Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. They are St. Joachim and St. Anne, according to the tradition of our faith. On this day we focus on the great faith which both of these faithful servants of God had, in the upbringing of the Blessed Mother of God from her infancy and through to her adulthood.

Although the life of St. Joachim and St. Anne was not recorded in the Scriptures, but through sacred tradition and history of the Church, and through our own observation of the nature and characteristics of Mary, as a faithful and obedient servant of God, who was an exemplary role model for all of us, therefore, it is just right that her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne must have been made of the same qualities in life.

And this is contrasted to what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, beginning from the book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, where the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet, of a lamentation of their disobedience and bad treatment of the Lord, even after all that He had done for their sake, loving them and protecting them from harm and from their enemies.

They have turned away from the path which He had shown to them through His prophets and messengers. The people had built up idols and false gods as the ones to whom they worshipped, and they forgot about God and all the good things which they have received and been blessed with. They disobeyed His laws and commandments, and instead, they turned to sinful ways and performed what were wicked in His sight.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is linked to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord spoke to His disciples and followers about why He always taught them in parables. Through the parables, the Lord was in fact trying to explain to the people about the truth and the Good News in ways that were more easily understandable and relatable to them. However, whether they benefitted from those efforts depended on whether they were open in their hearts and minds to the word of God.

When the people of God hardened their hearts and minds against God, essentially what they were doing was that they refused to listen to the Lord, and rejected Him, as it was often that they failed to recognise God’s presence in their midst. They were often preoccupied heavily by worldly concerns and matters, to the point that they ended up focusing on the wrong things in life, including worldly glory, fame, recognition, wealth and pleasures of the body and the flesh.

All of those things are obstacles and hindrances that prevented us from finding our way to God and from recognising the Lord Who is in our midst and Who is always trying to reach out to us, speaking to us and calling us in the depths of our hearts. We have not responded favourably to the Lord Who has always showed His greatest efforts to be with us and to work with us, in every possible way and at every possible opportunities.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to continue to walk down this path of rebelliousness and disobedience? Are we going to continue to harden our hearts and resist our Lord’s efforts to help us? If we continue to follow down this path, then I fear that there is nothing else for us in the end, except for damnation and suffering, for when we reject God’s love and mercy, then we do not deserve His mercy and forgiveness.

Instead, let us all look upon the great faith and dedication that holy saints, St. Joachim and St. Anne have shown in their lives, which became great role model for their daughter, Mary, who herself is the great role model for all of us Christians. Let us all seek to resist the temptations of worldly glory, the corruptions of sin and the allure of Satan, and turn towards God with all of our hearts, minds, strength and might.

May the Lord be with us in our journey of life, so that we may turn towards Him with genuine love and sincere dedication, that inspired by St. Joachim and St. Anne, we may find our true direction and purpose in life, to be righteous in all things and to serve God to the best of our abilities. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 10-17

At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.”

“In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.”

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 35 : 6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11

Your love, o God, reaches the heavens; Your faithfulness, to the clouds. Your justice is like the mighty mountains; Your judgement, like the unfathomable deep.

How precious, o God, is Your constant love! Mortals take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. In Your house they find rich food and they drink from Your spring of delight.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Bestow on Your faithful, Your love; and give salvation to the upright of heart.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 2 : 1-3, 7-8, 12-13

A word of YHVH came to me, “Go and shout this in the hearing of Jerusalem. This is YHVH’s word : I remember your kindness as a youth, the love of your bridal days, when you followed Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to YHVH, the first fruits of His harvest. All who ate of it had to pay and misfortune fell on them – it is YHVH Who speaks.”

“I brought you to a fertile land to eat of the choicest fruit. As soon as you came you defiled My land and dishonoured My heritage! The priests did not ask, ‘Where is YHVH?’ The masters of My teaching did not know Me; the pastors of My people betrayed Me; the prophets followed worthless idols and spoke in the name of Baal.”

“Be aghast at that, o heavens! Shudder, be utterly appalled – it is YHVH Who speaks – for My people have done two evils : they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, to dig for themselves leaking cisterns that hold no water!”