Friday, 31 May 2019 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with Holy Spirit, and giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Saviour! He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, and people forever will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name! From age to age His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.”

“He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.

Friday, 31 May 2019 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid. YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me. You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation.

Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.

Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Friday, 31 May 2019 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving Warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast.

I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be ashamed.

Alternative reading

Romans 12 : 9-16b

Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Outdo one another in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the Spirit and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone. Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep.

Live in peace with one another. Do not dream of extraordinary things.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 : Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, remembering the glorious moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory to return triumphantly to His heavenly throne, and from then on no longer physically visible among us in this world. And yet, the Ascension did not mark the moment when God left us behind in this world, for even though He has ascended into heaven, He did so in order to prepare a place for us just as He Himself told His disciples.

The Lord ascended in glory as He has completed His earthly ministry, and He ascended to enter into the heavenly sanctuary as mentioned in today’s Epistle to the Hebrews, our second reading passage. And He is truly our one and Eternal High Priest, in the image of the Jewish High Priest who in the olden days offered sacrifices on behalf of the people to absolve them from their sins. The blood of the animal sacrifices is spilled onto the altar as a sign of the reconciliation and the renewal of the Covenant of the people with God.

Christ, our one and true High Priest has offered not the blood of animal sacrifices, but His own Most Precious Blood and also His Most Precious Body, laid bare on the Altar of the Cross, and by that singular act of perfect and ultimate love, He brought salvation to all of us by establishing a new and eternal Covenant, one that will no longer be destroyed or be dissolved. For it was by His own Blood that He has sealed and offered this new Covenant with us.

And having won for us all a victory over sin and death, and by sealing a new Covenant of love with us through His Blood, He has prefigured for us the moment of our own triumphant glory, as we share in His glorious resurrection through the Sacrament of Baptism we have received, and now through His Ascension, He revealed to us what all of us will also share with Him, when all of us will be fully reunited with Him in His eternal kingdom.

He ascended in glory as He said, in order to prepare the place for us all, in His heavenly kingdom, and as a prefigurement and preparation for our own glorious reunion with God in the time of His choosing. And we are truly so fortunate that God, Who has been so loving and so gracious towards us, gave us so much of His love that even as He ascended in glory to heaven, He did not leave us all alone, but gave us the perfect support and help in the Holy Spirit.

As we draw closer to the end of the season of Easter in about ten days’ time, with the Solemnity of the Pentecost remembering the moment when the Lord sent His Holy Spirit into this world, all of us gather together as we all also remember God’s love for each and every one of us, for His faithfulness and commitment to the Covenant that He had established with us, by the giving of His Holy Spirit.

The Lord has given us this gift of the Holy Spirit and provided for us the strength and the courage through the same Spirit. However, He is also expecting us to bear rich fruits of the Spirit, that is the fruits of love, the fruits of joy, the fruits of peace, the fruits of patience, the fruits of kindness, the fruits of goodness, the fruits of faithfulness and the fruits of gentleness and self-control. And if we do not cultivate the gift of the Holy Spirit in us, how can we then bear rich fruits?

How do we then cultivate our lives so that we can bear rich fruits of the Holy Spirit from now on? It is by dedicating ourselves and our whole lives to follow the way of the Lord in our every words and actions, by spending time, effort and attention to be sincere in how we live our lives, by putting God at the very centre of our whole actions and in every interactions we have with each other.

Let us all be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be filled with hope to carry on our lives from now on with a new purpose and energy that we will draw ever closer to God, and be more committed to our Christian living from now on. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.