Monday, 13 May 2013 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we celebrate a great feast and memorial of our Lady, that is our Lady of Fatima, who made an appearance to the three young children at Fatima in Portugal almost a century ago, and through them, she revealed to them prophecy and secret, which contains the will of God, and the desire of the Lord, conveyed through Mary, His mother, that the world be converted to Christ and be brought into God’s love and salvation.

Throughout the subsequent decades, especially after the devotion to our Lady of Fatima had been officially recognised by the Vatican, by the Pope himself, it quickly became a place of great devotion to Mary, the mother of God, the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary, is a role model to all of us, because her entire life had been dedicated to God, and had been given up for the sake of the Lord, that through her indeed, salvation of this world might spring forth, through Jesus, her Son, the Messiah.

It is her obedience and submission to the will of God that made salvation possible, and made her exalted above all women and all the peoples of God, for through her, all mankind who believe in her Son, are made perfect and whole again through the ministry and sacrifice of her Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.

Many people had great misconceptions about this strong devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus our Lord, especially among those who hates these devotions because of their misinformation, lack of faith, and lack of understanding because they do not have in them the truth and the full extent of truth that the Lord passed down to us, through the Church and only in the Church.

They hated these devotions because to them apparently that these devotions border on worship and therefore they equate it with us, who believes, with the worship of Mary as some sort of mother-goddess. But they got it entirely wrong, and yet even so, the world perpetuates the falsehood and the hatred because it belongs to the evil one, and it will stop at nothing to prevent the truth from reaching the ears and hearts of many in this world.

Our devotion to Mary, the mother of God, which is represented and celebrated today in the form of Our Lady of Fatima, because Mary had made her appearance to the children at Fatima, is because through Mary, we can be more guaranteed of salvation in Christ. Mary, as the mother of the Lord, and having been righteous and obedient to God throughout her entire life, is the perfect role model for all of us, that indeed she is the greatest and queen of all saints in heaven.

By following the examples of Mary, in her words, in her actions, and in her various messages that she had delivered through her various approved appearances, had been crucial in guiding many either to the Lord or return from their wayward paths. Through our devotion to her, in which we show our love and dedication to the mother of God, and not our worship, we bring ourselves closer to God at the same time. For the mother of God is surely always close to her Son, the Lord God Most High, and therefore, she can indeed help us to be ever closer to our God.

As much as we are dedicated to Mary, the mother of God, we are devoted even more to her Son, that is our Lord Jesus. Why is this so? Because through Mary, we can understand our Lord better, we can glimpse better the purpose of the coming of our God into this world, to be man like us, and to die on the cross that we can be saved from the certainty of death due to sin.

That is how we should indeed pray, that is through Mary, to Jesus. Because Mary is our greatest intercessor, our great link between ourselves and God in Christ. Remember that in Cana, during that wedding when Christ performed His very first miracle? It was because of the intercession of Mary that the wedding could proceed well, because Mary was insistent in helping the couple that their wedding would not go awry. Our Lord being a good son listens to His mother’s wishes.

We have to be careful here to note that our Lord listens to His mother but this does not make Him subordinate to her. She is not a goddess or anything of that kind, but rather, she is the perfect example of the role of saints and why we ask for their intercession, because they intercede for us before Christ, and put forth our case and our petitions before Him. And no greater saint exists other than Mary, the Lord’s own mother.

That is why today we celebrate this feast of Our Lady of Fatima, because Mary, our Lady, had made her appearance in Fatima, and showing the miracles of God that many would end up believing in God, and through her message at Fatima, she wanted to bring the world ever closer to her Son, indeed showing that even though it had been long since Mary had been assumed to heaven in the Assumption, she still cares for us and intercedes for us at all times, and is willing to come forth and give her aid to mankind, especially to bring more souls to salvation and away from damnation of hell.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, from today on, let us strive to follow the examples of the saints, particularly that of Mary, our Lady of Fatima. Let us follow her example and her faith in God, that we too can be obedient like her to the will of God and lead a righteous life like she had once led in this world and received her rewards in heaven.

Whenever someone said that we in the Church worship Mary and the saints, do not be quiet and give in to passivity, but rather, bravely defend our Lady and our God, her Son. For such accusation actually amounts to an insult for our Lady, and an insult to Mary, the mother of our Lord means also an insult to our Lord Jesus, her Son. Courageously defend our faith, not by being confrontational or hostile, but rather with patience, explaining the real truth of our true faith to those who have been blinded by the falsehood spread by the evil one.

Let us be more like Mary, and make ourselves closer to Jesus, her Son, just as our Lady of Fatima had wanted us, so that we can truly be God’s children, through our words, our actions, and our bearings, that we reflect Christ in all our dealings, and the world that sees us, will believe and will be converted to the cause of Christ. God bless us all. Mary, our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Amen.

Monday, 11 March 2013 : 4th Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

John 4 : 43-54

When the two days were over, Jesus left for Galilee. Jesus Himself said that no prophet is recognised in his own country. Yet the Galileans welcomed Him when He arrived, because all the things which He had done in Jerusalem during the Festival, and which they had seen. For they, too, had gone to the feast.

Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee, where He had changed the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official, whose son was ill, and when he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked Him to come and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe!” The official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” And Jesus replied, “Go, your son lives!” The man had faith in the word that Jesus spoke to him, and went his way. As he was approaching his house, his servants met him, and gave him the good news. “Your son has recovered!”

So he asked them at what hour the child began to recover, and they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday, at about one o’ clock in the afternoon.” And the father realised that, that was the time when Jesus had told him, “Your son lives!” And he became a believer, he and all his family.

Jesus performed this second miraculous sign when He returned from Judea to Galilee.

(Special Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes) Monday, 11 February 2013 : Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Gospel Reading)

John 2 : 1-11

Three days later there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.”

However, His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did.

The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way, He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.

Sunday, 20 January 2013 : 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

In the first reading today, God showed His love for His people Israel, although they have betrayed Him many times. Then, the second reading showed about the gifts of the Spirit, what the Spirit can do in us, and through us, the Lord’s will is done. Finally, the Gospel itself is the account of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His very first miracle of turning water into the finest wine.

God still loves His people, and thus still loves us, no matter what we have done. Although we had sinned many times and betrayed Him, and abandoned Him many times, He is still always faithful. For just as He was mentioned as the bridegroom in the first reading, and the land as His spouse, the Lord is united to us through His marriage to us, as in the Revelation it is mentioned that God is the bride of the Church, and this Church is us, the faithful ones in God. And just as He is loving, He is a faithful bride indeed, and even though we, His brides are unfaithful, He is always ready to welcome us back if we indeed repent our sins and our mistakes and turn back to Him, who created us, and who embrace us both as His children just as He is our Father, and our bride as the Lord is the bridegroom of the Church.

The Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Holy Trinity, is the instrument of this unity of marriage between us and our Lord. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God came down to us from the Father, and built the bridge crossing between us and the Father across the chasms of sin, through Jesus too, the Holy Spirit came down from the Father and sealed our relationship with God, through the Apostles at Pentecost, when the Church was born. This is why, in our baptism too, we are baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, that with the Holy Spirit that empowers, and the authority of the Father, and the Sacrifice of the Son, we are married to God and becomes His alone, and the devil has no part in us. In Confirmation, we receive further the gift of the Holy Spirit, which confirms our Faith in God and mark us with the gifts that enable us to perform good works and deeds in God’s name.

The Holy Spirit brings forth many gifts including even the gift of tongues and prophesy. But while there are Christians that put heavy emphasis on these aspects of the Holy Spirit, the true fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit are actually not on these, but on the gifts that permeates our heart, and allow God to be the centre of our lives, filling our hearts with love and compassion for others. In other times, also the gift of courage, to speak up for our fellow men, whenever we see injustice and attacks against the weak, the poor, and the lonely, and when there are attacks against God Himself, and against the sanctity of human life. The gift of courage and wisdom, and knowledge of God and His Scriptures, to proclaim to all around us, the Word of God, not just by speech and sermons, but most importantly, by good deeds and works through which all mankind can see that we truly belong to Christ, and see the Holy Spirit in us.

Then, there is Jesus’ ministry itself. After being baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, Jesus was full with the Holy Spirit, and began His ministry after calling the first Apostles. The Wedding at Cana was where He conducted His first miracle, despite the fact that He was reluctant to do so. However, through this account, we can see indeed, the obedience Christ has for His mother, Mary, who truly cares for the wellbeing of God’s children, where in their happiest of times, marriage, the most terrible kind of disasters awaited them, as it was truly discourteous of the wedding groom and bride to have run out of wine in the days-long Jewish wedding. Although Jesus apparently said to Mary indifferently and seemingly not wishing to help as His time is yet to come, one can see that Jesus did listen to His mother’s pleas on behalf of the groom and the bride, and performed the miracle, saving the wedding of the loving couple from possible embarrassment.

This is why we pray through Mary (not praying to Mary or worshipping Mary), as Mary is the very Mother of our God, Theotokos, who brought our Lord Jesus into this world. Who is best to champion our cause and pleas other than Mary herself, who pleaded for the couple before Jesus, her Son? And Jesus loves His mother dearly and listens to her, as long as it is within the Lord’s will, if we pray through Mary, we will be heard. Nevertheless, prayers should be more than just asking petitions, and rather should be a true conversation with God, with His mother, and with all the holy peoples of God we choose to speak to in our prayers.

Then, to some, it seems that Christ was extremely rude in calling His mother, “Woman” in His response on Mary’s request. “Woman” may seem to us to be very rude, but in fact, it is an honour that was ascribed by Christ to His mother. In the first chapters of Genesis, we noted that in the account of Creation and the first people, Adam and Eve, the serpent-devil successfully tempted them to eat the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge. God punished them, but not before proclaiming before Satan, that He will put enmity between him and the woman, and his offspring and her offspring. And that the woman shall crush the serpent under her feet. This woman, in times immemorial and uncountable after the fall of mankind, is Mary. Mary, through her ultimate obedience in God, becomes the one who bore Christ into this world, the new Adam, and also the Saviour, whose enmity as the child of the woman, with the Satan and his offsprings, Sin, finally freed us from the eternal slavery of sin, through Christ’s sacrifice on the Calvary. It is through this Ultimate Sacrifice that Mary, as the woman, crushed the powers of evil forever. This is why, as Catholics, and indeed, as all Christians should do, we should properly venerate Mary, the Mother of God, the faithful one, and the one who Christ listens to, and most importantly, the one allowing our Salvation to happen by her obedience to the will of God.

Let us therefore renew our commitment for this coming weeks and months, to strengthen our faith in God, and to renew our dedication to Him, God who loves us despite our wrongdoings and waywardness. Let us ask God’s forgiveness and let Him embrace us with His love, a love that we ought to share with our fellow men. Let us also aspire to be more like Mary, the mother of our Lord, whose life and actions in her love and obedience to God should be our compass to guide us in our daily lives, so that we will not be lost amongst the waves of sin and materialism, but to always remain in focus on God, that through Mary, we can have a direct way to the Lord. Bring forth the Holy Spirit and use His gifts to us to bring the Good News to all, through our actions inspired by His gifts and presence in our hearts, that indeed the Holy Spirit will come upon our world and renews all the earth. Amen.

(Continue praying for the victims of flooding in Jakarta, which is still ongoing, and also those who suffer from natural disasters across the world. Also to those who suffer persecution and injustice, especially because of their faith. Let us pray through Mary, that she will bring our petitions for the sake of those who are suffering before her Son, who will surely listen, and bring God’s justice to their oppressors.)