Saturday, 20 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate then the feast of the Immaculate Heart of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day, just as we have recalled the great love which God has poured out from His most loving Heart, we also recall the tender, compassionate and motherly love shown by Mary to her Son, her beloved One, from her Immaculate Heart.

We recall Mary’s great love for God, her faith and piety, her commitment to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, and how she loved her Son dearly from the moment before He was born, and even up to the way of the Cross, when Mary followed her Son faithfully as He picked up His Cross and bore that burden of the Cross with Him to Calvary. It must indeed have pained her a lot to see her Son treated in such a way, and suffered in such a terrible manner.

And this was what the man of God Simeon spoke of at the Temple when the Lord Jesus was presented there after His birth. Simeon told Mary, the mother of the Lord that her Son was a Sign that would be the cause for the rising and downfall of many, and then, prophesied that ‘a sword will pierce your own heart’. It was at that moment of great anguish and sorrow, seeing her own Son’s suffering and journey towards His death that the ‘sword’ pierced Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

This was a heart that beats with love and filled with genuine faith in God, a heart blameless and immaculate because Mary herself had been conceived without sin, and pure from any taints of evil and wickedness. Yet, this loving and gentle Immaculate Heart has to endure such bitter wound and hurt. But all these did not stop her from loving, and instead, she loved with even greater sincerity and effort. And the same love which she has shown to her Son, she has also showed to all of us.

The Lord has entrusted us all to the loving care of His own mother when from the Cross, at the moment of His suffering and death, symbolically entrusted St. John to Mary’s care, and also vice versa, Mary to the care of St. John. Ever since then, all of us have been truly blessed to have Mary, not just as a great saint and role model, but also as our own adopted mother, and we have all been placed under her loving care and embrace.

That was why we have had many moments when the Blessed Virgin Mary, our loving mother appeared to us in different occasions, most famous of which occurred in Guadalupe, in La Salette, in Lourdes, in Fatima among others. And in all occurrences, Mary, the loving Mother of God and our mother always emphasised on repentance and for all mankind to turn once again towards God, towards her Son and to be forgiven from all of our sins and be reconciled.

Having seen the pain and suffering, the sorrow and troubles her Son endured on the Cross, it is not surprising that first of all, Mary as a loving Mother would not have wanted her Son’s sacrifice for our sake to be wasted on account of our stubbornness and refusal to turn towards God and remain in sin. And of course, then as a loving mother to all of us, she also certainly does not want any one of us to be lost from her due to our sinful ways.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must really consider ourselves truly fortunate, to have received such abundant love, care and compassion not just from the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, but even also from the Immaculate Heart of His own mother Mary, who is also our loving mother. Do we not want to listen to our mother’s loving words calling upon us to turn to her and from her towards Jesus Christ, her Son, Our Lord and Saviour?

Let us all therefore turn towards God with renewed faith, and devote ourselves from now on with greater zeal. Let us all commit ourselves to the path shown to us by our mother, Mary, through her loving Immaculate Heart, and follow this path faithfully to our complete reconciliation and forgiveness in God. O Blessed Mother Mary, help us all to be more like you in faith, and to share the love overflowing from your Immaculate Heart. Pray for us all sinners, and bring us ever closer to Christ, your Son, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Saturday, 20 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart.

Saturday, 20 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

Saturday, 20 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the love of God pouring forth out from His most loving Heart, as He has revealed to His servants, namely St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and earlier on through influences on mystic saints such as St. Gertrude the Great. Ultimately, the long development of the revelations led to the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as we are familiar with today.

The Lord appeared in visions to early visionaries such as St. Gertrude the Great, St. Lutgarde and St. Mechtilde, speaking of the love from His loving Heart for mankind, and calling on all to love Him more and to dedicate themselves to His loving Heart, which He dedicated to all peoples as a show of His love, the Heart filled with great love for each and every one of us, a Heart that is so loving and gentle towards us, as a symbol of His eternal and enduring love for us all.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the most significant series of visions of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, as He told the devout servant about the Devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, by the dedication of the first Fridays of every month to the reception of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and then also Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Hours dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Through these visions, gradually, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which had begun earlier in the past centuries rapidly gained popularity and adoption by many in the Church.

The Lord in His appearances to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also showed His heart and the anguish and sorrow which He had for the sins and disobedience which we had shown to Him despite the vastness of love, compassion and mercy that He has lavished upon us. The Lord said that, “Behold the Heart that has loved so many men, and yet, instead of gratitude, all I received were ingratitude…” and asking in particular that the Friday after the week in which the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated be dedicated to Him as the Feast of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart.

That is why today we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, continuing a long standing tradition and practice of the Church celebrating the mystery of the Sacred Heart since the fourteenth century. And as the devotion spread rapidly, eventually, the Blessed Pope Pius IX extended and placed this great Feast and Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in its current form and honour. And the Lord also promised to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that all those who devoted themselves to His Most Sacred Heart with faith will be protected and receive the graces of God.

Now then, as we dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord in His Most Sacred Heart today, let us all then spend some time to reflect on just how fortunate we have been to be beloved by God, and just how wonderful is His love for each and every one of us, keeping in mind what He Himself had said when He appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, that though He has loved us all so dearly, yet what He received was not gratitude, but rather immense ingratitude and lack of faith from so many of us.

This is what we all need to focus on today, and look through our lives, our actions in life thus far and see where we may have fallen short of what we ought to have done, that is to love the same God Who has loved us so much with the same love, with the same energy and enthusiasm, with the same strength and commitment. In our first reading today taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, all of us heard of the Covenant that God had established with His people after He brought them out by mighty deeds from the land of Egypt, and how He has cared for them and provided for them, as a people consecrated to Him in holiness.

And yet, those people who have been so blessed to be chosen by God did not appreciate or be grateful at how fortunate they had been to have been such blessed by God. Instead, they chose to disobey Him, committing all sorts of evil, even right from the moment when He had just established His Covenant with them, as they erected a golden calf and made it god over them in opposition to God. And there were many other occasions throughout the history of the Israelites that they had certainly brought the Lord to much sorrow, grief and anger at their disobedience and stubbornness.

And yet, the Lord still chose to love them and to give them opportunities, one after another, sending many prophets again and again to them to help them and to lead them to Himself, that they might repent from their sins and turn away from their disobedience. Last of all, as the fulfilment of what He has revealed through His prophets, He sent His very own Begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of all His people. How did He do that? By offering Himself as the perfect sacrificial offering on the Cross, that by sharing in His own shed Body and outpoured Blood, all of us who shared in Him, we have the promise of everlasting life with us.

That is why we celebrate this great Solemnity just within the week after the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, as instructed by the Lord Himself, clearly as an important reminder that we have the loving Heart of our Lord, filled with His love that is so great and wonderful, so great a love that He has willingly offered Himself and sacrificed His own life, Body and shed His own Blood, suffering the most bitter of sufferings and persecutions for our sake.

It was for the great love of God that we have been blessed to know this love through Christ, as highlighted by St. John in his Epistle which is our second reading today. God has manifested His love for us through His Son, and by His actions and most loving and perfectly selfless sacrifice, He has showed us that He is Love Himself, and that all of us who are His people and adopted children, must also therefore be filled with the same love. We are all called to look at the Lord and remember His love, and be loving just as He has loved us.

Are we capable of doing that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Certainly we are capable of showing love just as the Lord has shown His love towards us. In each and every one of us, God has shown the potential to love, and sown the seeds of love within us, by the Holy Spirit Whom all of us have received through baptism, and which has been strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. All of us are creatures of love, and the question is not whether we are capable of showing love, but rather if we want to show this love, to God and to our fellow brethren.

Today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, keeping in mind all those who have been called to model themselves after the Lord’s examples, especially His love for each and every one of us. To those who have given themselves to the ministry of the ordained priesthood, we pray for them all, that they truly may model themselves and their own hearts after that of the Lord’s own Most Sacred Heart, filled with love for all mankind.

We need to recognise that to be priests is a very difficult undertaking for those who have chosen to answer the Lord’s call and dedicate their lives. They are also humans just like us, with their flaws and imperfections, but they are at the same time held up to a much higher expectation and standard, being those who have been entrusted with the care and guardianship over the people of God. But then they also faced a lot of difficulties and challenges, as well as daily temptations and pressures from various origins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why all of us need to support our priests and all those who have dedicated themselves to this holy and sacred calling in life. And we can do that by living with faith ourselves and devoting ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, showing the same love that He has shown us, in our actions and interactions with one another. Let us all model ourselves after the Lord’s heart, that our own heart be filled with love, and love graciously and tenderly as the Lord Himself has shown us.

May the Lord continue to be our guide, strengthen us in faith and love us all the time, that we may draw ever closer to the love of God made evident to us through His Most Sacred Heart. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust ourselves to You, and we beseech You to show Your ever enduring love and compassion, mercifully forgiving us our sins and reconciling us to Yourself, that we may indeed have our rest in You, we who are weary and heavily burdened, that through You, we may truly be free. Amen.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 25-30

On that occasion, Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise You; because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to simple people. Yes, Father, this was Your gracious will.”

“Everything has been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

“Come to Me, all 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.”

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 4 : 7-16

My dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves, is born of God and knows God. Those who do not love have not known God, for God is Love. How did the love of God appear among us? God sent His only Son into this world, that we might have life, through Him.

This is love : not that we loved God, but that, He first loved us and sent His Son, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if such has been the love of God, we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love comes to its perfection in us.

How may we know that we live in God and He in us? Because God has given us His Spirit. We ourselves have seen, and declare, that the Father sent His Son to save the world. Those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in them, and they in God.

We have known the love of God and have believed in it. God is Love. The one who lives in love, and God in him.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 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 restores justice and secures the rights of the oppressed. He has made known His ways to Moses; and His deeds, to the people of Israel.

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.

Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 7 : 6-11

You are a people consecrated to YHVH, your God. YHVH has chosen you from among all the peoples on the face of the earth, that you may be His own people. YHVH has bound Himself to you and has chosen you, not because you are the most numerous among all the peoples (on the contrary, you are the least). Rather, He has chosen you because of His love for you and to fulfil the oath He made to your fathers.

Therefore, with a firm hand YHVH brought you out from slavery in Egypt, from the power of Pharaoh. So know that YHVH, your God, is the true and faithful God. He keeps His covenant, and His love reaches to the thousandth generation for those who love Him and fulfil His commandments, but He punishes in their own persons those who hate Him and He repays them without delay.

So keep the commandments, the norms and the laws that today I command you to practice.

Thursday, 18 June 2020 : 11th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the Sacred Scriptures we heard about the praises of the prophet Elijah as recounted by the prophet Sirach. In that passage we heard how the prophet Elijah had worked hard for the Lord and eventually was taken up into heaven at the end of his ministry. Then in the Gospel passage we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and followers on the matter of how they ought to pray and then taught them His prayer.

Let us first begin with our first reading today, in which we heard the account of the life and works of the prophet Elijah. In that account, we heard a summary of Elijah’s many achievements during his ministry and how he laboured hard for the sake of God’s people, a most thankless and tiring task, as he was persecuted, oppressed and rejected by those same people that he had been sent to minister. He had to flee many times for fear of his life during his ministry, with many people opposing him.

The Lord had worked through Elijah, as he performed many wonderful miracles, as mentioned by the prophet Sirach, as he brought fire down from heaven to burn the sacrificial offerings during the trial of faith with the priests of Baal and his opponents, bringing down fire on the agents of the king who demanded him to come down from the mountain and see the king, to raising the dead child of the widow of Zarephath to whom he also showed God’s grace and love with the miraculous and endless supply of flour and oil for her family to eat and survive during the great famine and drought.

But the people would still not be turned by all these efforts, although some were definitely touched by the faith and the efforts of the prophet. Most of the people, like that of their king, Ahab, and his successors remained in sin, living in sin and continuing to worship the pagan gods and idols, save for Jehu, the successor of the house of Ahab, whom God had chosen to be the king of Israel, and whom Elijah had helped to put in place. In all these, we see how God has cared so much about His people, that He sent them a great prophet to help them and reach out to them, and in the end, when that prophet had completed his ministry, God also took him up into heaven for the greater glory of His works.

How is this related to our Gospel passage today? We heard of the Lord Jesus ministering to the people, spreading the words of God’s truth among them. He was the new great Prophet sent into the world, and His role was affirmed as at the moment of Transfiguration, the prophet Elijah and Moses appeared before the Lord and spoke to Him on Mount Tabor as witnessed by three of the Apostles. This highlighted the Lord as the fulfilment of all the prophecies, and He Himself, as the one and true Prophet of prophets, would complete God’s plan to save mankind.

The Lord Himself faced challenges, opposition, rejection and difficulties, just as the prophet Elijah and myriads of other prophets had experienced. But He still carried on His work and ministry, for the wonderful and enduring love which He has for each and every one of us, the sons and daughters of mankind. And He has always reminded His followers and disciples to focus their hearts, their minds and their attention on God, and the way to do this is through having stronger and more authentic relationship with Him.

And how do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is through prayer! Just as the Lord taught His disciples how to pray, the Lord’s Prayer composed by Himself as the inspiration and example of what prayers should be like, and what prayers are meant to be. Prayer is the intimate form of communication between us and God, for us to get close to God and to open ourselves to Him. But many of us often got it wrong about prayer, thinking of prayer as a means for us to gain ourselves what we want and need from God.

That is why when we prayed, many of us often ended up falling into the temptation of focusing on ourselves, looking inward and immersed in our ego, desire, pride and ambition rather than to focus our attention in God. The Lord Jesus taught us to focus our attention on God, to honour and glorify Him, to thank Him for all the wonderful blessings He has given to us, and to devote ourselves to Him, and then, surely, God will guide us and help us. And in prayer, we ought to open ourselves to the Lord, to listen to Him and to follow Him in whatever He wants us to do.

Let us all therefore deepen our relationship to the Lord, our Father through prayer and by drawing ever closer to Him. Let us all follow Him faithfully much as how the prophet Elijah had dedicated his life to serve Him, by doing what we can, in our own lives, in our own respective communities and places, to obey the Lord and to do our best in serving Him, at all times. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.