Saturday, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which celebrates the moment when Mary, the Mother of God was presented at the Temple of God, as prescribed by the Law, as her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne offering their firstborn child to the Lord. Mary, the one who would become the Mother of God and Saviour, the Ark of the New Covenant of God.

On this day we rejoice and recall the faith of Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God as we remember her piety and dedication, her virtues and humble commitment to serve the Lord with her whole life. Mary has always been a great example and inspiration for all of us, not just because she is the Mother of God but also because she is such a paragon of faith and virtue by her obedience to God and her genuine love for Him.

Mary has dedicated herself to the Lord and symbolised by her presentation to Him, and her whole life is a life of prayer and love, as she accepted her role to be the Mother of God, caring for the Lord from the moment when He was still in her womb, when He was still a baby and young, and followed Him through life and through His ministry until He endured His Passion and sufferings, and was there when He died on the Cross, faithfully standing by His Cross to the very end.

In our Gospel today we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people, when someone who told Him that His mother and family were there waiting for Him. And the Lord said to the people that all those who obey the Lord and follow Him are His mother, brothers and sisters, essentially His family members and those who are close to Him and beloved by Him.

On the surface it might have seemed rude for the Lord to dismiss His family members, His own mother Mary in particular. However, we have to understand and appreciate the intention of the Lord and the context of what He had said. He wanted to show that His familial relations are not definitive and does not exclude all the others, the faithful children of God. The Lord considers all to be His family members.

That is why through the Church, by our baptism, all of us have been made to be the adopted children of God. Through the Church the Lord unified us to Himself, in a family of the faithful, united through love. And by showing us all Mary, His own mother, as the perfect example of faith and the exemplary child of God, He Himself concluded it by saying, that all those who follow the Lord’s path, are all members of this beloved family.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why today we are all called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived through them thus far. And we are called to consider the path that we ought to walk forward in life. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to lives that are just like Mary’s, that is to be obedient to God, ever listening and adhering to His will, and virtuous and just?

Today, as we rejoice in the memory of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, let us all be inspired by the examples that she had set before us, that we shall also be righteous, virtuous and good in faith as she has shown us. Blessed Mother Mary, our loving mother, pray for us all sinners, and lead us all towards your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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, 20 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded through the Scriptures of our calling as Christians, how each and every one of us have been called to proclaim the word of God faithfully at all times. Through our first reading today from the Book of the Revelations of St. John we heard of the Lord’s revelation through His Angel of his mission to evangelise to the world and what it entailed. And in our Gospel passage today we heard the moment when the Lord Jesus came to the Temple of Jerusalem not long before His Passion, and cleared the Temple grounds from all the wicked merchants dealing dishonestly there.

In that first reading passage we heard St. John seeing a vision of an Angel of God coming to him bearing a book, commanding him to eat that book. And when St. John ate the book, it tasted sweet in his mouth, but after a while he felt bitter in the stomach. Although it may seem weird to us to hear someone eating a book, but this is in fact a figurative language used by St. John to describe the meaning and importance of his vision and what he has been told by the Lord, that we too may understand this same truth.

As St. John described his vision and experience, the book was in fact a figurative representation and explanation of the gift of the Word of God to the Apostles, the disciples and the Church, the revelation of truth of God which we have all received. But why does the Word taste sweet in the mouth and yet bitter in the stomach? Again this is yet another figurative language used to describe how wonderful the truth of God is to us, as we revel and are happy in His love and care for us. And yet, it is bitter for us to stomach the fullness of truth.

Why is that so? That is because just as we know that God has loved us so much and each and every one of us are indeed so privileged to have received this great love from God, then we all also know what will happen to all those who have consciously chosen to reject this love of God, as St. John himself had seen in his apocalyptic vision of the world’s end times. There will be those who have chosen to abandon God and side with the devil while others remain faithful to God.

And those who reject God, His love and His mercy, by their rejection and by their sins are judged into the eternal suffering, not because God did not love them. Rather, they themselves had rejected God’s love and mercy, and by that rejection, they will have no part in God, and therefore, are bound to suffer with the devil and all those who have rebelled and disobeyed against God, for all eternity. It was they themselves who have chosen to walk down this path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God has entrusted His truth and His words to us through His Church, and it is in fact a great responsibility that brings both great joy in seeing the salvation of so many souls, but also the bitterness, sorrow and even pain in seeing the suffering of those who have rejected God and chose to walk down the path of evil and sin. This is the burden and the joy that we both carry as Christians.

Therefore, reminded of all these, let us all then also reflect on what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, of the moment when the Lord Jesus, not long before His Passion and death, chased out all the dishonest merchants who sought profits and wealth, and made lots of selfish and greedy gains on the suffering and the cheating pf the faithful pilgrims coming to the Temple to worship God.

The Lord was truly angry that the House of God has been corrupted and misused for wicked purposes and that had been allowed to continue by the Temple authorities, the chief priests and the Sanhedrin. And by clearing the Temple, the Lord has also in fact urged us all to clear our own spiritual Temple, that is our body, mind, heart and soul, in which God resides.

We have to rid ourselves off these corruptions, that is sin and all sorts of wickedness, all our pride, ego, greed, wrath and all other sorts of evils within us. We have to resist these temptations and strive to inspire and help one another to keep our faith in God strong. We have heard and discussed of what will happen to those who refuse to believe in God, and therefore, we should try our best to live up to our Christian calling and expectations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith in God and strengthen our convictions to walk with zeal and commitment in the path of the Lord. May all of us seek the Lord with ever greater faith and love for Him. May He bless us all in our every endeavours and efforts, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 20 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 45-48

At that time, Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And He said to them, “God says in the Scriptures, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of robbers!'”

Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill Him, and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to Him and hanging on His words.

Friday, 20 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 118 : 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

I delight in following Your laws, more so than in all riches.

Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

Your law is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.

How sweet are Your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your statutes are my heritage forever, they are the joy of my heart.

I gasp in ardent yearning for Your commandments that I love.

Friday, 20 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Revelations 10 : 8-11

And the voice I heard from heaven spoke again, saying to me, “Go near the Angel Who stands on the sea and on the land, and take the small book open in his hand.” So I approached the Angel and asked him for the small book; he said to me, “Take it and eat; although it be sweet as honey in your mouth, it will be bitter to your stomach.”

I took the small book from the hand of the Angel, and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, it turned bitter in my stomach. Then I was told, “You must again proclaim God’s words about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings.”

Thursday, 19 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all heard from the Scriptures the glory of the Lord in Heaven as described in the Book of the Revelations of St. John, as well as the lamentations of the Lord over the holy city of Jerusalem as He predicted the coming of its end as what would indeed happen in a few decades after, its destruction at the hand of the Romans.

In our first reading today as we approach the end of this current liturgical year we are reminded as always of the apocalyptic end times with the readings from the Book of Revelations or Apocalypse of St. John, in which we heard of the vision received by the Apostle on the coming of the Lord, and we heard today of his vision of the great scroll with seven seals being opened by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ Himself, seated on the Throne of God.

And he saw how the Lamb on the Throne is surrounded by the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures, the highest of the Angels of God, unceasingly praising and glorifying Him, worshipping Him, the Lord and Master of all creation. The Lamb of God has triumphed over evil and being slain as the Sacrifice on the Cross, He has been glorified and has purchased for us all our eternal salvation and life.

This is a reminder for all of us that despite the challenges and trials that we have to face, we have the Lamb of God, triumphant and victorious by our side. The Angels of God and His saints had proclaimed His glory and victory before all of us, and even though tribulations will come our way, as represented by the doom and destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of that holy city and its Temple, but in God we shall be triumphant in the end.

This is a constant reminder for all of us that as Christians we must always glorify the Lord by our lives just as the commands at the end of each Holy Mass command us to, to glorify the Lord by our lives and to proclaim the words of the Gospel. And we do this not by loud proclamations or preaching, but rather through our lives and how we live it. If we speak of the word of God and yet our lives contradict what we have spoken and preached, does it not make us all hypocrites then? Who then will believe in God through us?

Today therefore we have been reminded and called to go the extra mile in the service of God, as His followers and faithful ones. We have to transform our lives and dedicate them to the Lord, that in each and every one of our actions in life, in how we interact with each other we shall always be filled with the love of God, obedience to His will and laws, commandments and ordinances, and exemplary in all things and deeds.

If our lives shine with the light of Christ, then Christ’s light will illuminate us and be with us even through our darkest hours and moments. And our Lord will lead us to the final victory that has been assured for us. Are we willing to commit to this path, brothers and sisters in Christ? There are many temptations and distractions in this world trying to mislead us and bring us down the wrong path. Let us not be misled by these and remain firm in our faith.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, the triumphant Lamb of God, continue to be with us, guide us in our journey of faith. May the Lord bless us in all of our endeavours and efforts to continue to journey faithfully with Him through this life we have received and the opportunities we have been given. May God bless us all, now and every moments. Amen.

Thursday, 19 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 19 : 41-44

At that time, when Jesus had come in sight of the city of Jerusalem, He wept over it, and said, “If only today you knew the ways of peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Yet days will come upon you, when your enemies will surround you with barricades, and shut you in, and press on you from every side.”

“And they will dash you to the ground and your children with you, and not leave stone upon stone within you, for you did not recognise the time and the visitation of your God.”