Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Matthew 11 : 11-15

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you this : no one greater than John the Baptist has arisen from among sons of women; and yet, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered; and violent men seize it.”

“Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy : all the prophets and the Law. And if you believe Me, John is indeed that Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young 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.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Psalm 144 : 1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

I will extol You, my God and King; I will praise Your Name forever. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures, from generation to generation.

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

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.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Isaiah 41 : 13-20

For I, YHVH, your God, take hold of your right hand and say to you : “Fear not, I am your assistance.” Fear not, Jacob, poor worm, and you, people of Israel, so frail. I am your Redeemer, says YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, your Helper.

I will make you a thresher, new and with sharp double teeth : you will thresh hills and mountains, crushing them and reducing them to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will carry them off and the storm will scatter them. But you will rejoice in YHVH and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The poor and the afflicted seek water, and find none. Their tongues are parched with thirst. But I, YHVH, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up streams over the barren heights and let the rivers flow through all the valleys; I will turn the desert into lakes and brooks and the thirsty earth into a land of springs.

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive; I will plant in the wasteland fir, cypress and pine – that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of YHVH has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

“Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.”

Wednesday, 9 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded yet again as we continue to journey through the season of Advent, to put our focus and attention in life at the Lord and not be distracted by other things. We are all reminded that in God alone we will find true rest and true, genuine peace. There is nothing else in the world that can give us true and lasting satisfaction, unlike what the Lord can give us. That is why we should have faith and doubt no longer.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah as is common during this time of Advent, we heard the Lord speaking to His people through Isaiah, reminding them that He has loved them and cared for them, giving strength to the weak and those who were in need of help, guiding and encouraging all those who had been downtrodden and sorrowful among others. Yet, the people doubted Him and sought other comforts and consolation in other things, worldly things.

That was why the Lord gave His people that reminder, that they must have faith in Him and not seek consolation from other sources. For many of the people had sought consolation from pagan idols, from worldly comfort of wealth, power and glory, from human acceptance and other pleasures, rather than to live in the way that the Lord has shown them. What they were seeking were just temporary and impermanent sources of comfort, and in fact many were leading them down the path to ruin.

This is then related to what the Lord Himself said in our Gospel passage today, with the famous words ‘Come to Me all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.’ And then He went on with ‘For My burden is light and My yoke is easy’. Indeed, the Lord once again offered and showed His love, care and genuine attention, wanting us all to find our true rest and happiness in Him. But we may find it strange that the Lord mentioned that His burden is light and His yoke is easy.

What He meant is that, in comparison to what the alternative offers, the worldly consolations, temptations and pleasures, in truth, His path leads to true happiness and joy, although it may seem to be challenging and difficult at a glance. To be a Christian means that we must be ready to face trials and oppositions, challenges and difficulties, especially from those who disagree with our faith and refuse to believe, and those who disagree with our Christian and faithful way of life.

The devil and his agents are always ever active in trying to mislead us down the wrong path, by tempting us with false promises and false pleasures, showing us a path that seems to be easy and pleasurable, good and happy, filled with indulgence and comfort, and yet blinds us to the end result, that if we walk down that path, we will fall deeper and deeper into sin, and from there into eternal suffering and damnation from where there is no escape, and there is no more happiness, only sorrow, regret and despair.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called in this season of Advent to reexamine our way of life and reorientate our direction and focus in life that we ought to reconsider our path while we still have the opportunity to do so. Let us not wait until the time is up for us, and what is left for us is all regret and sorrow. We should look on the good examples set by our predecessors, especially today of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, whose feast we are celebrating.

St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was the one who saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the site of Tepeyac hill, now known as the place where the Marian Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared. St. John Diego was one of the native converts to the Christian faith in what is today Mexico, living approximately five hundreds ago. At that time, St. John Diego was a simple peasant who lived a simple and normal, poor but upright life. Upon his conversion he was known for his great devotion and faith to the Lord.

And it was then that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. John Diego at Tepeyac hill, where she revealed herself as the Mother of God and requested through him to the local bishop that a chapel should be built at the site. Initially the bishop was skeptical and St. John Diego himself felt that he was a simple and unworthy man, and told the Blessed Lady of Guadalupe that she ought to call someone else of greater importance for that purpose. But Our Lady insisted on St. John Diego to carry out what she had told him, and eventually the bishop told him to ask the Lady for a sign.

Then, St. John Diego’s uncle fell seriously sick and he was unable to meet Our Lady at the appointed day and time, and as he was embarrassed by that, he tried to take another route to Tepeyac hill, only to be intercepted by Our Lady who admonished St. John Diego for not having sought her intercession, saying ‘Am I not here, who am your mother?’, reminding him that all of us had been entrusted to her as her own adopted children. Then Our Lady asked St. John Diego to collect some flowers in his cloak as sign to show the bishop, and he found some rare flowers at the place shown to him, collected the flowers and brought it to the bishop.

When St. John Diego gave the flowers to the bishop, what was miraculous is that the flowers left an imprint of the image of Our Lady, the Mother of God that surprised the bishop and which immediately led him to believe in St. John Diego’s words and accounts of the Apparition. Hence after, the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe grew immensely, and many people were drawn to God through His mother, and through those like St. John Diego who dedicated their lives in the service of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the story of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin and the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who called for mankind to repent from their sins and turn to God is also a call for each and every one of us. We are all called to reject the path of sin, and embrace fully God’s love and grace. We are all called to be faithful disciples and followers of Our Lord, at all times and in our every works and endeavours. Let us therefore respond to His call this Advent, and transform ourselves and our lives for the better, in the service of His greater glory. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)

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, 9 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)

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, 9 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)

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.