Monday, 7 October 2019 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the seventh day in the month of October we annually celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which began with the devotion to Our Lady of Victory, in commemoration of the great victory of the forces of the Christian faithful in the great battle of Lepanto against the forces of the infidels and those who persecuted the faithful and threatened Christendom at that time.

At that time, Christendom was threatened from all sides, from external forces and enemy as mentioned, as well as from internal disputes and divisions, heresies and lack of faith. But there were those who strived to put the effort to bring the Church back on its feet, as part of the Counter Reformation movement, renewing the zeal of many of the faithful and many heeded God’s call to serve Him in purifying His Church.

And when faced with the great external threat in the form of the mighty Ottoman Empire, which then was the superpower of the known world, and threatened much of Christendom, it was several brave leaders who took up the Cross and endeavoured to fight back against those who sought the destruction of the faithful. And thus, under the leadership of Pope St. Pius V and other leaders like Don Juan of Austria and many others, the Christian forces rallied itself and sought for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin for victory against their enemies through the devotion of the Rosary.

In the end, despite the great odds and supremacy of the enemy, the Christian forces prevailed in the end, and the faithful dealt a major blow on their enemies. It was also told that a great miracle occurred during the battle, as it appeared that the Blessed Mother of God was there guiding the faithful as they struggled against their enemies and helped through her intercession to bring them to a great victory.

In thanksgiving for the great victory, the day of the triumphant Battle has ever since been declared by Pope St. Pius V as a day of great celebration, initially attributed to Our Lady of Victory, but eventually developed into the celebration of Our Lady of the Rosary as how it happens today. Nonetheless, the key message of the celebration remains, in how the faithful managed to overcome their great oppressor and enemy through the help and intercession of Mary, by the devotion of the Rosary.

Now, let us all look at the Rosary itself. The rosary is a form of prayer in which a series of prayers of Ave Maria or ‘Hail Mary’ as we all know it, are prayed together in a chain, forming a chain of prayers which we use the rosary chain as a guide as we pray. The word rosary itself came from the root word ‘rosa’ meaning rose in Latin, that is a symbolic representation of how we actually offer a bouquet of lovely roses to our loving mother Mary as we pray the rosary.

The rosary is shown to us by Mary herself as she appeared to St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, many centuries ago, and centuries before the fateful battle in Lepanto. She asked St. Dominic to propagate the use of the rosary as a devotion to help in the salvation of souls. For through the prayers of the rosary, the faithful can become closer to their loving mother through their prayers, and in turn, Mary will intercede for their sake before her Son in heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary loves us just as much as she loves her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is because she had been entrusted to us by the Lord Himself from His Cross to be our mother, as He entrusted her to St. John, His disciple, representing the whole body of the Church. And vice versa therefore, we have also been made to be her adopted sons and daughters. Which mother then does not love her own children?

She does not want us to fall into sin that eventually lead us into damnation and separation from her Son, Our Lord and God. That is why through the Rosary, our blessed mother wants to help us to reconnect spiritually to God through her. She wants us to deepen our relationship with God through prayer and through contemplation. Through better relationship with God we can develop stronger faith and be more resistant to the temptations of the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord’s call through His blessed mother calling us to a greater devotion and closer relationship with Him through His mother. On this day we are called to remember how through our close interaction and relationship with God through Mary we can be brought into a new existence in God and also receive His grace and blessings as those who won at Lepanto by the grace of God has shown us all. And we ourselves are in constant spiritual struggle and warfare, against the devil and the fallen angels who are trying to drag us into sin and hell with them.

Therefore in this month of October, the Marian month of the Rosary, let us all spend the time to pray more fervently especially that of the devotion of the rosary, so that we may grow to love God more and attune ourselves to Him more, and be more capable of resisting the temptations to sin in our daily living. And let us all trust in God more deeply for everything, knowing that He has loved us all these while and will not let us all to fall into eternal damnation through sin.

May the Lord, through His blessed mother Mary, who is also our loving mother, continue to love us all dearly and guide us to Himself in our journey of faith throughout life. Let us all deepen our spirituality and connection to God through His mother Mary by our devotion of the holy rosary daily that we may be triumphant in this constant struggle for our souls in the constant and daily spiritual warfare. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 7 October 2019 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Monday, 7 October 2019 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (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.

Monday, 7 October 2019 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings from the Scripture, we are reminded of the gift of blessings from God, in the form of holy matrimony, which God had decreed from the moment that He created us mankind, man and woman, to complement each other and to be united with one another in a holy union blessed by God. This union was mentioned in the first reading we have today, in the Book of Genesis.

The Lord created mankind first with a man, Adam, who was all alone among his race, while God created all creatures male and female, according to their natures. And that was why, God created a woman, Eve, who was taken from the man, in a very symbolic act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam when he was in a deep sleep, and God made woman out of man. Regardless whether it was how God actually created us mankind, the truth and reality remains that God made us man and woman.

And the act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam is in fact God’s reminder for us that we were created to be for one another, to share the love that God has given us, and to complement each other. And our relationship and union, in the sacred bond of matrimony, between a man and a woman, is in fact a reflection and imitation of God’s own perfect union of love, which is present in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Through the sacred bond of matrimony, God also blesses us with children, as His gifts of love for us, to be fruitful and bountiful just as He has commanded us man at the beginning of creation, and to multiply and to fill the earth with our kind. This was the foundation of families and the foundation of our human communities, and indeed, the foundation of our faith and our Church.

For all of us have been born into this world as a small, little baby, each one of us, growing up in a family, where God’s love was given to us through our fathers and our mothers. And it is in the family that all of us learn what it truly means to be human beings, to be those whom the Lord has given intellect, wisdom and the ability to survive in this world. Without our families, then our human society will eventually perish and be destroyed.

Similarly, the family is the foundation and the core part of our Church and faith, as it is through the family that the faith, which has been preserved by the Church, is imparted at the beginning to the small children, baptised and raised in good faith by their parents. If the children were not raised well by their parents, ultimately, not only that they will likely lose faith, but they will also grow to be people who are without love in their hearts, capable of committing all sorts of wickedness and atrocities.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, the reality is such that, the foundation of our family and marriage life has always been shaken very badly right from the beginning of time. Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, there had been cases when the people who have agreed to be joined in blessed union of matrimony, sought instead to break that bond for various reasons, that is divorce.

First of all, we must understand that the Church does allow for certain exceptional cases where the marriage was not consummated and with various other valid considerations and conditions where the Church decided that the couple can be granted an annulment. An annulment is different from the case of divorce, in that the marriage was considered to have never taken place at all in the eyes of God and the Church.

However, what the Lord Jesus was referring to, in our Gospel passage today, when the Pharisees looked for Him and tried to test Him on the matter of marriage and divorce, was that of validly contracted marriages and unions which were deliberately sought to be broken by the desires of man. And the Pharisees argued that they were allowed to divorce as according to the Law of Moses, as long as settlement has been made and documents have been signed and agreed on, the marriage can be dissolved easily.

But God made it very clear to the people, that the matter of marriage is in fact not just a formality, which can be easily overwritten and overridden by the statutes of human laws, customs and practices. Instead, as mentioned, the bond of marriage is a matter of divine law, a divine union blessed by none other than God, Who has decreed that a man and a woman are united in the same love that unites the Holy Trinity together, and what He has united, no man should divide.

This, in truth, is the foundation of our marriages and families, and why we should indeed put a lot of attention to them. The devil knows this as well, and that is why, he is always on the offensive, trying to strike at us, God’s children, in our marriage and family life, that by destroying this important unit and foundation of our Church and faith, he can lure more souls into the damnation in hell.

In many cases of divorce, it was caused by our human frailty and inability to resist the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh, as well as other desires. Many people fell into adultery because of their inability to resist the temptations of their flesh, which are constantly persuading them to turn away from the Lord’s path and into the path of debauchery and unfaithfulness. Many have not been faithful to their respective spouses, and this resulted in the breaking away of families.

And when we become divided, we end up losing our faith, and the children are also badly and negatively affected. The devil then has a great time trying to pull us into ever deeper trap of his temptations and false promises of pleasure, of glory, of material goods and other things that have become thorns in the body of our family and marriage. We find it hard to restrain the temptation to sexual pleasures, to materialism and many more things that made us to desire separation and ending of the sacred bond of matrimony.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the same time, we need to realise that there are just a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can contribute to help all those who are troubled in their family and marriage life. Even there may be those who are in our midst, and among those whom we know, that are currently suffering in their family and marriage. Are we then going to ignore them should they come to us seeking help, advice or assistance? Or are we going to lend them a listening ear and to extend our hands to help wherever possible?

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, on the seventh day of October every year. This feast was once also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, commemorated after the great victory of the Christian army and forces at the Battle of Lepanto against the enemies of Christ and His Church. At that time, the enemies of the Lord and His Church mustered a massive and overwhelmingly powerful forces, that threatened the very existence of Christendom, but through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, the Christian forces managed to obtain a decisive victory.

The significance of that event and this celebration then goes beyond just the historical importance of that victory to the survival of Christendom and the Christian faith as we know it. All of us must realise that we are in a constant battle, every single day and every single moments of our lives, against the devil and all of his evil forces seeking our downfall and damnation. He is the source of all of our troubles, including all the current forces and efforts aimed at the dismantling of our institution of sacred matrimony and the family.

That is why, at this moment, it is all the more important that we seek for necessary help in order to prevent us from falling into the temptations and into threat of eternal damnation. And the Lord has provided us a very good source of help, in His beloved mother, Mary, and through the rosary which she has introduced to us, through St. Dominic, and many other saints, through whom she revealed to us the rosary as a means by which we can come closer to God.

Why is that so? That is because the rosary is a series of prayers, which prominently involved the Hail Mary, a prayer invoking the prayers from Mary, the Blessed Mother of Our God, and also extolling the virtues of her life. Far from being a meaningless and repetitive prayer as many of its opponents and detractors often claimed, the rosary is a very effective weapon in our battle of life, against the forces of evil.

Many of us do not realise that we have often been lacking in our prayer life and in our spiritual development. And through the rosary, we are in fact reminded of the need to reorientate our lives to the Lord, by following the examples and the inspiration of Mary, the Mother of God, who is the perfect disciple and follower of God, in how she obeyed the Lord and put her trust in Him so completely, allowing God to do His wonderful works through her.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep the sanctity of both our married life and family life, by putting God at the centre of our lives, by devoting ourselves more to His mother, Mary, that in this month of October, month of the Holy Rosary, we should spend time to pray together, as a family, together between husband and wife, and the children, asking for the intercession of Mary, that she will continue to pray for our sake and ask her Son to help us in our battle against evil.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us sinners and help us that we may imitate your examples in faith, in your obedience and devotion to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 2-16

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question : “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

People were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 10 : 2-12

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question : “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 2 : 9-11

But Jesus, Who suffered death, and for a little while, was placed lower than the Angels, has been crowned with honour and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that He experience death, on behalf of everyone.

God, from Whom all come, and by Whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and He thought it fitting to make perfect, through suffering, the initiator of their salvation. So, He Who gives, and those who receive holiness, are one. He, Himself, is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.