Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the important feast day of the Holy Family, which consists of firstly, the Lord Jesus Himself, together with His mother Mary, as well as His foster father, St. Joseph. All of them are role models for all of our families, and we ought to look up to them as our examples.

First of all, the Lord Jesus showed Himself as an example of an obedient son and child. Even though He is God, Lord and Master of all the universe, and by that fact, the Master of His own earthly parents, and yet, He obeyed them and listened to them. He followed them back to Nazareth when He went missing and was found in the Temple of Jerusalem at twelve years old.

He obeyed His mother and foster father, and grew up under their loving care. In turn, He also loved them deeply and cared for them, and while we did not have much information with regards to St. Joseph, who probably passed away before Jesus began His ministry, but it is likely that He learnt much about worldly matters and trades from St. Joseph, a hardworking and upright carpenter by trade.

Meanwhile, Mary is a loving mother and obedient wife, upright in all of her actions, and she cared a lot for her family members. She cared for her Son Jesus, and followed Him through life and through His ministry years, all the way to Calvary. She had to endure many things and sufferings, great sorrow and pain of seeing her own Son suffer and die before her very own eyes.

Nonetheless, Mary remained committed to her calling and vocation, and despite all the challenges she had to face, she entrusted herself completely to the Lord and obeyed His plans. She walked and persevered through the path which the Lord had pointed out to her. She faithfully followed that path, and she gave her all to her Son, Jesus.

And St. Joseph, as the nominal head of the family, was a good example and father figure, protecting and supporting the Holy Family members. Even though Jesus was not his biological son, but nonetheless he gave Him the loving care of a father, protecting Him and Mary since the moment of His birth, escorting them to Egypt when His enemies rose up against Him and wanted to kill Him, and then later on, guiding them back to Nazareth, where he gave Jesus the loving experience of having a good father.

Nazareth was a small and poor village, and St. Joseph was a carpenter. Even though the detailed explanations are not listed in the Gospels, but by understanding historical and societal considerations of that time, we can see just how challenging it was for St. Joseph and for the Holy Family. Carpenter was not a well paying job and a very hard work at that, and yet, St. Joseph did his best to provide for the Holy Family as the likely only breadwinner.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at the examples shown by the Holy Family, we must be wondering what is it that kept the Holy Family together, so wonderfully and so well. What is the secret behind the perfect harmony and love within that model Family? It is none other than because, they have God in their midst and placing Him at the centre of their family. For the Holy Family, this fact happened literally and figuratively.

What do I mean, brothers and sisters? First of all, God is literally at the centre of the Holy Family, because we believe that Jesus Christ, is the Son of God, just as He is also the Son of Mary. Jesus, having both the human nature from His mother Mary, as well as the divine nature of being the Divine Word of God incarnate into flesh, is the centre of the Holy Family, as God made Man.

Then, I mentioned God being the centre of the Holy Family in figurative terms, because, the Holy Family was built upon the foundation of God’s love. Yes, as mentioned, the members of the Holy Family loved one another tenderly, and they were all united in love. They obeyed God, and surely they must have worked together, sat together at the table and eat, did many things together, and prayed to God together.

Therefore, God was always at the heart and centre of their family, the Holy Family, and all of our Christian families should also do the same with our own family. Now, let us spend some time to reflect and think about how our families have functioned thus far, and whether we have followed in the footsteps of the Holy Family, or whether we have instead fallen into the temptations of this world, as what had happened to many families around the world.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, surely all of us can see how all around us, the institution of the family, and by that extension, the institution of the sacred marriage itself have been threatened from many sources. There are many more and more couples and families being torn apart due to divorces, infighting as well as insatiable personal desires and greed, many of which are caused by a singular, ultimate reason, and that is, the lack of real, genuine love.

There are many examples of marriages and families that were not built up upon the foundation of strong, genuine love. Marriage, family and everything have been bound up with the materialistic attitudes of this world, where more and more worldly pursuits, for money, for pleasures of the body and the flesh, for personal glorification and ambition are clouding our judgments and our ability to love. Worst of all, we treat each other as nothing more than commodities or opportunities.

And still, many of us have treated children as if they are burdens to us, unwanted and undesirable. It is this very attitude which have caused the destruction of many families and lives, including the frequent and rampant use of contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancies and birth, abortion that destroys human life and sin against God, and the reduction of human relationships into one focused on pleasure and bodily desires.

All of these are just some of the many reasons why our families and our sacred marriages are under great threat everywhere, and where many families have been broken, and many children have become the unintended victims of these wickedness that unfortunately have been performed by many of us, because of our inability to strive to make our families like that of the Holy Family, and instead, succumbing to sinful desires and temptations.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all look upon the examples set by the Holy Family, of Our Lord Jesus, Mary His mother and St. Joseph, His foster father. If we have not placed God in the centre of our family lives, then perhaps it is a good time for us to do so. For God is the sure and steady foundation of our family live, as God Himself is Love, and He has shown us true and genuine love, and if there is real and genuine love in our families, as well as in our marriages, then even though we may struggle in life and in our relationships, but eventually, we will be able to manage.

Let us all learn to love genuinely, especially within our families, and see children as gifts from God, the gift of life, through our own sacred act of procreation through marriage. God has given the child the same gift of life that He Himself has given to each one of us, to both the husband and the wife. And when we model ourselves upon the examples of the Holy Family, where the husband, the wife and the children support one another and are integral to each other, then surely our family too will become better.

May the Lord bless us all, and be with all of our families, so that we may strive to build true Christian families based on love, and not just any love, but real and genuine love inspired by the very selfless love that God Himself has given us, through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And let us also always keep in mind, the loving relationship and union which He has with His most blessed and loving mother Mary, and with His ever faithful and dedicated foster father, St. Joseph. May God be with our families and keep us all united in love, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law.

Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign, a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise.

And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

Alternative reading

Hebrews 11 : 8, 11-12, 17-19

It was by faith, that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going. By faith, Sarah, herself, received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that, He, Who had made the promise, would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man, were born descendants, as numerous as the stars of heaven, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

By faith, Abraham went to offer Isaac, when God tested him. And so, he, who had received the promise of God, offered his only son, although God had told him : Isaac’s descendants will bear your name. Abraham reasoned, that God is capable even of raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Alternative Psalm

Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name, make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments, you descendants of His servant, Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

Sunday, 31 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 3 : 2-6, 12-14)

For the Lord established that children should respect their father; He confirmed the right of the mother over her children. Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself.

Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother.

My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins.

Alternative reading

Genesis 15 : 1-6 and Genesis 21 : 1-3

After this the word of YHVH was spoken to Abram in a vision : “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your Shield; your reward will be very great!”

Abram said, “My Lord YHVH, where are Your promises? I am still childless and all I have will go to Eliezer of Damascus. You have given me no children, so a slave of mine will be my heir.”

Then the word of YHVH was spoken to him again, “Eliezer will not be your heir, but a child born of you (your own flesh and blood) will be your heir.” Then YHVH brought him outside and said to him, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that.

Abram believed YHVH Who, because of this, held him to be an upright man. YHVH was kind to Sarah as He had said, and fulfilled His promise to her. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time YHVH had promised. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son that Sarah bore him.

Thursday, 28 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 2 : 13-18

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old or under. This was done in line with what he had learnt from the wise men about the time when the star appeared.

In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled : A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation : Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.