Monday, 21 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the faith and the obedience of Mary, as the Mother of Our Lord, Saviour and God, Jesus Christ. Today the Church marks the occasion of the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is apt therefore for us to reflect upon the life and the works of Mary, whose examples and faith in God should be our source of inspiration and strength in following the Lord, in being faithful and committed to Him all the days of our lives. Each and every one of us as Christians should look up upon our beloved Mother Mary, as the role model and shining beacon of God’s light who have shown us the way towards the salvation in her Son, Our Lord, God and Master.

Mary was presented at the Temple of Jerusalem, the House of God as was common at that time. According to the Law of God, as revealed through Moses, the firstborn child of any family ought to be offered and consecrated to God, and in that manner therefore, the parents of Mary, St. Joachim and St. Anne both dedicated Mary to the Lord at His House as prescribed by the Law. According to some tradition, Mary was also descended from the priestly tribe of Levi, and it was therefore even more significant as members of the tribe of Levi had been dedicated to God to be the priests and servants of the Lord. While it was not definitive whether Mary was descended from either the tribe of Judah or Levi through her parents, but what is clear and certain is that she has truly been dedicated and committed to God for the missions entrusted to her.

Mary has been prepared specially by the Lord, through the singular grace He has granted her, that she was conceived free from the taints of the original sin that have tainted all the rest of us mankind. God hallowed her such, so that through her sanctity and purity, through her Immaculate Conception and perfect state of grace, she may truly become a most worthy Ark of the Covenant, the New Ark for the New Covenant that God wanted to make and establish with all of us, His beloved people, children and flock. The Lord has prepared her to bear the Saviour of the world, the very Word of God incarnate in the flesh, descending into this world and into our midst, and to bear Him within her, Mary indeed has to be worthy, and compared to the old Ark, truly, we can see how God had prepared everything for this.

In the Old Testament, as the Lord told Moses to make the Ark of the Covenant, the original Ark bearing the two tablets of the Law of God, the Ten Commandments, as well as the manna and the staff of Aaron, God ordered His people to make the Ark from the most precious of materials, from gold and the finest goods of the world, and it was hallowed, blessed and sanctified as such that, no one was allowed to touch the Ark of the Covenant. When a priest accidentally touched the Ark during the time of king David and his effort to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, the priest was struck dead immediately after he touched the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant was indeed so holy because God’s Holy Presence rested and dwelled in it, seated upon the Cherubim carved atop the Ark.

That Ark was placed at the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting and later on the Temple of Jerusalem, into which only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and even that, only in one occasion throughout the entire year. That was just how sacrosanct the old Ark was, and that was made by mere human hands. How it relates to Mary is that, in Mary, whom God herself made and crafted by His hands, she was entrusted with the Lord Himself, present in the flesh, in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, that her Son, in her womb and born from her, was truly the Holy Presence of God in the flesh, tangible and manifested perfectly in this world. And as such, she is the worthy Ark of the New Covenant, the Covenant that God would establish through Christ His Son, as she is truly full of grace, free from the taints of sin and evil.

What does it mean by Mary being full of grace, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that Mary obeyed the Lord and loved Him so much and so perfectly, that she could not even contemplate the thought of disobeying Him. It was through such disobedience that sin entered into our midst, and that sin began to corrupt our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Whereas Mary devoted herself so thoroughly to God and obeyed Him, just as she responded to the Archangel Gabriel at the moment of the Annunciation, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Your will.’ She showed us all therefore what it means to be a true disciple and follower of our Lord, as each one of us are called to embrace His path, His Law and commandments, and be faithful in Him, in a most genuine and sincere way as Mary herself has done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together today to celebrate this Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all therefore look upon Mary, the Mother of God and our mother as our role model and examples in life, as our guide and help in our journey of faith towards God. And we also should know just how much Mary loves us all as well, because even after she has been assumed into Heaven by her Son’s grace, she still looked upon us and cared for us, as proven by her many apparitions and efforts through those and more to reach out to us and to help us find our way out of the darkness and back into the light of Christ. All of us as Christians should strive to renew our faith and dedicate ourselves all the more to the Lord, spending more time and effort to love Him, and to follow Him wholeheartedly in the way that Mary herself had done.

May our beloved mother Mary continue to watch over us and inspire us by her life, her dedication and commitment to God. May she continue to intercede and pray for our sake, we sinners who have often betrayed and hurt her Son. May all of us be shown mercy and forgiveness, and may we all draw ever closer to God, to His love and grace, now and always, and may He continue to bless us all and remain with us, forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 21 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Monday, 21 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Monday, 21 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us, we are all called to keep in mind the commandments and ways of the Lord, distancing ourselves from sinful and wicked things, and doing our best to be holy and exemplary in our lives. We should be sincere in our faith and way of loving God and our fellow brethren, and not doing so because we have ulterior motives and desires, or because we want to be praised and adored for our actions and faith, which would otherwise lead us down the wrong path in life, a path of selfishness and sin instead of towards salvation in God.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard of the truth of how each one of us as Christians, having been called to be God’s people, and having received the adoption from Him to be His own beloved sons and daughters, each one of us are expected to live our lives in the manner that the Lord has taught and shown us through His Church. All of us have received the great grace from God, the forgiveness for our sins, and having been shown the great and tender love from God. And yet, many of us still preferred to choose ways that are contrary to God and His path, those ways which are not aligned to the teachings of the Lord and His Church.

If we listened well to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the rebuke which the Lord Jesus spoke and directed towards the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as many of them had not been truly obedient to God, and they had misused and abused their authority and position, to enrich and empower themselves instead of serving the Lord and the interest of the people of God. They made it difficult for many among the people of God to come close to God, as they imposed very harsh conditions, rules, regulations and practices which essentially deterred many people from following the Lord’s ways.

Not only that, the ways and the practices of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law themselves were not truly founded upon the firm foundations of faith. In fact, as mentioned earlier on this week, the Law itself had been changed, affected and corrupted over the many centuries since it was handed down through Moses from God to His people. Over all that time, the various oral traditions and additions, modifications and changes had accumulated such that the Law in its essence and practice was no longer the same Law which the Lord had revealed and intended for His people in the first place.

The people and their elders persecuted the faithful and the many prophets and messengers who were sent into their midst in order to remind them and call them back towards the path towards righteousness. They hardened their hearts and minds against the Lord, and refused to listen to the reminders made to them in many occasions. Instead, they chose to indulge in worldly desires and in corrupt ways, that led them further and further into sin. All these were caused by their pride and ego, their ambitions and their unbridled desires which led to them falling further and ever deeper into the traps laid on them by Satan and all those seeking their destruction and downfall.

Instead of doing what the Lord had told them to do, and instead of loving one another as fellow brothers and sisters, all belonging to the same family of God, they used the Law as excuses to gain renown and fame for themselves. They preferred to satisfy their own desires for power, worldly glory, fame and more, rather than to do the will of God. They made it difficult for many of those who were in need of help from God, and who would have benefitted the most from God’s mercy and love, to come towards Him. That is why God chastised those elders and leaders who had not done and lived their lives the way that they should have done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today let us all heed these past examples so that in the Church, we will not follow the same wrong and mistaken paths that those elders and leaders of the faithful had done. Let us all focus ourselves not on our own ego and worldly desires, but instead allow the Lord to lead and guide us down the right path, resisting the many temptations and pressures of the world so that we may truly love the Lord our God with all of our hearts and with all of our strengths, and also to love one another, our fellow men and women, with all our might, especially those who are the least amongst us.

Let us all bear forth God’s love, truth and light to all those whom we encounter each day and at every moments in life. Let us all be the faithful and true witnesses of our Christian faith at all times, and seek to glorify God by our lives, and proclaim His truth and love by our generous and most loving outreach to those who are in most need of love, care, attention and hope. May the Lord continue to guide us down this journey of faith, now and always, and as we mark the anniversary of the Final Miracle of Fatima, the Miracle of the Sun today, let us ask the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Fatima to intercede for us all as well. Amen.

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 11 : 47-54

At that time, Jesus said to the teachers of the Law, “A curse is on you, for you build monuments to the prophets your ancestors killed. So you approve and agree with what your ancestors did. Is it not so? They got rid of the prophets, and you build monuments to them!”

“For that reason the wisdom of God also said : I will send prophets and Apostles and these people will kill and persecute some of them. But the present generation will have to answer for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the Sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, the people of this time will have to answer for them all.”

“A curse is on you, teachers of the Law, for you have taken the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you prevented others from entering.”

As Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to harass Him, asking Him endless questions, setting traps to catch Him in something He might say.

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Thursday, 13 October 2022 : 28th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Ephesians 1 : 1-10

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, to you, who share Christian faith : receive grace and peace from God, our Father, and from Jesus, the Lord.

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by His Blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us His mysterious design, in accordance with His loving-kindness, in Christ.

In Him, and under Him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding all of us that this month of October is the Month of the Holy Rosary when the Church encouraged all the faithful to pray the rosary daily, as an offering of prayer to God made through His blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. The rosary as we know is the long chain of beads used by Christians in prayers, most commonly for the rosary in offering of the set of fifty Hail Mary or Ave Maria interspersed with the Lord’s Prayer and Gloria Patri or ‘Glory Be’ prayer, as well as some other prayers and devotions such as the Devotion to the Divine Mercy which also uses the rosary.

The history of this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary dated from the introduction of the rosary itself as a means of prayer to help Christians to get closer to God. Among the traditions of the Church and the saints, it was to St. Dominic, the famous founder of the Dominicans or the Order of Preacher that the Blessed Mother of God appeared, asking for all Christians to pray the rosary with the prayers I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be prayers. In its earliest origins, the rosary had fifteen decades or a hundred and fifty beads in relation to how it was meant to replace the praying of the entire Book of Psalms by Christians, a practice that is still done through the Divine Office today.

The Blessed Mother of God granted the rosary to us all in order to help us all to find our way to the Lord through prayer, and by focusing ourselves on the Lord and to the good examples that Mary herself had done in her life, as one who is truly full of grace and blessed, fully faithful and committed to the Lord, to her Son, by her perfect obedience and virtues. Through the repetitive prayers of the rosary, we are in fact brought into that state of prayer and silence that can break us out from our attachments and distractions in life which had often prevented us from finding our way to God. And unlike the Psalms which are difficult to remember, the prayers making up the rosary are extremely simple to remember.

Through that, Mary, our Lady of the Rosary wanted more and more people to spend more time in prayer and in communication with God, and also with her that she may help to bring us all and direct us towards her Son, our Lord and Saviour. And today, on this Feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary we are yet reminded again of the need for all of us to adopt this prayer of the rosary to help us to come ever closer to God, through His mother Mary, our mother and our role model in faith. Have we prayed the rosary yet thus far, especially during this month of October, brothers and sisters in Christ? If we have not done so, then we really should start doing so now.

Then, this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary itself was instituted close to five centuries ago, under its original name of Our Lady of Victories. This date of the seventh day of October is the anniversary of the great and triumphant victory of the forces of Christendom against the forces of the wicked infidels of the Ottoman Turks who at that time sought to subjugate more and more of Christendom and the people of God to their flawed ideology and false teachings. At that time, the Church and Christendom themselves both were also beset by internal divisions and disagreements, as both were still reeling and suffering the effects of the Protestant Reformation, which led so many of the faithful astray into heretical paths.

Beset with internal divisions and the great external threat presented by the Ottoman Turks, the Pope therefore organised and raised up a great force from various parts of Christendom, gathering a Holy League led by one Don Juan of Austria, which went to face the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto in what is today the western part of Greece. The Pope also asked Christians everywhere to pray for the sake of the triumph of the Christian forces, encouraging them all to pray the rosary, asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God and the saints, that the forces of the evil enemy might be crushed and defeated.

And thus, it was told that during the Battle of Lepanto, many saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Victories and Our Lady of the Rosary, with innumerable saints and Angels leading forth the forces of Christendom against the enemy. The enemy fleet and forces were defeated and crushed, and the forces of Christendom triumphant, liberating many of the Christian slaves, tens of thousands of them who had been forced and enslaved to work on the enemy ships and galleys. The news of the glorious and triumphant victory came to the Pope who then dedicated this day to be the Feast of Our Lady of Victories, which then later on rededicated as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, reminding us all of the power of the rosary.

Why so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because all of us must realise that we are always ever involved in a constant and daily spiritual battle all raging around us, waged by the evil spirits, Satan and all the forces of his fellow fallen angels, demons and wicked spirits, arrayed against our Guardian Angels and other Angels and good spirits of the Lord, supported by the saints and our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary herself. Those who sought our downfall and destruction are never at rest, always ever trying to strike us down and to grab us down with them, into the slippery slope towards eternal damnation. But we are not alone in this fight and struggle, brothers and sisters.

That is why, we must not underestimate the danger of those who seek our destruction and downfall, and we should always be ever vigilant, resisting the temptations to disobey God and sin. We should make good use of whatever means that the Lord has given us to help us, with the rosary itself being one of these. That is why we should spend some time each day especially in this month of the Holy Rosary to pray the rosary. And when we pray the rosary, we should pray it with genuine understanding and intention, and not just uttering the words of prayer without meaning and understanding them. Let us pray the rosary in offering a most beautiful spiritual bouquet of prayer to our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary, who will then offer them on our behalf before her Son.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life, and may all of us grow ever closer to God through the guidance of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and our loving mother. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 7 October 2022 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.