Wednesday, 7 April 2021 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (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 Lord’s Resurrection, and the healing and hope which His Resurrection has brought upon us. He has restored hope to us and bring healing into this world, and His work continues even after His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. As we heard in our Scripture readings today, the Lord’s works continued through His Apostles and His Church.

In our first reading today, we heard of the miraculous healing of the disabled and paralytic man who had been suffering for long by the Beauty Gate of the Temple of Jerusalem. The Apostles St. Peter and St. John were there and they helped the man, healing him by the power of God and with the Name of the Lord through the authority that had been given to them. The paralytic man was healed and praising God, many people who witnessed the act came to believe in the Lord, and the two Apostles themselves spoke of the Lord’s providence through Christ, His Son, Our Saviour.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the two disciples of the Lord who were on their way to the village of Emmaus just outside of Jerusalem encountered the Lord on their way. At that time, it was just after the Lord had been crucified and then Risen from the dead, but many among the disciples had not known about the Resurrection just yet. Thus, as they walked away from Jerusalem, they were weighed down with sorrow and regret for the Lord’s fate, rejected by His own people and crucified, died a criminal and humiliated.

But the Risen Lord came to them and told them that it was the fate of the Saviour to suffer and to be the One to bear the faults and sins of the world, and to die for the sake of all the people. He strengthened them and rekindled the courage in them through His words and teachings, and He revealed to them in the end, that He Who had been talking with them was none other than the Risen Lord Himself. And we heard then of how those two disciples immediately went all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of what they had just seen and experienced.

As we listened to these readings from the Scriptures, we are reminded that this is what we have been called as Christians to do, to continue the good works of the Lord in the midst of our respective communities, in our communities, within our circles of friends and acquaintances, and definitely, within our own families and among our relatives. We are all called to be genuine Christians in faith, in words, deeds and actions, and not just being Christians in name only.

In this Easter season and beyond, we should make good use of the time and opportunities given to us to reach out to our fellow brethren, to those who have not been blessed by the light and hope in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We have been given this faith and all of the talents and abilities, all the blessings so that each and every one of us we may contribute our parts as the members of the Church to be the witnesses and the bearers of the truth of God.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves, our time and efforts, and our concentration to be the bearers of our Christian faith and truth? Are we able to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, who faithfully proclaimed the Lord despite the challenges, trials and opposition they encountered throughout their journey? Do we reflect our faith in our every single actions and deeds too? This is what we have been challenged to do as those whom the Lord had called and chosen to be His own beloved ones, His people.

During this time of great darkness and plenty of trials and difficulties, let us all reach out to our fellow men and women, and if we have been blessed with more, let us spare even a little to help others who are in need, taking care of the poor and the needy, and being there for those who are lonely and without help. Let us also take good care of our fellow family members, our friends and even those whom we encounter in life, in our workplaces, schools and more.

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us, and may He give us all the courage to remain faithful to Him, to be a people filled with genuine love for God and full of Easter joy, that we may always be ever closer to God, centred on Him and be encouraged to live a genuine Christian life, from now onwards of we have not done so earlier on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 13-35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 7 April 2021 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments reach the whole world.

He remembers His covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Thursday, 5 April 2018 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened more to the story of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord as they carried on their lives after the Lord’s death and resurrection. In the first reading, continuing with the story of the healing of the paralysed man at the Temple, in which the Apostles St. Peter and St. John healed the man by the authority and power of the Lord Jesus, the Risen Christ and Saviour, we heard how they testified before the assembly of people of their faith in the Risen Lord.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the chief priests and the elders were angry because the Apostles were preaching about Jesus, Whom they thought that they had crucified and won against, but then they heard how He had actually risen from the dead just as He had said earlier to the people. To them, Jesus is a rival and a dangerous person to contend with, and that was why they tried to silence the Apostles and the other disciples, without avail.

For God was with His Apostles and disciples, and the wisdom and the courage of the Holy Spirit was with them. They were not afraid of the threats that the Sanhedrin or the Jewish ruling council had placed against them, but instead, it had encouraged them even more to speak out in the Name of Christ, the Risen Lord. They themselves have seen the Lord in person, Risen in glory and overcame death itself, as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

It was this experience and their witnessing to the wonderful works of the Lord, risen from the dead, that they testified before many others, with zeal and conviction. They refused to be silent and to fear the threats of worldly rulers who were only concerned about their own selfish thoughts and desires to maintain their position and influence in the society. Those people wanted to preserve the status quo and not what is good for the people.

But the Lord guided His disciples to be courageous preachers and witnesses to His resurrection and His truth. He wanted the whole world to know about His truth and the message of the Good News that He has brought into the world. In Him alone lies the sole hope for the salvation of all mankind, and not through any other ways. Ultimately, for someone to be saved, they must walk in God’s ways, believe in Him and entrust themselves to His love.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, what all of us as Christians need to know today, is the fact that the works of the Apostles, their ministry and courageous engagements amongst the people of God were not yet complete. There are still many areas in which more can be done, by the Church and by all of us Christians, to make this world a better place, and to fulfil what the Lord has commanded us to do, to bring His light and truth to all the nations.

Therefore, all of us are called to be the people of Easter, a renewed and more courageous people, who are willing to devote our effort, our time and our every actions for the glorification of God, and for the salvation of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who have fallen astray in their journey of life, and also all those who have not yet heard of God’s truth and have not yet known His saving grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all devote ourselves more wholeheartedly to God, and let us all spend more time with Him, and let us draw our strength from Him, so that day after day, we may always walk in His ways, undeterred by the challenges facing us, just as the Apostles had walked fearlessly amidst the opposition from the Jewish authorities at that time. May we always be worthy of God, and by our actions, may we be justified in our faith, that we may receive from God, an eternity of glory with Him. Amen.

Thursday, 5 April 2018 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 35-48

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them. While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood in their midst. (He said to them, “Peace to you.”)

In their panic and fright they thought they were seeing a ghost, but He said to them, “Why are you upset, and how does such an idea cross your minds? Look at My hands and feet, and see that it is I Myself! Touch Me, and see for yourselves, for a ghost has no flesh and bones as I have!” (As He said this, He showed His hands and feet.)

In their joy they did not dare believe, and were still astonished; so He said to them, “Have you anything to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. He took it, and ate it before them. Then Jesus said to them, “Remember the words I spoke to you when I was still with you : Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And He said, “So it was written : the Messiah had to suffer, and on the third day rise from the dead. Then repentance and forgiveness in His Name would be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”

Thursday, 5 April 2018 : Thursday within Easter Octave (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 2a and 5, 6-7, 8-9

O Lord, our Lord, how great is Your Name throughout the earth! What is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 5 April 2018 : Thursday within Easter Octave (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 3 : 11-26

While the once crippled man clung to Peter and John, all the people, struck with astonishment, came running to them in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called. When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if it was by some power or holiness of our own that we made this man walk?”

“The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you handed over to death and denied before Pilate, when even Pilate had decided to release Him. You rejected the Holy and Just One, and you insisted that a murderer be released to you. You killed the Master of life, but God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.”

“It is His Name and faith in His Name, that has healed this man whom you see and recognise. The faith that comes through Jesus has given him wholeness in the presence of all of you. Yet I know that you acted out of ignorance, as did your leaders. God has fulfilled in this way what He had foretold through all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer.”

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and the time of refreshment may come by the mercy of God, when He sends the Messiah appointed for you, Jesus. For He must remain in heaven until the time of the universal restoration which God spoke of long ago through His holy prophets.”

“Moses foretold this when he said : The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people; you shall listen to Him in all that He says to you. Whoever does not listen to that Prophet is to be cut off from among his people.”

“In fact, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel onward, have announced the events of these days. You are the children of the prophets and heirs of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors when He said to Abraham : All the families of the earth will be blessed through your descendant. It is to you first that God sends His Servant; He raised Him to life to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Wednesday, 4 April 2018 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us firstly about the works of the Apostles St. Peter and St. John, performing their first miracles on their own, after the Lord has ascended to heaven and gave them the Holy Spirit on the occasion of the Pentecost. The two Apostles healed a paralysed beggar who was always begging at the entrance to the Temple of God.

The Apostles healed him in the Name of the Lord Jesus, showing that although the Lord was no longer physically in their midst, but He was still always with His followers and disciples, and He worked His wonders and miracles through them. The Risen Lord showed the proof of His resurrection from the dead not only through His appearances to His disciples and Apostles, but also through His works still present in our midst even unto this very day.

That was what the two disciples who were walking towards the town of Emmaus also experienced, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The two disciples had felt a great anguish and loss of hope, having followed the Lord and hoped that He would be the One, the King Who would restore the earthly glory of the kingdom of Israel, only to be rejected and condemned to death, a death on the cross in the hands of the Romans.

They were debating about the happenings and events surrounding the Passion, the crucifixion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, and then the latest news and rumour of how the Lord had actually risen from the dead, and seen by quite a few of His disciples. Here, we can see how the Lord was reaching out to those two disciples, appearing in their midst and walked among them.

By His words and by His teachings, He opened the senses of the two disciples which had been dulled and closed off by the worries and the temptations of the world. He showed them the truth about Himself, and the reason why He had to suffer and die for the sake of His people, fulfilling the promises and the prophecies He had given to them through His prophets.

By explaining to them the truth and the meaning behind the Scripture passages, He opened their minds and hearts to be able to realise the presence of God in their midst. Their hearts were inflamed by God’s words and the Holy Spirit stirring them. And they eventually realised that it was Jesus Who was journeying with them and speaking to them along the way to Emmaus.

Why have the two disciples failed to realise that the Lord had been with them all along? That is because they have their minds clouded and their senses dulled and blinded by the despair and the sense of hopelessness, after their Lord and Master had been crucified. It is likely that they thought in worldly terms, thinking that the Messiah would lead the nation of Israel to liberate them from their Roman conquerors and rulers.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? All of us are often also unaware of the presence of God in our midst. We are often too preoccupied in our own worldly pursuits and business, that we end up getting more and more distant from God, and we end up falling away from God’s grace as a result. That is why we falter in our faith and why our lives become empty of purpose and meaning.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and our actions thus far. Have we lived our lives realising that God, Our Lord and Master is always present in our midst? Or have we walked our lives in the darkness, without proper destination in mind and without guidance? God is in our midst, as we who are Christians believe that the Lord Jesus has died for us, and most importantly, He has risen from the dead.

Thus we believe in Him Who has risen from the dead, that all of us who believe in Him will also overcome death, for we have also overcome sin, as sin causes death. Now, do we truly believe in God and in all that He has done for us? If we believe in Him wholeheartedly, then truly, like the paralysed beggar, who was healed from his troubles, we can, according to St. Paul, do all things in He Who strengthens us.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully and dedicate ourselves to Him, in all the things that we do in our respective lives. May He bless us all and all of our works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018 : Wednesday within Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 24 : 13-35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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