Tuesday, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us in the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the sufferings of Christians that had to go through as they went on with their lives and following the path that God had set before them. The Lord will always be with His people and just as He has carried His Cross before for our sake, and called on us to carry on our own crosses in life in order to follow Him, hence, He is carrying His Cross together with us. And just as He has won the ultimate victory by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, we too shall all share in that victory and triumph in the end.

In our first reading today we heard of the story of how St. Paul and his companion, Silas were persecuted in Philippi in what is today part of Greece. They were harassed by the slave owners who were angry at both of them for spreading the Christian message of hope and equality between all men and women, as a threat to their own position as slave owners, because such a message would be a great impetus and encouragement for the slaves which were then quite common throughout the Roman Empire, to hold onto hope and even possibly rise up against their slave masters and owners. Hence, the slave owners incited the whole town and the officials against the faithful servants of God.

Those two were tortured and imprisoned, and it could have been their end, considering the way how they had made many enemies during their time there. But St. Paul and Silas had God by their side, encouraging and strengthening them, such that despite their perils and hardships, they did not give up hope and remained firm in faith. They prayed and stayed firm in faith even in prison, and that inspired many of the other prisoners, and when a great earthquake happened, a miraculous occurrence that could have only from God, freeing the prisoners including St. Paul and Silas, that showed how much God provided for them in their hour of need.

Even in that occasion, God called the jailor who was there to follow Him, as when he wanted to take his own life for that failure to keep the prisoners, St. Paul stopped him and convinced him, and not only just the jailor but his entire family too, to believe in Christ. That was how the Christian faith grew and flourished even amidst often intense persecutions and hardships. Many similar stories of persecutions and trials faced the Church and the faithful during those early days, and there were many instances of very courageous and brave actions by the saints and martyrs who endured with faith, and who inspired many more to follow in their footsteps.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus Himself also highlighted how His disciples and followers would face persecution as well, and how He will not leave them alone even after He has gone from them, and He will send the Holy Spirit to guide them and to be with them, giving them the Wisdom and strength to carry on with their ministry and works, even in the face of much hardships and trials. The Lord gave them the guidance and the strength to carry their crosses with commitment. He promised them the Holy Spirit, Who has indeed come at Pentecost, to strengthen their hearts and minds, and to encourage them to endure the bitterness of the world.

Today, these Scripture readings are just perfect and apt for today being the Feast of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan. And today also marks the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which was instituted to get the prayers of the faithful in support of the suffering Church and the people in China, while also remembering the persecution of Christians elsewhere. The Church, especially in China has been facing a lot of systematic persecution for their faith in the Lord, and they had been placed under great pressure by the government to conform to the Communist ideologies and other tenets incompatible with our Christian faith.

This is the day when we are reminded that being Christians do not necessarily mean having an easy, good and happy life. There are many instances out there where the faithful are constantly being persecuted and encounter hardships, and cannot even openly live their lives as followers of Christ. They risk prison, suffering and even martyrdom every single days of their lives, much as how it was during the time of the early Church and the Apostles. What we have listened in our Scriptures today are not merely something that happens just in history, but is something that is real and is happening now even in our present day as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore pray and ask for the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and our loving Mother, the Help of all Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan, to intercede for us her children, that especially for those who are suffering for their faith in her Son, so that God will be moved to aid them and strengthen them in their time of need. Let us also do our best whenever and wherever we can, to help our suffering brethren, especially when we are able to do so. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may His Holy Spirit continue to inspire us and to give us the courage to proclaim His love and truth all the time. Amen.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-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, 24 May 2022 : 6th Week of Easter, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 17 May 2022 : 5th 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 Scriptures, we are called to remain faithful to God and to uphold His peace in our hearts and minds at all times. We are also called to trust in the Lord and not be disheartened by the challenges and trials that we may have to encounter in our path of faith. We have to remain true and firm in our commitment to serve the Lord in each and every actions we do, in all of our dealings and interactions, and be the good role models and inspirations through whom many others may come to believe in God as well.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account from the Acts of the Apostles in which the works of the Apostles especially that of St. Paul and St. Barnabas were highlighted. They had been rejected from Lystra due to the machinations of the Lord’s opponents, and had almost even died because of the persecution afflicted on them. But that did not dampen the spirits of the Apostles. On the contrary, that encouraged them to be even more committed and fervent in carrying out their mission and in preaching the truth of the Gospels and in revealing the love of God. They would not be deterred by the opposition or hardships that they faced.

They continued to travel from town to town throughout Asia Minor and beyond, proclaiming the Christian faith and truth courageously, not afraid of the trials and hardships they faced. St. Paul, St. Barnabas, and the many other Apostles whose various actions and works were too many and varied to be listed and detailed in the Acts of the Apostles, continued to glorify God by their dedication and faith. They inspired many of the faithful to do the same, raising up many missionaries and faithful disciples who have spent a lot of time and effort to do the will of God and bring the teachings and way of Christ to more and more people all around the world.

They all had strong faith and trust in God, believing that God is truly always with them, guiding them and being with them, even through their toughest and hardest moments. They helped and supported each other, and the courage showed by those same Apostles and disciples of the Lord inspired many among the faithful not to give up on their faith in God. They would not allow the temptations and pressures of the world, their community and others to make them abandon the Lord and their faith in Him. Many of them were indeed conflicted and troubled by their experiences, but most remained truly faithful to God, to the very end.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, speaking to them to reassure them and to ask them to remain faithful to the path He has shown them despite the trials and challenges that they might have to endure, and despite what He Himself would have to suffer and go through, for the salvation of the whole world. The Lord reminded His disciples that He would always be with them, and His peace would always be with them if they trust in Him, and not to give in to their worries and fears. He would guide them and strengthen them, through the challenging days of their future.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was that reassurance and the providence that the Lord has constantly given His people that made them to be firm in their faith. They themselves had seen and witnessed how the Lord triumphed over death itself, and rose gloriously from the dead, and all the other wonders and miracles which He had performed before them, which made them to believe in Him and His truth. They passed on this faith through the Church, all that they had seen and witnessed, to all of us, with all of their inspiring life stories and examples, which should be inspiring for us as well, and should empower us to follow the Lord more wholeheartedly as well.

All of us are reminded that we are all called to walk in the same path that the Apostles themselves had walked in, and we are expected to follow their examples, in showing the world what the truth about the Lord, our Christian faith and beliefs are all about. If we do not truly believe in all of these ourselves, then how can we believe in the Lord or make others to believe in Him through us? We have to believe in God and live our lives with faith as well, as is expected to us as Christians. We cannot and should not be idle in living our lives because as Christians, we are called to evangelise and to lead by example.

Now, are we willing and able to commit ourselves, our time and effort to be good role models just like how the Apostles, the saints and martyrs are our good examples and role models? Let us all pass on our faith and transmit this burning flame of love we have for God to others, so that many more may come to be saved through us, and come ever closer to God and His grace. May the Lord be glorified through us and our actions, and may He be with us always and guide us in our lives, from now and henceforth, leading ever more souls to Himself. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022 : 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, 17 May 2022 : 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, 17 May 2022 : 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, 10 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (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 of the works of the Lord and His Apostles, through which many people had been saved from the threat of eternal damnation and hell. Through the many works that God has done through His Son, His saving works and through the Church that He has established in this world, the Lord has gathered many of His beloved ones back to Himself, as a Good Shepherd Who truly loves His sheep. He has entrusted to us His Church, to be the shining beacon of His light and truth to the nations.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking to the Jewish people who questioned and doubted Him, and whom despite having seen His many miracles and having heard His teachings, wisdom and words still refused to believe and acknowledge that the Lord Jesus is truly the Messiah and Holy One of God. They had seen and witnessed everything the Lord had done, and yet they failed to realise the truth behind all that they had seen and heard. The Lord told them all that His sheep and flock knew Him and would answer His call, Him being the Good Shepherd of all, and all those whom the Lord had called and believed in Him would come to His presence.

This means that as long as those people refused to accept the truth and open their hearts and minds to the Lord, His love and truth, no matter how the Lord had done, how many miracles He performed and all the truths and wisdom that He has spoken about, all these would not mean anything to them unless they were willing to let go of their pride and ego, turning away from their worldly desires and attachments, and all of their stubbornness, then they cannot be those counted among the people of God, as they voluntarily and knowingly rejected Him despite Him having reached out patiently to them out of love.

Those who believe in God on the other hand will find solace and salvation in God, and as long as they have their faith in God and love for Him in their hearts and minds, they will not be falling into damnation and the Lord will always be with them. He reached out to all the people nonetheless, even those who remained stubborn and had hardened their hearts against Him. The Lord would not abandon any of His beloved children to the very last moment. However, the Lord will also judge us all at the same time at the end, and we will have to answer with either our faith and dedication, or with our sins and wickedness.

In our first reading passage today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the works of the Apostles in spreading the words of God’s truth, His Good News and the message of His salvation to more and more people, establishing Christian communities throughout the places that they had visited. We heard how the disciples of the Lord went to the various places throughout the region, serving the Lord and the mission entrusted to them. They carried on the works that the Lord had begun, following in the footsteps of the Lord, Who as the Good Shepherd has willed to gather us all, the lost sheep of His flock.

The Apostles like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and the Twelve Apostles all dedicated their time and effort to proclaim God’s truth and calling on more and more people to believe in Him. They built up vibrant and expanding community and family of believers which as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles passage today, were called as Christians, those who believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, just as exactly who we are today. We are all Christians because we believe in Christ, in all of His truth and love, in the message of His Good News and the eternal life that He has promised all of us.

And we are called to continue the great works that had been done, as there are still many opportunities and areas where there are still in need of the work of evangelisation, with many people, many souls, the lost sheep of the Lord who are still in need of reconciliation with their Shepherd and Guide, our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We have to continue the works of the Apostles, in proclaiming the truth of God to more and more people all around the world. And we should be inspired by the examples set by St. John of Avila, whose feast we are celebrating today.

St. John of Avila was a great missionary and priest who had dedicated much of his life to the evangelisation to the people in southern regions of what is today Spain, the region of Andalusia, preaching to those who have not truly known God and all those who have followed the false faith and heresies of the past. The great saint spent a lot of time building vibrant communities of the faithful much as how the Apostles had done earlier, and his many writings and works influenced even many more people after his time, calling on them to follow the Lord, their Good Shepherd.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of St. John of Avila, the Apostles and many other saints of God, let us all therefore dedicate ourselves to walk faithfully in the path of God and His love. Let us all seek the Lord and be good role models and examples in our way of life, and may the Lord guide us and strengthen us always, that we may lead others towards Him. May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us to be great Christians, as those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Good Shepherd, wholeheartedly, at all times. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. John of Avila, Priest and Doctor of the Church (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.”