Wednesday, 16 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of Mount Carmel (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian feasts)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel, a particularly renowned devotion to Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is known primarily for the distinctive brown scapular that our Lady had asked those who devote themselves to her to wear. This scapular is the sign of our devotion to the Blessed Mother, which we express through our pious prayers and dedication to the mother of our Lord.

The feast today is celebrating the patroness of the Carmelite religious order, which was established in the region of Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the era of the Crusades, nearly a thousand years ago. The Carmelites were a religious group who was truly devoted to the Lord through their devotion to God’s people and through their devotion to the Most Blessed Mary, mother of God. Their patron is none other than Mary, who was given the title of our Lady of Mount Carmel, a sign of her patronage of the order.

The brown scapular is a sacramental, and its use, with a proper and genuine faith will help mankind who wear it on their path to salvation. But that is exactly why, we cannot simply wear them without genuine and dedicated faith to the Lord, as wearing them without that kind of faith does not do anything good at all. The brown scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel reminds us in fact, that we need to adhere to the examples shown by Mary herself, and follow her in her piety and faith to God.

For Jesus in the Gospel did not humiliate or chastise Mary and His own relatives when He said the words of how those who do the will of God are His brothers, family and mother. In fact, what Jesus said affirmed the faithfulness and the zealous piety of Mary, and her worthiness to be the very Mother of God, the one who bore Christ the Saviour into this world.

Mary is the greatest and most faithful servant of our Lord, who gave herself up in total surrender to God, especially when the Archangel Gabriel showed himself to her, and announced the Good News of the Lord. She accepted her role faithfully and with complete and full trust in the Lord without even a single hint of hesitation. She willingly allowed herself to play a crucial part in God’s plan of salvation, even though that would eventually bring her to much sorrow.

Mary has been entrusted by our Lord to be our mother as well, when on the cross at Golgotha, He entrusted Mary His mother to the care of John, His disciple, and vice versa, He entrusted John to the care of His own mother, Mary. By this act, mankind had also been entrusted to the loving care of Mary, so that Mary is also our mother and the same love she had shown to Jesus our Lord, she shows to us as well.

As we heard in the Scriptures today, mankind had fallen into a state of self-preservation and self-glorification, trusting more in the own power and might rather than in the power of God. The old kingdoms of Israel and Judah of the Old Testament fell because of their many wicked kings who only thought of themselves and of the powers and the glories of the world. And the contemporaries of Jesus such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees thought only of themselves and their own safety rather than following the will of God through Jesus His Son.

Today, Jesus through His mother calls all of us to repentance and penance, that is to totally change our ways for the better. We ought to abandon our ways of sin and rebelliousness against God, and instead follow the Lord with all of our hearts, just exactly as how Mary had once done when she lived her earthly life in this world. If we follow her examples, we are sure to be safe in our journey towards God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember today as we wear the brown scapular, and all the subsequent days, to consecrate ourselves both to Mary our mother, and to her Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us follow her and walk with her, as she leads us towards the throne of her Son. Let us throw far, far away all pride and arrogance from our hearts, all forms of wicked desires and wants for pleasures, and seek instead the Lord our God with all of our hearts.

May God Almighty, together with the intercession of His Blessed Mother Mary, our Lady of Mount Carmel, bring us ever closer to Him and keep us ever close to. His heart. Amen.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian feasts)

Matthew 11 : 25-27

On that occasion Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this is what pleased You.

Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and to those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

When Jesus was still talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is for Me brother, sister, or mother.”

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian feasts)

Psalm 93 : 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

They crush Your people, o Lord, they oppress Your inheritance. They murder the widow and the lonely, they massacre the helpless.

“The Lord does not see,” they say, “the God of Jacob does not care.” Remember this, you stupid people, when will you understand, you fools!

He who made the ear, will He not hear? He who formed the eye, will He not see? He who rebukes nations, will He not punish them?

The Lord will not reject His people nor will He forsake His heritage. Justice will return to the just, and the upright will follow in its wake.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Marian feasts)

Isaiah 10 : 5-7, 13-16

Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger, the staff of My fury! Against a godless nation I send him, against a people who provoke My wrath I dispatch him, to plunder and pillage, to tread them down like mud in the streets. But the mind of his king is far from this, his heart harbours other thoughts; what he wants is to destroy, to make an end of all nations.

For the king says : “By my own strength I have done this and by my own wisdom, for I am clever. I have moved the frontiers of peoples, I have plundered treasures, I have brought inhabitants down to the dust, I have toppled kings from their thrones.”

“As one reaches into a nest, so my hands have reached into nations’ wealth. As one gathers deserted eggs, so have I gathered the riches of the earth. No one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp a protest.”

“Does the axe claim more credit than the man who wields it? Does the saw magnify itself more than the one who uses it? This would be like a rod wielding the man who lifts it up; will those not made of wood, be controlled by the cudgel? Therefore the Lord, YHVH Sabaoth, is ready to send a wasting sickness upon the king’s sturdy warriors. Beneath His plenty, a flame will burn like a consuming fire.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

“Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are given a clear warning, one that is really true and genuine by our Lord Himself, who is thoroughly concerned with our safety and well-being. He did not lightly condemn the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum and the other cities of Israel and Galilee, but He did so because of the constant opposition and rebelliousness which the people showed Him.

These people, particularly represented by the factions of the Pharisees and the Scribes, or the religious, as well as the Sadducees or the ones in power, constantly and viciously were always following Jesus to try to disturb and disrupt His works, in particular the former group. They persuaded and bribed the people to act against Jesus and His disciples, and for all these rebelliousness, Jesus rebuked them as we heard in the readings today.

The Lord truly meant good for His beloved people, and He did not curse without reason. For in the first reading, God gave His reassurance to the people beleaguered and attacked from all sides without hope, and delivered them from the way of harm into salvation. God meant good for all of them, but they often did not appreciate or show gratitude for such love which God had shown them, and instead they betrayed Him and His love by worshipping other gods, pagan gods and idols.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy for us to think that because we live in an age and time where paganism is no longer prevalent or existent then we are safe from this problem. As a matter of fact, even in this day, this kind of disobedience still exists in our world and in our society. When the pagan gods of the natural elements, stone and gold went away, come the gods and idols of wealth and possessions, such as money, career and consumeristic behaviour.

Our world today is filled with them, and its people filled with endless desires and greed for these, and they are never satisfied, their desires and wants ever growing. These are the new idols of this world, which feeds on the desire of mankind, and grow on mankind’s endless desire and quest to gain more and more happiness in this world, even though the happiness that they seek is nothing more than really the pleasures of the flesh.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bonaventure, a great saint and thinker in the Church, whose works were so numerous and amazing that he was given the title of the ‘Seraphic Doctor’. He was once also a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Chyrch, chosen for his intellect and great leadership qualities, which he showed clearly in his life. He was of the Franciscan religious order and his numerous works, together with that of St. Thomas Aquinas, his contemporary, had helped to develop the teachings of the faith enormously.

St. Bonaventure was truly brilliant in his writings and works, and through his writings many aspects of the faith become clearer to us today. But he was not just merely an intelligent and excellent writer of the faith, as he was also a contemplative thinker and a faithful servant of the Lord, whose thoughts are always aimed and focused on the Lord alone. He was a champion of maintaining a balance and relations between reason and faith, showing how reason can complement faith, and how faith can truly be a guidance to men.

St. Bonaventure also shows how the ways of this world is not always necessarily evil, provided that we take precautions and be careful in our life. If we stay unceasingly and solidly obedient to our Lord and God, definitely there will be no difficulty in doing this. Challenges and difficulties will still be on our way, but nothing will be impossible if we stay close to the Lord, as St. Bonaventure had once done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, shall we from now onwards reject Satan and all of his false promises? Shall we turn away from the rebelliousness of our ancestors and turn to God alone? Let us pray to St. Bonaventure, asking for his intercession, that he may ask the Lord to strengthen the faith in us, that our faith will be a strong and vibrant one, and will not be easily affected or corrupted by this world and the evil one’s influences.

May God bless us all, and continue to guide us in our works, that we may serve Him to the best of our abilities. Amen!