Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse 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 great Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the foster-father of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. St. Joseph was a humble and simple carpenter of the village of Nazareth, probably uneducated and poor, unremarkable and unknown, and yet, God chose him to be the one who would protect and be part of the Holy Family into which He was to send His Saviour.

St. Joseph was the heir of David, as he was descended from David’s son, king Solomon, as well as the rightful kings of Judah of the house of David, and then to their heirs in exile in Babylon and after the return to the Promised Land. St. Joseph was the forgotten heir to the kingdom of Israel, who was so unknown that even in his own village, he was not highly regarded and later on, the Lord Jesus would be ridiculed for being supposedly the mere Son of the village carpenter when He came to proclaim His truth in Nazareth.

God chose St. Joseph because of the great virtues exhibited by his life and actions, which exemplified righteousness. St. Joseph was highlighted in the Scripture as an upright and just man, who always acted in obedience to the laws and the commandments of God, and yet at the same time, also constantly cared for his fellow men, keeping others around him in his thought. This is made evident by the accounts of the Scripture although St. Joseph did not appear many times in the Bible.

St. Joseph was a God-fearing and righteous man, because he knew and understood the precepts of the Law. When he heard that Mary was with Child even though she has not even married and consummated the marriage with him yet, St. Joseph obeyed the Law and wanted to break the engagement with her. Yet, at the same time, he was also considerate and compassionate, as he wanted to do so in secret, knowing that had he divorced Mary in public, she would have been stoned to death.

He was a righteous man who was responsible as well as loving, as shown in how he willingly took up Mary to be his wife and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as his own Son, despite him not being biologically related to Him. He willingly took care of the Lord Jesus as a legal father and He as his Foster-Son, as if He is of his own flesh and blood. He followed wherever the Lord led his path, when the census called him and the rest of the Holy Family to travel the long journey to Bethlehem, taking care of the heavily pregnant Mary along the way.

St. Joseph also protected Mary and the Baby Jesus, when king Herod wanted to slaughter all the babies and children below the age of two in his attempt to eliminate the threat to his kingdom. When the Angel of God came to him and told him to bring his family into Egypt to keep them safe there, St. Joseph willingly obliged and guided Mary and the Child Jesus to the land of Egypt for a period of time until it was safe for them to return back to Nazareth.

In all of these, we have seen how St. Joseph was truly a great father figure to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Although He is the Divine Word Incarnate, God in the flesh, Son of God, but He is also the Son of Man, born of man and having the frailness of the human body, save that of sin. When He was a mere Baby and a young Child, St. Joseph as a father to Him must have taken good care of Him, and prepared Him for the life and works that had been entrusted to Him.

As all fathers at that time did, St. Joseph must have also taught the Lord Jesus how He ought to live in this world, teaching Him important skills in life, and helping Him to grow in wisdom and faith. This is why the role that St. Joseph plays in our faith and in the Church is not one that is insignificant. In fact, that is why Blessed Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph as the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church in the year of Our Lord 1870.

There are many things that we can learn from the examples shown by St. Joseph. And we are called to follow these good examples in our own lives, in how we act in righteous ways, obeying the Lord and also loving Him. Thus, today, we look up to St. Joseph, holy father and protector of the Church, asking him to intercede for our sake, the faithful and the Church of God, so that God may grant us all the strength to persevere through the challenges and difficulties, trials and oppositions we may encounter.

And let us all keep on remembering the righteousness and courage that St. Joseph has shown, in all of his actions, in being a good role model for his Foster-Son, Our Lord Jesus. Let us all also learn from him, and try our best to live our lives better and more attuned to the ways of God, that we may grow ever closer to Him, particularly during this blessed season of Lent. Let us all rediscover that love which we ought to have for God, and do our best to be righteous at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.”

Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of God’s mercy and love for each one of us, and we are reminded also of the need for us to be merciful and loving in the same way towards each other, towards our fellow brethren and all those whom we encounter in life. This is what each and every one of us need to realise, as we live our lives in this world, as fellow sinners in the presence of God.

It does not matter how great or how small our sins are, but the fact remains that we have been tainted by sin, and we have therefore become unworthy of God and His love due to the sins we committed, out of disobedience and refusal to listen to Him and the stubbornness in tracing our own path in life in defiance of His will. It does not matter how small our disobedience is, how insignificant our sins have been, as sin is still sin.

And yet, despite all of our stubbornness, wicked attitudes and refusal to listen to the Lord, the Lord remained full of patience and mercy, and willing to forgive us our sins and be reconciled with us, should we make the effort to turn away from those sinful ways and embrace the mercy and forgiveness that He has provided us all so generously. Why not? He even gave us His own beloved Son, to be our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer, by His suffering and death on the cross.

Now, if God, our Lord and loving Father has been merciful towards us, patient and loving despite all of our childish and stubborn attitudes all these while, then why should it not be that we, as God’s children, follow His examples and learn to love and to be merciful as He had done to us. But unfortunately, the reality is such that many of us mankind are still so stubborn in our hatred and jealousy for one another, that we prefer to cause pain and suffering, to be angry and unhappy instead of to forgive and to love.

That is why, God reminds us all again and again, with the love and mercy He Himself has shown us, so that all of us may also learn to be loving and to be merciful ourselves. It is through true and genuine love that we will be able to break free from the bondage to sin. If we continue to act with heart filled with hatred, jealousy, ego, pride and greed, we will continue to expose ourselves to the temptations to sin, and we will end up falling ever deeper into the chasm of sin.

That is why we need to make the conscious and sustained effort to resist those temptations, by restraining ourselves in the flesh, and being conscious of how sinful we have been, regardless of how serious our sins may have seemed as compared to the sins that others have committed. As mentioned earlier, sin is still sin, regardless of how small or how insignificant it may seem to be. Sin is a corruption and taint on our souls and our beings, and unless we are free from those sins, small or big, then we have no place in God’s kingdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make use of the opportunities given to us during this season of Lent to turn our back on sin, on all the stubborn oppositions we have committed against God in our past actions and deeds, in our words and utterings. Let us all sharpen instead the edge of our humility and let go of the pride and greed in our hearts and minds, that we may come to be righteous in our actions, words and deeds, leaving behind all those attitudes that cause us to be full of pride and disobedience.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy man and servant of God, one of the early Church fathers who was remembered for his loving and forgiving nature, which he presented in his writings, in which he wrote extensively about God’s love and mercy to His people. St. Cyril himself had endured many challenges and oppositions throughout his life and he was falsely accused many times by his rivals. Yet, he remained composed, and continued to serve the Lord and the people regardless of those challenges.

Therefore, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, by growing more generous in love and forgiveness, keeping in mind that our most loving and patient God has loved us all so dearly, each and every moments that we live in this world. Are we able to change ourselves through embracing the way of mercy and the way of love? Then we must be loving and merciful at every living moments of our life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us all in everything we do. Amen.

Monday, 18 March 2019 : 2nd Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Luke 6 : 36-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”