Saturday, 8 September 2018 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together with the whole Universal Church the occasion when Mary, the Most Blessed Mother of Our God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world, after she was conceived in her mother’s womb and grew there for the nine months of pregnancy. She was born from her mother, St. Anne, pure without sin, just as she was prepared by God specially since the moment of her Conception.

In today’s readings we heard about the fulfilment of God’s long prepared plan to save His people, by the sending of the Messiah, through Whom He would gather all of His people and reconcile them to Himself, saving them from their predicament and fated destruction because of their disobedience and thus, their sins. And God would make this salvation a reality, through none other than the cooperation of Mary, a human being whom God had especially chosen and blessed, to be the Mother of Our God and Saviour.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard the long citation of the genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, beginning from Abraham, the father of many nations and the ancestor of the Israelites, who himself was the descendant of Adam and Eve, our first ancestors. Through Abraham was born Isaac and then from Isaac, Jacob, and later on through the generations, king David and his successors, to whom God has promised that his descendants will rule forever and his kingdom will never end.

And in the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have seen the perfect fulfilment of God’s promise to us mankind, first of all, to Adam and Eve, that the reckoning would come for the deceit of Satan who tricked them to sin, and to Abraham, as through the Lord Jesus Christ, all of mankind have been gathered together as one people, all who looked up to Abraham as their father in faith, to king David as mentioned, for Christ is the one true Heir of David’s kingdom.

All of these came about because of the plan and works which God had carried out to its perfect completion, by the cooperation, faith and commitment which one woman, Mary, showed before all of us, by her obedience to God’s will, and by her willing collaboration throughout her life that God’s saving works are carried out to its perfect completion through Christ, her Son.

As mentioned, Mary was prepared and designed to be special, distinct from all other men and women, by the singular grace of God, that she alone of the children of man is preserved from the taints of original sin that has affected all other men and women. She was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, pure and immaculate, free from sin and perfect, blameless and worthy, in the Dogma that the Church upholds as the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Therefore, as we remember Mary’s birth into this world on this day, we should reflect on the coming of this beacon of hope into our world. When Mary came into the world, it was the first time since the beginning of time, that a man walked in this world, free and unbound by the chains of sin and death. For ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and sinned against Him, sin has ever since enthralled us all mankind.

But sin has no hold or sway over Mary, for she was without any sin, and remained free from sin throughout her life. Mary lived an exemplary life, filled with love and faith in God, as evident in how she loved her own Son, the Divine Word incarnate. Mary’s love for God was so perfect, as shown by the perfect, motherly love she has shown for her Son, and her obedience to the will of the Father, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in her, that Satan and his wicked forces have no hold whatsoever over her.

Rightfully, Satan was afraid of her, as she was the fulfilment of what God had Himself declared to him at the moment of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. God said that while Satan will strike at the children of mankind, but the Woman will crush him under her feet. This was a reference to what Mary, the Woman mentioned by God, would do to Satan, for through her role in the bringing of the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, into this world, she has crushed for eternity, Satan’s power and kingdom.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to reflect on our own role in the works of God’s salvation. We should look upon Mary as the perfect role model and example for our own faith and in how we should live out our own lives in accordance with God’s ways. Mary has loved the Lord with all of her heart, and devoted herself so completely to God, in a state of total surrender to the will of God. Many of us can follow her example in how we should be faithful to God.

Why is that so? That is because many of us are still burdened by the temptations of our pride, our greed and human desires, and by all the temptations and hurdles that kept us from truly being able to dedicate ourselves to God. And many of us grew distant from God, because we did not build up a good relationship with Him, as we are often too preoccupied in life, by our careers, studies, and all other things that made us to forget to spend quality time with God.

Let us therefore turn towards God, through Mary, His most blessed and beloved mother, who is our perfect role model as the ideal Christian, in following the Lord’s ways and in how she has walked faithfully and obeyed God all her life. Let us all also ask Mary to intercede for us, for being the Mother of God, she is the greatest of all saints and the one who is closest to her Son, at the very side of His throne, interceding for us sinners.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived and born without sin, pure and immaculate, pray for us all sinners, and bring us all closer to your Son, that we too one day, may be worthy as you are, to be with God, your most beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 8 September 2018 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-16, 18-23

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-23

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Saturday, 8 September 2018 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 12 : 6ab, 6cd

But I put my trust in Your unfailing love, my heart will rejoice on seeing Your salvation.

I will sing to YHVH, for He has been good to me!

Saturday, 8 September 2018 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Micah 5 : 1-4a

But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah; from you shall I raise the One Who is to rule over Israel. For He comes forth from of old, from the ancient times.

YHVH, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she, who is to give birth, has given birth. Then the rest of His deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand, and shepherd His flock with the strength of YHVH, in the glorious Name of YHVH, His God.

They will live safely, while He wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace.

Alternative reading

Romans 8 : 28-30

We know that in everything, God works for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called, according to His plan. Those whom He knew beforehand, He has also predestined, to be like His Son, similar to Him, so, that, He may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And so, those whom God predestined, He called, and those whom He called, He makes righteous, and to those whom He makes righteous, He will give His glory.

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord speaking to us through His parable, of the wineskin and wine, and of new and old cloths, as He taught His disciples about the importance of the conversion of hearts, minds and all of our being in order for us to be able to follow the Lord, Our God, with all of our strength and ability. The wineskin and the cloth represents the state of our lives, whether we are attuned to the Lord or instead, attuned to the world.

First of all, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law came to Jesus asking about the behaviour and habits of His disciples, as contrasted to the disciples of St. John the Baptist, and to the Pharisees themselves, who have obeyed the whole rigorous commandments, rules and regulations of the Jewish tradition. They were slandering the Lord and His disciples, because they have not followed the traditions of the Jewish people.

But the Lord countered their argument by saying that His disciples did not fast as the disciples of St. John and the Pharisees had done, because God Himself was with them, and therefore, they should not weep or mourn at a time when the Lord was with them. In fact, they should be happy and rejoice without end. But the Lord told them a premonition of His own death, by saying that the time would come for Him to be taken away from His disciples.

The new wineskin and the old wine represent the contrast between the ways and the ideas of the Lord, from those espoused by the world, exemplified by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Should we follow the examples of the faith of the Pharisees, as well as the teachers of the Law, in their faith? The Lord answered with a firm no, through His parable. Their faith was one of hypocrisy, as the Lord Jesus often mentioned to His disciples.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law practiced their faith by fasting, by saying long prayers and public show of devotion, in order to be seen by the people, and to be praised by them. But in their hearts and minds, they did not have true faith in God, or love for Him. They practiced their faith in order to gain worldly favour and benefits, a selfish and self-centred attitude rather than a true act of faith.

When the Lord mentioned about the new wineskin and old wineskin, and new cloth and old cloth, He was referring to the ways of the Pharisees, as well as all the self-centred attitudes and all the selfishness in our hearts and minds as the old wineskins for the new wine that the Lord is offering us, or as the old, torn piece of cloth on which the Lord’s new cloth is to be patched on.

This means that, all sorts of worldliness and selfishness as how we mankind often practice, are incompatible with the Lord’s ways. The Lord’s ways are love, compassion, mercy, selflessness and tenderness, while our worldly ways are hatred, anger, jealousy, selfishness and greed. If we continue to live our life according to how we have always lived it in this world, then we cannot call ourselves as true Christians.

And for us to be able to follow the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, it therefore requires us to make a profound change to ourselves, to our attitude and our way of life. To be a Christian requires us to follow Christ with all of our efforts, to be wholly converted to Him, and to be ready to follow Him each and every moment of our lives.

Are we willing to change our way of life, in order to suit what the Lord has asked us to do? Are we willing to embrace the teachings and the truth of Christ fully with our whole support? We have been called to bear our crosses in life and follow the Lord. So, are we ready to commit ourselves to the Lord? Let us all turn ourselves to be true and devout servants of Our God from now on, by deepening our relationship with Him through prayer and time spent in quality time with Him.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life, and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully, in each and every actions we take, and at every moments of our life. Amen.

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 5 : 33-39

At that time, some people asked Jesus, “The disciples of John fast often and say long prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why is it, that Your disciples eat and drink?”

Then Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them. But later, the Bridegroom will be taken from them; and they will fast in those days.”

Jesus also told them this parable : “No one tears a piece from a new coat to put it on an old one; otherwise the new coat will be torn, and the piece taken from the new coat will not match the old coat. No one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilt, and the skins will be destroyed as well.”

“But new wine must be put into fresh skins. Yet, no one who has tasted old wine is eager to drink new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Friday, 7 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 36 : 3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40

Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and live on it. Make the Lord your delight, and He will grant your heart’s desire.

Commit your way to the Lord; put your trust in Him and let Him act. Then will Your revenge come, beautiful as the dawn, and the justification of your cause, bright as the noonday sun.

Do good and shun evil, so that you will live secure forever. For YHVH loves justice and right, and never forsakes His faithful ones. The wicked, instead, will perish, and their bread will be cut off.

The Lord is the Salvation of the righteous; in time of distress, He is their refuge. The Lord helps them, and rescues them from the oppressor; He saves them for they sought shelter in Him.