Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in the readings today from particularly the Gospel, that we cannot be like the Pharisees, who refused to believe in Jesus simply because according to them, Jesus had disobeyed the laws of God as revealed through Moses because He often performed His healing miracles on the Sabbath day.

In fact, sometimes the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law purposely placed sick and possessed men or women, at the places where Jesus were teaching the people during the Sabbath day so that they hoped they could trap Jesus in His own actions and they then could accuse Him of disobeying the Sabbath law, thus allowing them to charge Him.

However, Jesus countered their argument, by citing the historical example of king David, the well-known and highly respected king of the nation of Israel. At the time of his great need, hungry and chased by his enemies, David and his men took the bread of offering normally reserved only for the priests, also on the Sabbath day, which was normally forbidden. But in that case, they were under difficult situation and help was greatly needed.

Through all these, we see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law failed to understand the true meaning and intention of God’s laws and commandments. They thought that everyone ought to obey the Law as God is a fearsome God Who imposed His laws and commandments on His people, and therefore, all the laws including the law of the Sabbath was treated as inviolable and they persecuted those who did not obey.

But God did not give us all His laws so that He could burden us or pressure us to do all that He has commanded us to do, that we ended up fearing Him and trembling before Him. No, His main intention is love, and He wants each and every one of us to be able to love Him wholeheartedly just as He Himself has loved us first. The Law of God is the Law of love, designed to keep us faithful in His ways, and to help us to learn about God and to devote ourselves ever more closely to Him.

Thus, in the same manner, the law of the Sabbath was instituted, because by setting aside one day when the people might stop their daily business and work, and when they may cease their constant worries and attention on the worldly matters, they might be able to spend that time with God, and strengthen their relationship with Him through prayer and devotion. But, this has been forgotten by the people, and the Pharisees enforced the Law of the Sabbath for the sake of doing it, and not with the purpose of allowing the people to love God more.

That was why Jesus pointed out the errors in their teachings and ways, since they even abhorred good deeds and works that were done on the day of the Sabbath. They did their sacrifices and prayers on one hand, but on the other hand, they discouraged the people from doing what the Lord wants each one of us to do, that is to be loving and to be gracious in how we love, towards both God and to our fellow men and women.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Himself said that when we show our love, care and attention to the least among our brethren, we have done it for none other than the Lord Himself. Therefore, let us all Christians devote ourselves, our time and effort to show love and genuine care for others, especially those who are in need.

Perhaps we should also follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Claver, a devout and holy priest, whose dedication to the slaves in the New World, now the Americas became renowned and remembered by many, who looked up to his examples and commitment. He was a Jesuit priest who worked among the poor and the slaves in that area, converting them and teaching them about the faith.

And he did not hesitate to stand up for their sake when they were poorly and unfairly treated, and St. Peter Claver showed us therefore an example of how we as Christians should live, not through hypocrisy and arrogance like that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, but through genuine love and devotion, via our care for those around us who are in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on devote ourselves in the same manner as St. Peter Claver had done. Let us love one another and love the Lord, devoting ourselves more wholeheartedly from now on. May the Lord bless our loving works and continue to strengthen in us the desire to love Him and to serve Him through all that we say and do. Let us all also ask for St. Peter Claver to intercede for us. Amen.

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 6 : 1-5

At that time, one Sabbath Jesus was going through a field of grain, and His disciples began to pick heads of grain, crushing them in their hands for food. Some of the Pharisees asked them, “Why do you do what is forbidden on the Sabbath?”

Then Jesus spoke up and asked them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered the house of God, took and ate the bread of the offering, and even gave some to his men, though only priests are allowed to eat that bread.”

And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord and rules over the Sabbath.”

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 53 : 3-4, 6 and 8

By Your Name, o God, save me; You, the Valiant, uphold my cause. Hear my prayer, o God; listen to the words of my mouth.

See, God is my Helper; the Lord upholds my life. Freely will I offer sacrifice to You, and praise Your Name, o YHVH, for it is good.

Saturday, 9 September 2017 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Peter Claver, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Colossians 1 : 21-23

You, yourselves, were once estranged, and opposed to God, because of your evil deeds, but now, God has reconciled you, in the human body of His Son, through His death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before Him.

Only stand firm upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Friday, 8 September 2017 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the day when our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, was born from the womb of St. Anne, her mother, without any taints of sin just as she had been conceived without sin. This is a day when we rejoice because the Mother of our Lord and Saviour has been born to us.

Some may be wondering why is it that we as Catholics and Christians give so great an honour to Mary, and still yet some may even and has indeed already accused us of idolatry towards Mary and had the very wrong idea and preconceptions that we worship Mary as if she is a goddess. No, this is not the case, brothers and sisters, for there is indeed a very clear dividing line between our worship of God and the honour which we gave to Mary and the other holy saints.

Mary is honoured even more than other saints because of the very simple reason that she is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and One of the Holy Trinity of God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit, and upon the obedience of Mary to the will of God, God Himself came in the flesh, and was conceived in the holy womb of Mary. And through the dogma and traditions of our faith since time immemorial, we have believed that because of this, Mary herself had been set aside by God.

Yes, we all know about how she was conceived without any taints of original sin, unlike that of any other human beings, who were tainted as the descendants of the first sinners, Adam and Eve. That is because Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, bearing within her the New Covenant of God made through Jesus Christ, her Son, Whom she bore within her womb for an entire nine months. But this at the same time did not elevate her to the status of a divine, unlike what some would like to charge upon us and our faith.

We honour Mary, firstly because we honour her Son and worship Him as our God and King. As it was in the olden days, the mother of a king was highly regarded and respected, honoured and given the same honour as what was accorded to the king, by the virtue of the mother having bore forth the king and took care of him in his early days until he came of age and was capable of taking over and exercising his own authority as a king.

If that was therefore how the kings of this world brought honour upon their mothers and parents, and if that is how we mankind honour the mothers of our rulers, then should we not have done the same with the Mother of our one and only True King, Jesus Christ? Should we not have done the same with the Mother of our God Himself? For His Kingship is greater than any of those of the worldly kings and rulers, and therefore, we honour Mary rightly and justly because of this.

And in Mary, we see a living and vibrant faith, based on total surrender and commitment to the will of God. She is the greatest among all the saints not just because she is the one closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, but also because of her very own exemplary life, filled with love for God, and with devotion to her Son, by following Him throughout His life, throughout His worldly ministries, and even unto the foot of the cross.

Therefore, on this day, on the celebration of the nativity or the birth of the Mother of our Lord and God, Mary, most Blessed Virgin and loving Mother, let us all reflect on the life which Mary had led, her commitment and total surrender to God’s will, and how she has shown us the way forward, that through her we may reach out to her Son, and find our salvation in Him. Let us all rejoice together, that the birth of Mary has brought the new hope of all of us, that as we gaze on her, we see through her, the coming of our salvation in her Son.

Mary, blessed Mother of God, pray for us sinners, and intercede for us before your beloved Son Jesus, our Lord. Be with us through our times of distress, and guide us on our way, so that we may be able to find our path, and walk along that way through your help, to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Friday, 8 September 2017 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-16, 18-23

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

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.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-23

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.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Friday, 8 September 2017 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 12 : 6ab, 6cd

But I put my trust in Your unfailing love, my heart will rejoice on seeing Your salvation.

I will sing to YHVH, for He has been good to me!