Saturday, 23 July 2022 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

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

Jeremiah 7 : 1-11

These words were spoken by YHVH to Jeremiah, “Stand at the gate of YHVH’s House and proclaim this in a loud voice : Listen to what YHVH says, all you people of Judah (who enter these gates to worship YHVH). YHVH the God of Israel says this : Amend your ways and your deeds and I will stay with you in this place. Rely not on empty words such as : ‘Look, Temple of YHVH! Temple of YHVH! This is the Temple of YHVH!’”

“It is far better for you to amend your ways and act justly with all. Do not abuse the stranger, orphan or widow or shed innocent blood in this place or follow false gods to your own ruin. Then I will stay with you in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors in times past and forever.”

“But you trust in deceptive and useless words. You steal, kill, take the wife of your neighbour; you swear falsely, worship Baal and follow foreign gods who are not yours. Then, after doing all these horrible things, you come and stand before Me in this Temple that bears My Name and say, ‘Now we are safe.’ Is this House on which rests My Name a den of thieves? I have seen this Myself – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a prominent disciple of the Lord who was described throughout the Gospels as one of the closest woman collaborators of the Lord, who travelled together with the other disciples and who was present during the important moments especially surrounding the Lord’s Passion, His suffering, death and resurrection. St. Mary Magdalene was also known to be the one to have seen the Lord the first among the disciples after He was risen from the dead. In that way therefore, she was the one to deliver the truth of this Good News to the disciples.

Hence, that is why the Church has always treated St. Mary Magdalene as an equal to the Apostles or Isapostolos, counted among the great saints whose prominence and honour in the Church are considered equivalent to those given to the Twelve Apostles and the other Apostles. Pope Francis, our current Pope raised the celebration of St. Mary Magdalene from a Memorial rank to that of a Feast a few years ago, in order to reflect this nature, and he also referred to her by her well-known title of Apostola Apostolorum, or the ‘Apostle to the Apostles’. This is a reference to what I just mentioned earlier, that St. Mary Magdalene was the one to bring the Good News of the Resurrection to the Apostles.

Just as the other Apostles were sent forth by the Lord to spread the Good News, the Gospels of truth and love of God to all the peoples of the whole world, hence St. Mary Magdalene prefigured all of that, by her role in bringing the same revelation of truth to the disciples, to the Apostles and all those assembled and waiting in uncertainty and fear after the Lord had been condemned to death and crucified. St. Mary Magdalene was the one to whom the Lord appeared first, to bring this Good News of hope and encouragement to the Apostles, and to remind them that He was truly risen from the dead just as He Himself had predicted and revealed earlier on.

St. Mary Magdalene was indeed a truly great saint and servant of God, but if we look upon her origin and background, according to various traditions and Scriptural evidences, we can see that she was far from the ideal disciple that we may think that she must have been. St. Mary Magdalene was often conflated with another woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, or that of a prostitute and sinner, and in one of the Gospels, it was explicitly mentioned that she had seven demons or evil spirits driven out from her by the Lord, which strengthened the link between her and her less than ideal origin.

Regardless whether she was an immoral woman or prostitute in her earlier life, or whether she was just another ordinary woman out of many at the time, that was not important. What matters was that, St. Mary Magdalene chose to leave behind her past life, flawed and terrible as it might have been, and instead followed the Lord wholeheartedly as a disciple. She followed the Lord faithfully, even when the other disciples fled after He was arrested at the time of His Passion and suffering and death. She was among the ones who waited on the Lord, together with His mother Mary, as He laid dying on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the examples of St. Mary Magdalene, her faith and dedication to God, all that she had done and the commitment she had made to the Lord should be good inspiration for all of us to follow. Her conversion and then commitment as a faithful servant of God is an inspiration and hope for each one of us, that God has called all to be His disciples, and not even the greatest sinners are excluded from the path to salvation and eternal life. What matters is for each one of us to recognise our sinful ways and to return to the Lord with contrite hearts and with the openness to embrace His way and truth.

Like St. Mary Magdalene, even many of the other greatest saints of the Church were once sinners, and some of them committed great sins previously in their respective lives. Yet, what made them to be respected and venerated greatly later on were their commitment to change their lives and in embracing the path that the Lord had shown them. They responded to God’s call and were converted to the true path of God. The Lord was with them and He brought them to the right path, and through them He did many wonderful and great deeds, because those saints allowed Him to lead them on in their lives that they became His greatest disciples and servants.

All of us have also received the same calling, and all that remains is for us to respond to God’s call. It is completely up to us how we shall respond to Him and how we are to follow the path that God has shown us. Each one of us have been given various opportunities and chances to do God’s will, and even the smallest and seemingly less significant things that we do actually have a great impact way beyond our imagination. We are all called to do our part as Christians, to be the examples and inspirations to all our brothers and sisters, that by our good examples, as St. Mary Magdalene herself had done with hers, we may bring the truth and Good News of God to more and more people out there.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, and may He bless us in our every good works and endeavours. St. Mary Magdalene, holy disciple and follower of the Lord, the Apostle to the Apostles, pray for us all! Amen.

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Friday, 22 July 2022 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Apostle of the Apostles (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.