Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Isaiah 40 : 25-31

To whom, then, will you liken Me or make Me equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and see : who has created all this? He has ordered them as a starry host and called them each by name. So mighty is His power, so great His strength, that not one of them is missing.

How can you say, o Jacob, how can you complain, o Israel, that your destiny is hidden from Me, that your rights are ignored by YHVH? Have you not known, have you not heard that YHVH is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He does not grow tired or weary, His knowledge is without limit.

He gives strength to the enfeebled, He gives vigour to the wearied. Youth may grow tired and faint, young men will stumble and fall, but those who hope in YHVH will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Loreto (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Loreto)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on the tenth day of December for the very first time the Universal Church celebrates together the feast of Our Lady of Loreto, a celebration linked to the holy site of Loreto, which is according to the tradition of the Church and our faith is none other than the sacred dwelling place of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph. This holy place was initially located in Nazareth, the place where Mary and St. Joseph lived.

Throughout the years, the holy house of the Lord remained standing even though other buildings and places were changed or destroyed. When St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great who ended persecution against Christians came to the Holy Land as part of her search for the True Cross and the holy relics of the Passion, the holy house of the Lord in Nazareth was discovered, and a Basilica was built over the place of the holy house, which was undisturbed and remained intact.

Through the many centuries afterwards, when many times and moments of turmoil, wars and conflicts caused changes in ownership of the land, and the great Basilica above the holy house were repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, miraculously, the holy house itself remained intact and indestructible by any earthly forces, right through to the time of the Crusades, over a thousand years after the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At that time, the holy house disappeared after the last time the Holy Land fell into the hands of the enemies of the Lord.

Then, miraculously, one day, in the small town in Dalmatia in what is now Croatia, the holy house suddenly appeared again and accompanied by a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to the local priest saying that the miraculous appearance of the holy house was by the will of God and how the house was the actual house of the Holy Family of Nazareth. And when under various circumstances, the house was threatened yet again, it moved a few more times until it stayed in Loreto in Italy where it remained until today.

Therefore, there is then until today a great pilgrimage site at Loreto, to the Basilica of the Holy House, within which is that same house that once was the dwelling place of the Holy Family of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and also His foster father St. Joseph. And the interesting tale behind its miraculous survival after all these years in fact is a testimony and a reminder of how God and His presence endures all the time, regardless of changes in this world.

His Holiness Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Bishop of Rome declared that beginning from this year onwards the celebration of Our Lady of Loreto and its glorious shrine should be celebrated by the Universal Church as a reminder for us all that indeed, especially during this season of Advent when the feast always takes place, it is important for us to return to the roots of our faith, that is within our own family units.

And we should model ourselves and our families after the loving examples of the Holy Family, which is the perfect model for our Christian families to follow, in the love, dedication and faith that each of the members of the Holy Family had shown, in being a good example how we ourselves should build our own families. A good and strong family foundation is essential to the establishment of a strong and living faith, for we must understand and realise that each and every one of our families are the basic and fundamental units of the Church.

In our world today, sadly, there had been much attack to the structure and bonds joining our families together. Many forms of temptations and false ideas had led to the dissolution of many families, as divorces and divisions became prevalent in our families today, which inevitably led to further problems including loss of faith and the weakening of the bonds joining the members of God’s Church together.

All these were the works of the devil and all of his wicked allies who must have worked hard to destroy us all, by striking at our families. Now, let us all look at the Holy Family for inspiration of how we should model our families and also our faith lives together, and let us all ask for the intercession of Mary, the Mother of our God and Our Lady of Loreto that we may be strengthened by her Son, Our Lord in our faith.

May the Lord bless us all and our families, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in our commitment and courage to live each and every day with genuine faith and dedication to walk in the path that He has shown us all. May God be with us all and guide us in our journey of faith, and bless our Advent observation and preparation. Amen.