Sunday, 5 August 2018 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Exodus 16 : 2-4, 12-15

In the desert the whole community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of YHVH in Egypt when we sat down to caldrons of meat and ate all the bread we wanted, whereas you have brought us to this desert to let the whole assembly die of starvation!”

YHVH then said to Moses, “Now I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to gather what is needed for that day. In this way I will test them to see if they will follow My teaching or not.”

“I have heard the complaints of Israel. Speak to them and say : Between the two evenings you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have bread to your heart’s content; then you shall know that I am YHVH, your God!”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp. And in the morning, dew had fallen around the camp. When the dew lifted, there was on the surface of the desert a thin crust like hoarfrost. The people of Israel upon seeing it said to one another, “What is it?” for they did not know what it was. Moses told them, “It is the bread that YHVH has given you to eat.”

Sunday, 18 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Deuteronomy 8 : 2-3, 14b-16a

Remember how YHVH, your God, brought you through the desert for forty years. He humbled you, to test you and know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He made you experience want, He made you experience hunger, but He gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known, to show you that one does not live on bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the mouth of God.

Do not forget YHVH, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. It is He Who has led you across this great and terrible desert, full of fiery serpents and scorpions, an arid land where there is no water. But for you He made water gush forth from the hardest rock. And He fed you in the desert with manna which your fathers did not know.

Thursday, 15 June 2017 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, Corpus Christi (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Deuteronomy 8 : 2-3, 14b-16a

Remember how YHVH, your God, brought you through the desert for forty years. He humbled you, to test you and know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He made you experience want, He made you experience hunger, but He gave you manna to eat which neither you nor your fathers had known, to show you that one does not live on bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the mouth of God.

Do not forget YHVH, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. It is He Who has led you across this great and terrible desert, full of fiery serpents and scorpions, an arid land where there is no water. But for you He made water gush forth from the hardest rock. And He fed you in the desert with manna which your fathers did not know.

Monday, 3 August 2015 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

The Israelites wept and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance of their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?”

“And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying : ‘Give us meat that we may eat?’ I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

Sunday, 3 August 2014 : 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the story of the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus is the often repeated and heard story in our faith life. We always heard how Jesus out of His great pity and love for His people, fed them with bread and fish that He multiplied with His power. He did not want them to be hungry and physically affected after having followed Him for so long to listen to His words.

This story is something that we often know and remember, but we fail to realise the true significance and importance behind this story. This historical memorial of Jesus and His wonderful miracles often lull us on His greatness and wonders, but we fail to know that we are in truly the same position as those people that day who were seated on the open fields with Jesus, hungry and weak.

And Jesus took pity on us, because He loves us very dearly. It is not just to those whom Jesus had ministered to and performed miracles on, that He gave them His love, but even all of us this day also receive the fullness of His bountiful love and grace. And His disciples whom He asked to minister to the people, have their successors in our world today, and they are our priests and bishops who continue to minister to us in the Name of the Lord.

Today, in the second reading, in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, St. Paul spoke of how nothing can ever separate mankind from God and His love, and no power be it on earth, in heaven or hell is capable of such a feat. Yes, that is except God Himself. He loves us very much and very dearly, and yet we are the ones who continue to elude Him, and continue to reject and spurn His love, preferring the love of Satan and the things of this world to His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is merciful and loving, but He also hates sin and disobedience of sin to the very core. Sin has no place in His presence and sinners has no place either in His place. That is why, while He gives us many, many opportunities, again and again to repent and change our ways, there is a limit to what He can allow us. Eventually, if we continue to reject Him, and our time is due, we will be sundered forever from His mercy and love, and as a result, we will be condemned for eternity.

In the first reading today, from the prophet Isaiah, we heard how generous God is, and how we have no need to fear at all when we are dealing with God. He knows everything we need, and He will provide for us all of them. Yet, mankind had no faith in Him and did not trust in Him, and rather trusting in their own strength and intellect which failed them.

God knows our needs, and as those people lay hungry in the field, their biological needs dictates that they have the physical need to be satisfied, or otherwise, the spiritual needs will not be optimally addressed. Yes, I refer to how men and women, that is all of us, will find it hard to listen and adhere to the word of God if our stomachs are growling within us, and the pain of hunger gets the better part of our minds.

That is why Jesus fed the people with the bread, and through His own might He turned those bread into a feast for all the faithful. He fed them until satisfied with the physical bread, that they may witness and see for themselves, what He had fed them in the spiritual food of the Word of God. Jesus who is the Son of God is the Word of God made flesh, incarnate into a human being. Thus, every word that Jesus said is truly indeed the Word of God, which is our spiritual food. Remember what Jesus said when He rebuked Satan of asking Him to turn stones into bread.

In the same way, therefore, the Lord will provide for us, and in no better form than the perfect and the best of all foods. He gave nothing else other than His own Body and His own Blood. Yes, this is the Most Holy Eucharist, the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, which we receive every time we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.

Through this bread and through the wine we drink, we receive into ourselves not just physical food, but also spiritual food, for we take in the Lord Himself into us, the Word who had become flesh, and then offered that flesh to us, that we who partake them may become one with Him and be saved. The Lord shows us His love by the giving of Himself, which He made concrete through His sacrifice on the cross, out of love for all of us sinners and desiring nothing else than our redemption.

Let us all today use this opportunity to ponder and realise how great is the love that God has for us, and how many opportunities we have been given, that we may appreciate how fortunate we are of having such a loving God to care for us. We should not think of the feeding of the five thousand multitudes as something separate from us, but instead, find in it the love which God shows to men, and therefore come to a greater realisation of our part in God’s plan for salvation.

We all should revere our Lord more in the Eucharist, and come to the point where we come to the Holy Mass, fully prepared and expecting to receive the Lord with fully prepared body, mind, heart and soul. Let us follow the example of those five thousand men and many other women and children with them, who came all the way just to follow Jesus and listen to Him intently. We too should also make the same effort to be closer to our God and follow Him.

May we all come ever closer to God through His most Precious Body and Blood, which we receive in the Holy Eucharist, that He may dwell in us, and we dwell in Him. May Almighty God guide us on this journey of life, providing us as always with His grace and love along the way. And may we persevere in our own journey as well, helping each other to reach our ultimate goal in life, that is God. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014 : Tuesday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 6 : 34-44

As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began a long teaching session with them.

It was now getting late, so His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a lonely place and it is now late. You should send the people away, and let them go to the farms and villages around here, to buy themselves something to eat.”

Jesus replied, “You yourselves give them something to eat.” They answered, “If we are to feed them, we need two hundred silver coins to go and buy enough bread.” But Jesus said, “You have some loaves; how many? Go and see.” The disciples found out and said, “There are five loaves and two fish.”

Then He told them to have the people sit down together in groups on the green grass. This they did in groups of hundreds and fifties. And Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and, raising His eyes to heaven, He pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to His disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them.

They all ate and everyone had enough. The disciples gathered up what was left, and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces of bread and fish. Five thousand men had eaten there.

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we hear today of the Lord’s great kindness and compassion to us, His great love to us, that He provides for us daily what we need in our lives. He is our Father, who created us from dust and gave life to us. Yet, He did not just stop there and leave us to our own devices. He continues to care for us, nurture us as we grow, giving us His love that pours out from His heart.

He shows us compassion whenever we are hungry, whenever we are without love, whenever we are oppressed unjustly, and whenever we are under great distress. He is a loving Father who always makes Himself available to all of us. Never will He leave us without help. In His own mysterious ways, He sends us many help along the way in our lives, whether we realise it or not.

He gives us food, the physical food and nutrition we need for our survival, the sustenance of our physical bodies, the same way Christ had fed the five thousand men, and many more women and children. We receive these food through our parents, our families, our friends, and even those whom we buy the food from. He truly works His grace for us through various ways. Have we realised this, and realised His great love for us?

However, He does not only provide us with physical food to sustain us, but also the spiritual food of His love, the spiritual food of His words, which He gave us through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. He poured His love into our hearts, that we may not only be physically satisfied, but also spiritually satisfied and whole. That is why we must take good care of our spiritual health. Remember always the rebuke Christ made to Satan when He was first tempted in the desert, that men does not live on bread alone, but from every Word that came from the Lord, that is our spiritual sustenance.

The Lord does not forget us when we are in trouble, nor will He turn us away when we come to Him to seek His help. He sent Moses to deliver His beloved people, Israel, from slavery and suffering in Egypt, delivering through Moses His wrath to Israel’s slave masters, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He delivered them through the Red Sea and gave them even food from heaven, the divine manna. Who else may claim that their God feed them with food that came from His own table in heaven?

He also delivered the people of Israel from the threat of utter destruction, by sending an unlikely deliverer, in Judith the widow, who courageously went through the enemy’s camp and slaying the enemy commander with God’s power and grace. He gave power to the weak to bring down the proud and the powerful, and giving freedom to His people living in fear and oppression under tyranny of evil. He does not forget His people, but instead walks among them and support them all the time of their lives.

And most important of all, there is no great gift and providence our Lord had given all of us, without exception, than the gift of Himself, through Jesus Christ His Son, the Word of God made flesh, who descended into the world to become our Saviour, our great Redeemer. Just as the people of Israel was under the tyranny of the Pharaohs, and later under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who sent his general Holofernes to destroy them, so did all of us fall under the tyranny of evil, of sin, and of Satan, our jailor.

He sent us Jesus to be our Saviour, to be the One who broke forever the chains of sin that kept us bound to death that was our fate. It is not that we will not die, but we will no longer suffer eternal death, that is eternal separation from God who is life, if we put our trust in Jesus our Lord and accept Him as our Saviour.

He offered His salvation to all by the outpouring of His love to all of us, the ultimate nourishment for us and our souls, that He gave us through His disciples, the Most Precious Body and Blood of His own Body, in what we now know as the Most Holy Eucharist, that we regularly receive at the Holy Mass in the Holy Communion. Now truly, we should all be able to see and realise how great the love that God has for all of us, His children!

Today, brothers and sisters, we also commemorate the memorial of the dedication of Basilica of St. Mary Major or Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. This basilica is one of the four Papal Basilicas, and one of the most important sites of Christendom. This basilica was dedicated to the Mother of our Lord, our Blessed Virgin Mary herself, who is also the protector of the city of Rome. Our current Pope Francis went to visit the Basilica to ask for the Lady’s protection and intercession for his Pontificate on the day after his election as our Pope.

You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all blessed that the Lord Himself cared so much about all of us sinners in this world, that He sent to us not only His Son, Jesus to be our Saviour, but also even earlier on, His mother Mary, to be our greatest intercessor before her Son, to be our greatest defender and help, when we are in the darkest depth of sin and evil. That is because the best way to the Lord is indeed by Christ, through Mary His mother. Mary is an example to all of us through her numerous deeds and righteousness, and her dedication to her Son, our Lord Jesus and the love she has for all mankind.

Remember that Christ had entrusted His mother to John, His beloved disciple and vice versa. In this way, Christ did not just give Mary to John, nor did He just give John to Mary to care for one another, because in fact, Christ, through John, gave His own mother to all of us, all mankind, without exception! Mary is our great intercessor, as she pleads for our sake, for our case, before her Son in heaven.

Remember again what happened in Cana, in the wedding, when Christ politely rejected the request to perform His first miracle to help the wedding couple in trouble because they ran out of wine. Yet, at the urging and persistence of Mary, in her own words, asking the servants to follow whatever the Lord said, He eventually helped and performed His first miracle, to the relief of the couple.

Yes, the same can also happen to us, brothers and sisters, as the Lord Himself had said, that if we want something, we should ask for it, and we should knock the door, if we want the door to be opened for us. He is generous for mercy, forgiveness, and love, but only if we ask Him, and persistently ask Him. He will give us all that we need, and provide us with everything we need, be it food, physical or spiritual, and other things that we require. Where does our mother, Mary come in this? She is, as I had mentioned, our greatest intercessor, the greatest of all saints, and the one nearest to the throne of mercy, to the throne of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through the intercession of Mary, we can be closer to God, and through her, many souls can be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. That is why, brothers and sisters, it is important for us to promote the devotion to the Blessed Virgin, our mother and the mother of our God. Ask her for help and for her intercession for our sake before her Son, and our prayers will be heard.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, and henceforth, let us remember always the kindness and love God had showered us with, all the blessings He had given all of us. Let us always thank Him for the daily bread and blessings He had given us, remembering His love, and His dedication for us, that He even gave Himself to us, that we may live and have eternal life with Him in the glory and bliss of heaven. God bless us all. Amen.

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

“Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?

And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying : ‘Give us meat that we may eat?’ I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

 

Alternative Reading (From the Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major)

 

Revelations 21 : 1-5a

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. A loud voice came from the throne, “Here is the dwelling of God among mortals : He will pitch His tent among them and they will be His people; He will be God-with-them.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away.” The One seated on the throne said, “See, I make all things new.”

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest (Psalm)

Psalm 77 : 18-19, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28

They tested God, demanding the food they craved. They blasphemed against God, saying : “Can God spread a table in the desert?”

Yet He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven; He rained down manna upon them and fed them with the heavenly grain.

They ate and had more than their fill of the bread of angels. Then from heaven He stirred the east wind, and by His power let loose the south wind.

To rain down meat on them like dust. Birds as thick as the sand on the seashore fell inside their camp, lying all around their tents.