Saturday, April 28, 2018

5th Sunday of Easter, Year B, 29.04.2018

 Acts 9:26-31 / 1 John 3:18-24 / John 15:1-8
The month of April is coming to an end, and we are looking forward to the month of May. Because in the month of May there are two public holidays.

The 1st May is Labour Day and then on the 29th May is Vesak Day. So there is a public holiday at the beginning of May and another public holiday at the end of May. How nice if every month is like that huh.

So on Labour Day, the economic and social achievements of workers are acknowledged and celebrated, and the rights of workers are highlighted. Most offices and factories will also be closed.

Except of course the essential services won’t be closed. Certain things will have to keep going – buses and trains will be running; public utilities like water and electricity won’t be shut down; the rubbish will be collected and cleared.

And in Singapore, shopping malls and restaurants won’t be closed, because in Singapore, shopping and eating are essential, maybe even critical, especially on public holidays. If there is nowhere to shop and nowhere to eat, there might be a riot!

And of course, the Church won’t be closed and the priests will be working even on public holidays. Because the Church provides an essential service – the Mass. Actually it is a divine service. So for our parish, even on public holidays, it is services as usual – Mass in the morning and in the evening, and we are open all day.

Yes, the Church is always open, not just on Saturdays and Sundays, but everyday, even on public holidays. Because the Church must provide this essential and divine service of being the House of God. The Church is the “Home” of God, where we come and be re-connected with God.

In the gospel, Jesus used an image to express this essential connection which may be familiar to us. He said that He is the vine and we are the branches. We may be familiar with that as we look at a bunch of grapes and we can see how closely the grapes are connected to the stem.

But Jesus also gave us an image which is immediately familiar and clear to us as He says: Make your home in Me, as I make Mine in you.

The image of home gives us the idea of a place where we must go back to, no matter how far we have gone.

It is a place of comfort, of  belonging, a place where we can be at rest from the noisy and busy world.

It is a place where we re-connect with our loved ones and have a sense of security.

It is a place where we can be ourselves and at the same time we learn to be more than ourselves, and that’s why it is said that “charity begins at home”.

Yes, it is at home that we learn to be charitable, to be patient and compassionate, to be loving and forgiving, so that even outside of home, we will bring along those “home” values and share them with others.

Even though no home is perfect, yet we strive to make our home as peaceful and as happy as we can.

Similarly, the House of God, the Church, is our spiritual home. We can’t say that our Church is perfect as somethings do irritate us – the sound system gets cranky, the air con is too cold, the car-park gantry doesn’t respond, the pews are too narrow, and whatever.

Those things can be irritating, like mosquitoes and flies are irritating. But that shouldn’t irritate us or make us become irritating to others.

Because what unites us is so much greater than what irritates us. And as we come home to the House of God, we are re-connected with Jesus and it is His love that flows in us and through us as we connect and unite ourselves as brothers and sisters in Jesus.

And that’s why Jesus said that He is the vine and we are the branches. And not only that, our mission is to bear fruit, and one of which is to bring others to our spiritual home so that they can come to know Jesus and to be connected with Him.

And so despite the imperfections and irritations, we are still proud of our spiritual home and we want to bring others to our spiritual home and introduce them to Jesus.
Well the next RCIA journey will begin on the 9th July. The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is where non-Catholics come to know about the Christian faith, and to know more about Jesus and the Church.

We may not be a happening church or a well-known church. In fact we are just a quaint little church tucked away in a quiet corner of the busy Orchard Road area. Some may not know the church exist, or know where the church is.

Yet the intake for the last three RCIA journeys are modest and encouraging enough. Even though the other bigger and better known churches start their RCIA journey about the same time, we just have to wait and see who will come.

But more than just wait and see, if we are proud of our little and simple church, then we would want to bring our non-Catholic friends to the RCIA and also journey with them as they come to know more about Jesus.

More importantly, we want to help them to find their home in Jesus and for Jesus to make His home in them.

That is the fruit that we are called to bear. That also means that we ourselves have found our home in Jesus, and that when we come to church, we have come “home” to God’s House, and that we are re-connected with Jesus and draw from Him love, peace and joy.

Yes, the fruit that we are called to bear is to tell others about Jesus and about our spiritual home that we have found.

When they respond, we must also journey with them and to help them find their way home.

Yes, Jesus is waiting for them, everyday, including public holidays. So let us get on working. We want to bear fruit and bring others home to Jesus. Because coming home to Jesus is really where we want to be.