Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating the moment when Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world. And if we noticed the date and timing, we will realise how it is exactly nine months today, after the eighth day of the month December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If on the day of the Immaculate Conception we rejoice in the moment the Mother of God herself was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, then nine months after that, today, we celebrate her birth into this world, the moment of joy when both her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne welcomed her into the world although at that time no one would have ever known that this little baby, soon to be a young woman and lady, would be the one to bear the Saviour of the world.

In today’s Scripture readings, we heard of the humanity of Christ that came forth from His descent, through His legal foster-father, St. Joseph, who was the rightful heir of David, the great King of Israel, and He was also descended from king David through His mother Mary, through another lineage also highlighted in the Scripture and according to the sacred traditions of the Church.

We heard through the long lineage how the Lord eventually descended through the kings of Judah and Israel, to king David and through him, from Abraham, the father of many nations, and ultimately from Adam, the very first one of all man. Through this very significant link, we can see that in Christ lays the ultimate culmination of the Lord’s salvation of His people, in Christ as the New Adam, a comparison that was made by St. Paul, the One Who liberated us all from death just as the first, old Adam brought us into death through sin.

Then how does Mary fit in all these, brothers and sisters in Christ? Just as Adam was the first man, and Eve was created by God from the flesh of Adam, then we can surely see the interesting parallel that exists between Adam and Eve, and Christ and His mother, Mary. Yes, exactly, Mary is the new Eve, the new Woman that the Lord Himself had proclaimed at the beginning as the one through whom the final victory of man over Satan and his forces would come from.

When Eve fell to the temptations of Satan and fell into sin, it was Mary’s faith and obedience to God that marked a new beginning for all of us. And while Adam and Eve fell into sin, embracing the temptations of Satan who persuaded them with knowledge and power, to fill themselves up with greatness and in Satan’s own words ‘to be like God’, the new Adam, Christ Himself, although fully Divine, chose to empty Himself from His divinity, and in humble and perfect obedience, destroyed the sins caused by the disobedience of man.

Through Mary and her obedience, her faith and commitment, the love she has for her Son, showed by her dedication through her whole life since birth and through the lifetime and ministry of her Son, she has showed us what it means for us to follow God and to be faithful to Him, and that is why, rightfully, the devil himself fears Mary very, very much, the most of all the children of Adam and Eve, as it was her devotion to God, her perfect love and faith, modelled after her Son, that brought him to his ultimate and complete defeat.

Unlike Eve, Mary was not and could not be tempted by Satan, just as he failed to tempt the Lord Himself. That is why, rightfully, he feared Mary, just almost as much as he had to yield to her Son, his rightful Lord and Master, whom he had rebelled against, lost, and cast out, to face eternity of defeat and destruction, while all of us, who share in the glory of Christ, will be brought out of the clutches of Satan, and with Mary guiding the way for us to her Son, our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in celebration of the birthday of the Mother of Our Lord, let us all therefore look upon the examples of her faith and dedication, her trust in God and how she humbly allowed God to lead her in all things. And indeed, it is by following her examples and being inspired by her faith that we can be closest to God, for ‘through Mary, to Jesus’ should be our rallying cry, in the constant struggle against sin.

Let us all not lose faith and remain strong in our commitment to the Lord, and let us all have faith, that in the end, we will win the struggle over our souls, and by siding with God, with the help of His beloved Mother, Mary, who is also our mother, we will find the surest and best way to reach the salvation in God’s everlasting grace and love.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, whose birth we celebrate and rejoice today, pray for all of us, your adopted children and sinners, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and love for your Son, by imitating and following your own examples, humility, obedience and faith, in all times and at all moments of our lives. May the Lord be with us always, and may He always bless all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-16, 18-23

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-23

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 12 : 6ab, 6c

But I put my trust in Your unfailing love, my heart will rejoice on seeing Your salvation.

I will sing to YHVH, for He has been good to me!

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Micah 5 : 1-4a

But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah; from you shall I raise the One Who is to rule over Israel. For He comes forth from of old, from the ancient times.

YHVH, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she, who is to give birth, has given birth. Then the rest of His deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand, and shepherd His flock with the strength of YHVH, in the glorious Name of YHVH, His God.

They will live safely, while He wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace.

Alternative reading

Romans 8 : 28-30

We know that in everything, God works for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called, according to His plan. Those whom He knew beforehand, He has also predestined, to be like His Son, similar to Him, so, that, He may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And so, those whom God predestined, He called, and those whom He called, He makes righteous, and to those whom He makes righteous, He will give His glory.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are called to reflect on the importance of trusting and putting our faith in the providence of God, and all of us are encouraged to discern more deeply about how we can be better disciples and followers of the Lord in our daily living. We are called to discern carefully what it truly means for us to be a disciple of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

To be a disciple of Christ, which means as Christians, all of us must be willing and committed to accept the cross of Christ as He Himself mentioned to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, that those who follow Him must carry their crosses in life. This cross that they carry is the cross of suffering united to the cross of Christ’s suffering, on which He has borne all of our punishments for our sins and died for our sake.

Through all of these that God had spoken to us through His words in the Sacred Scripture today, God wants each and every one of us to know that following Him is not going to be something that can easily be done or something that will be all pleasant and good. In fact, the reality is such that to be a follower of Christ will often mean that we will endure the same kind of rejection and suffering that the Lord Himself has suffered.

And that is why He put it plainly before all of us without sugarcoating any of the details. He put it clearly and plainly that being His disciples will often lead us to be in difficulty, in moments of trials and challenges, in rejection and persecution, all of which will lead us to doubt, or question or even wanting to give up our faith entirely. But we must not give in to those temptations and pressures, and instead we must learn to put our trust in God.

In our second reading today, in the letter which St. Paul had written to Philemon, this servant of God addressed himself as a prisoner of Christ, which highlighted the plight and suffering that he was then going through as someone being persecuted for his faith and dedication to the Lord. St. Paul has endured a lot of trials and challenges throughout his ministry as an Apostle during his evangelising missions.

He has been rejected by many people just as there were many others who accepted him and listened to him and his message of God’s truth. He has been cast out of towns and cities, ridiculed and almost stoned to death, persecuted and almost killed by his enemies and those who despised the Lord and the Christian faith. He has been betrayed and made to suffer pains in the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions, and yet, he remained true to his faith.

And why is that so? That is because St. Paul united his sufferings and trials to the very sufferings of Christ. He did not carry his cross all alone by himself, or just by carrying them with some others. In fact, as I have mentioned earlier, he carried his cross in union with Christ Himself, knowing that for everything he had suffered, the Lord has suffered infinitely a lot more, having had to endure the punishments for all of our sins.

There were also many other saints and holy servants of God who have suffered in the same manner as St. Paul or even more. Throughout the history of the Church there had been countless men and women who endured willingly those many pains and sufferings in the defence and witnessing of their Christian faith. They committed themselves to God, again knowing that they carried out their crosses in their respective lives and circumstances being united with Christ’s own sufferings.

There must have been a lot of questions that would have arisen amidst all those sufferings. Just as is in our human nature, it is bound for us to doubt, or to question or to wonder why is it that we have to suffer in this world, especially as those who believe in God and considered as God’s own beloved ones. It is common for us to hear questions such as ‘Why is there suffering if God is so good and loving?’ or ‘Why does God let His people suffer if He loves us all so much?’

This is where then we need to understand first and foremost why we have to suffer and carry our crosses in life as we follow the Lord in His path. Our sufferings come about because of the abuse of human freedom and our own stubbornness in refusing to listen to and to accept God’s truth. All of us are all beloved by God, every single one of us without any exception. Thus, by that nature, all of us ought to enjoy God’s full grace and love for eternity as He has intended.

Unfortunately, because we refuse to obey Him and chose freely to embrace the tempting fruits of sin and wickedness that Satan has presented to us, that we become corrupted and attached to those sins and temptations. And therefore suffering comes because we willingly chose to abandon God’s fullness of grace, love and providence, and preferred to walk down our own path to ruination. We chose the path of sin and disobedience and in doing so, we become reluctant to follow the Lord.

That is also why those who remained in sin and refused to believe in the Lord ended up persecuting their brethren who chose to believe in God. They refused to listen to the truth often because the truth pointed out to the defects and what are lacking in their hearts. Their pride and ego, their greed and desire for acknowledgment and superiority and unwillingness to let go of those negative things led them to persecute those who believe in the truth, that is us as Christians.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where then each and every one of us must truly contemplate what we should be doing with our lives from now on. Again in our Gospel reading passage today, God spoke to the people with regards to a parable He chose to portray and deliver His message to them. He spoke of a person building a house who ought to be thinking of what would be needed in order to build the house and complete it thoroughly or else, the house cannot be completed and the builder would be shamed.

Similarly then, the Lord spoke using the example of a king who was about to go into war with another king, who ought to discern and examine carefully the prospects of victory before engaging each other in battle. Essentially, using these two examples, the Lord wants us to discern carefully on our own respective lives as well, given that He has presented to us the truth of everything, and how each and every one of us have been given the free will to choose between following Him or to follow the path of the devil and the world.

Following God, as I have mentioned earlier, will often mean for us to suffer and to have to endure difficulties and challenges for His sake. Of course the extent of sufferings, trials and challenges will be different for each and every one of us, and no two same people will encounter the exact same conditions and sufferings as each other. Nonetheless, it is a fact and reality that the path that we have to take as faithful Christians will be an uphill one.

On the other hand, it is often so much easier for us to take the other path, that is the path of disobedience and sin, the path which Satan and his fallen angels, our tempters have presented to us all the time. This path is likely to be much more appealing and enticing to us than the path that God has shown us. Yet, the Lord also made it very clear and had revealed to us, that those who choose the path of sin and willingly and constantly going down that path has nowhere else to go but the damnation in hell, while those who persevered in the path of faith will receive the eternal and true glory of God.

Now, all of us have been given the wisdom and the ability to discern carefully what our course of action in life should be, that we have known what the two possible ultimate outcomes are. But a lot of times, we end up being distracted and fall into indecisiveness because we tend to worry, be concerned about ourselves and our worldly well-being, about being accepted by others and by the community.

This is where our first reading passage today from the Book of Wisdom should enlighten us and help us in our decision, as it was mentioned there that ‘our human reasoning is timid and our notions are misleading’ and how our ‘physical body weighs down on the active mind’. All of them reminds us of our own mortality and our own vulnerability to the temptations of the body and the flesh, the weakness of our body that become obstacles in our journey of faith.

That is why, because of our own weaknesses and inability to understand many things around us that we have to learn to put our trust in God and to focus our whole attention and our whole being on Him. The more we try to comprehend things or make decisions by considering all the concerns and thoughts we have, the more we will be confused and easily be trapped by the devil and his snares.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all pray and spend more time building a healthy and good relationship with God from now on, and trust in Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, knowing that He has provided us with everything that we need, and despite the sufferings, trials and challenges we may encounter in life, let us remember that He Himself has endured those same sufferings and worse, all for the love He has for each and every one of us.

Let us all therefore spend this time and moment to grow ever stronger in our faith, and to walk ever more faithfully in the path towards God. Let us be ever closer to God with each and every passing moment. May the Lord continue to guide us and journey with us, as we strive to carry up our crosses with Him, entrusting ourselves completely in His hands. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 25-33

At that time, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, “If you come to Me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not follow Me, carrying his own cross, cannot be My disciple.”

“Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you : ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

“And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become My disciple, if he does not give up everything he has.”

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philemon 9b-10, 12-17

The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 89 : 3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, a dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o YHVH? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. May the sweetness of YHVH be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Wisdom 9 : 13-18

Indeed, who can know the intentions of God? Who can discern the plan of the Lord? For human reasoning is timid, our notions misleading; a perishable body is a burden for the soul and our tent of clay weighs down the active mind.

We are barely able to know about the things of earth and it is a struggle to understand what is close to us; who then may hope to understand heavenly things? Who has ever known Your will unless You first gave Him Wisdom and sent down Your Holy Spirit to him? In this way You directed the human race on the right path; they learnt what pleases You and were saved by Wisdom.

Saturday, 8 September 2018 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together with the whole Universal Church the occasion when Mary, the Most Blessed Mother of Our God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world, after she was conceived in her mother’s womb and grew there for the nine months of pregnancy. She was born from her mother, St. Anne, pure without sin, just as she was prepared by God specially since the moment of her Conception.

In today’s readings we heard about the fulfilment of God’s long prepared plan to save His people, by the sending of the Messiah, through Whom He would gather all of His people and reconcile them to Himself, saving them from their predicament and fated destruction because of their disobedience and thus, their sins. And God would make this salvation a reality, through none other than the cooperation of Mary, a human being whom God had especially chosen and blessed, to be the Mother of Our God and Saviour.

In today’s Gospel passage, we heard the long citation of the genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, beginning from Abraham, the father of many nations and the ancestor of the Israelites, who himself was the descendant of Adam and Eve, our first ancestors. Through Abraham was born Isaac and then from Isaac, Jacob, and later on through the generations, king David and his successors, to whom God has promised that his descendants will rule forever and his kingdom will never end.

And in the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have seen the perfect fulfilment of God’s promise to us mankind, first of all, to Adam and Eve, that the reckoning would come for the deceit of Satan who tricked them to sin, and to Abraham, as through the Lord Jesus Christ, all of mankind have been gathered together as one people, all who looked up to Abraham as their father in faith, to king David as mentioned, for Christ is the one true Heir of David’s kingdom.

All of these came about because of the plan and works which God had carried out to its perfect completion, by the cooperation, faith and commitment which one woman, Mary, showed before all of us, by her obedience to God’s will, and by her willing collaboration throughout her life that God’s saving works are carried out to its perfect completion through Christ, her Son.

As mentioned, Mary was prepared and designed to be special, distinct from all other men and women, by the singular grace of God, that she alone of the children of man is preserved from the taints of original sin that has affected all other men and women. She was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, pure and immaculate, free from sin and perfect, blameless and worthy, in the Dogma that the Church upholds as the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Therefore, as we remember Mary’s birth into this world on this day, we should reflect on the coming of this beacon of hope into our world. When Mary came into the world, it was the first time since the beginning of time, that a man walked in this world, free and unbound by the chains of sin and death. For ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and sinned against Him, sin has ever since enthralled us all mankind.

But sin has no hold or sway over Mary, for she was without any sin, and remained free from sin throughout her life. Mary lived an exemplary life, filled with love and faith in God, as evident in how she loved her own Son, the Divine Word incarnate. Mary’s love for God was so perfect, as shown by the perfect, motherly love she has shown for her Son, and her obedience to the will of the Father, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in her, that Satan and his wicked forces have no hold whatsoever over her.

Rightfully, Satan was afraid of her, as she was the fulfilment of what God had Himself declared to him at the moment of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. God said that while Satan will strike at the children of mankind, but the Woman will crush him under her feet. This was a reference to what Mary, the Woman mentioned by God, would do to Satan, for through her role in the bringing of the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, into this world, she has crushed for eternity, Satan’s power and kingdom.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to reflect on our own role in the works of God’s salvation. We should look upon Mary as the perfect role model and example for our own faith and in how we should live out our own lives in accordance with God’s ways. Mary has loved the Lord with all of her heart, and devoted herself so completely to God, in a state of total surrender to the will of God. Many of us can follow her example in how we should be faithful to God.

Why is that so? That is because many of us are still burdened by the temptations of our pride, our greed and human desires, and by all the temptations and hurdles that kept us from truly being able to dedicate ourselves to God. And many of us grew distant from God, because we did not build up a good relationship with Him, as we are often too preoccupied in life, by our careers, studies, and all other things that made us to forget to spend quality time with God.

Let us therefore turn towards God, through Mary, His most blessed and beloved mother, who is our perfect role model as the ideal Christian, in following the Lord’s ways and in how she has walked faithfully and obeyed God all her life. Let us all also ask Mary to intercede for us, for being the Mother of God, she is the greatest of all saints and the one who is closest to her Son, at the very side of His throne, interceding for us sinners.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived and born without sin, pure and immaculate, pray for us all sinners, and bring us all closer to your Son, that we too one day, may be worthy as you are, to be with God, your most beloved Son, Our Lord and Saviour. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.