Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as all of us gather together to glorify the Lord, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Patroness of the Carmelite religious order, recalling the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, to St. Simon Stock, one of the earliest members of the Carmelites. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock and showed him the brown scapular, two pieces of cloth with holy image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on one side, and on the other side the promise that all who wear the scapular with devotion will be saved from the eternal fire of hell.

This was the promise that Our Lady of Mount Carmel showed to St. Simon Stock, and became the foundation for the famous devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the brown scapular associated with her. Through His mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Lord wants each and every one of us to put our faith and trust in Him through her, and to put ourselves in her comforting embrace and care, as our blessed and loving mother, entrusted to us and given to us to be our guide and consolation.

That so many people came to follow in the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a sign of mankind’s great desire to be healed from their hurts, problems and troubles, that they came to seek the mother of our Lord, for her guidance, her prayer and intercession, for solace and consolation during times of trouble and difficulties, trials and hardships as we are surely aware of, especially during these recent days, weeks and months when we have encountered so many problems and troubles in life.

But at the same time, we must make sure that through our devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we are helped in our rejuvenation in faith, our reconciliation with God. We must not fall into blind devotion or merely hoping for miracles and for good things to happen to us because we demand it and want it. Instead, we must once again come back to the essence of this devotion, that is through the brown scapular, we are reminded of the holy life that each and every one of us are called to, and embrace it fully with our hearts.

Let us all remember that all of us are called to turn towards God in these most troublesome and darkest of moments. And we are called to turn to Him to look forward for a new hope that He is going to bring us, and His mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel is by our side, showing us the way to reach her Son. And we are all called to follow her examples, her dedication and virtues, her commitment and love for her Son that we too may grow in our faith in Him and in our love for Him.

Today, therefore, we have all been reminded that we must neither be afraid or be fearful, for God Himself together with His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and innumerable saints and Angels are standing by us, amidst the trials and challenges of life, and amidst all the fears, despairs and uncertainties of life. The Lord wants us to put our trust in Him rather than to put our trust in our own strength and in our own designs and powers. And all of us who trust in Him will soon learn that there is truly nothing that we need to fear of.

For in the end, if we are faithful, obedient to the will of God, and have committed our lives to Him, then as the promise of the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel had spoken to St. Simon Stock, that those who have devoutly wore the brown scapular would be safe from the eternal fires of hell. No matter how great the trials and difficulties we may currently be facing and suffering, but nothing can compare to the eternal suffering and punishment to be endured in hell. We must not lose hope in despair of the darkness, but instead be hopeful of the Lord and His light through His mother.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord, and by devoting ourselves to His blessed mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, let us all turn ourselves into a new, righteous and virtuous living, rejecting sin and the temptation to sin, persevering in faith and committing ourselves to a new life in God’s grace. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all discern carefully the path and direction we are going to take in life, that we will not end up in the eternal darkness, but in God’s eternal light and true joy.

May the Lord continue to guide and strengthen us, and may His loving mother Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our mother, continue to intercede and pray for us sinners, all still struggling in this world, that we may break free of the darkness by her Son’s grace and enter into the wonders of the kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.”

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 101 : 13-14ab and 15, 16-18, 19-21

But You, o YHVH, You sit forever; Your Name endures through all generations. Arise, have mercy on Zion. For Your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust.

O YHVH, the nations will revere Your Name, and the kings of the earth Your glory, when YHVH will rebuild Zion and appear in all His splendour. For He will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for future ages, “YHVH will be praised by a people He will form.” From His holy height in heaven, YHVH has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.

Thursday, 16 July 2020 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Isaiah 26 : 7-9, 12, 16-19

Let the righteous walk in righteousness. You make smooth the path of the just, and we only seek the way of Your laws, o YHVH. Your Name and Your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for You in the night; for You my spirit keeps vigil. When Your judgments come to earth, the world’s inhabitants learn to be upright.

YHVH, please give us peace; for all that we accomplish is Your work. For they sought You in distress, they cried out to You in the time of their punishment. As a woman in travail moans and writhes in pain, so are we now in Your presence. We conceived, we had labour pains, but we gave birth to the wind. We have not brought salvation to the land; the inhabitants of a new world have not been born.

Your dead will live! Their corpses will rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, remembering and honouring Mary, the great Mother of God who appeared to St. Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order, a Crusaders era religious order founded by pilgrims and missionaries in the Holy Land centred in the area known as Mount Carmel. It was told that Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock showing him the brown scapular.

And that was how the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is always identified with the brown scapular, which has been a popular sacramental in the Church. The devotion of the brown scapular has been popular for the past several hundred years in the promises of the Blessed Mother of God that all those who wear the brown scapular with faith will be saved by God, as the devotional wearing of the scapular indicated one’s consecration to Mary, God’s own beloved mother.

Today, all of us ought to reflect upon the great gift of this brown scapular and how we have been given a lot of means by which we can strive to reach out to God’s generous offer of mercy and salvation through Him. And the Carmelites always consider the Blessed Mother of God as the perfect model of their faith and life, because the Carmelites believe in the value of prayer and contemplation, which Mary embodies very well.

Through this devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, all of us are reminded that Mary has always led us towards her Son, and pointed to us the way to follow as we proceed on in this life. She has always patiently prayed for us and helped us along the way, seeking for us to be saved. For Mary is truly our mother, our loving spiritual mother who has been entrusted to us by Christ Himself, just as He entrusted us to her from the Cross.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own respective lives thus far in this world. How have we carried out our lives and actions all these while? How have we lived our commitment as Christians that are expected to do what the Lord had taught us to do and called us to do through His Church? If we have not been faithful as we should have all these while, then should we not make the effort to begin in this journey of faith from now on?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this world there are plenty of challenges and temptations that often become great obstacles in the way of our journey towards God. There are a lot of temptations, be it the temptations of money, of power, of worldly glory, of sexual pleasures and immorality, of many other allures and pleasures of the world that can cause us to deviate from the path leading towards God.

This is where we should spend some time to reorientate ourselves and rearrange the way we live our lives. And I recommend the faithful devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel if we have not done it yet, as something that can help us in this journey towards God’s grace and salvation. But at the same time we must also be careful, not to end up making empty devotions, such as when we do the prayers and devotions not for the right purpose and intention.

This is where we should look upon the example of Mary herself, the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose faith and devotion to her Son is truly inspiring and wonderful. She surrendered herself completely to the will of God and obeyed His commands completely, giving herself totally to the mission entrusted to her. And even until now, she is still doing what she has been doing, in helping all of us to reach out to her Son and be saved.

Mary has always directed us to her Son, Our Lord, and we should do well to follow her example and faith. We should renew our lives with faith and with the resolution and commitment to live our lives from now on with righteousness, turning away from sin and wickedness, and instead, doing only what pleases God. Let us all ask for the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that she will always intercede for our sake, we who are sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o YHVH. At a time most favourable to You, in Your great love, o God, answer me, with Your unfailing help.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Exodus 2 : 1-15a

Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child – a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought : “This is one of the Hebrew children.”

Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.”

So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water. After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people.

He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarrelling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.” When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the apparition of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, who appeared to St. Simon Stock, one of the member of the Carmelite order which at that time had a chapter at the Mount Carmel area of the Holy Land. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock in a vision, and told him to propagate the use of the now famous brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The brown scapular eventually become a regular part of the habit of the Carmelites themselves, and through that, the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel gradually spread throughout Christendom to this very day. The brown scapular is a sacramental, meaning that it is an object signifying sanctification and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her aspect as the Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelites were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, whom they held as the patron and protector of the Carmelite order itself, as she is the perfect role model for all of them in living their faith and in carrying out their Carmelite charism and commitment. She is a great model in prayer and piety, as a faithful servant of God and the one closest to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And therefore, she should be a great role model for each and every one of us Christians as well. She is the best and most faithful of all the children of God, devoting her whole life to His service and surrendering herself completely to the plan which He had entrusted and revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel, that is to be the Mother of the Messiah and God, Jesus Christ.

She placed herself in God’s hands, and even when she was unsure and afraid, she would trust it all in God. She gave her all to love her Son, Jesus, Our Lord, and brought Him up all the way from the time when He was conceived in her womb, through His birth and young age, and then throughout His adult ministry among the people, and finally, to the cross itself, at Calvary.

Having seen her own Son, her own flesh and blood suffering in such a terrible way because of our sins, which He willingly took up upon Himself, so that we would not have to suffer the punishment and suffering for our own sins, that is why she has appeared so many times before us, in various places, including to St. Simon Stock, by offering the sacramental devotion of the brown scapular, so that we may be saved through her.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is like our loving mother, and indeed, she is our mother. The Lord Himself has entrusted her to us as our mother, when He symbolically entrusted her to His disciple, St. John the Evangelist, and then, vice versa, by entrusting him to Mary, His mother, He has also entrusted all of us to the loving care of our mother, Mary.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have not lived our lives according to the way that the Lord has taught us and which He had commanded us to do. We have been swayed by the many temptations of pride, of worldly greed and desires, of the pleasures of the flesh, of accumulation of money and properties, all for our own selfish benefits and desires, often without consideration of our brethren’s well-being.

And God is not at the centre of our lives, as we sidelined Him during our continuous and unceasing efforts to gain for ourselves more and more of worldly properties, belongings and goods, fame and glory, and all things that we deem to be more precious than anything else. But ultimately, all these things are just illusory and temporary, and our unbridled desire for them led us into sin.

Mary, our loving mother does not want us to remain in this state of sin, and in this despicable state of life, and that is why, she has tried her best, and interceded for us before her Son at every possible opportunity. After all, which mother would want to see her son or daughter suffer and be lost to her? And because Mary is our mother, she cares for us and always thinks of us, just as she has done for her Son Jesus, Our Lord.

Let us today therefore reflect on the word of God in the Scriptures, that hopefully had stirred the faith within our hearts, that we will find the courage and resolution to be faithful to God and to turn towards Him with a repentant and loving heart, desiring to seek Him and to love Him from now on, with all of our hearts, every day of our lives. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock continue to intercede for us sinners, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for My sake, will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man.”

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and proclaim His message in their towns.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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.”