Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 16, 18-21, 24a

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah.

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her. While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 41-51a

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 4 : 13, 16-18, 22

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just and a friend of God through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way and all is given by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but also for all the others who have believed. Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you father of many nations. He is our father in the eyes of Him Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed.

Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation, thus becoming father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants. This was taken into account for him to attain righteousness.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will keep My covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 7 : 4-5a, 12-14a, 16

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : ‘When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for My Name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son.”

“Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, n this day we heard about the people who contested against Jesus, who doubted Him, persecuted Him and rejected Him, trying to stone Him for allegedly trying to portray Himself as God. But the truth is just that, that He is God, and He was the One Whom the prophets and the other servants of God had been proclaiming about, and Whose coming the people should have expected and welcomed with joy.

But they did not do so, and instead, they resisted Him at every turn possible, attacking Him for His revelations of truth about Himself. Indeed, what Jesus was doing was merely to dispel centuries and millennia of misinformation, twisted truths and teachings, and prejudice as well as other things that have kept the people from seeing the truth that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the people of God who were living in sin did not like to be told by someone else, that they have sinned and that they need to follow the path shown by the Lord Jesus if they were to seek salvation in God. This was because of the great ego in their hearts, the reluctance and unwillingness to change themselves because others said that what they have done so far and thought was right, was actually wrong.

Thus, they persecuted the prophets and the messengers of God, whose messages they did not like and which they did not want to hear. And similarly, when the Lord Himself came into the world, save for a few who are willing to listen and to accept the word of God, the rest of them continued in their constant rebellion against God, shutting themselves, their ears and their hearts from God trying to speak to them and make them understand the truth.

And in their stubbornness, they have not just damned themselves by refusing God’s offer of salvation, but similarly, they have even caused others to be shut out from salvation, misleading one another, and ultimately, committing sin, as they had done with their ancestors, by persecuting the prophets, the messengers of God, holy men and women carrying the good works and the good news of the Lord’s salvation, and they even persecuted the Lord Himself Who loved them regardless of how they had treated Him.

In this season of Lent, as we are approaching its ending and the beginning of the Holy Week this coming Palm Sunday, let us all use the remaining time as we prepare to celebrate the upcoming greatest feast and mysteries of our faith and welcome the season of Easter, to become people who are more willing to open up ourselves to the love of God, to listen more with our ears and our hearts, the reminders from the Lord, seeking for our repentance.

Today we celebrate also the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy bishop and servant of God, who devoted his whole life to the service of God and His Church. From him, there are many examples that we can learn about, if we are to become ever more faithful to God and be more righteous in His sight. There are many things that we can learn from his life and from his devotion.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a devoted bishop who oversees the faithful in Jerusalem and beyond, caring for his flock and serving them with love and commitment. And he helped them to resist the pressure of heresy and all those who sought to undermine the Church by promoting false teachings. Those heretics tried to persecute him, and St. Cyril was even exiled a few times for his persistence in resisting such heresies, but he continued to press on hard regardless.

In the end, the faithful people of God triumphed, and all the heresies were defeated. The forces of the wicked were not able to destroy the Church and the truth found in it. And the faithful were saved from being harmed by such lies, and those who have fallen, many of them returned to the faith and to the salvation God had offered through His Church alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at this example, let us all also seek to find the truth in God through the Church and cast aside all of our stubbornness, ego and all the things that kept us away from being truly devoted to God. Let us find ourselves the path that leads us to God, and that path is likely through penitence, self-limiting, and all the charitable acts and works that we should do, in order to limit our selfishness and grow in our loving care for others.

May God see us and all that we are doing to bring glory to His Name. May He forgive us all our sins and past trespasses, and we hope that one day God will bless us and welcome us into His eternal kingdom, granting us the inheritance and the promise He has given to all of His faithful ones. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 10 : 31-42

At that time, the Jews then picked up stones to throw at Him; so Jesus said, “I have openly done many good works among you, which the Father gave Me to do. For which of these do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered, “We are not stoning You for doing a good work, but for insulting God; You are only a Man, and You make Yourself God.” Then Jesus replied, “Is this not written in your law : I said, you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods, and the Scripture is always true. What then should be said of the One anointed, and sent into the world, by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?'”

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in Me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Again they tried to arrest Him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptised, and there He stayed. Many people came to Jesus, and said, “John worked no miracles, but he spoke about You, and everything he said was true.” And many became believers in that place.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 17 : 2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7

I love You, o Lord, my Strength. The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer and my God.

He is the Rock in Whom I take refuge. He is my Shield, my powerful Saviour, my Stronghold. I call on the Lord, Who is worthy of praise : He saves me from my enemies!

A deadly flood surrounded me, devilish torrents rushed at me; caught by the cords of the grave, I was brought to the snares of death.

But I called upon the Lord in my distress, I cried to my God for help; and from His Temple He heard my voice, my cry of grief reached His ears.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 20 : 10-13

I hear many people whispering, “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Yes, denounce him!” All my friends watch me to see if I will slip : “Perhaps he can be deceived,” they say; “then we can get the better of him and have our revenge.”

But YHVH, a mighty Warrior, is with me. My persecutors will stumble and not prevail; that failure will be their shame and their disgrace will never be forgotten. YHVH, God of hosts, You test the just and probe the heart and mind. Let me see Your revenge on them, for to You I have entrusted my cause.

Sing to YHVH! Praise YHVH and say : He has rescued the poor from the clutches of the wicked!

Thursday, 17 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Patrick, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all reminded today of the covenant which God had established first with Abraham, His faithful servant, a renewal of the covenant which He had established with mankind, and yet which they had broken when they first sinned before the Lord. Sin had broken the covenant of God with men, but God Who loves us all mankind, wanted to renew that covenant with even greater love.

When God created us mankind with love, He wanted us all to live in bliss and perfect harmony with Him in heaven, in the Gardens of Eden, to enjoy forever the company of His grace and love forevermore without end. All that He asked for, is for us all to obey Him and to love Him back just as He had loved us first. That is what is meant by a covenant, namely a two-way contract between two parties. Both parties and sides of the covenant or the agreement must obey the rules and the responsibilities attached to the covenant or else, it would no longer be in force.

Thus, what happened was that mankind was tempted by Satan, the old enemy, the evil deceiver and the rebel who was jealous against God and mankind alike, and thus decided to ruin the ones whom God had loved the most out of all creation. His intention was to ruin us just in the same way as he had been ruined by his pride and rebellion, and thus just as he was cast out of heaven, mankind too would follow him into eternal damnation. That is the sinister design that the evil one is planning for us too.

By breaking our part of the covenant, we have deemed ourselves unworthy of God’s love and grace, and thus we were cast out of Eden, and we were made to suffer the painful suffering in the world, enduring tribulations and challenges, as our immortality became one of mortality, and death would come to devour us and destroy us forever, except that, God Himself still loved us despite all of the things we had done.

And that is why, even though the covenant that God had established with Abraham had been broken many times, and always by men, for God is always forever faithful to His covenant with us, He continued to renew it and reestablish it, giving encouragement to all those who hope in Him and put their trust in Him. He shall not disappoint all those who had given themselves to His cause, for these are the ones who would inherit the covenant of God.

And thus lastly, He sent us all His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, the Divine Word of God, equal and inseparable part of the triune unity of our Lord, the One and only God, One in existence, but Three in Godhead and nature, Father, Son and Holy Spirit all working together as one in the attempt to reestablish a perfect and everlasting covenant once and for all, for our sake.

Indeed, to seal that everlasting covenant, and to make clear the great and infinite love which He has for all of us, He sealed His covenant not with the mere blood of animals, goats, bulls or birds, but with His own Most Precious Blood, poured down in great suffering from the cross, as our Lord Himself was made to bear the burden of everyone’s sins, and through His suffering and death, He had made everyone clean and justified, and all those who believe in Him shall receive the fullness of God’s mercy, forgiveness and love.

That is the great extent how much our Lord is willing to give of Himself when we are in need for help. As that is because, if we are to be lost to the darkness of this world, to our wickedness and all the things coming between us and God, then we are lost to God our loving Father forever. And just as fathers love their children, He loves us all too, without exception, and He wants us to be thoroughly changed for the better.

And in this season of Lent, in the remaining time we have this week and next week, let us all realise that we have so many homework to do, for us all to learn from our mistakes, learning to forgive and to be better and more devoted disciples of our Lord. There is the time for us to turn back from our sinfulness and to find our way to the truth of God and walk in His light.

And today, we celebrate the great feast day of St. Patrick of Ireland, a great bishop and missionary, whose life was dedicated to the spreading of the Gospel and the Good News of God. There are many things that we can learn from his life and from his teachings. St. Patrick was sent by the Pope to the distant country which is now known as Ireland, to bring the salvation of God to the pagan peoples living there, who have not yet heard the Word of God.

St. Patrick travelled around the island of Ireland, visiting from places to places, working with people from the kings, the nobles and to the common people. He did not have it easy, as the people ridiculed him, rejected him and even persecuted him for his efforts. But he did not give up, and he taught the people there about the faith, until eventually many of them repented from their sins and converted to the faith in God.

In one of the most famous thing attributed to him, he used the three-leaf clover as the method for him to teach about God, and explaining the difficult nature of God, just as we have discussed earlier on, God as One, but yet Three, Three and yet only One. Yes, St. Patrick used the analogy how the three-leaf clover, once a portion is taken away is no longer a clover, and yet still three leafed as it is, it constitutes only just one leaf, indivisible and yet with distinct parts.

From this, we can gain so much inspiration of what we can do. There are so many things we can do in this world, to walk in the light in the path of St. Patrick of Ireland. We should use this opportunity we have in life, not just to turn away from our sins, but also to spread the Good News of God, and help one another to reach out to the Lord our God. May we all find our path to the Lord and be brought into the life everlasting. St. Patrick of Ireland, pray for us, that we may find our path to God and remain faithful to Him. Amen.