Saturday, 17 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all called to turn towards the Lord and remember constantly His mercy and love by which He has led us all these time through the journey of our respective lives. The Scripture readings today serve as good reminders for us to recall all the good things that the Lord had done for His people, from the Israelites in the days of the Exodus and then all that the Lord Jesus, our Saviour had done as He came and dwelled in our midst.

In our first reading today, we heard of the moment when the whole multitudes of the Israelites began their journey out of the land of Egypt after the Passover and after the last great plague ravaged Egypt so badly that the Pharaoh finally relented and let the Israelites to go free. The Pharaoh and many other Egyptians had lost their firstborn sons and suffered from all the great plagues that God sent against Egypt for their refusal to let the Israelites to go free and return to their homeland in Canaan.

God led the people of Israel out of Egypt, with all of their possessions, and all of their companies, a huge multitude of people blessed by God, a whole nation of over six hundred thousand people after four hundred and thirty years in Egypt. This was indeed a proof of God’s blessings to the house of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as Jacob’s family alone, extending to over seventy people, had by then therefore blossomed to a large nation, despite all the efforts by the Pharaoh and the Egyptians to snuff them out.

Despite the harsh treatments and slavery they experienced during the last decades of their stay in Egypt, the Israelites grew and spread ever more in numbers, and God was with them throughout the way. And Moses was sent to them to lead them out of Egypt, which became true by the great plagues which God had sent against the Egyptians. As we heard in that passage from the Book of Exodus, it was truly a joyful time for the people of God, finally free of their enslavement and being led to the land promised to them.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard the mention of Our Lord Whose coming into the world was the fulfilment of the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah, as the Lord had once spoken to His people through Isaiah that He would send His servant to the midst of His people, One Who would carry out His will and Who would suffer for them on their behalf, that through the sufferings and humiliations He had to endure, He has brought us healing and freedom, the freedom from the tyranny and bondage to sin.

Thus, all of us are therefore reminded of how we ourselves have been liberated from the slavery of sin, much as the Israelites had been liberated from their bondage at the hands of the Egyptians. We have been blessed by the great grace with which God has patiently showed us His love each and every moment, that despite all of our stubborn attitude and sinful, wicked behaviour, God’s love and mercy are still greater than all of these. He desires nothing else other than for us to be reconciled to Him, and in order to do that, we have to abandon our sins and reject our wicked attitudes and actions.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own way of life and how we have been living as Christians all these while. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Or have we allowed worldly desires and ambitions, temptations of the flesh and pleasures to distract and mislead us in our path in life? Have we allowed the devil and his lies to make us trust in him more than we trust in God? These are just some of the questions which we really ought to ask ourselves, and ponder if there are still more that we can do to be faithful disciples and followers of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord, and let us all turn towards Him with renewed zeal and desire to serve Him and to love Him wholeheartedly, that we may indeed be faithful disciples of His, in everything that we say and do in life. Let our every actions, words and deeds proclaim the glory of God in the midst of our own communities, and let us all ourselves be sources of inspiration to one another, in how we are living up to our faith, that more and more may come to know of God and His love, and how He has freed us from the bondage to our sins. May God be with us always and bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 17 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 12 : 14-21

At that time, the Pharisees went out, and made plans to get rid of Jesus. As Jesus was aware of their plans, He left that place. Many people followed Him, and He cured all who were sick. But He gave them strict orders not to make Him known.

In this way, Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled : Here is My Servant, Whom I have chosen; the One I love, and with Whom I am pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him; and He will announce My judgment to the nations. He will not argue or shout, nor will His voice be heard in the streets. The bruised reed He will not crush, nor snuff out the smouldering wick until He brings justice to victory, and in Him, all the nations will put their hope.

Saturday, 17 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 135 : 1, 23, 24, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, His kindness endures forever.

He slew the firstborn of Egypt, His kindness endures forever.

And brought Israel out, His kindness endures forever.

With strong hand and outstretched arm, His kindness endures forever.

He splits the Sea of Reeds, His kindness endures forever.

And made Israel pass through it, His kindness endures forever.

Drowning Pharaoh and his army, His kindness endures forever.

He remembered us in our humiliation, His kindness endures forever.

And freed us from our oppressors, His kindness endures forever.

Saturday, 17 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Exodus 12 : 37-42

The Israelites left Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand of them on the march, counting the men only, and not the children. A great number of other people of all descriptions went with them, as well as sheep and cattle in droves.

With the dough they had brought with them from Egypt, they made cakes of unleavened bread. It had not risen, for when they were driven from Egypt they could not delay and had not even provided themselves with food. The Israelites had been in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years. It was at the end of these four hundred and thirty years to the very day that the armies of YHVH left Egypt.

This is the watch for YHVH Who brought Israel out of Egypt. This night is for YHVH, and all the Israelites are also to keep vigil on this night, year after year, for all time.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrating the patron of the Carmelites in her appearance to St. Simon Stock, one of the early founders of what is now known as the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Mother of Our Lord, according to tradition, appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the now popular brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, promising grace and blessings to those who wear it with faith and devotion.

Through this devotion, the Lord called us all through the intercession of His beloved mother, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, to turn towards Him and to be converted. The Lord called on everyone to put their trust in Him, and His ever loving mother always has her gaze on us all too, as we are all her adopted children, having been entrusted to her from the Cross by her Son. And through her and her many apparitions to us mankind, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel had endeavoured to bring us all ever closer to the Lord, to her Son, Our Saviour.

In today’s Scripture readings, from the day’s readings proper, we continue to hear the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the aftermath of the great plagues which came over Egypt as a result of their stubbornness and the Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people of Israel go free. As the Lord then revealed to Moses and Aaron, He instructed the people of Israel to prepare for the first Passover, as the commemoration of their freedom and as a constant reminder of the Lord’s mighty deeds in saving all of them.

That first Passover was a meal for the community and each families, all gathered that night to prepare for the salvation of God. The Passover lamb was prepared and chosen from among the flock, and slaughtered to be shared by the people gathered in the Passover feast, and its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites that the Lord would spare them the incoming destruction. Thus, as they were spared from death and destruction that befell the Egyptians, as the Angels of the Lord ‘passed over’ the people of God as they came to scourge the land of Egypt and its people.

This is a reminder for us all of the most important role that Our Lord Himself, as Our Saviour had in our salvation. He is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of the Cross, and His Precious Blood shed, just like the Passover lamb, to mark all of His faithful ones, that those who have embraced Him as their Lord and Saviour, all of us, be spared the death and destruction that awaits those who have not received this grace of salvation. Through Him, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation.

God has done so much for all of us, all because of His generous love and commitment towards us, His ever strong desire to love us and to be reconciled with us. He does not want us to perish because of our sins and wickedness. That is why, He has reached out to us and sent to us His messengers, servants and others whom He has sent into our midst in order to remind us to walk in His path and not to fall into worldly temptations and falsehoods. We are all reminded to stay faithful to His way, and because of this, He enlisted even the help of His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel to help us in our journey.

All of us should look upon the faith and examples of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and how she is our inspiration and strength in living our lives faithfully as Christians. We should see how Mary followed her Son faithfully and with love, patiently and obediently in walking and journeying with Him, as she often followed Him from place to place. And she went up all the way even up to the feet of the Cross. Despite all the challenges and difficulties that she had to endure, Mary remained true to her calling and mission, and this, on top of her being the Mother of our Lord and God, is why we revere Mary as the greatest among all the saints and as our own beloved mother.

Let us all therefore look to the Lord and His salvation, to His Cross and the promise of His eternal glory, by journeying together and with Mary by our side, as we walk towards His Presence humbly and with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with renewed conviction and zeal, with desire and hope for healing and redemption, to be reconciled with God. Let us embrace the Lord Who has always lavished us with His love and compassionate mercy, and let us turn to Him with all of our heart and inspire others to do the same as well.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary, the Holy Mother of God and our beloved mother continue to pray and intercede for us sinners, on our behalf, and help us in our journey towards heavenly joy and glory with God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.”

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay YHVH for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of YHVH.

It is painful to YHVH to see the death of His faithful. I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice, I will call on the Name of YHVH. I will carry out my vows to YHVH in the presence of His people.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Exodus 11 : 10 – Exodus 12 : 14

Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but YHVH had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat.”

“You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat.”

“That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked and boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire – the head, the legs and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire.”

“And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt.”

“This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to trust ourselves in the Lord and to follow Him, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, or by sufferings and trials that we may encounter in our path. We should not be easily swayed and distracted by the lies of the devil and all those seeking our downfall, masking their traps and dangers by false promises of comfort and pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord and His calling of Moses to be His servant and as the leader of His people, the Israelites. God called Moses at Mount Horeb from a miraculously burning bush, calling on him to go to the land of Egypt and to speak to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel go free. Moses was unsure and he was afraid that the people would reject him. But God reassured him and told him that he must reveal Who He was before the assembly of the people, and they would know that God had sent Moses into their midst.

God also reassured His people through Moses, by telling Moses to proclaim to the people the promises of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would not abandon His people in their hour of need, and He would show His might and power before the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, that if they would not let the people of Israel go free, then they would see the might and power of God, and by His hand, the Israelites would be set free.

That was what eventually happened in history, as the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go free. As such, God sent ten great plagues to Egypt through Moses, and after enduring all the sufferings and pains, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians finally let the Israelites to go free. And when the Pharaoh attempted at the last hour to try to bring the Israelites back again, God opened the sea before all of His people, and crushed the armies and the chariots of Egypt under the waves of the sea.

God has shown His love and faithfulness to His people, and He has proven, time and again, His love and dedication to them. But at the same time, He also called on them all to embrace His Law and His path, as the Covenant which He made with their ancestors and thereafter renewed, entailed the commitment from both parties in the Covenant. Just as God has been faithful to the Covenant He made, the people of Israel were also expected to be faithful to the Lord in all things. This is the ‘yoke’ that they had to bear, in being faithful and resisting the temptations and pleasures of life.

Thus, this is what has been mentioned in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord Jesus told the disciples and others, to come and seek Him, all those who were weary and heavily burdened, as in Him they would find rest and succour, comfort and true joy in the end. At the same time, the Lord also mentioned that His yoke is easy and light, and His kindness and love prevail over all things. This serves as a very important reminder for us that following God as His faithful ones do not mean that we are not to suffer or to endure sorrow and difficulties.

Instead, just as the Lord Himself often highlighted to His disciples, that being a faithful follower of His would lead to conflict and disagreements, even divisions and plenty of challenges and trials. As they commit themselves to Him and His way, there would be those who refused to align themselves to Him, and therefore, led to persecutions, even violence and hatred against those who believe in the Lord and committed themselves to Him. This is the yoke that we have to bear, that is to be faithful even against the opposition of the world and against the temptations of worldly pleasures.

Today, all of us are reminded of this need for us to be faithful and committed to God, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations, so that we may grow ever stronger in our faith. And we can look upon the examples set by St. Bonaventure, our holy predecessor in faith, a great bishop, Cardinal and declared Doctor of the Church for his many important contributions to the Church and the faith, and for his dedication to the Lord and to His people. St. Bonaventure was very much involved in the reforms of the Church of his time.

He was a member of the Franciscan order, one of its earliest members, and a renowned expert on Church teachings and theology. He wrote extensively and had many publications and works attributed to him, and he was also active in the governance of the Church, being also entrusted to be one of the princes of the Church as a Cardinal, supporting the Pope in his efforts to reform the Church and in encouraging the unity and development of the Church. Through his many works and contributions, St. Bonaventure has shown us what it truly means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.

Are we then able to commit ourselves in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to follow the Lord and focus ourselves on Him as we continue to embark on our journey of life? Let us all turn towards Him with renewed faith and conviction from now on, that in all things we will always seek the Lord and bear the burdens and yoke we have to wear as Christians with joy, as we know that in the end, we will triumph with God, and gain eternal glory and true joy with Him. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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.”