Saturday, 16 July 2022 : 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, the patronal feast of the members of the Carmelites religious order. This day is a celebration of the great patroness of all the Carmelites as well as the Mother of all of us the faithful people of God, who through the apparition she had made to St. Simon Stock, who was one of the founders and early leaders of the Carmelites order. Back then, almost a millennium ago, the Carmelites was the only religious order founded by the Crusaders in the Holy Land, and it was told that some of their members had resided in the vicinity of Mount Carmel, which led to the association with Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

It was told that when St. Simon Stock went to relocate the orders works and property to England from the Holy Land, the Blessed Mother of God appeared to him and handed to him the now famous Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother promised that all those who wear that brown scapular with faith and commit themselves to the Lord will receive grace and help on the hour of their death, and that they will receive the assurance of eternal life. This was the beginning of the now famous devotion of the Brown Scapular wearing, in which many of the faithful wear the brown scapular as a sacramental.

Today, as we celebrate this Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, one of the Marian feasts and celebrations of the year, we are all called to reflect on the examples and the faith that Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel has shown in her own life, in her commitment to God and all that she had done as part of her mission and ministry, in loving her Son, our Lord and Saviour, and not only that, but after He entrusted each and every one of us to be His mother’s own children, Mary, our Lady of Mount Carmel never ceased to reach out to us, appearing before us and providing us with help from time to time, including in encouraging the devotion of the brown scapular.

Through Mary, God has shown us His saving grace, not only that He shows us His love, but through His own mother’s obedience and love all of us have seen the sure promise of the everlasting joy and happiness with God in Heaven. However, we must also accompany all these with real action and commitment to live our lives faithfully according to the path that God has shown us all. Otherwise, faith that is without action and concrete works, will be truly dead and meaningless, as it will in fact hinder the path of one’s journey towards God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, for those who have particular devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we ought to remind ourselves that the sacramental brown scapular itself serves as a reminder and mark for us to keep in mind that we belong to the Lord, marked by His Sacraments, that of Holy Baptism, and for most of us, the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation, among the other Sacraments that we have received. Each and every one of us as Christians are members of God’s Church, and are also expected to do as the Lord had told us to do, and what He had taught us to do in our lives.

Today, as we reflect on the readings of the Sacred Scriptures and on the role of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the path of our journey towards salvation in God, let us all reflect whether our attitudes in life had been correct thus far, whether we have let our pride and ego, the temptations of worldly power and glory from misleading us down the path of ruin. If this has been the case, then we should begin making the effort to turn back wholeheartedly towards God, and do not allow the devil and other forces from leading us further down the path of ruin.

As I often mentioned, the best example for us to follow is none other than the faith which Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel herself has often shown, in her full obedience and commitment to God’s works and missions, in her love for God and for all of us, and in her righteousness and virtues. Each and every one of us have sinned and erred in one way or another, and some of us have sinned more while others sinned less. Nonetheless, all of us, each and every one of us are called to the forgiveness by God and to be reconciled to Him. Through Mary, our mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we can find an easier and better path towards the Lord, our God and Saviour.

Let us all hence renew our faith in God and devote ourselves to Him ever more through our own devotion to His blessed Mother, the most wonderful Lady of Mount Carmel. Let us all share our faith with one another, and strive to do our best to live a virtuous and exemplary Christian living from now on, obeying the Law and commandments, the will of God at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 16 July 2022 : 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 : 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.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.”

Saturday, 16 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

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

Psalm 9 : 22-23, 24-25, 28-29, 35

Why, o YHVH, do You stand afar? Why hide from us in times of distress? The wicked are in power; the weak suffer harassment; the poor become victims of evil schemes.

Exploiters boast in their power and greed; the covetous blasphemes and defies God. In their pride the wicked say, “There is no God.” They see no further.

Their mouths are filled with cursing, deceit and threats; spite and mischief are under their tongues. They lie in ambush near the villages, murdering the innocent and the unfortunate, spying upon their next victim.

But You see those in misery, o God, and You take it in hand. The unfortunate commits himself to You; the orphan turns to You for help.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Saturday, 16 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

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

Micah 2 : 1-5

Woe to those who plot wickedness and plan evil even on their beds! When morning comes they do it, as soon as it is within their reach. If they covet fields, they seize them. Do they like houses? They take them. They seize the owner and his household; both, the man and his property.

This is why YHVH speaks, “I am plotting evil against this whole brood, from which your necks cannot escape. No more shall you walk with head held high, for it will be an evil time.” On that day, they will sing a taunting song against you; and a bitter lamentation will be heard, “We have been stripped of our property in our homeland. Who will free us from the wicked who allots our fields.”

Truly, no one will be found in the assembly of YHVH to keep a field for you.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Friday, 15 July 2022 : 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 we listened to the words of the Scriptures that reminded us again of the great love and compassion that God has for each and every one of us. The Lord has shown His kindness towards us again and again, from time to time, so that through Him we may receive pardon for our sins, blessings and graces that strengthens us and keeps us strong despite the many challenges and trials that we may have to endure from time to time. Each and every one of us are so fortunate that God has always reached out to us and showed us a lot of His patient and enduring love despite all of our disobedience and wickedness.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the interaction between king Hezekiah of Judah and the prophet Isaiah at a time when Hezekiah fell mortally ill and was about to die, and the prophet himself told the king to get his house and affairs in order as he was soon about to die. The king lamented the shortness of his life and beseeched the Lord to show mercy to him and to spare him the fate of early death, out of compassion for all the faithfulness that he had shown Him, the obedience that Hezekiah as king has sshown the Lord as opposed to the wickedness and disobedience among many of his forefathers.

The Lord heard Hezekiah’s plea and granted his wishes, and the Lord not only cured him from his illness but also extended his life by another fifteen years, as a show of His most generous mercy and love, and also to show that as God, He has the power and control over all things, and hence, Hezekiah should continue to serve Him and to do His will. The Lord showed mercy to Hezekiah and extended His love to His servant in the hour of greatest need. This was what we have heard from our first reading today, detailing to us one example of God’s most enduring love for each one of us.

And not only that, as in our Gospel passage today, we also heard of the Lord confronting the Pharisees who criticised His disciples for plucking the grains of wheat in the field on the day of the Sabbath. The Sabbath day was and today is still a holy day that according to the Law of God, ought to be preserved and observed as a day of holiness, the holy day of the Lord in which the people should refrain from doing work and spend the day in honouring and worshipping God. The Pharisees in particular, together with the teachers of the Law observed this Law and interpreted it as strictly as possible, not allowing any kind of work or action at all, even things that are good or beneficial.

Unfortunately, that led to the confrontation in which when the disciples were really hungry and were likely in the wilderness, far away from any places where they could obtain food, the disciples had no choice but to eat of the grains of the field, or else they would be suffering from hunger. The Lord therefore told the Pharisees that their version and interpretation of the Law ran into danger of disregarding the true intention and purpose of the Law, which is to help mankind find their way back to the Lord, and to guide them in the right path that they may become ever closer to God and be more worthy of Him.

Instead, what the Pharisees had done ended up causing great inconvenience and hardships for the people of God, who became overly and unjustly burdened by the Law, and ended up causing more and more people to fall away from the path towards redemption. They closed the gates towards God and His grace by their inflexible and exceedingly strict interpretations of the Law, and they also closed themselves off from listening to the truth that God Himself has willingly revealed to them, through Jesus Christ, His Son, the One Who told them all that the Law of the Sabbath and as well as the whole Law itself was made for mankind, and not the other way round.

It is yet again another reminder of just how fortunate we all are to have been beloved by God, that He continued to patiently showed us the path to His salvation and grace, giving us the blessings and all that allowed each one of us to turn towards Him with faith once again. And therefore, it is only right that we dedicate ourselves to Him with love, and do our very best to follow Him wholeheartedly, all the days of our lives. Today, we should model ourselves through the life and inspiration set by St. Bonaventure, whose feast day we are now celebrating, a truly holy and great saint who should become our role model and example in life.

St. Bonaventure was a holy and dedicated man, who spent most of his life serving the Lord and His Church, as a priest, theologian and philosopher, and then later on as a bishop and Cardinal of the Church, as a close assistant and confidant of the then Pope in governing and reforming the Church of God. Through his many works, he led the blossoming of Christian theological and philosophical studies, and also with his help, the Pope worked towards the reform of the Church, removing the worldly excesses and temptations that had been creeping into the Church, leading more and more people to a more holy and committed existence in their faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as St. Bonaventure dedicated his life to God and His Church out of his love for Him, therefore all of us should also remember all the love and kindness that God has shown us, and do our very best to show that same love in our lives, in how we remain firmly faithful in God and in our exemplary living, and in loving one another, in the same way that we love ourselves and God, and not to harden our hearts against Him as the Pharisees and others had done in the past. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen us always with the courage to do more, in our lives, in glorifying Him at all times. Amen.

Friday, 15 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.”

Friday, 15 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 38 : 10, 11, 12abcd, 16

Once I said : In the noontime of my life I go; I am sent to the land of the dead, for the rest of my years.

I said : Never again shall I see YHVH in the land of the living; never again shall I see the inhabitants of the earth.

Like a shepherd’s tent, my dwelling has been pulled down and thrown away; like a weaver, You rolled up my life and cut it from the loom.

O Lord, give me back my health and give me back my life!

Friday, 15 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 38 : 1-6, 21-22, 7-8

In those days Hezekiah fell mortally ill and the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, went to him with a message from YHVH, “Put your house in order for you shall die; you shall not live.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to YHVH, “Ah YHVH! Remember how I have walked before You in truth and wholeheartedly, and done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of YHVH came to Isaiah, “Go and tell Hezekiah what YHVH, the God of his father David, says : I have heard your prayer and I have seen your tears. See! I am adding fifteen years to your life and I will save you and this city from the power of the king of Assyria. I will defend it for My sake and for the sake of David My servant.”

Isaiah then said, “Bring a fig cake to rub on the ulcer and let Hezekiah be cured!” Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the House of YHVH?” Isaiah answered, “This shall be for you a sign from YHVH, that He will do what He has promised. See! I shall make the shadow descending on the stairway of Ahaz go back ten steps.”

So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had covered on the stairway.

Thursday, 14 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the love and the consolation that God can give us, and we are reminded of all that God had done for us, His beloved people in the past. Through the Lord alone we can find true joy, peace and satisfaction, and there is nowhere else that we can gain this true happiness except that through God. That is why each and every one of us are called to turn towards Him, placing our trust and hope upon Him. All of us should spend the time and effort to come towards God and to communicate with Him, that we may know His will for us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which the prophet spoke of the prayers and wishes that the people of Judah had made to the Lord, which the prophet gathered and offered to the Lord. The prophet Isaiah beseeched on behalf of the people the Lord’s providence and love, the peace that they desired and the happiness that they sought in Him, when they were distressed and troubled. Chronologically, at that time, the kingdom of Judah where the remnants of the faithful Israelites remained, was surrounded by powerful enemies, especially that of the rapidly growing Assyrian Empire.

The Assyrians then had just recently destroyed and conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as other nations and countries surrounding Judah, and for the case of Israel, the Assyrians brought their inhabitants and people off into exile in faraway regions of Assyria and Mesopotamia. They therefore also threatened the existence of Judah, which certainly must have terrified many in that kingdom and country. But the Lord reassured His people and revealed His presence and guidance for them through His prophets, including that of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah therefore helped the people to communicate with God, for them to know His will and all that He has promised to them, while at the same time, Isaiah also pleaded on behalf of the people regarding their predicament and troubles. The Lord certainly already knew all about the sufferings and trials that His people were suffering from, as He knew everything that happened in the world. However, the petitions and the pleading from the people would have moved Him to come to their rescue, as that showed just how the people were willing to follow the Lord and have faith in Him.

The Lord has called on us to come to Him and to seek His help and love, just as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The Lord Jesus told His disciples and the people the famous words, “Come to Me all you who labour and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.” And to this, He also added on that His burden and weight were light, contextually as compared to the other burdens and weights that we will have to bear if we trust instead in other means and ways instead of putting our faith and trust in the Lord.

What this ought to remind us is first of all that, being Christians does not mean that we will have an easy and comfortable life. On the contrary, we may have to suffer and persevere through many challenges and trials as we navigate this world as faithful Christians, in each and every opportunities and moments throughout our lives. There may be a lot of obstacles, more for some, less for others, in our path in life as Christians. But in the end, following the path of the Lord will lead us to the ultimate victory and triumph with God, and in the end, the sacrifices and sufferings we may have to suffer will be well worth it.

Today, let us all discern and reflect on the examples that were presented to us by St. Camillus de Lellis, the saint whose feast the Church is commemorating on this day. St. Camillus de Lellis was a dedicated priest who spent a lot of his time and effort in caring for the well-being of his flock, all those who came to him seeking help, and he cared for them all, making sure that they gained access to physical and medical care and attention, as well as spiritual and mental guidance, to help them to persevere through the many challenges of the world. St. Camillus de Lellis spent a lot of time and effort for the poor, the sick and the needy, and helped them in various ways.

Not only that St. Camillus de Lellis spent a lot of effort to care for the sick, doing what he could to help those who were suffering, but eventually, he was inspired and touched through all of his experiences, to establish a religious order and congregation dedicated to the care of the people who are sick and suffering, which came to be known after their founder as the Camillians, also known officially as the Order of the Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm. Through this congregation, St. Camillus de Lellis called and inspired many people to come and help in the many charitable efforts and works that the Camillians would later be well known for.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do whatever we can to follow the Lord and to entrust ourselves to Him, knowing well that through Him alone there is hope and salvation, true joy and everlasting happiness. Let us all also be called and inspired to follow in the great examples of His saints, like that of St. Camillus de Lellis, in sharing the truth and knowledge of the love and compassion of God in how we interact and deal with one another, in showing genuine care and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters, now and always. May God bless us always, and may He continue to guide us and strengthen us through the challenges and trials we may face, in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, 14 July 2022 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of 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.”