Friday, 10 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, also known as the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto, commemorating the popular pilgrimage site at Loreto in which exists the very house that the Lord Jesus Himself, His mother Mary, St. Joseph, the Holy Family lived in, at the small town of Nazareth in Galilee. On this day we recall the marvellous things that happened to that house and also the lives of those who were once the occupants of that holy House, as we approach the coming of Christmas.

The Holy House of Loreto as it is known today is a most peculiar anomaly and most inexplicable occurrence, as the Holy House, that once was in Galilee in the land of the ancient Israel, came to rest in Italy, in the city of Loreto. A great shrine and Basilica was built around the Holy House, welcoming many pilgrims every year who would like to see the very House in which the Holy Family had once lived in, the House where the Lord Himself grew up as a Child and learnt about many things from St. Joseph and Mary.

The Holy House of Loreto had been analysed and proven to be built with the same style and materials that are consistent with the house built during the time of the Lord Jesus in the region of Nazareth and had been dated from that same time period. Thus, to have such a house present so far away from its original location is nothing short of miraculous. The story goes that the Holy House had existed in Nazareth for long after the Lord’s time in this world, and this house was one of the first churches used by the Apostles themselves, traditionally to celebrate the first Mass after the Resurrection of the Lord by St. Peter himself.

Then, the tradition states that Angels carried the House itself miraculously from its original place to a site in what is today Croatia, to safeguard it from those who sought to destroy it and harm it and its pilgrims. Then, afterwards, it was moved again a few times for similar reason, before it finally rested on the final location where it had remained ever since, at the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto. At every time it was moved, it happened miraculously, and witnesses said that the House was transported by the Angels of God as mentioned.

What is the significance of this celebration today, brothers and sisters in Christ? The Holy House of Loreto itself symbolised the presence of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in our world, as the physical reminder for us of God’s love and presence in our world today, that He once walked in the flesh, in this world, and inhabited that very same house to which all those pilgrims now regularly flocked to, inspired by the story of its miraculous transmigrations, and by the popularity of the intercessions of Our Lady of Loreto, the Blessed Mother of God and Matron of the Holy Family, our mother.

As we are currently in the middle of this holy and blessed season of Advent, all of us are called to reflect on our lives and how we have responded to God’s love and presence in our lives. God has always been kind to us and He has always generously extended to us His loving forgiveness and compassion. Yet, many of us have forgotten His generosity and love, and failed to recognise His presence in our lives here in this world. We have spurned His love and dedication, and stubbornly continued to live in the state of sin.

Therefore, we are all invited to contemplate the importance and meaning of Christmas, what it means for us and how we are going to celebrate it properly and worthily. Are we going to celebrate it with a lot of pomp and merrymaking and yet lacking in its real essence that is Christ? Are we going to make our Christmas celebration one that is full of revelry and feasts and yet the One for Whom we are actually celebrating is sidelined and forgotten by all? These are the important questions that we have to ask ourselves as we prepare ourselves for the coming celebrations of Christmas.

If Christmas is nothing more than a time to be happy and jolly, without clear and proper understanding of its nature and significance as we should have, then we have had the wrong idea about it and failed to celebrate it meaningfully and worthily. Are we going to continue doing things in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all pray and discern, remembering the Lord our Saviour and His coming into the world, through the Holy Family that He had been born into, in His Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Loreto and St. Joseph, His foster father.

Let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, Mary, Our Lady of Loreto. Let us ask her to pray for all of us sinners, all who have caused her Son much sorrow and pain. May all of us draw ever closer to the Lord and receive from Him the assurance of eternal life, true joy and everlasting glory, through our repentance and by having our sins forgiven through Him. May God bless us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 10 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Matthew 11 : 16-19

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain : ‘We played the lute for you, but you would not dance. We sang a funeral song, but you would not cry!’”

“For John came fasting, and people said, ‘He is possessed by a demon!’ Then, the Son of Man came. He ate and drank; and people said, ‘Look at this Man : a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet, wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

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, 10 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the man who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the Law of YHVH and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like chaff driven away by the wind. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Friday, 10 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Isaiah 48 : 17-19

Thus says YHVH, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel : I, YHVH, your God, teach you what is best for you; I lead you in the way that you must go. Had you paid attention to My commandments, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Your descendants would have been like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, their names never cut off nor blotted out from My presence.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

“Devise a plan and it will be thwarted, make a resolve and it will not stand, for God-is-with-us.”