Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 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 the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto or Our Lady of Loreto. The history of this devotion to Mary, the Mother of God as Our Lady of Loreto had a long history and is tied to the miraculous preservation and appearance of the Holy House of Nazareth in that place, where now the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto now stands.

The tradition states that this very House enshrined at the centre of the Basilica is none other than the very house where the Lord and His Holy Family, St. Joseph, His foster-father and Mary, His mother had lived in, at the village of Nazareth. How is it then that this house ended up in Loreto in Italy? First of all, well-attested by Apostolic tradition is that this house was converted into a church by St. Peter and the other Apostles.

Hence, within the house there is the ‘Altar of the Apostles’, built none other by St. Peter and the other Apostles themselves. It was told that a Basilica was built at the site of the house after the Roman Empire adopted the Christian faith, and worship had continued at the site throughout the succeeding centuries afterwards. However, it came to be that the house was under threat of destruction from unbelievers at the end of the age of the Crusades.

Therefore, in a miraculous occasion, the Holy House of Nazareth was lifted up by Angels of God to a site in what is now Croatia, which was verified by several checks by the contemporary people, in both the new and the previous sites. After a few further translations, the house eventually settled at its current site, over seven hundred years ago. A great Basilica and shrine was soon built over the house, and eventually took shape of the current shrine.

The shrine and devotion to the Blessed Mother of Loreto as the Matron and Patroness of the Holy Family of Nazareth steadily grew and gained Papal patronage, as successive Popes devoted themselves to the shrine of Loreto. Miracles were also attributed to the holy shrine, and prayers made were effective. Litany of Loreto is a famous litany that is recited by many Christians around the world asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Loreto.

Today as we celebrate in this Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, the Blessed Mary Mother of God, we are all brought in deeper into the mystery of the Advent season, preparing ourselves in our hearts, minds and in our beings for the celebration of Christmas. Through this celebration as well as through the readings of the passages of the Scriptures, we are all brought to centre our focus on the Lord and His salvation, which had come into this world through the obedience of Mary.

We are all called to model ourselves after the Holy Family of Nazareth in our celebrations, in our way of life, and in everything we do. We see the obedience of Jesus to their parents, St. Joseph’s righteousness and obedience to God’s laws and commandments, his hardworking attitude, and of course, Mary’s love for her family, her obedience to God and her commitment to the mission that has been entrusted to her.

Therefore, all of us are reminded that we cannot forget our fundamental roles as Christians in our respective communities, to be exemplary in our Christian way of life, imitating the Holy Family of Nazareth. And let us all devote ourselves to Our Lady of Loreto, imitating her examples and faith, that we may also be faithful in all things, and be obedient and righteous just as she had been obedient and righteous.

May the Lord, through His loving Mother, the Blessed Virgin of Loreto, be with us and strengthen us in our journey of faith, that each and every one of us will grow ever stronger in faith and devotion, and grow to live a more faithful Christian and Christ-centric life from now on. Let us all make best use of this blessed season of Advent, and redirect our attention and focus in life towards the Lord, the reason of our joy in Christmas. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Matthew 11 : 11-15

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you this : no one greater than John the Baptist has arisen from among sons of women; and yet, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered; and violent men seize it.”

“Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy : all the prophets and the Law. And if you believe Me, John is indeed that Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!”

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.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Psalm 144 : 1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

I will extol You, my God and King; I will praise Your Name forever. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures, from generation to generation.

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.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Isaiah 41 : 13-20

For I, YHVH, your God, take hold of your right hand and say to you : “Fear not, I am your assistance.” Fear not, Jacob, poor worm, and you, people of Israel, so frail. I am your Redeemer, says YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, your Helper.

I will make you a thresher, new and with sharp double teeth : you will thresh hills and mountains, crushing them and reducing them to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will carry them off and the storm will scatter them. But you will rejoice in YHVH and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The poor and the afflicted seek water, and find none. Their tongues are parched with thirst. But I, YHVH, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up streams over the barren heights and let the rivers flow through all the valleys; I will turn the desert into lakes and brooks and the thirsty earth into a land of springs.

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive; I will plant in the wasteland fir, cypress and pine – that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of YHVH has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

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.”