Friday, 8 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church, celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. This occasion commemorates the moment when Mary was conceived without any trace of original sin of man, and hence the Immaculate Conception, which is a dogma of the Church proclaimed by His Holiness Blessed Pope Pius IX a century and half ago.

The Church through its sacred tradition and teachings show that God has given a special privilege to Mary, in that she had been set aside from the rest of mankind, descendants of Adam and Eve. Unlike all men and women since the time of Adam and Eve, Mary was conceived free from the taint of original sin, the mark of disobedience which all mankind have received, from the time when our first forefathers disobeyed God and sinned.

In our first reading today, that was why we heard about the time when Adam and Eve sinned, because they disobeyed God and chose rather to follow the lies and sweet words of Satan, who persuaded them to eat from the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that they might become like God. Instead, they received rebuke and condemnation from God, and the truth about the lies of Satan was exposed. Ever since then, mankind had been tainted by the sin of their disobedience, and had to wander and suffer on earth.

That is also why, because of our sins, all of us mankind also faces death at the end of our earthly lives. All of us are to experience death as the just consequence for our sins, because sin has corrupted us, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls, our whole and entire being, and as such, we are not worthy to be with God, as He Who is perfectly good, cannot tolerate sin to be in His presence. But this does not mean that God does not love us, or that He has abandoned or rejected us. Instead, God still loves us as He has always had.

Otherwise, God could have just destroyed us with the mere thoughts of His mind. He did not do so. He allowed us to endure the suffering for our sins and disobedience, but at the same time, He has also prepared the ultimate salvation for all of us, His beloved people, right from the time that we first fell into sin. In our first reading from the Book of Genesis today, God Himself prophesied that while there would be conflict between the descendants of man with the forces of Satan, but God will triumph in the end.

God promised that His salvation will come, and indeed as He mentioned, the Woman will crush the serpent under her feet, a prophecy about the time of salvation to come for mankind. And through the prophet Isaiah, again God made His intention clear, promising the salvation of the world, the Saviour, born of a Virgin, which surely we all know, have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, born of His mother, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary.

In the Gospel today, the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary in Nazareth, bearing the Good News of God’s salvation, which He would fulfil through her. He revealed to her through the Archangel, of the plan of salvation He Himself has long put in place, that the Son of God, the Divine Word of God Himself would come into the world, taking up upon Himself the human flesh, and born of a Woman, Mary herself, which became a reality through her humble obedience to the will of God.

And now, let us link all these back to the reason for our celebration today, that is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why is it that Mary is so special? That is because God has prepared her to be part of His plan for the salvation of His people, as she was to be the one who would bear the Messiah, Lord and Saviour of the world inside her, as the Archangel Gabriel mentioned, ‘the Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and the Son born of you will be called the Son of God.’

For this special role, God is certainly able to give an exception to Mary among all mankind, that for her alone, she was conceived, and born of her parents without the taints of the original sin of man. And this special grace is related to the role she played in our salvation, as the one who bore God within herself. In order to understand this better, we must know that Mary is the New Ark, bearing the New Covenant of God.

The old Ark of the Covenant was built by Moses from precious metals and materials, and adorned to be worthy of bearing the Law of God and His Covenant, and the Ark came to represent God’s presence among His people, so much so that it is hallowed and no one may touch it without dropping dead, as what happened in one occasion when a priest touched the Ark by accident, and he was struck down.

That is why the Ark had to be carried on two poles born by four people. And if this old Ark is made by the hands of man, carved and designed by man, and bearing within it, two slabs of stone upon which the Ten Commandments were written, and was considered so holy and precious, then all the more that the New Ark bearing the New Covenant must be hallowed, pure and holy.

Thus, God has prepared Mary, who is to be the mother of God, and made her holy and pure, clean from any taint of the original sins of man. And this New Ark is all the more precious, far surpassing the old Ark, because Mary, as all men and women are, she was crafted and designed by the Lord Our God. And she bore within her womb for nine months, none other than the Lord Himself, Master of all the universe, Who has willingly come down upon us in human flesh, Jesus Christ, Son of God.

That is why today the whole universal Church rejoice together celebrating this wonderful mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for through Mary, the final defeat of the devil and his forces have been made a reality, as the promises God has made about our salvation has been fulfilled in their entirety. And even more so, in Mary, the devil has encountered a great enemy, who is always thwarting his plans all the time.

That is because Mary is also the greatest of all the saints of God, and she is the one ever closest to her Son in heaven. She is, as the Queen Mother of heaven, a close advisor to her Son, and she is always active trying to help the people of God to return to Him. She appeared several times to us, in various places and ways, appealing to us mankind to repent from our sins.

Through her example of obedience and commitment to fulfil God’s will, walking faithfully in His ways throughout her whole life, Mary has become a great example for each and every one of us, on how we should behave and act in this life, in obedience to God. Ultimately, through our renewed obedience, and by believing in the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved and redeemed from our past sins.

Let us today therefore, by following the examples of Mary, mother of God, conceived without sin, dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord. Let us abandon our sinful ways and put our trust in God from now on, striving to live worthily in accordance with God’s words. May the Lord be with us all, and may our mother Mary intercede for us sinners, that we may find our way towards God and His salvation. May God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 8 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (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.

Friday, 8 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 3-6, 11-12

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us in His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

By a decree of Him, Who disposes all things, according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

Friday, 8 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3bc-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Friday, 8 December 2017 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great feast day of the Church, that is of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast of the Immaculate Conception refers to the moment not when Jesus our Lord was conceived in the womb of His mother, but instead, the moment when Mary herself was conceived without any taint of sin, or immaculate.

Yes, the meaning of the feast of the Immaculate Conception is that Mary, the mother of our Lord and God was specially prepared by God to be a special person, a special being and the special one amongst all of creations, to be free from any taints of sin, pure and free from the darkness of the original sins of men. And the purpose of this is so that as a pure being, she would be worthy to be the vessel to contain the Lord, the Ark of the New Covenant.

Mary was conceived without the taints of original sin, that as a pure vessel, blameless and immaculate, she is worthy to bear the Lord Who came into this world through her, and for nine months, she bore the Lord God of all the Universe inside her, within her womb. For God had been incarnate into flesh, and taking up the flesh of man, He had willingly come upon this world in order to save it.

And to be born into the world, He needs the intermediary of a mother, who is Mary, who bore Him until the time when He was born into the world. And this is why Mary is so special in our faith, not because she is great by her own power or majesty, but because it was through her, her purity and most importantly, her willingness to cooperate with the will of God and her obedience to Him that allowed the works of God’s salvation to be able to reach out to us mankind.

Indeed, Mary had been prepared well beforehand, as an exception, to be created pure and blameless without sin, but nevertheless, as all men are, all of us are still susceptible to sin, and it was the temptations of sin that had made so many people in the past and in the present to fall. But Mary led a worthy and devoted life, and in all of her dealings, in all of her actions, she kept herself immaculate and pure, devoted at all times and obeying the commandments of the Lord in her own life.

And when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her the part that she would play in the grand plan of God’s salvation of mankind, indeed a very pivotal and crucial role, she entrusted all of herself and all of her thoughts to God, despite the uncertainties, fears and all the doubts that were in her heart. She surrendered it all to God, by her very own words, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me as He has said.’

This is something that we really should take note of, so that today as as rejoice and celebrate together this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we too may imitate Mary, the mother of our Lord, in all of her actions, in how she lived her life, in complete devotion and commitment to God, and therefore, enable ourselves to examples for one another in leading a righteous life pleasing to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have to realise that just as Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, for she bore Christ who is the Master and Lord, Bringer of the new Covenant of God with men, all of us also have our own roles to play as each and every one of us are also bearers of God’s covenant within us. How is this so? Let us all remember that all of us have partaken worthily of God’s own Precious Body and Blood into ourselves.

And as we should heed the words of St. Paul to the faithful, where he spoke of our bodies as the Temples of the Holy Spirit, let us all realise that because God has willed Himself to dwell within us, inside us, each and every one of us, and by the power of His Body and His Blood, becoming united with all of us who share in the Most Holy Eucharist, we have this great grace given to us, and not just great grace, but also great responsibility that will come with it.

Yes, just as we have talked a great length about Mary’s being conceived without any taint of sin, pure and immaculate, and how it is necessary as she was tasked with the great honour of bearing our Lord Himself in flesh and blood inside her womb, as the bearer of the Lord, therefore, all of us, who have the Lord dwelling inside us through the Eucharist, should also keep ourselves pure, holy and immaculate.

Why is this necessary? That is because our Lord Who is all good, perfect and without blemish, should not be made to dwell in a place that is filthy, filled with wickedness and evil, as is when our bodies, our minds, hearts and souls are not filled with love and true faith in the Lord. And when we live a life of wickedness and disobedience against God, then we are inviting trouble for ourselves, as the Lord will not take it lightly against all those who profaned His holy Temple.

Therefore, let us all today make the effort to follow the examples of our blessed mother Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that by following her examples, in her piety and dedication to her Son, and in how she led a life in total commitment and obedience to the will of God, we too may make ourselves worthy to be the Temples of His holy Presence on earth, by abandoning all forms of sin and committing ourselves to do what the Lord wants us all to do.

Let us all renew our commitment to God on this day, and let us ask the intercession of Mary, His mother, so that through her prayers for our sake, sinners like us, God will move His hand to touch our hearts, so that we may be more courageous and dedicated in defending and standing up for our faith and committing ourselves to a life in dedication to Him at all times. May God bless us in all of our endeavours and may His blessed mother Mary pray for us always, especially at the hour of our demise. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

At that time, 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.