Sunday, 30 December 2018 : 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 Sunday we celebrate together the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Our Lord, with His blessed mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph. On this day we remember the special relationship that Our Lord and Saviour had with those who were closest to Him in His earthly existence, that is His mother who bore Him for nine months in her womb, and His foster-father who took care of Him as his own Son, despite not being his biological one.

First of all, we must understand that God Who is All-Powerful, Almighty and Infinite does not in fact need a family, for He exists before all ages and time, not created and has always been there, not bound by the natural laws and rules. To have a family is part of the natural law, and to have a parent and a child relationship, and for human beings, every family consists of the nucleus of a father and a mother, and having a child as a result of that blessed union of marriage.

Yet, God made Himself to be part of that Law, which He had given to us, being born into a family of man, the family consisting of Mary and St. Joseph, making Himself an integral part of the loving familial structure that we have just discussed earlier. That is because, He Who is God, the Son of God, did not just symbolically become Man, but taking up for Himself the full nature of Man, and thus conceived and being born in the flesh from His mother’s womb and having a family.

In the Holy Family, we see how God made Himself small and insignificant, in need of love as the Infant born and celebrated this Christmas season. He is the King of kings and Lord and Master of all the universe, and yet He chose to be a little and frail Infant in the manger, needing the protection and love from His mother Mary and from his foster-father St. Joseph. He therefore took up the full nature of man, our own nature, to show us what each and every one of us should become.

He grew up under the loving care and protection of His parents, and as the Scriptures mentioned, He listened to them and obeyed them. Through them He surely has learnt many important life skills and wisdom in life, and therefore, His humanity grew as we all had, and He became for us the model of the perfect Man, the New Adam through Whose obedience and love for God, His Father, became the source of our salvation.

Then with regards to the other members of the Holy Family, Mary shows us the role of a loving mother, who shows love, care and compassion for her Son, Who is of her own flesh and blood, having resided in her own womb for nine months. She was devoted to her Son, and took care of Him from His birth all the way throughout His life, and as we all know from the accounts of the Gospels, even to the final moments before His death on the cross.

Mary showed us the love of a mother, which she showed very generously to all especially her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. As a mother, she stood by her Son and caring for Him with love, and she also loved her husband, St. Joseph. And this same love, she has also shown to us all as well, by the virtue of us being the brothers and sisters in Christ, and in what the Lord had done, at the moment of His crucifixion, when He entrusted His mother Mary to St. John, His disciple, and vice versa.

Through that action, Mary became for us the motherly figure, our mother and loving woman who is always concerned about our own well-being. That is why, just recently she was recognised in her role as the Mother of the Church, and how she also appeared many times throughout history, in Guadalupe, in Lourdes, in Fatima and in other places, with the message and intention of calling us mankind, her children through Christ, to repent from our sins and to return to God’s grace.

Meanwhile, we must also not forget the important role that St. Joseph played in the Holy Family. As the father figure to the Lord Jesus, despite not being His biological father, but he took Him as his own legal Son, and treated Him as much as if He was his own Son. St. Joseph cared for the Lord Jesus and for Mary, as seen in his crucial presence when the time of census came, and both St. Joseph and Mary had to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in Judea.

Mary could not have made the journey on her own, and St. Joseph was therefore important in the role he played, in protecting and caring for the need of Mary and the Baby in her womb along the long and difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And even when they reached Bethlehem, their problems did not cease, as all the inns and lodgings were full, and St. Joseph must have had a very difficult time in trying to secure a place for his wife Mary to give birth, as the time for her to give birth was imminent.

For his strong sense of righteousness and commitment to God, St. Joseph was therefore known also as the Protector of the Church, as the one who stands by the Church and protecting it, just as he watched over the Holy Family, protecting the young Lord Jesus and Mary, during the times of difficulty and persecution, especially when they had to flee to Egypt to get away from the hands of king Herod, who wanted to kill Jesus.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am sure by now we have seen the great love that is present within the Holy Family, as each and every one of the members of the Holy Family truly have that love in them for one another. And this love is not the kind of love that we may be accustomed to, but pure, selfless and committed love that Jesus has for Mary His mother and St. Joseph, His foster-father, the love Mary had for her Son and for her husband, and the protective care and love St. Joseph had for Jesus and Mary.

And it is important that each and every one of us take the Holy Family as our example and inspiration. Each and every one of us are either a child, a son, a daughter, and can also be a father or a mother, or even grandfather, grandmother or a grandchild to our family members. And unless we follow the example of the Holy Family in their love for one another, that is when cracks and troubles can appear within our respective families.

The devil knows this very well, and this is where he is intensifying his efforts in trying to destroy the fabric and the foundation of our families. We must realise that Christian families are the very important basic units of our faith and the important part of God’s Church. In fact, each Christian families are smaller subset of the larger Church, and it is through a functioning and loving Church, that the faith is preserved well among us, God’s faithful people.

That is why the devil is busy at work trying to undermine the institution of Christian families and marriage, by making use of many temptations, pressing on us to succumb to the temptations of worldly pleasures, fornication, adultery and unfaithfulness in the family. He tempts us to be disobedient and to create problems within our families, which eventually can lead to the breakup of its integrity and structure. And once we are vulnerable, the devil and his forces will strike.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all appreciate what we have in our families, and reflect on our actions and deeds thus far as members of our respective families, be it as a father, or as a mother, as a child or grandparent or grandchild. Have we truly made our families to be like the Holy Family of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph? If we have not done so, that is probably why there were often problems within our families.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all imitate the examples of the Holy Family in our own families, by placing God first and foremost at the centre of our family lives, and spending time together in prayer, if possible every day. For a family that prays and works together, God will be in their midst and will become the anchor of the family. And that is also when, true love will bloom within the family, and when the true, selfless and unconditional love between the members of the family will flourish, and not the selfishness often found in our world today.

Let us pray, that our Christian families will remain strong and faithful amidst the challenges and difficulties we may encounter in life. May all of us continue to model ourselves on the Holy Family, and imitate the great love present in the Holy Family, in our own families. May God bless us all and our families, and keep us all in His loving grace. Amen.

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-52

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. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favour.

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-2, 21-24

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when He appears in His glory, we know, that we shall be like Him, for, then, we shall see Him as He is.

When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God. Then, whatever we ask, we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is, that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that, we love one another, as He has commanded us.

Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us, that we know He lives in us.

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 83 : 2-3, 5-6, 9-10

How lovely are Your rooms, o YHVH of hosts! My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

O YHVH of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, o God of Jacob! Look upon our shield, o God; look upon the face of Your Anointed!

Sunday, 30 December 2018 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 1 : 20-22, 24-28

And Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said : “I have asked YHVH to give him to me.” Once more Elkanah went to the Temple with his family to offer his yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow to YHVH. Hannah would not go along but she said to her husband, “I will bring the child there as soon as he is weaned. He shall be presented to YHVH and stay there forever.”

When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three year old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to YHVH’s house of Shiloh. The child was still young.

After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli. Hannah exclaimed : “Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to YHVH. I asked for this child and YHVH granted me the favour I begged of Him. I think YHVH is now asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to YHVH.”

And they worshipped YHVH there.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. They are St. Joachim and St. Anne, according to the tradition of our faith. On this day we focus on the great faith which both of these faithful servants of God had, in the upbringing of the Blessed Mother of God from her infancy and through to her adulthood.

Although the life of St. Joachim and St. Anne was not recorded in the Scriptures, but through sacred tradition and history of the Church, and through our own observation of the nature and characteristics of Mary, as a faithful and obedient servant of God, who was an exemplary role model for all of us, therefore, it is just right that her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne must have been made of the same qualities in life.

And this is contrasted to what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, beginning from the book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, where the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet, of a lamentation of their disobedience and bad treatment of the Lord, even after all that He had done for their sake, loving them and protecting them from harm and from their enemies.

They have turned away from the path which He had shown to them through His prophets and messengers. The people had built up idols and false gods as the ones to whom they worshipped, and they forgot about God and all the good things which they have received and been blessed with. They disobeyed His laws and commandments, and instead, they turned to sinful ways and performed what were wicked in His sight.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is linked to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord spoke to His disciples and followers about why He always taught them in parables. Through the parables, the Lord was in fact trying to explain to the people about the truth and the Good News in ways that were more easily understandable and relatable to them. However, whether they benefitted from those efforts depended on whether they were open in their hearts and minds to the word of God.

When the people of God hardened their hearts and minds against God, essentially what they were doing was that they refused to listen to the Lord, and rejected Him, as it was often that they failed to recognise God’s presence in their midst. They were often preoccupied heavily by worldly concerns and matters, to the point that they ended up focusing on the wrong things in life, including worldly glory, fame, recognition, wealth and pleasures of the body and the flesh.

All of those things are obstacles and hindrances that prevented us from finding our way to God and from recognising the Lord Who is in our midst and Who is always trying to reach out to us, speaking to us and calling us in the depths of our hearts. We have not responded favourably to the Lord Who has always showed His greatest efforts to be with us and to work with us, in every possible way and at every possible opportunities.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to continue to walk down this path of rebelliousness and disobedience? Are we going to continue to harden our hearts and resist our Lord’s efforts to help us? If we continue to follow down this path, then I fear that there is nothing else for us in the end, except for damnation and suffering, for when we reject God’s love and mercy, then we do not deserve His mercy and forgiveness.

Instead, let us all look upon the great faith and dedication that holy saints, St. Joachim and St. Anne have shown in their lives, which became great role model for their daughter, Mary, who herself is the great role model for all of us Christians. Let us all seek to resist the temptations of worldly glory, the corruptions of sin and the allure of Satan, and turn towards God with all of our hearts, minds, strength and might.

May the Lord be with us in our journey of life, so that we may turn towards Him with genuine love and sincere dedication, that inspired by St. Joachim and St. Anne, we may find our true direction and purpose in life, to be righteous in all things and to serve God to the best of our abilities. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 10-17

At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.”

“In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.”

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”