Tuesday, 22 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a renowned and great saint, a holy woman who lived her life in devotion to God. However, her greatness and fame came not from her power, achievements or greatness in any human sense. In fact, she was great because she was a repentant sinner, who turned her back from the worst of sins she had once committed, and dedicated herself fully and completely to the Lord.

This saint is St. Mary Magdalene, one of the holy women who followed Jesus, up to the sacrifice He made on the cross at Calvary, where she followed Him together with the other Mary, the mother of our God. St. Mary Magdalene was a faithful disciple of the Lord, and she was one of the first disciples to whom Jesus had appeared just right after His resurrection in order to proclaim to them the truth. She was truly privileged, but she was not always good as that.

Yes, St. Mary Magdalene was once a prostitute who engaged in licentious and wicked activities, and once even she had seven evil spirits that possessed and dwelled in her. That was the case until Jesus met her and cast those demons away from her. She then became one of the close and trusted followers of Jesus who followed Him through wherever He went to teach and heal the people of their sickness and afflictions, just as what had been done unto her.

Those who are sinners do not need to lose hope, as if they sincerely repent and change their ways from their sinful past, then they will be received back by Jesus, who is the Lord of mercy and Lord of love. That was what had happened to St. Mary Magdalene, who turned her back to her sinful past, and vowing to follow the Lord for the rest of her life.

Many of us today also still live in darkness, and although we often desire to return to the light and forsake the darkness, we often are not able to cut away our strong attachments to sin and wickedness that filled out past. The reading in the first reading today, taken from the Book of the Song of songs, is a representation of our desire to seek the Lord, who is truly the love and desire of our hearts.

But along the way, we often get distracted and misled, so that our desire to seek the Lord and be reunited with Him in love gets replaced with selfish desires and greed which characterised many of our actions, mankind’s actions that show our fragility and weakness towards sin. This is why we are inhabited by the evil spirits and by our evil desires, just as St. Mary Magdalene once was.

Ultimately, what is important is that we have hope, and we should never give up hope no matter how dark and impossible the situation is. What is impossible for men is always possible for the Lord. Even the greatest of sinners and the most wicked of blasphemers are not completely without hope. And we cannot forget the very fact that Jesus came for the sake of sinners and those who were lost in darkness. Remember that He said so when the Pharisees criticised Him for eating at the house of tax collectors?

Jesus our Lord loves all, and especially more so those who are deep in sin, as these people are those who are at the greatest risk of falling into eternal damnation of hell, out of which there is no escape. Let us recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man, when the rich man fell into hell and suffered in hellfire, because he had not abandoned his sinful ways and ignored those who are in need like Lazarus.

And St. Mary Magdalene showed us that if we are willing to change our ways and listen to God, following Him instead of the devil, there is hope for all of us. But in order to do this, requires much sacrifices and efforts from us. Nevertheless, if we are able to persevere, we will receive much rewards in the end, just as what St. Mary Magdalene had received as a reward for her faith and piety to God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the conversion and the newfound faith of St. Mary Magdalene, let us all renew our faith to God, and let us find God, who is the true love and desire of our hearts. If St. Mary Magdalene can find Him, then we can certainly find Him as well in our own lives. May God be the light that enlightens us and lead us on our way. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet.

They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have taken Him, and I will go and remove Him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, who is your Father, to My God, who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You my body longs and my soul thirsts, as a dry and weary land without water.

Thus have I gazed upon You in Your sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will bless You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You, Your right hand upholds me.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. “Have you seen the love of my heart?” As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed the love of Christ holds us and we realise that if He died for all, all have died. He died for all so that those who live may live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again for them.

And so from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For Him the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Monday, 21 July 2014 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who belong to the race of mankind are prone to the kind of fault that we witnessed today in the Gospel. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus to show them miraculous signs and supernatural deeds to prove that what He was doing is legitimate, in a sense that is to impress them with His powers and miracles.

But Jesus did not want to entertain and let them indulge in their demands, as He knows perfectly the weakness of men, most evident in the behaviours and actions of those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Yes, we mankind like to be impressed and we often like to be awed because we often feel inferior about ourselves and insecure about ourselves.

That is why we have our fears and desires in life, but these are not necessarily good or beneficial to us. Our fear and our insecurities lead us to be fertile ground for the devil to spread his seeds of faithlessness and doubt. That was why the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who were so concerned about threats to their esteemed and respected positions in the society, that they did all they could to bar and disrupt the works of Jesus, whom they saw as a great rival to their authority.

That was why, they tried to discredit Him, and were blinded such by their insecurities, fears, and desires, they asked for something which Jesus had abundantly showed them through the times whenever He performed His good works to the people. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law should have been the ones who know the most of who Jesus was, through the numerous miracles and good works He had done. But they did not, because they, in their adamant and hardened hearts and minds, refused to believe in Him.

The same can also be applied to the rest of us, mankind, brothers and sisters. Yes, for mankind also shared the same insecurities, desires and weaknesses as those Pharisees and teachers of the Law once had. However, we have the opportunity for all those of us who are still in this world, to change our ways for the better. The Pharisees had their chance and they spurned it, and gave even worse troubles for the Lord and His disciples.

We like to be awed by someone who possess greater might, intellect and someone who can give us that feeling of security and satisfaction. But if we are not careful, we will fall into the paths prepared for us by Satan, who will definitely use everything in his arsenal of lies and deception to persuade us. You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, that not only the Lord can impress us with His goodness and might, as Satan can do so as well.

Satan has the world in his dominion and disposal. He has all the pleasures and wonders of this world, which we all know well enough, in order to sway our thoughts and ideals to match that of his ways instead of following God’s will. If our hearts are too attached to this world and all its corruptions, and if our minds cannot be disengaged from such perversions, we will fall prey to the works of the evil one, who tries to subvert the faithful to himself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, a priest of southern Italian city of Brindisi, who lived during the late Renaissance era, at the time of the Counter-Reformation crusades and works against the heresy of Protestantism and many other divisions in the Church. St. Lawrence of Brindisi joined the Franciscan order, and during his life of service to God, he worked hard and zealously to spread the word of God and advance the cause of God’s Church.

The Pope in particular noted his zeal and dedication in service to God and His Church. As a result, the Pope appointed him to many works and duties that St. Lawrence of Brindisi took most seriously. And one of the many works which he was entrusted with, was to preach to the people of God, first called of all, the Jews, in order to bring them into the true faith in Jesus.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi is a role model to us all, because he served as the antithesis of what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did in today’s Gospel reading. St. Lawrence of Brindisi was faithful just as the Pharisees and the others were blinded by their own insecurities and fears to the point of doubting the very presence and good works of Jesus, which was truly apparent before them, and yet they did not see the truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all emulate the examples and the zealous works of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, surrendering ourselves to the will of God, and following His will, may we all be the ones to proclaim the Lord’s greatness and majesty to all of the world and its people, so that we may come together to love and serve the Lord. May God bless us all, all the days of our life. Amen.