Sunday, April 10, 2016


I welcome you all, children of God, to today's beautiful gathering of your spiritual brothers and sisters who hunger to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass so the grace of the Lord Jesus may be bestowed upon all of them. How pleased the Lord Jesus must be with each and everyone of you who continuously accept His special invitation to participate in the spiritual feast of the Holy Eucharist.

Reviewing today's three readings, I noticed that they have one common denominator. They all speak of loyalty to the Lord Jesus.

Beginning with today's Second Reading from the Book of Revelation, [Rev. 5:11-4] we were told that in his vision, John heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They numbered myriads and myriads, thousands and thousands. In this description of the event, we can perceive that this great gathering included the whole created universe, all the human beings of the past, present and future, and all the heavenly beings.

What were the creations of God doing? Through their singing, they were manifesting their loyalty to the Lamb of God. In humility, they were acknowledging the almighty authority of the Lord Jesus over them. In servitude, they were professing that all power, wealth, wisdom, might, honour, glory and blessing belongs to Jesus.

This event that John has seen echoes the prophesy of God in the Old and New Testament. "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." [Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10] At that awesome event which will come at the time of judgment, everyone, that including you and I, shall be present. At that awesome event, everyone, saved or damned for eternity, shall bow before the Lamb of God and give praise to the most Holy Name of Jesus. At that time shall come the decisive moment for each of us.

Remember how impressed you are when you go to a Wedding Feast and there are 400 or 1,000 guests present. How about when you go to the beach and there are 5,000 persons present, each covering a square yard of land. You cannot begin to count them. All you can see are heads and heads, as far as the eyes can see. What about those of you who have visited Rome on a special event, or even Fatima, Portugal on its feast? Surely, you must know what it feels like to be surrounded by 100,000 persons or even half a million.

While these events are so overwhelming in the eyes of many, being deeply rooted in one's memories for years to come, they are nothing in magnitude compared to the great gathering that awaits us all! It is a gathering that shall be remembered for eternity.

Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41] echoed the loyalty of the disciples of Jesus. We heard that the captain and the Temple police went to the Temple to gather the disciples who were teaching. From this Bible passage, we perceive that the Temple is the proper place for apostolic teaching. Within the Temple of God, the Apostles were doing the work of the Lord.

The Apostles were taken before the Council and condemned for continuing to preach in the Name of Jesus. Prior to this event, they had been warned not to spread the teachings of the Lord Jesus in the Temple. The members of the Council wanted their preaching stopped because of their guilt. It was they who had crucified Jesus. They did not want to be reminded of it. They did not want anyone to spread this knowledge throughout the land. They were trying to oppress the truth.

Worthy of noticing is that this is the first reading in the New Testament in which we find the title of Saviour. In those days, this special title was reserved for the exalted One who was to save mankind.

As leader of the Apostles and the Holy, Catholic Church instituted on earth by Jesus, Peter spoke up boldly before the council. "We must obey God rather than any human authority." This comment was like a slap in the face to the members of the Council. It was telling them that their authority was meaningless before God. For God is above all! You can imagine the reaction of the members of the Council.

What reasoning was Saint Peter using to support that God must be obeyed first? Peter said, "We are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." There are two parts to this response. First of all, the Apostles were witnesses to the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, His glorious Resurrection and His ascension into Heaven.

Secondly, those who obey Jesus' commission to "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.", [Mk. 16:15] when they speak, it is not them who are speaking, but rather, the Holy Spirit Who is speaking through them. Did Jesus not say, "When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say." [Lk. 12:11-2; Mk. 13:11; Mt. 10:20] Peter remembered these words of Jesus and he placed his complete trust in the Lord. This is a beautiful example of pure and unshaken loyalty.

Because of their steadfast loyalty to the Lord Jesus, the Apostles were flogged and then released. [Acts 5:40] In those days, when someone was flogged on his back, it meant being whipped 40 times. I have no doubt that with all the torn flesh as a result of being flogged, great pain must have followed. While most of us would not be rejoicing after having been flogged, Peter and the Apostles did rejoice. They rejoiced because in their eyes, they were considered worthy to have suffered dishonour for the sake of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Through their suffering, surely, an additional treasure awaited them all in Heaven.

During today's reading from the Gospel of John, [Jn. 21:1-19] we heard Jesus asking Peter on three different occasions, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" And three times, Peter affirmed his loyalty to Jesus, promising to serve Him, even to death. The Lord's threefold question that demanded a threefold profession of love from Peter was in response to Peter's threefold denial. Undoubtedly, Peter knew that he was being reminded that on three past occasions, he denied knowing the Lord Jesus.

Knowing the transformation that took part in the heart of Peter since the Resurrection, Jesus believed him and transferred His authority to him. When Jesus said three times, "Feed My sheep.", He was commissioning Peter to lead the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that He Himself had instituted on earth. At that moment, Jesus surrendered His own office of Shepherd to Peter. At that moment, it became the destiny of Peter to follow the Good Shepherd in every detail, even to the laying down of his life. [Jn. 10:11]

There are other parts of the Gospel Reading that are worthy of mentioning because they are symbolic in nature.

While there are no explanation given as to why the disciples suddenly departed from Jerusalem to return to their former way of life as fishermen, it can be said that the role of fishing symbolizes the apostolic mission.

When Jesus said to cast the nets on the right side of the boat, this was symbolic of the authority of the High Priest who guides the Church. When the Apostles obeyed the advise of Jesus, this echoed the complete submission of the ministers of the Word of God who are called to be fisher of men.

When we consider that it was Jesus who prepared the meal, we are reminded of the multiplication of the five barley loaves and the two fish when Jesus fed five thousands. [Jn. 6:9] In turn, this is a sign of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the distribution of the life of the Spirit.

Finally my brothers and sisters in Christ, by our presence here today to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are publicly showing our loyalty to Jesus. Through the reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are professing our faith in the Divine Presence of Jesus manifested in the Living Bread. By our presence here today, we are saying to Jesus, "My Lord, all authority is Yours! You are my Lord and my God! Guide me! I humbly obey Your commission!"

No comments:

Post a Comment