Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, celebrated not long after the celebration of her Nativity just a few days ago. And this is also parallel to what we celebrate on her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Most Holy Name the week after Christmas, His birth into the world.

And we may be wondering then, what is it there in a name? And we will be surprised to note that name is something which is very significant, that symbolises identity and truth about someone and something. No longer will it be indistinct and unremarkable, for a name can make great difference. For simple example, none of us knows the names of the billions of peoples who lived throughout the millennia of our human existence, as each of these were not prominent enough, and known each only by their own relatives and close families.

But we can clearly remember the names of famous rulers, kings, personalities, famous peoples and scientists, many of whom had departed this world many years, decades and even centuries and millennia ago. This is because their names are powerful reminder, an identity that invoke the memory of that person’s achievements, greatness, all the deeds he or she had done. In the same way, a great criminal and enemy of humanity throughout history had also been remembered this way, with even mere mention of the name could bring up chilling reminder and memories of the terrible things and deeds the person had committed.

In this same manner therefore, whenever we utter the Name of Our Lord Jesus and that of His mother, Mary, do we actually realise that we have just invoked the great power of the Almighty God, and that of the powerful intercession of His mother? And yet, many of us have not treated their Name with the proper care and respect needed, but we often took these Holy Names for granted, or use them in vain, inappropriately and without proper respect.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise that Satan himself would tremble at the mere mention of the name of Mary, God’s own mother, the mother of our Lord and Saviour. Satan would flee and not remain as he could not stand before the mother of God, through whom his final defeat and loss had been guaranteed for all eternity, for Mary is the promised Woman, that from the beginning of time God had promised that Satan would be defeated and crushed at the feet of the Woman.

Not only that Mary remained uncorrupt and righteous throughout her life, but her obedience to God has been feared by Satan ever since the beginning, as she was not under his dominion and power, without the corruption and taint of sin, and with the faith and obedience that was unshakeable, her love and devotion to her Son that was so complete. Mary is the antithesis of Eve, the new Eve that unlike the first Eve, Satan was unable to shake, tempt and make to fall into sin.

And even more importantly, through her acceptance and humble obedience to the will of God, Mary became the Mother of God, through whom the salvation of this world has come, the Light came which dispelled the darkness of sin and evil, and from whom, the path to Satan’s ultimate defeat had been paved and made clear. Naturally, therefore, just as Satan definitely trembled at the mere mention and utterance of the Holy Name of God. The name of His beloved mother would make him to fear and flee as well, especially when uttered with faith.

And as we call upon the name of Mary, in fact we are also calling upon her, who is our loving and caring mother. When we call upon her name, it is indeed like a child calling and yearning for the mother, for protection, love, comfort and assurance. Let us all look upon our mother Mary, and call upon her to help us in our struggle against evil, and that she may continue to intercede and pray for us all. Let us all not be fearful of evil any more, for our blessed mother is by our side, and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, loves us even more.

Let us also be inspired by the faithful examples showed by Mary, in her faithful life, her obedience and commitment to the Law of God and to the mission which He has entrusted to her. Let us all be faithful and be good Christians in the way that our blessed mother has showed us by her actions. Let us all seek to be closer to God through His mother Mary, and commit ourselves anew to a life dedicated to the Lord, rejecting the temptations of sin and evil.

O Holy Mother of God, Mary, our loving mother, pray for us all sinners, and be with us always, that we may draw much inspiration from your dedication and the love you showed to your Son. Help us to be always ever faithful, and ever righteous despite the many trials and temptations in our path. May the Lord bless us all and may He grant us the strength to love Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 6 : 43-49

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to Me, and listens to My words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overflowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built.”

“But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The flood burst against it, and the house fell at once : and what a terrible disaster that was!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 1 : 39-47

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!”

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 17-18

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

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 Most Holy Name of 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.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Corinthians 10 : 14-22

Therefore, dear friends, shun the cult of idols. I address you as intelligent persons; judge what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the Body of Christ?

The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread. Consider the Israelites. For them, to eat of the victim is to come into communion with its altar. What does all that mean? That the meat is really consecrated to the idol, or that the idol is a being.

However, when the pagans offer a sacrifice, the sacrifice goes to the demons, not to God. I do not want you to come into fellowship with demons. You cannot drink, at the same time, from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons. You cannot share in the table of the Lord and in the table of the demons. Do we want, perhaps, to provoke the jealousy of the Lord? Could we be stronger than He?

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! That is, Father! You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Ephesians 1 : 3-6

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

Friday, 11 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listen to the readings of the Scripture, each and every one of us are called to deeply examine our conscience and our way of life. We are all called to reconsider our way of living and think whether we have been truly acting as Christians in our every actions and interactions, in everything we say and do.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, in which he urged them all to serve the Lord and not to serve their own desires and wishes for power and worldly glory. He told them of his own examples and that of the other disciples and missionaries of God, who laboured for the sake of the truth and the Gospels of the Lord, to tell all peoples of God’s salvation, and not for their own glory.

He put it plainly before all of them, how he had to do things that he did not desire, and yet he still faithfully did all that were asked of him, showing how being faithful Christians often require sacrifice and commitment of time, effort and other things from us. And he also said how he became like slave to all of the people, so that through his actions, he might bring more and more to the salvation in God.

This is because if he allowed himself to be swayed by worldly temptations and desires, he would not have been able to do his missions. If St. Paul had thought of himself, his needs and desires first, then he could not have devoted so much time to the people, and he might not have wanted to endure such suffering and pain as he had endured, and as a result, many would not have heard the words of God’s truth from St. Paul’s mouth otherwise.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is also what the Lord Jesus Himself alluded to in our Gospel passage today as He spoke of the parable of the wooden speck in another person’s eye. What the Lord wanted us to understand by this passage and parable is that before we are quick and judge another person, we should first look at ourselves and realise just how each and every one of us are sinners all the same.

If we do not understand first of all this important fact, then how can we help and guide others to the right path if we are ourselves also corrupted by sin? That is why the Lord often rebuked many among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, who have often looked down on those whom they deemed less worthy and less pious than themselves. And those Pharisees and the teachers of the Law liked to criticise others for their shortcoming in faith, yet were blinded towards their own shortcomings.

That is why, when the Lord Jesus spoke of the specks in the eyes of another, using that parable, He wanted to tell all of us not to be judgmental to one another, with the wrong intention of criticism and make ourselves feel good and look better, like what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did. He wants us to be humble and to recognise our own imperfections and sins, rather than focusing on the shortcomings of others and thinking that we are better or superior in any way we often compared ourselves with each other.

The more we open ourselves to pride and ego, to hubris and ambition, to desires for glory and satisfaction, for fame and other things we often desire in life, the more we allow Satan and his evil forces to enter into our bodies, into our hearts and minds, and the more distant from God we will end up becoming. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to avoid this, and we also have to overcome our sins and the temptations to sin, and we cannot do this alone, all by ourselves. We need God’s help, His guidance and strength.

And in addition, we also need to learn to divest ourselves and empty ourselves from all sorts of these worldly attachments and obsessions. This is what we are challenged to do, and we have that responsibility to look after and take cafe of those who are around us, those within our communities and the Church.

Let us all be good role models in faith from now on, to be good guides for one another in faith. And let us all pray that God will continue to guide us and strengthen us in faith, and help us to remain humble and committed to Him, resisting the many temptations to sin. Amen.

Friday, 11 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 39-42

At that time, Jesus offered this example, “Can a blind person lead another blind person? Surely both will fall into a ditch. A disciple is not above the master; but when fully trained, he will be like the master. So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it?”

“How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye,’ when you cannot remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbour’s eye.”

Friday, 11 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6, 12

My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o YHVH of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

For YHVH God is a sun and a shield; He bestows favour and glory. YHVH withholds no good thing from those who walk in uprightness.

Friday, 11 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22b-27

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted with this office, against my will. How can I, then, deserve my reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely, without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave, in order to gain a greater number. So, I made myself all things to all people, in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This, I do, for the Gospel, so that I, too, have a share of it.

Have you not learnt anything from the stadium? Many run, but only one gets the prize. Run, therefore, intending to win it, as athletes, who impose upon themselves a rigorous discipline. Yet, for them the wreath is of laurels which wither, while for us, it does not wither.

So, then, I run, knowing where I go. I box, but not aimlessly in the air. I punish my body and control it, lest, after preaching to others, I myself should be rejected.

Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded by the Lord through the readings of the Scripture that each and every one of us as Christians need to show love in our everyday life and in all of our actions and interactions. Unless we love, and love generously and sincerely, we truly cannot call ourselves as Christians, for a Christian loves in the manner that God Himself has shown us, to love one another and even those who despise and hate us.

In our first reading today, we heard St. Paul who wrote in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Corinth on the matter of eating of food and meal that has been offered to the idols. For the context, when St. Paul mentioned this, it was because there had been debate and disagreements on whether one was allowed to partake in the food that had been offered to the pagan gods and idols. In the society dominated by Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Anatolian, Phoenician and other pagan beliefs and systems, many of which had pantheons of gods and goddesses, and offerings of foods and drinks were often made to them.

Partaking in the food and meals offered to the pagan idols and gods were one of the signs by which one was recognised as a believer, and therefore, as St. Paul mentioned, while he said that technically such meal and offering had no effect in the real and physical way, considering that all those idols and gods were false and unreal, but should any among the faithful partake from those food, what St. Paul meant is that this action might scandalise the faith and lead to the loss of faith in others.

At that time, some among the Christians chose to safeguard themselves and their livelihood by performing pagan rituals and by partaking in the food offered to the pagan idols. Regardless whether they still clung to those old practices, considering how most of them were converts, or whether these had been done purely for the safeguarding of one’s life, the Apostle reminded all of them that they could not and should not do that.

The simple reason is that, the actions of those who did so would cause misunderstandings and divisions among the faithful, and would make those who had to suffer for the sake of their faith to lose faith and wonder why there were those who did such a thing just so that they could live a ‘normal’ life. What St. Paul said was that as Christians, we must strive to be always true to our faith and we must show good examples of that faith to each other.

How does this then relate to the matter of Christian love, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the fact that each and every one of us must show care and concern for one another, by being careful in our actions, in our deeds and interactions that we do not unnecessarily cause confusion, division and disagreements among the members of the Church and the Christian faithful. In the manner of how we live, we must always show the way of the Lord in all things, so that we may truly love our brethren and not instead lead them to their downfall.

And even more so, in our Gospel today, the Lord then challenged us to do even more than that. If we have already loved and showed care and concern, and helped all those who are dear, close and good to us, to find our way to God, then, we need to do the same to all those who have been difficult with us, those who have persecuted and made our lives terrible, those who consider us their enemies and those who hate us.

Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Indeed, it is easier being said than done, but this is the Christian ideal of love, something that all of us need to look towards and focus our attention on. It is what Christ Himself has shown us, and which He had led us by example, the examples and inspirations of love, to love one another and to love Him, just as much and even more than we love ourselves.

Let us all look at Christ Our Lord, His enduring love for each and every one of us. When so many of us refused to believe in Him, persecuted Him and His disciples, He remained firm in His love and in the dedication to serve us, to help us, to care for us and to guide us to the right path. This is the proof of just how great His love is, which He even showed to those who despised Him. Right from the Cross at Calvary, He looked on all those who have condemned Him to death and crucified Him, and prayed to God His Father, not to hold their sins against them, and to forgive them those sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if Our Lord Himself has shown such mercy, compassion and the ability to forgive, to love tenderly and genuinely, and how His disciples and followers, the innumerable saints and holy men and women of God had done, then can we do the same as well in our own lives? This is what we are all called to do, to be true and committed disciples of the Lord, in deed and in action, filled with genuine and wholesome love for all mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be shining examples of faith and be filled with God’s love, so that everyone who sees us, witnesses our actions, and interacts with us will truly know that we belong to God, and know of His truth and salvation, and not be stumbling blocks that caused scandal to our faith by our own lack of faith and disobedience as warned by St. Paul. Let us all be ever more faithful, and let us all be ever more loving and forgiving, reaching out to others, and learn to forgive those who have hurt us and made our lives difficult. May God be with us and grant us the strength to carry on in this journey of faith, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 10 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”