Wednesday, 24 April 2019 : 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 about the salvation that God has given to all of us His faithful and beloved people, as we listened to the story of how God brought about His salvation among His people, healing them from their sickness and freeing them from their troubles. In the first reading today we heard of how St. Peter and St. John healed a crippled beggar, while in the Gospel we heard of the moment when the Lord appeared to two of His disciples who were on their way to Emmaus.

In both stories, God brought about a change to each of the lives of the people He encountered, and if we discern more carefully on those passages we have just heard, we will be able to see how God transformed the lives and the experiences of those whom He has blessed. In the first reading, we heard of a person who had been crippled from birth, who has always begged at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and how he sought the two Apostles, St. Peter and St. John for some money as he has always done.

However, he did not expect to receive something totally different, as instead of getting money from the pity of the passing people, instead, he received healing and complete freedom from the trouble he has suffered from the moment of his birth, by the power of the Lord Jesus, when the two Apostles proclaimed God’s power in His Name, and made him whole again. The crippled person was able to walk normally again, and we see in this case, the Lord Who healed His people from their physical and bodily problems.

But the Lord did even more than just that, as we heard in the Gospel passage today, how He appeared to the two disciples who were on their way to the town of Emmaus just outside of Jerusalem, right after the Lord has been crucified and then rose from the dead. The two of them were among those who have not yet believed in the Lord and the truth of what He had taught and proclaimed to them.

The Lord walked with them and spoke with them at length along the way, explaining the truth about Himself, as the One Whom God sent into the world and how everything had gone according to the Lord’s plans, including His own suffering and death on the cross, and later on, His glorious resurrection from the dead. And He inflamed their hearts and minds with hope and with the knowledge of the truth, before revealing Himself in their presence at the dining table as He broke the bread for them.

God so inflamed and strengthened their hearts that they gathered all the strength they had, even after a long journey from Jerusalem to the place where Jesus revealed Himself, and went back all the way to Jerusalem in joy and exultation just so that they might proclaim what they have just witnessed to the Apostles, a truly happy and joyous occasion, as what they had once thought to be lost to them and hopeless, God had turned to be a wonderful occasion.

And in that case, God healed the two disciples from the disease that has inflicted their spirits, their hearts and minds inside them. He inflamed in them a new hope and gave them a new strength, the strength to be witnesses to His own Resurrection and the truth of His salvation. And therefore, we have seen how God brought about renewal to His people, in body and spirit, making us all whole again through His own works.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to live out this joy of being Christians, as all those whom God had called and gathered from all over the whole world, to follow Him and to embrace the truth which He has brought into this world. All of us are called to embrace the healing which God has presented before us, in His desire to free us from our affliction because of sin. Sin has corrupted us and made us to be broken and unworthy, and God wants to heal us from that brokenness.

Now, let us all renew our commitment to follow the Lord and to love Him from now on, with all of our strength and with all of our abilities. Let us all truly embrace the spirit and joy of Easter, in proclaiming the glory of our Risen Lord, the One through Whom all of us have been saved from death and destruction. May the Risen Lord be with us always, and may His grace, mercy and compassion be with us always. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 : 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, 24 April 2019 : 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, 24 April 2019 : 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, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the Wednesday of the blessed Holy Week, we focus on the betrayal of our Lord Jesus by one of His own disciples, the infamous Judas Iscariot. As such, traditionally today is also known as ‘Spy Wednesday’ for it was told that Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders to sell out his own Lord and Master on this day, which was done in utter secrecy that none of the other disciples knew about his betrayal until the very end.

We heard of how Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and the elders asking them for an offer of money in exchange for the betrayal that he himself put on the discussion table. And they agreed on a sum of thirty pieces of silver. This may seem to be a lot, but in fact, as compared to the value of other things, this is a merely very small amount, and in fact, historical research and records showed that the price was the rough average price of a slave in the market.

And this is a very significant and meaningful thing to think about, that the Lord, God and King, Master of the entire Universe, was betrayed and sold to His enemies at the price of a mere slave, a most worthless and indeed, a mere commodity to be traded at the time, when slaves were not even treated as a human being should have been treated. And that was exactly what the Lord willingly accepted, the role of a faithful Servant and a suffering slave to all of us mankind.

As written in the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God sent His Saviour into this world, a Servant Who would obediently fulfilled the mission which has been entrusted to Him, even though it would require Him to go through enormous suffering, persecution, rejection, ridicule and humiliation, to endure all that the worst of the world could raise up against Him. And that was exactly what the Lord Jesus had to suffer from.

He was willing to endure all of that sufferings, because of nothing less than His pure, selfless and enduring desire to love each and every one of us sinners, all those whom He loved from the beginning of time, but because of our sins, we have been sundered and separated from His love. Without the love of God, there would have been no hope for us all. And that is precisely because of the love that He has for us, that He was willing to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us.

God could have destroyed us outright with His will alone. Our sins are despicable to Him, and our refusal to obey Him and our continued sinful actions are truly hurtful to Him. And yet, He was ever patient and forgiving, knowing that there are still good in us, as He created us all good and perfect before sin came and corrupted us. He wants to be reconciled with us, and that desire and compassion in Him allowed Him to do what He has willingly undertook for our sake.

And that is to humble Himself and empty Himself, humbling Himself before God and man alike, to obey the will of the Father so perfectly and be filled with so much love for Him and for His fellow men, that He bore that cross upon His shoulders, as the perfect Man, the New Adam, by which God made a new Covenant with the whole race of man. The first Adam had sinned because he chose to side with the devil and believe in the devil’s lies, and submitted to his greed and pride, and Christ as the New Adam showed us all how each and every one of us ought to be like in our own lives.

Judas fell into sin because he was selfish, and so did the chief priests and all those who plotted with Judas against the Lord. The former cared about his own desire for money, which he had done earlier as he helped himself corruptly to the group’s own treasure money, a wicked act to serve his own greed, while the latter wanted to preserve their own status, prestige and standing in the society, and could not bear to have the opposition from the Lord Jesus, His authority and His teachings.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how should we choose to proceed with our lives from now on? Do we follow the example of Judas Iscariot, the chief priests and the elders in their prideful and haughty attitudes, in their greed and desires for power, glory and worldly satisfactions? Or should we instead follow the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His humility before all, and His love for His heavenly Father and for us all, as the perfect example for all of us to follow?

Let us all reflect on all these things as we prepare ourselves to enter the most sacred Paschal Triduum beginning tomorrow on Holy Thursday, that we may truly reflect and ponder on our own lives, our every words and actions, so that in everything we say and do, we will grow ever more devoted to the Lord, and shunning behind all of our past wicked ways, that we do not follow the path of sin any longer, and be true disciples of the Lord from now on.

Let us all have a wonderful time celebrating together the sacred Paschal Triduum, and allow the Lord to enter into our lives, that He may transform each and every one of us to be true children of light and to be worthy recipients of God’s everlasting inheritance and wonders. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : 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.”

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 : Wednesday of Holy Week (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 68 : 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

Since I am held in contempt for Your sake, and shame has covered My face. I have become a stranger to My kindred, an alien to My mother’s sons. Zeal for Your house consumes Me as fire and those who insult You insult Me as well.

I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters and there was no one. They gave me poison for food and vinegar to drink.

I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving. Let the lowly witness this and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise those in captivity.