Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the seventh Sunday in the season of Easter, and we are all reminded that as the glorious season of Easter is coming to a close soon, with the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday next week, we are all called as Christians to be always full of Easter joy and hope, and to carry out the mission which the Lord has entrusted to us, the mission to bring forth His truth and love to all the nations, to all the peoples of every race and every origins, so that everyone may come to know the Lord, His salvation and grace, His love and most generous mercy for us all, His beloved ones.

In our first reading today, we heard of the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, one of the first martyrs of the Church. St. Stephen was falsely accused by the opponents of the Lord and all those who resented him and his efforts in proclaiming the Christian faith and truth to the people. St. Stephen despite facing such an opposition and persecution, going up against the whole assembly of those who have been full of determination to persecute and destroy him, did not fear for his life. On the contrary, encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, St. Stephen courageously proclaimed the Lord and all that He had done for our salvation before those same people.

St. Stephen spent the time to reveal to them the truth of God and he spoke very convincingly guided by the Wisdom granted to him through the Holy Spirit. Yet, the people refused to listen to him, close off and shielded their ears, rushing towards him and angrily stoning him to death. And despite everything that happened to him, St. Stephen did exactly the same as the Lord had done, forgiving and praying for the sake of all those who had persecuted him, asking the Lord not to hold their mistakes and faults, their sins against them, but to forgive them and to show mercy on them. That is what each and every one of us as Christians are asked to emulate in our own lives.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle, the vision that St. John received while he was exiled at the island of Patmos. St. John received the vision of the things that will happen in the future, and today, we heard the conclusion of that account of his vision of the future. After having seen all that will transpire and happen in the end of times, the Second Coming of the Lord and the final triumph of the Lord against Satan and the forces of evil and sin, St. John saw the Lord speaking to him and telling him that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and that He will come again at the end of time, everything to happen just as St. John had seen them.

That is why the Lord told him and through him, His Church, all of us to be His faithful witnesses, and to speak of this same truth, the truth that St. Stephen had spoken courageously about, and had died defending. St. Stephen died defending the same truth that has been entrusted to us all, and which we all also ought to defend and proclaim courageously in our own present day and time. This is what each and every one of us have been called to do, and God has given us all various gifts, talents and opportunities for us to be inspirations to each other, so that by our lives and actions, we may all inspire more people to come to believe in God and be saved.

That is why today, this Sunday we also commemorate the occasion of World Communications Sunday. In the context of our faith, we are all called to be good communicators of our faith, as faithful and devout witnesses of our Christian truths, of the Lord’s love and kindness. This is our mission as part of the Church of God, the Great Commission that our Lord had entrusted to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. And although He has ascended into Heaven and is no longer physically visible in our midst, but He is in truth always with us, guiding us along the way, and the Holy Spirit that He has granted to us through the Church, gave us the wisdom and courage to proclaim Him just as St. Stephen had done.

Nonetheless, in order for us to do this properly, we have to be connected to the Lord and we have to regularly in communication with Him. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus praying to His Father in Heaven, asking Him to bless His disciples and to give them strength and guidance, we should always look up to the Lord and keep ourselves connected to Him, just as the Lord Himself often prayed to His Father. Jesus has showed us the example of how we all should pray and stay connected to our loving Father and Creator, and we should heed and emulate His examples in our own lives.

That brings us to think of what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not like what some of us may think it is. Prayer is not the means for us to attain or achieve what we wanted, that just by asking the Lord what we want through prayer, then God will then give us what we wanted. That is among some very common misconceptions that we normally had on what a prayer truly is. Prayer is not a litany of demands or petitions made by us, demanding that God does something for our sake or on our behalf. Let us not forget that God does not owe us anything or in any way beholden to us, that He has to accede to our demands.

On the contrary, true prayer is our way of communicating wholeheartedly to the Lord, our loving Father and Creator, in the manner how the Lord Jesus Himself prayed to His Father, and how the Apostles and saints like St. Stephen prayed. Prayer is about opening ourselves and our hearts and minds, entering into genuine communication and dialogue with God, speaking to Him and letting Him speak to us as well, in the depths of our hearts and minds. Unfortunately, more often than not we allow ourselves to be distracted and we were also unwilling to listen to God, while forcing God and demanding on Him to listen to us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the World Communications Sunday, each one of us as Christians are not only just reminded of our calling and mission in life, to evangelise and proclaim the truth of God in our world today, but we must also learn to be good communicators in order to do so. As mentioned, first of all we must be connected to God and know how to communicate with Him, through prayers and other means, and not only sporadically, but as often as we are able to, from our hearts and allowing God to speak to us, so that we may know of His will and what He intends with our lives.

And in our work of evangelisation and proclaiming the words of God’s truth, we must also be good and effective communicators as well. We cannot convince others to believe in God unless we also listen to them and communicate with them, reaching out to them and their hearts. Imposing our will and demanding others to listen to us only do not make use good evangelisers and examples of our Christian faith. Not only that, but we can even risk causing others to distance themselves further away from God and His Church, as we must be mindful that our actions can both bring people closer to God, as well as driving people away from Him.

Hence, as Christians, we have truly great responsibilities, to proclaim the Word of God and the Christian teachings and truths through our lives. We should not just speak with our words, but we must embody our Christian faith through our way of life, in every single moments of our lives, so that others who see us, witness our actions and way of life may come to believe in God through us. In fact, if we do not live our lives according to what we profess or proclaim, then we are no better than hypocrites who do not live their lives and practice what they themselves had preached. And in that way, hardly anyone will believe in us, no matter what we tell them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, let us all renew our commitment to the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News and truth to the nations. We do not have to seek to do great things in life, but rather, even in the smallest things we do, in our every interactions with each other, we should do our best to live up to our Christian faith and beliefs. We have to allow the Lord to lead and guide us, through the wisdom and courage of His Holy Spirit, that we do not end up falling into the wrong path in life, or mislead others into the path of sin. Let our lives be good examples and let us communicate our faith well to others, and strengthen each other’s faith through examples of our own lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our own respective journeys of life. May He empower us all to walk ever more faithfully in His path. May God bless us in our every actions and way of life, and may He remain in our midst and lives, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 20-26

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “I pray not only for these, but also for those who through their word will believe in Me. May they all be one, as You Father are in Me and I am in You. May they be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”

“I have given them the glory You have given Me, that they may be one as We are One : I in them and You in Me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity; and the world shall know that You have sent Me, and that I have loved them, just as You loved Me.”

“Father, since You have given them to Me, I want them to be with Me where I am, and see the glory You gave Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world has not known You, but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me.”

“As I revealed Your Name to them, so will I continue to reveal it, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and also may be in them.”

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Revelations 22 : 12-14, 16-17, 20

I am coming soon, bringing with Me the recompense I will pay to each one, according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who wash their robes, for they will have free access to the tree of life, and enter the city through the gates.

I, Jesus, sent My Angel, to make known to you these revelations concerning the churches. I am the Shoot, and Offspring of David, the radiant Morning Star. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” Whoever hears, let him say, “Come!” Whoever thirsts, let him approach, and whoever desires, let him freely take the water of life.

He Who has declared all this says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 96 : 1 and 2b, 6 and 7c, 9

YHVH reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the distant islands be glad. Justice and right, are His throne.

The heavens proclaim His justice, all peoples see His glory. Let all spirits bow before Him.

For You are the Master of the universe, exalted far above all gods.

Sunday, 29 May 2022 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 55-60

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Seventh Sunday of Easter we mark also the occasion of the World Communications Sunday, through which our Scripture passages today highlight to us the need for us to be involved in the outreach and evangelisation mission and efforts of the Church, and we also keep in mind at the same time all those who are involved in the field of communications especially those who are in the work of communication on behalf and as part of the Church. Communication is truly a very important aspect of our faith, and all of us need to understand its significance.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the discussion which the Apostles had in deciding what to do with the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, after the traitor chose to betray the Lord that led to the Lord’s arrest, and eventually killed himself in regret for what he had done. As such, one of the seats of the Twelve Apostles had been vacated, and in order to make the Twelve once again complete, they discerned and discussed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to choose from among the disciples, who was to be the one fit to be the twelfth Apostle.

Eventually, St. Matthias was chosen to be the twelfth Apostle, and therefore, the number of the Twelve Apostles was once again complete. If we are wondering why it is so important that the Twelve Apostles ought to be complete, then we must understand that the Twelve Apostles were those whom the Lord had chosen to be His own most trusted ones, to be the pillars of the Church that He has established in this world, of which St. Peter then also served as the foundation, the ‘Rock’ of the Church, on which Christ has built His Church.

The Lord has also showed His love for them and prayed for them as we heard in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how before the Lord was about to embark on His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, He prayed for all of His disciples, that they would be kept together and as one people, one Church, one body of disciples, and not to be lost from God. He prayed for them that they may be consecrated in the truth, to be holy and dedicated to the mission which they had been entrusted with, that they would be the ones to steer the Church through the challenging and difficult times that the faithful would encounter.

And this prayer that the Lord Jesus made to His Father for the sake of the disciples, just as the Apostles during their decision to add St. Matthias to the ranks of the Twelve, are examples of how communication is such an important aspect and part of our faith. We cannot be a true Christian unless we open ourselves to the Lord first and foremost, to communicate with Him regularly and to know His will, and to communicate with Him genuinely, listening to one another, the best method of which is through prayer, for prayer is the most intimate communication we have with God, our loving Father and Creator.

The Apostles prayed before they made any decisions, during the time when the made the decision to replace the seat vacated by Judas Iscariot, during the time when they discerned regarding other important matters pertaining to the Church, as well as when they sent out the Apostles and disciples such as when they prayed over St. Paul and St. Barnabas and sent them to minister to the Gentiles. They prayed for the Lord’s guidance and for the Holy Spirit to come down upon those whom the Lord has chosen and sent to be His missionaries and workers.

Whenever the Church does things, they always pray before anything, and prayer is truly a very integral part of our faith, that in all things, we have to stay connected and united with God, staying in touch and communicating with Him. And we also pray and ask for the intercessions of the saints, from Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, her Spouse and the Apostles, saints and martyrs. Each and every one of these saints intercede and pray for us, and they still stay in communion with us, communicating with us and never forgetting about us who are still in this world, and as they are nearer to God than us, they pray with even greater efficacy and contact with the Lord, on our behalf.

That is why, it is important that each and every one of us as Christians stay connected to the Lord through prayer and through love. Through various means we should build and sustain our relationship with Him, just as we should also build and sustain our relationships with one another, with our fellow brothers and sisters. A genuine relationship takes time and effort to be built and maintained, and we need to learn how to be good communicators, not just in words but also in various other means. A good communicator does not necessarily have to speak a lot, and what matters is how well we deliver our thoughts clearly as much as possible.

That is why the most effective prayer is often not the longest and the best phrased or verbose ones. On the contrary, the best prayers came from the heart, from deep within our heart and soul filled with true love for the Lord, and with deep longing for His truth. That is the true way of communication between us and God, one between our hearts and His most loving Heart, and not with our brains and mouth only as many had often mistakenly done with their prayers. Prayer is not a litany of requests or worse still, demands that we make of the Lord, thinking that God is One Who can solve all of our problems.

And within the Church, there is also much need for great communication as well, as mentioned by St. John in his Epistle, which is our second reading today, in which the Apostle spoke about how the Lord and His love has been given to us most generously and wonderfully, manifesting through none other than by the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son, adopting the flesh and essence of Man, entering into this world to make the love of God no longer something intangible and invisible, but now having become visible in full through His sacrifice on the Cross.

God communicated His love to all of us through His appearing in our midst, the Love of God made Flesh, and by His actions, He has truly communicated His love and true intention towards us, that while He is our Lord and Master, He is also our loving Father, and while He chastises us for our sins and wickedness, He also shows mercy and compassion, and the desire to be reconciled with us. That He is God Who is not distant and unapproachable, but instead a loving and most caring God Who is always approachable and filled with genuine love and care towards us, at all times.

Having revealed all these through Christ, He made Himself visible, that we may witness Him, know Him, understand Him, touch Him, and get close to Him. And even when He has ascended into Heaven, He reassured all of us that we are never alone, for He is always with us, as He sent us the Holy Spirit to be our strength and guide, to lead us to the right path in life. And through His giving of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, in the Most Holy Eucharist, that we receive at the celebration of the Holy Mass, we share in His Presence, that exists within each and every one of us.

And now that we should have realised just how God had communicated His love and intentions very clearly to us, all these while, then all of us are called and challenged to show the same kind of love, care and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters. And this is exactly what He has commanded and taught us as Christians to do, to love Him first and foremost, and then to love one another in the same way. That is the essence of what being a Christian is all about. And yet, there are many Christians who are still acting in ways contrary to the faith, and there are many who scandalised the faith by showing selfishness and hatred instead of love as they should.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Seventh Sunday of Easter and the World Communications Sunday, we are all called to be genuine communicators, be it in our relationship with God or in our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters. We should begin from ourselves and from within our own small circle of family and friends, and from those whom we interact with and encounter in life. Let us ask ourselves and think if we have shown them the love as expected of us, or whether we have instead ignored them or even hate them, all this time.

Being Christians means that we are called to follow in the examples and in the footsteps of the Lord in how He has cared for us, showed His love so genuinely and communicated all these to us clearly. We should therefore also build up our relationship with Him, leading a better, more prayerful life, and at the same time, show more love towards our fellow men. If we have held grudges or hatred, or any other negative emotions in our hearts, let us learn to forgive and to communicate our desire to love and forgive those who have hurt us and made our lives difficult clearly.

Let us be genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith, by showing more love in our actions in life, and in how we interact with our fellow brethren. It is by our actions that people will truly know that we belong to the Lord and not by mere empty faith alone. And through us and our actions, we can inspire ever more and more people to come and follow the Lord as well, to believe in Him and His truth, and it is our mission as Christians to proclaim the Lord and His truth, and the best way is by leading a good and exemplary Christian life as best as we are able to, and to communicate our faith through real, concrete and genuine actions.

That means, we should not be hypocrites who profess to believe in the Lord and yet act in a different manner, so as to contradict or scandalise our faith. And neither should we also be ignorant or passive in how we live our lives as Christians. We should step up to the opportunities that the Lord has given us to reach out to more and more people. This is how we fulfil our Christian obligations, and the mission God has entrusted to each and every one of us. Let us challenge ourselves to seek the Lord ever more wholeheartedly with each and every passing moments.

Let us lastly also remember to pray for those who have devoted themselves in the field of communication, especially those working hard to establish the reach of the Church through various forms of the media, including the social media. May the Lord be with them, and may He also strengthen and encourage us all to walk faithfully, and to be good witnesses of our faith in the Lord and be ever more prayerful and better in our relationship with Him, now and always. May God bless us all and our every endeavours and efforts, for His greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 17 : 11b-19

At that time, Jesus prayed to God His Father, “Holy Father, keep those You have given Me in Your Name, so that they may be one, as we also are. When I was with them, I kept them safe in Your Name; and not one was lost, except the one who was already lost, and in this, the Scripture was fulfilled. And now I come to You; in the world I speak these things, so that those whom You gave Me, might have joy – all My joy within themselves.”

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world, I do not ask You to remove them from the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

“I have sent them into the world as You sent Me into the world; and for their sake, I go to the sacrifice by which I am consecrated, so that they too may be consecrated in truth.”

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 11-16

Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God and God in him.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His love for those fearing Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove from us our sins.

YHVH has set His throne in heaven; He rules; He has power everywhere. Praise YHVH, all you His Angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding.

Sunday, 16 May 2021 : Seventh Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 15-17, 20a, 20c-26

It was during this time that Peter stood up in the midst of the community – about one hundred and twenty in all – and he said, “Brothers, it was necessary that the Scriptures referring to Judas be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit had spoken through David about the one who would lead the crowd coming to arrest Jesus. He was one of our number and had been called to share our common ministry.”

“In the Book of Psalms it is written : ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, we must choose someone from among those who were with us during all the time that the Lord Jesus moved about with us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken away from us. One of these has to become, with us, a witness to His resurrection.”

Then they proposed two : Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias. They prayed : “You know, Lord, what is in the hearts of all. Show us, therefore, which of the two You have chosen to replace Judas in this Apostolic ministry which he deserted to go to the place he deserved.”

Then they drew lots between the two and the choice fell on Matthias who was added to the eleven Apostles.