Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, just the day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, today we commemorate together the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God and Our Lord Jesus Christ. And why is this day special? That is because just as her Son’s heart is most sacred and holy, as He is God, Mary’s heart was also holy in a similar way, and immaculate, meaning pure and clean from corruption.

This is because Mary herself, according to our faith, has been conceived without sin, known as the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And because of this, unique among other men, Mary alone was free from the taints and corruptions of the original sin. And her heart, mind and whole being are therefore free from the corruption of sin and all sorts of wickedness that corrupt us.

But Mary was great and honoured, more than just because she is the Mother of God and not just because she has been conceived without sin. Mary was exemplary in her life, in how she led a prayerful and devout life, dedicated to purity and holiness, and in how she dedicated herself to the mission which has been entrusted to her, to be the Mother of God, guiding her child Jesus right from before He was born, to the time when she followed Him up to the hill of Calvary for His crucifixion and death.

Mary saw and witnessed many things throughout her life, especially those years when she brought up the Baby Jesus, having seen Him being worshipped and glorified by three Magi from the East, with strange and peculiar gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which act as premonition to Who Jesus truly was and what His mission in this world would be. She has endured many things, including persecution and difficulty from those who desired to see the Lord Jesus destroyed.

She witnessed as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, the great wisdom of her Son Jesus, when He debated the intellectuals and teachers of the Law at the Temple of Jerusalem when He was merely just twelve years old. She heard Him saying peculiar things such as Him having to dwell in His Father’s house. Even though the Archangel Gabriel had told Mary that Jesus would be God’s own Son, but surely that fact must have remained a mystery to Mary.

Yet, she had great faith in the Lord, and put everything she had heard, all her uncertainties and questions into her heart, as the Gospel mentioned today. The heart of Mary is filled with love, and pure love for her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And that love alone is enough for her to overcome all kinds of uncertainties, fears, concerns and all the questions she might have.

That is why, Mary followed her Son even to the foot of the cross, where she saw her Son suffered and died for the sake of all of us. She loved Him so much to the very end. And Our Lord entrusted all of us to her from the cross, as He entrusted His disciple St. John the Apostle to her. Then He also entrusted her to us all, by entrusting her to the same St. John, His Apostle.

Therefore, all of us have Mary as our mother, and her loving heart, and all the love she has shown to her Son, she has also shown to us, whom she had adopted as her own children. Let us have faith in God in the same way as she has been faithful, and let us follow her example in life, in how she have led her life filled with faith, commitment and devotion.

Let us all entrust ourselves to her, and let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith and devotion from now on. Mary, Mother of God, in your most Immaculate Heart, pray for us all sinners, that God will forgive us and welcome us all into His heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart.

Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, we focus on the most loving Heart of Our Lord, Who has given everything for our sake, the Lord Jesus, Who even did not hold back from suffering for our sake, and dying on the cross for our salvation.

This Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus had its roots from the long-established and traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart, which began hundreds of years ago, as popular devotion to the love which God had shown us, and which the Lord showed His servant, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in a vision of His Most Sacred Heart, crowned with thorns and pierced, with a burning flame above the Heart, as a sign of His ever-burning and living love for each and every one of us.

This devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the oldest existing devotions in the Church, and one that all of us should be appreciative about, as it brings us to remember about the great love which God has shown to us, in His generous and rich mercy. The Church has decided to celebrate this Solemnity with great devotion, in order to benefit all of us on the way to our salvation in God.

First of all, we have to realise just how great the love which God has for each and every one of us, from the holiest of persons to the greatest among the sinners. To everyone, to all the children of men, God has shown His love, as personified in none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, the Love of God made Man, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, that God so loved the world, that He sent to the world and to us, His own Beloved Son.

And just as we often represent love with a heart, as the heart, is the source of our life, through the beating heart that is a sign of life, and also of emotions, because our heartbeat increases when we are feeling happy, intense, or in love, then, God’s love is represented in the same way, as the loving Heart of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is how the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus gained its place in our faith.

And symbolically, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, we heard about another important event involving the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord. It was during His crucifixion, right after He gave up His Spirit and died. As the chief priests and elders did not want the bodies to remain on the cross throughout the Sabbath, the Roman soldiers were instructed by their superior to ensure that the thieves and the Lord Jesus were dead.

Hence, they broke the bones of the legs of the thieves, an act which through our scientific research discovered that this could cause immediate death or very quick death to those criminals who has been left to hang on the crosses for hours. But at that time, the Lord Jesus was already dead, and many of the people who were there, including the soldiers witnessed His passing.

Nonetheless, in order to ensure that the Lord Jesus was truly dead, the Roman soldier, which by tradition was known as St. Longinus, pierced the side of the Lord with his lance, and immediately came pouring out blood and water from the Lord’s side. One would wonder why the Roman soldier pierced the side of the Lord to ensure that He was dead, if the heart is not even located at that part of the body.

That is because a Roman soldier like St. Longinus was very well-trained in numerous arts of warfare, and he must have been well-trained to hit the critical parts of the body, including the heart, from various places including from a person’s side. And when a person died, it has been determined by experience that if a person’s heart is pierced, there would be water accumulating in the spaces surrounding the heart, and hence, water and blood will come pouring out.

But the symbolism of the blood and water that came out from the side of the Lord Jesus was much greater than all of that. At every time the Holy Mass is celebrated, the priest mixes the wine with a little bit of water into the sacred chalice, and the material for the Precious Blood of the Lord was prepared. Both water and wine must be present, so as to make the whole process and Sacrament to be valid.

This is because the wine, usually red wine, with the colour of blood represents the Divinity of Christ, while the water represents His humanity, which are mingled together yet separate, distinct yet united, at the moment when the Lord offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice on the Altar of the cross at Calvary, offering Himself as the perfect oblation for all of our sins.

The blood and water, symbolically represented by the wine and the water at the Mass, therefore shows us the salvation of God, brought forth by the giving of His life, the outpouring of His Body and Blood, given to us and shared with us, that all of us who partake in His Body and Blood, will have eternal life and share in the joy and glory of God forevermore.

That is just how much the Lord has loved us, and therefore, we ought to love Him just in the same manner. And that is why we devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because ultimately, we believe that despite our shortcomings and sins, God has shown us His love, and He is willing to forgive us, provided that we are also willing to repent from our sins and turn wholeheartedly towards Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore deepen our devotion to the Lord, especially today, in His Most Sacred Heart. Let us draw ever closer to Him, and be filled with resolve to love God with a renewed vigour and faith. And let us also show the same love to our fellow men, as He has taught us to do. May the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord continue to pour His love upon us, and give us His generous mercy as always. Amen.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 31-37

At that time, as it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw that, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 3 : 8-12, 14-19

This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones : to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the Church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In Him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

And, now, I kneel in the presence of the Father, from Whom, every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May He strengthen in you, the inner self, through His Spirit, according to the riches of His glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts, through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love.

All of this, so that you may understand, with all the holy ones, the width, the length, the height and the depth – in a word, that you may know the love of Christ, that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled, and reach the fullness of God.

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Friday, 8 June 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hosea 11 : 1, 3-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them.

My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst: and I do not want to come to you in anger.

Thursday, 7 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Word of God speaking to us about what true faith and dedication to the Lord is like. It is basically, as we have heard from the Scriptures, to obey God is first and foremost about love. We cannot be true disciples of the Lord without love, and if we do not love God with all of our might, we cannot indeed call ourselves as Christians.

This is what the Lord expects from us, to be loving just as He is loving. First of all, of course we must love Him first, for if we do not love God, then indeed, we do not truly know what love is. All love ultimately came from God, and whenever we love, we have shown the same love which came from God, and which He Himself had shown us. Yes, God has shown us His great love, that, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, He sent us His most beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

In his Epistle to St. Timothy, St. Paul wrote that even when we are unfaithful to God, God will always remain faithful, as He cannot deny Himself. What does this mean? It means that, even though we have sinned against God and done things which were unworthy and wicked in His presence, but God would still continue to love us regardless, and He will still want each and every one of us to be reconciled with Him.

That is why He sent us His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the One through Whom salvation could come to all of us mankind. We should have merited destruction and annihilation by our disobedience and sins, but God withheld His anger and judgment, and gave us one last hope in Christ. That was just how much God has loved us, that He was willing to give us everything He could, including even to give up His life for us on the cross, that we might live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the cross itself is a symbol of love, a love that is perfect and selfless, a love that each and every one of us must imitate and have in our own lives. And by looking at the cross itself, we can immediately see what we need to do in our loving relationship with God and with one another, as what the Lord had commanded us to do, and which Our Lord Jesus reiterated in today’s Gospel passage.

There are two most important commandments in the Law, that is first of all, to love the Lord our God with all of our might and abilities, which the cross represents with the vertical bar, leading up from us on earth to heaven, as the Lord Jesus offered Himself up to be the One to bridge the gap between us and God His Father. And thus, through Christ, we have received God’s love, and then we ought to love Him back in the same way.

Then, all of us must also remember to love one another, our fellow men, just as the Lord Jesus extended His love for everyone. He loved even all those who have hated and persecuted Him, and forgave them from the cross, praying to His Father, so as not to account them for the sins they have committed due to their ignorance of the truth. The horizontal bar of the cross reminds us of this obligation, to be bearers of love to one another.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, guided by the love of Christ embodied in the cross, let us all as Christians who believe in Him and His love, be exemplary in our loving attitude towards, first of all, our God, Who loves each and every one of us, and then, towards our fellow brothers and sisters, even to those who have not loved us or treated us badly.

May the Lord be with us all, that we may ever grow further in our faith and in our love, both for Him and for one another. May the cross of Christ be our guide in our lives, so that day after day, we may come to love more generously and more tenderly. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.