Wednesday, 14 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded of the Lord’s providence and guidance towards us. He has given to us His protection and set His Angels before us, defending us in the constant struggle against those who oppose us and persecute us. He will never abandon us or let us all go unaided and unguided, and He has always extended freely His love and care, His concern and compassion towards us.

In our first reading today, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the Apostles again got into trouble with the Jewish authorities, the members of the Sanhedrin and the chief priests who sent the guards to arrest them as they continued to preach in the Name of the Lord and worked miracles among the people even after having been told not to continue such works and actions anymore. The Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord deemed it right for them to obey the Lord’s commands rather than man’s commands.

Thus they persevered through those oppositions and the efforts to stop them and their works. They did not allow the threats and even arrest and imprisonment to hinder them or to make them afraid to do what the Lord had commanded them to do. Instead, they shouldered on and pushed on, and prayed frequently together, asking for the Lord’s guidance and strength. And the Lord sent His Angel to free the Apostles, leading them out of the prison unharmed as we heard in our first reading passage today.

The chief priests were all astonished and amazed at what happened and wondered how the disciples could have escaped from their imprisonment, because they still refused to believe that the Lord Jesus was indeed truly the Messiah and that the Apostles and the disciples were guided by God and strengthened by His Holy Spirit throughout their ministry and service, their efforts in reaching out and evangelisation to the people of God.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Himself had made the same assurance to Nicodemus, one of the few supporters of the Lord among the members of the Sanhedrin. The Lord uttered the famous phrase in the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John, that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that all those who believe in Him shall not perish and die, but shall receive eternal life’, as a proof that God truly loved His people and cared for them.

And that was why He sent us Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be our Lord and Saviour, as He revealed to Nicodemus, and the truth which the Apostles and the disciples had been working on so hard to deliver to the people. And more and more people came to believe in God because of the works and the efforts of these faithful servants of the Lord, and the Church grew rapidly even amidst challenges and often intense persecution and opposition.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us then? As the disciples of the Lord in this present day world, we still have the same duty and obligation, the calling and the mission to reach out to our fellow men and women, to more and more people, as though many had been saved, but there are many more out there who have not yet believed in God, and there are many more people still who have not yet known Him and heard about Him.

This is where we, all of us as Christians, should commit ourselves, our efforts, time and attention to continue the good works that were started by the Apostles and the disciples, in being role models and good examples of our Christian faith and living, so that all those who see us, hear us and witness our works and ways of life, will come to believe in us, and be touched by the Lord and be willing to follow Him in faith, that more may come to embrace the Lord and His salvation through us.

May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us all just as He has strengthened and protected the disciples and the Apostles. May the Holy Spirit give us the courage and wisdom to be good and exemplary role models of the Christian faith in our communities, and may God bless us all in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, always. Amen.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

“For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s Angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 : 2nd Week of Easter (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.

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.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is traditionally called Spy Wednesday, in the belief that since it is the day before the celebration of the Last Supper of the Lord with His disciples, it was the day that Judas Iscariot went secretly to the chief priests and the Sanhedrin to seek to betray the Lord, colluding with them for a sum of thirty pieces of silver, and therefore set the sequence of events that would led to the Lord’s arrest in the Gardens of Gethsemane, His trial and condemnation to death, and finally crucifixion.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the suffering Servant of God, which in fact was the prophecy made by Isaiah regarding the Saviour, Who would be bruised, mocked and beaten, humiliated and crushed for our sins and punishments, and all of these would happen for the Lord, just as He has predicted and revealed to His disciples, how He would be betrayed by one of His own, condemned by the chief priests and the Sanhedrin.

It is worth noting today that the Lord was ‘sold’ out by Judas Iscariot for a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This sum is significant as that was the usual sum required at that time to purchase a slave, and therefore it was very symbolic of how the Lord allowed Himself to be like a slave for us, humiliated and crushed, treated like the worst of criminals and destroyed, so that through all of His sufferings, we may be spared from those punishments that should have been due for us, and gain eternal life through Him.

The Lord loved us all so much that He was willing to go through all these for our sake. If not for the great and amazing love He had for us, all of us would have perished and be crushed for our sins. That is why we ought to be thankful that He willingly took up all the burdens of our sins and punishments upon Himself, that by His sufferings and trials, He has led us out of the darkness and into the light, freeing us from the bondage to sin and death.

As we listened to all of these, do we all realise just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way? And yet, we continue to sin, disobeying God and refusing to follow Him wholeheartedly. If we think what Judas Iscariot had done was terrible and evil, and we also often laid the blame on him for having betrayed the Lord, we must not forget that in our actions and behaviour we have also often acted like Judas, choosing to prioritise other things beside God, to put others before Him.

In fact, we often forget about the Lord and we only remembered Him when we had a need and wanted the Lord to give us help for what we wanted. And it is often that we forget about the Lord again when we have already gotten what we needed, and often not even being grateful for all that we have received and what we have been blessed with. We continue to live in a state of sin and refusing to repent or change our ways. And this is why, we are no better than Judas Iscariot.

What is different however, is that Judas despaired and committed suicide in grief and regret for all of his actions, while we are still living and still having the opportunities and chances to make amends for our faults and mistakes. We are all called to embrace God’s forgiveness and mercy, and we should appreciate this time and opportunity that God has given us. This Holy Week we are given this strong reminder of God’s love for us, His compassionate love and mercy, with which He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

Are we willing to make the commitment to follow the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing and capable of dedicating ourselves to respond to God’s call? Let us all turn towards Him with a renewed faith, and rediscover that love and zeal we ought to have for Him, as we approach the great Easter Triduum beginning tomorrow, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and be ever closer to God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 26 : 14-25

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand Him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says : My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with My disciples in your house.'”

The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you : one of you will betray Me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked Him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do You, Lord?”

He answered, “The one who dips his bread with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man is going as the Scripture says He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man : better for him not to have been born.” Judas, who was betraying Him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do You?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”