Wednesday, 23 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Rose of Lima, Virgin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Judges 9 : 6-15

Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak of the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king. When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!”

“The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ The olive tree answered, ‘Am I going to renounce the oil by which – thanks to me – gods and people are honoured, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the fig tree : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The fig tree answered them, ‘Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'”

“The trees said to the vine : ‘Come and reign over us.’ The vine answered, ‘Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and people to sway over the trees?'”

“Then the trees said to the bramble bush : ‘Come, reign over us.’ The bramble bush answered the trees, ‘If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.'”

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is exactly one week after the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and is a reaffirmation of the special status which Mary has in the history of salvation and in the history of this world and mankind.

For there is no greater human being than Mary, as although she remained a mere human being, but because of her great piety and her great humility, and ultimately because she has allowed herself to become the vessel of God’s salvation, obediently allowing God to perform His great works through her, she has become the mother of our God and Saviour.

As I have mentioned during the Solemnity of the Assumption, Mary was granted the singular honour amongst all other men and women, for she was lifted up bodily and soul into the glory of heaven, for she has borne the Saviour of the world, Who saved all mankind from sin and death, and therefore, it is only right that He would also save her as well.

And we all believe that Mary is now in the glory of heaven, seated at the side of her Son, the King and ruler of Heaven and all the universe. And if in the history long past, the mother of a king is considered a queen, by the virtue of the kingship of her son, even if she herself was not a royalty or noble by birth, then the same should have also applied for the case of Mary.

If she is the mother of the King of Heaven and all the Universe, then by that virtue also, she has been made a queen. And therefore rightly she had been granted the following titles by the Church, that of the Queen of Heaven, the Queen of Angels, the Queen of All Saints and the Queen of Peace, amongst many others. We honour her because of her Son, our Lord and King, and certainly just as when a king’s mother is honoured, the king is also honoured, then it is the same case with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

And to us, Mary has a special place in our faith, because she is the greatest and first among all the saints, the holy men and women of God. She is the one closest to her Son in heaven, and as she has proven from time to time, in her various apparitions, she is always constantly thinking about each and every one of us, mankind, as she is our mother who cares for us, just as she cared for her Son, Jesus. Jesus our Lord Himself has entrusted us to her from the cross, as He laid there dying to fulfil the salvation He promised to us mankind.

Mary is our greatest intercessor, and she is always pleading for our sake, that God may have mercy on us. She has shown us all the examples of how to be faithful and obedient to the will of God, and by following her examples, we will be able to draw closer to her Son, and thus will be worthy to receive His salvation and eternal glory. And through her various apparitions, Mary always reminded us mankind to seek her Son and to repent from our sinful ways.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we rejoice in Mary, our mother and Queen, let us all ask for her intercession, that she will continue to pray for our sake, and implore her Son to forgive us our trespasses, that through her words and intercession, God may be moved to guide us to the path towards righteousness. And then, let us also strive to do our best to imitate the examples of Mary in faith, that we may learn to give ourselves completely and dedicate our whole being to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us always, and remain with us, and may through the intercession of His blessed mother Mary, Queen of Heaven, Queen of All Saints, Queen of Angels, Queen of Peace, and through the intercession of all the other holy saints and martyrs, all of us may be brought ever closer to God’s love and grace, and be forgiven from our sins when we repent with sincerity and commitment to live a new life filled with faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

At that time, in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son; and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who sits enthroned on high, but also bends down to see on earth as in heaven?

He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap. He makes them sit with princes, with rulers of His people.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 9 : 1-6

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. A light has dawned on those who live in the land of the shadow of death. You have enlarged the nation; You have increased their joy. They rejoice before You, as people rejoice at harvest time as they rejoice in dividing the spoil.

For the yoke of their burden, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressors, You have broken it as on the day of Midian. Every warrior’s boot that tramped in war, every cloak rolled in blood, will be thrown out for burning, will serve as fuel for the fire.

For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; the royal ornament is laid upon His shoulder, and His Name is proclaimed : “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

To the increase of His powerful rule in peace, there will be no end. Vast will be His dominion, He will reign on David’s throne and over all his kingdom, to establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forever. The zealous love of YHVH Sabaoth will do this.

Monday, 21 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about how God was with His people throughout their time in the land granted to them by God. But the people of Israel had not always been faithful, and they lapsed again and again into sin, disobeying God and His commandments. They worshipped the pagan gods and idols of their neighbours, Baal and Ashtaroth, and they abandoned the God Who had brought them out of slavery in Egypt and cared for them with His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why is that so? The people of Israel had settled down in the land of Canaan, after the long journey of the Exodus, staying at a land blessed by God, rich and overflowing with milk and honey, where each of the agricultural products and crops the people grew produced rich harvests. They lived in a state of grace and joy, and they enjoyed the many good fruits of the world. But that led them to become decadent and then made them to drift away from the path of the Lord.

The Israelites had with them the laws and the commandments of God, and yet, they eventually failed to remain faithful to those laws and commandments. Why was that so? They had those laws, and they had the leaders, the priests and the elders to guide them to the path of God through the interpretation and obedience to those laws. But those laws would be of no use if the Lord was not truly in the hearts and minds of the people.

That is because if the people did obey the laws and the commandments, but if they did not truly live in accordance to those commandments and believe in them in their hearts wholeheartedly, that was why they easily fell into the temptations of the devil. They were easily swayed by worldly things, and the allures of pagan worship that included revelry and worldly pleasures thus attracted them. They found it too difficult for them to obey the strict commandments of God.

That is what the Gospel passage today has also told us, as it showed us the moment when a young man met and asked the Lord Jesus, about what he ought to be doing in order to receive eternal life. He has obeyed all the laws and commandments of God, as prescribed through the laws of Moses, and further explained and enforced by the Pharisees and by the teachers of the Law.

However, it is indeed possible for someone to obey the Law and at the same time, not truly having a strong commitment and devotion to God. When the Lord Jesus told him that he ought to let go of all the things he had and possessed, and gave them for the sake of the poor before following Him, the young man became very sad and dejected, and he walked away in sorrow. Why is that so? Because to him, his material possessions and wealth worth to him so greatly, that he was not able to be separated from them, even just the thought of it sorrowed him so.

How many of us are like him, brothers and sisters? How many of us are incapable of separating ourselves from our worldly possessions and concerns, ending up in us sacrificing our relationship with God. We end up being so preoccupied with our work, with our pursuit for worldly glory, fame, money and all those things, that they ended up becoming the new idols in our life, like that of Baal and Ashtaroth that deceived and swayed the Israelites to the path of sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have to turn away from all these temptations and false idols of our life. We may think that as Christians we believe in God and worship Him. Yet, if we spend so much of our time trying to accumulate these worldly possessions, and adore them so much, is it not that we have made them to be idols that we worship besides God?

It is important for us all to learn to put aside all these distractions, and we can perhaps learn from the examples of the holy saint whose feast we celebrate today, that of Pope St. Pius X, the holy Pope and saint, known also as the Pope of the Holy Eucharist, for his great dedication to the Lord and for his attempts to bring the Lord in the Eucharist closer to the people, by allowing people at a younger age to receive Him.

But Pope St. Pius X was also remembered for his dedication to the people, as well as his dedication to his family. He was a dedicated parish priest for many years, and he helped many people to overcome their problems and brought them back to the Lord. And as a bishop and later as the Patriarch of Venice, he continued to devote himself to the people, caring for them and remaining humble in all things.

Despite his privileges and position, he never tried to accumulate power, glory and fame upon himself, but instead, he continued the devote himself to do the works of God, and continue to bring glory to God. And he did not forget the kindness of those who were dear to him, especially to his mother, whom he cared for even unto the day of her passing.

Pope St. Pius X encouraged the faithful to have a strong faith and devotion to the Lord, encouraging them to seek for personal holiness in their lives. He encouraged and promoted the traditions of the faith and ensured that the people of God would be able to grow closer to their Lord by returning to the true teachings of the Church, which he ensured by the reformulation of the laws of the Church and the establishment of the first ever Canon Law of the Church, to weed out the excesses of the Church and the faith, and to return to the true faith of their forefathers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Pope St. Pius X and the other holy saints and martyrs of God have lived their lives in commitment to the Lord, devoting all of their efforts and works to bring glory to God. There will indeed be lots of opposition, challenges and temptations when we do so, as we walk in the path of God. There will be plenty of moments when we will be pulled to the left and right, even by those who are dear and close to us, tempting us and even pressuring us to abandon our journey towards the Lord.

Our holy and devoted predecessors have experienced all of these, and so we are likely to experience them as well. Shall we now heed these examples, the piety and devotion which the holy saints, especially Pope St. Pius X had shown? Let us all walk in their footsteps, and throw away from our lives, the false idols of human greed, money, possessions, worldly fame and glory, and let us all reorientate ourselves and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord. Pope St. Pius X, pray for us, that all of us will be forgiven by God and be brought into His ever loving embrace. Amen.

Monday, 21 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Pope St. Pius X, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 19 : 16-22

At that time, it was then, that a young man approached Him and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask Me about what is good? One, only, is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”

The young man said, “Which commandments?” Jesus replied, “Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honour your father and mother. And love your neighbour as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these commandments. What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow Me.” On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.