Monday, 26 July 2021 : 17th 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, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that all of us have to keep our faith in the Lord and to obey His Law and follow Him. We have to be faithful to the Lord and not to give in to the temptations to follow false idols and gods, as what our predecessors had done. Instead, we have to listen to the Lord, receive His words and truth, and allow our faith to blossom and grow within us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Exodus the account and story of the time when Moses, after having spent a whole forty days on top of Mount Sinai with God, discovered the rebelliousness and wickedness of the Israelites, who abandoned their God for the false idol of the golden calf, giving themselves up to their fears and their desires, doing whatever they wanted to do instead of listening to the Lord and to Moses, the servant of God, whom they thought to have died and abandoned them.

This is because they had little faith in the Lord, even after having witnessed, seen and heard everything that the Lord had done for them, all the wonders and miracles they have received, in the Ten Great Plagues the Lord sent against Egypt and the Egyptians while they were spared and protected from those plagues, and how God liberated them as He led them through the sea and destroyed the armies and chariots of the Egyptians sent against them.

Later on, the Lord also provided for them all as they journeyed through the desert, giving them bread to eat throughout the journey, the manna from heaven, on every single day with the additional gift of flocks of birds as their food. He also gave them constant supply of water to drink, clear and good quality water through the barren and dry desert without life. All these things the Lord had done for the sake of His people, and yet, they complained, grumbled and disobeyed the Lord, saying how life was better in Egypt and other similar things, showing just how little their faith and love for God were.

God was still so patient with His people even through the disobedience that they had shown. He punished and chastised them for their sins, but still desired them to realise the errors of their ways, and embrace His mercy and compassionate love, that they might be converted to the true faith. He never gave up on them even as they continued to fall again and again into sin, sending prophets and messengers one after the other to the midst of the people with the hope that at least some among them would return to Him and be reconciled with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then in our Gospel passage today we heard how the Lord spoke about the kingdom of God, which He compared in parable to the measure of yeast in flour, and to mustard seed. These comparisons were used since many among the people would understand better using the terms and examples that they often used in their daily lives and professions. Using those explanations, the Lord wanted His people to realise what they all need to do to be His faithful disciples and followers.

Those parables revealed to us that as God’s disciples and followers, we have to nurture our faith and our love for the Lord in the most favourable condition possible, that through our actions, our deeds and our interactions, we may come ever closer to the Lord and His grace. For those who do not know, yeast is required for the bread to rise and become properly formed, but it requires strict conditions such as the right temperature and most importantly, the absence of oxygen in the air, and hence, the dough and yeast mixture has to be sealed from outside air in order for the bread to be properly formed.

Similarly, for a mustard seed, such a small seed to grow into a large and sizeable tree, with its rich produce and healthy growth, the seed has to germinate first of all, in the right condition. Otherwise, the seed will not germinate, and will remain dormant in its seed form until the condition is right. And after it has germinated, the young plant has to be nurtured and taken care of, or else, it will perish and die, before it can grow into its full glory and size.

Therefore, all of us who have receive the faith from the Lord and receive His truth have to nurture this faith and the love we ought to have for the Lord, for His Law and commandments. We cannot just give lip service and treat our faith as mere obligation or formality, or else, our faith becomes meaningless and dead. This is why, each and every days and moments of our lives, we shall have the need to dedicate ourselves, our time and effort to the Lord.

Today we celebrate the feast of the two parents of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, namely St. Joachim and St. Anne, who have nurtured and taken care of Mary since her birth and throughout her youth. While Mary has been prepared specially by the Lord to be Immaculate and pure, worthy to be the vessel of His salvation in Christ, but it was also definitely thanks to the commitment and the dedication which both St. Joachim and St. Anne had given in their role as the guardians and parents of young Mary, that she grew in faith and love for the Lord.

We can be inspired by the faith and dedication which St. Joachim and St. Anne had shown, especially in their role as dutiful and loving parents to the Mother of our Lord and Saviour. We too can show the same love and dedication, in our own way, first of all towards Our Lord and Saviour, and henceforth, towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and even to the strangers and acquaintances we encounter daily in our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all willing to live our lives more devoted to the Lord, and learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, that we will not stumble again like how the Israelites fell into the worship of the golden calf in the past? And are we willing to look upon the good examples of our holy predecessors, like St. Joachim and St. Anne, and the innumerable other saints in how they lived their lives faithfully? Let us all discern this well, and think of how we can be ever more dedicated and committed to the Lord, now and always.

May God be with us all and may He strengthen us with the courage and the commitment to live our lives ever more faithfully in His path, from now on and forevermore. May God bless us all and our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

Monday, 26 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 31-35

At that time, Jesus offered His disciples another parable : “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is smaller than all other seeds, but once it is fully grown, it is bigger than any garden plant; like a tree, the birds come and rest in its branches.”

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast than a woman took, and hid in three measures of flour, until the whole mass of dough began to rise.” Jesus taught all these things to the crowds by means of parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. This fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet : ‘I will speak in parables. I will proclaim things kept secret since the beginning of the world.’

Alternative reading

Matthew 13 : 16-17

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

Monday, 26 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 105 : 19-20, 21-22, 23

They made a calf at Horeb and worshipped the molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a bull that eats grass.

They forgot their Saviour God, Who had done great things in Egypt, wonderful works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

So He spoke of destroying them, but Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to shield them from destruction.

Alternative reading

Psalm 131 : 11, 13-14, 17-18

YHVH swore to David a promise, and He will remain true to it : “I will keep your descendants on your throne.”

For YHVH has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling : “This is My resting place forever; this I prefer; here, will I dwell.”

From here, a Saviour shall come forth, a Son of David; here, shall shine forever, the lamp of My Anointed. In shame will I clothe His enemies, but upon His head a crown shall shine.

Monday, 26 July 2021 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 32 : 15-24, 30-34

Moses then returned and came down from the mountain carrying in his hands the two tablets of the Testimony, tablets written on both sides, back and front. These tablets were the work of God and the writing graven on the tablets was the writing of God.

When Joshua heard the noise of the people who were shouting he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.” But Moses answered, “It is not a victory song, nor the cry of defeat that I hear, but the sound of singing.”

When he drew near to the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burst forth and he threw down the tablets he was holding, shattering them at the foot of the mountain. Then he seized the calf they had made and burnt it in the fire, grinding it into a powder that he scattered over the surface of the water, and this he made the Israelites drink.

Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you that you brought such a great sin on them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let your anger be roused. You know these people and how evil they are. They said to me : ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ I then said to them that whoever had gold was to give it over to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf!”

The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a very grave sin, but now I am going up to YHVH; perhaps I will obtain pardon for your sin.” So Moses went towards YHVH and said, “Ah! These people have committed a very great sin; they made a god out of gold. And now please forgive their sin… if not, blot me out of the book You have written.”

YHVH said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out from My book. Go now! Lead the people where I told you. My Angel will walk before you and on the day of punishment I will punish them for their sin.”

Alternative reading

Sirach 44 : 1, 10-15

Let us now glorify illustrious men, the ancestors of our people. But now consider the godly men whose good deeds have not been forgotten. Those who came after them benefitted from the rich legacy they left; their race remained faithful to the Covenant, their children followed their example.

Their family will endure forever and never will its glory be tarnished. Their bodies will be buried in peace but their memory lives through generations. People will speak of their wisdom and the assembly will celebrate their praise.