Saturday, 25 June 2022 : 12th 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 after the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated, reminding us all of the special link and connection that Jesus our Lord has with His mother Mary, and just how the loving, Immaculate Heart of Mary is truly a reflection of her own Son’s Most Sacred Heart. Mary’s heart is full of love for all of us, her adopted children, as we all have been entrusted by the Lord to her to be our own mother, and as we also become her own children by faith.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, in which the Lord spoke to the people of God through the prophet Isaiah regarding the coming of God’s salvation to this world. The Lord sent His deliverance to this world, the salvation which He has promised us from the very beginning of time, in the Son that He has begotten, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh through His mother, Mary, whose Immaculate Heart and love we remember today, as our own loving mother and guide. We are reminded as we celebrate the Feast of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, of God’s own love for us, that He has generously given and offered to us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the Lord Jesus and what happened when He was only twelve years old and remained in the Temple of Jerusalem while His parents, Mary and St. Joseph went on their way back to Nazareth and not knowing that Jesus had remained behind in the Temple. I am sure we are all aware of what happened in that story, and we heard how Mary and St. Joseph went all the way back to Jerusalem in search of the young Jesus, and found Him at the Temple. We saw how concerned Mary and St. Joseph were, in looking for and being worried for the young Lord, Who told them that He wanted to be in the House of His Father.

Such were the strange and yet truthful words of the young Lord Jesus, as He was indeed in the House and Presence of His heavenly Father. Yet, man could not have possibly comprehended that truth there and then. We heard how Mary heard all these and kept them all deep within her heart. She had certainly remembered how the Archangel Gabriel came to her and proclaiming the Good News that she was to become the Mother of the Son of God Most High, and everything had come true as the Lord had said and proclaimed to her.

Mary kept everything in her Immaculate Heart, believing in what God had told her and guided her to, and she entrusted herself in His love and providence, continuing to care for her Son, and doing her part in supporting Him for the upcoming ministry and works that the Lord Jesus would be called to do, and she watched Him grew, while gaining more and more Wisdom and power, and she loved Him with all her Immaculate Heart. This same love brought her all the way to walk and journey with Him even to the foot of the Cross. It was this same Immaculate Heart that was akin to being pierced with swords when she saw and witnessed how her own Son was suffering and dying on His Cross.

Mary’s heart was truly pure and immaculate as her title suggests to us, as the Lord Himself had made her Immaculate and pure, as the Immaculate Conception, free from the taints of original sin, and as such, her heart remained pure and free from the blemish of those sins that corrupted many others. That Immaculate Heart is filled with love for all of us just as much as she has loved her Son wholeheartedly. After all, is she not our mother as well? I have mentioned earlier that through the Church and by her Son’s works, all of us have been made to be Mary’s own children, her adopted ones, to be loved by her and cared by her passionate love and care.

Therefore, today, as we commemorate this Feast in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God and also our own mother, let us all hence commit ourselves anew to love the Lord, our God and Saviour, through the examples that our beloved mother herself had shown, in how Mary had dedicated her whole life to love her Son, and how she had dedicated her whole life to obey God’s will and becoming the perfect example for all of us in how we should live our own lives as Christians.

Let us all henceforth renew our faith in the Lord our God, entrusting ourselves in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His Mother, as well as in His Most Sacred Heart, that we may strive from now on, in our best ability and effort to walk ever more faithfully in His presence, distancing ourselves from sin, and turning once again into the path of righteousness and justice, following the path that God has shown us. May God be with us always, and may His mother Mary continue to pray for us and guide us in our journey of faith through life, that we may always ever be faithful, at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 25 June 2022 : 12th 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, 25 June 2022 : 12th 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, 25 June 2022 : 12th 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, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the great and boundless love that the Lord has for each and every one of us, freely being poured out from His most loving Sacred Heart, as we recall all that He had done for our sake. On this day, as we commemorate this great celebration, we remember the Lord Whose Sacred Heart had been pierced and torn for us, and Who despite of our many wickedness and iniquities, still continued to patiently reach out to us, because His love for us, coming from His ever loving and generous Heart, is never-ending.

In the Church, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is among the most popular devotions, and while the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was only relatively recently spread to the whole Church and the world about a hundred and seventy years ago by Blessed Pope Pius IX, but the history of the devotion and the celebration of the most generous love and compassionate care of God in His Sacred Heart had extended much earlier than that, as early as seven centuries ago with the institution of the Mass honouring the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Innocent VI during the late Middle Ages.

This devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is and has always been very popular and sought after by the faithful, precisely because it reminds us of the ever loving and compassionate nature of God, our Lord and Saviour. Although we are sinners, but the Lord still loves us all regardless, and His love and mercy are even greater than the combined weight and burden of our sins. We must take note though that sin is still hated and despised by the Lord, and we have to answer for our sins, but we are reminded that God willingly offered us His forgiveness and grace, as long as we are willing to embrace them.

The Lord loves each and every one of us much as how a shepherd loves his sheep and flock, an allusion that is permeating all over our Scripture readings today. From the Book of the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading today, the Lord spoke of Himself as the Shepherd of all the faithful, Who would guide all of His flock to Himself, caring for them and providing for all their needs, among other things. And then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Himself referring to the action of the shepherd who went out to look for the lost sheep, in the parable He used to teach them, and finally how St. Paul in our second reading today, highlighting the action that Christ our Lord had done for our sake, out of His love for us.

In our first reading, the prophet Ezekiel delivered the words of God to His people, who at that time had been exiled and brought far away from their homeland, in the final days of the kingdom of Judah, when their country were battered and eventually destroyed by the forces of the Babylonians, their cities torched and destroyed, the city of Jerusalem and its Temple torn down and crushed, and eventually most of the people of God carried off into exile in Babylon and other regions, and the people were scattered all over the world, lost and no longer had their homeland with them. But God showed pity and mercy on them, and He called them to come back to Him.

God reminded them through Ezekiel, that He did not abandon them or forget about them, even though they had rejected Him, abandoned Him, betrayed Him and left Him behind for the company of pagan gods and idols. He still stood by the Covenant He had made with them and their ancestors, still providing for them and caring for them regardless, and sent many messengers and prophets, guides and helpers to remind them along the way, all the time. Yet, the people often hardened their hearts and and became stubborn, in refusing God’s generous offer of love and mercy.

He sent His salvation henceforth into this world, just as He had promised, in none other than Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, the Divine Word of God incarnate, born of the Virgin Mary, His mother, as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh, becoming apparent and tangible for us. Not only that, but His actions, and all that He did for our sake, in the end, all of those brought the love of God into our midst, and we are all sharing in the generous love that God has poured out upon us, which became the source of our light, hope and salvation amidst the darkness of the world. The Lord had shown us His love, just as St. Paul presented it to us in our second reading today.

St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Church in Rome spoke of the manifestation of God’s love for us sinners, through none other than the Passion, the suffering and death of Our Lord Himself on the Cross. St. Paul spoke of how difficult it was for someone to offer to suffer and die for the sake of another, although for a truly righteous and good person, one could probably do so. However, the Lord suffered and died for us when we were still sinners and are still resisting and rejecting Him, and He laid Himself bare before us, showing us and exposing to us just how much He loved us that even though we are still sinners, but He willingly reached out to us in love, for our sake, even suffering the burdens of our sins, for our salvation.

That was what He had done as our most loving Good Shepherd, fulfilling what He Himself said in our Gospel passage today in the parable of the lost sheep. He is the Good Shepherd Who knows every single one of His sheep by name, knowing them all perfectly, each and every one of us. He embodies what He Himself said with the words, ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’ and ‘There is no greater love than this, for one to lay down his life for his friend’. We are all precious to the Lord, His beloved ones, His precious children, His friends and brothers and sisters. We are all His flock, His sheep, whom He knew and love tenderly.

There is truly nothing that can separate us from the love of God, save that of our own stubbornness and refusal to embrace His love. And if we still doubt that love which God has for us, then let us look upon His Most Sacred Heart, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can see just how wounded and painful His Heart has been, by the many transgressions and sins we have committed, and yet, by that same Heart, by that same love He has always had for us, He constantly gives us the chances and opportunities to embrace His love and mercy, and to return once again to His Presence.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing how much God loves us and how generous He has always been in reaching out to us and in trying to be reconciled with us, let us all therefore turn towards Him, and let us seek once again His loving Heart, ever filled with love for us. Let us all not be stubborn any longer, but allow Him to touch our hearts and minds, and respond positively and courageously to His call, in asking us to embrace and enter into His loving care and compassionate mercy. Let us all turn towards Our Lord and His Most Sacred Heart with renewed love, faith and conviction to live our lives from now on with true commitment to Him.

May the Lord continue to love us as always, and may His Most Sacred Heart continue to shower us with that love and kindness, and that each and every one of us may come ever closer to His Presence. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in You! O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, be with us always, we who are sinners and are always in need of Your love and mercy. Amen.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’”

“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 5b-11

Because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life. Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16

Indeed YHVH says this : I, Myself, will care for My sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over My sheep; and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from their countries. I will lead them to their own land; and pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in all the valleys and inhabited regions of the land.

I will take them to good pastures on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest where the grazing is good, and feed in lush pastures on the heights of Israel. I, Myself, will tend My sheep and let them rest, word of YHVH. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak; but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd My flock with justice.

Thursday, 23 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the occasion of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, which commemorates the moment when St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Lord and Saviour of the world, was born into this world, into the family of Zechariah and Elizabeth, his parents. Today we mark the moment when the Lord brought forth into this world the news and revelation of His salvation, of the long awaited salvation and Saviour that He has always promised and spoken about to His people. The Lord has reassured all of us that His love for us has always endured, and He will deliver unto us His providence and strength.

St. John the Baptist was born as a servant of God, called and chosen from even before he was conceived and born. His parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth were already relatively old and Elizabeth herself was likely already well-past childbearing age. It was at that time which God came to intervene and sent His Angel to announce to Zechariah first that he and his wife would have a son, the one whom God had called and chosen to be His servant, to be the one to fulfil the prophecy of the prophets, as we heard in our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah. St. John the Baptist was the fulfilment of that prophecy, mentioning the coming of a servant who would speak of the coming of the one true Lord and Saviour of the world.

Through St. John the Baptist, who was miraculously conceived and born of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the Lord brought forth His Good News into this world, as He told them all through St. John that He would come soon, and because the salvation of this world was about to come, the people were also called through St. John the Baptist to return to the Lord, repenting from their sinful ways and wickedness. St. John the Baptist dedicated his whole life to God, and he spent his years preparing himself in the desert, and committing himself henceforth to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God.

He laboured for many years, preaching about the coming of the Messiah, calling of the people to turn back towards God, and going up even against the Pharisees and the religious authorities who questioned him and doubted his efforts, and he courageously carried out his ministry in serving God and His people, with all of his strength. Through him, many thousands and more became believers, and turned back towards God, seeking to be baptised by St. John the Baptist as a mark of their willingness to convert and to turn away from their sinful ways. St. John the Baptist revealed the Lord’s truth and works to them, and many more would come to believe in God, preparing the path for the eventual coming of the Lord Himself.

Not only that, but just as I am sure we are quite aware of through the life of St. John the Baptist, this great and courageous saint and servant of God also endured prison, suffering and even martyrdom in the midst of his mission, as he courageously spoke up against the adulterous behaviour and relationship that king Herod of Galilee had with his own brother’s wife, Herodias. Herodias in particular held grudge against St. John the Baptist, and she manipulated the king to order the execution of St. John the Baptist, who had by then been imprisoned. Hence, that was how St. John the Baptist came to the end of his mission in this world, after many years of faithful service.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this celebration of the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, rejoicing in the memory of the birth of this great saint and servant of God, let us also therefore remember everything that he had done for the sake of God’s people, the dedication and zeal with which he had carried out his mission, in embracing the call and the mission that God had entrusted to him, and which he carried out fervently and humbly, as when he was asked if he was the Messiah, he immediately told them that he was not the Messiah, but rather merely the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Saviour.

Let us all discern our own path in life, and see how each one of us can be inspired to follow in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist, in all that he had done as a faithful disciple of the Lord. Each and every one of us as Christians have been called to various missions and ministries, given the opportunities and the talents, the gifts of abilities and other means to reach out to one another, and to proclaim God’s truth, love and hope to our world today. Every one of us should be inspired by the examples that St. John the Baptist has shown us, and we should walk in his footsteps as faithful disciples of the Lord.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us to be ever more faithful and committed to Him, and may He continue to bless us and strengthen us with faith, such that we may continue to serve Him in our own various capacities and opportunities with zeal and dedication, inspired by what his saints, especially that of St. John the Baptist, had shown us. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always. Amen.