewish communities and diaspora, but then increasingly more and more of the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Romans and many others came to believe in the Lord as well, and gave themselves to be baptised. The Apostles St. Barnabas and later on St. Paul was sent to these people to evangelise to them, to minister and deliver to them the truth of God and to reach out to them.

These Apostles had to endure difficult trials and challenges, facing persecution not only from the Jewish authorities, but also from the Roman governors and authorities, the local rulers and magnates, from the pagans and their priests who rejected the efforts of the Apostles in bringing the truth of God to their land. Yet, despite all the challenges and difficulties that they faced, they remained firm in their resolution and commitment to serve the Lord and fulfil the mission entrusted to them, and God was with them throughout the way.

As mentioned in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself reassured His disciples and all of us that He is always with us and He will never abandon us. He is our Good Shepherd Who is always ever filled with lots of concern for us, for His beloved ones. He is always by our side, guiding us and He patiently leads us through the difficult paths of life as we learn to navigate our way in our respective journeys of life. Unless we ourselves have rejected Him, the Lord will never abandon us, and He is always ever faithful to the Covenant that He has established with each one of us.

With this in mind, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we then as Christians going to do with our lives? The Lord has commissioned all of us to be His disciples and witnesses in our respective communities, to be the ones to proclaim His truth and love in the midst of this darkened and sinful world. Through us, like as He had done through the Apostles, God can touch so many more lives and call upon so many more people who are still seeking for the truth and who hunger for the love of God.

It is often that many of us have been idle and ignorant of our responsibilities as Christians, in what we should be doing in reaching out to those who are in need of the truth and the love of God. We should not continue this attitude and this lack of participation in the active efforts of the Church in the evangelisation of the world and in being role models in faith to all. Let us all truly discern what each and every one of us can do, even in the smallest ways, to help and guide, to inspire and encourage each other in living a true and dedicated Christian life.

May all of us be good and devoted Christians in all things, not just as a mere formality only, but also in all of our words, actions and deeds. May all of us be genuine bearers of God’s truth, and help to inspire so many others whom we encounter in life, that through us, God’s Name may truly be glorified, and many more shall come to know of Christ, Our Good Shepherd and Saviour, through Whom all of us shall rejoice forever, with Him and with one another. May God bless all of us, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021 : 4th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 10 : 22-30

At that time, the time came for the Feast of the Dedication. It was winter, and Jesus walked back and forth in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in My Father’s Name proclaim Who I am, but you do not believe because, as I said, you are not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice and I know them; they follow Me and I give them eternal life.”

“They shall never perish, and no one will ever steal them from Me. What the Father has given Me is above everything else, and no one can snatch it from out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”