Saturday, 15 September 2018 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-27

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.”

Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 33-35

At that time, the father and mother of Jesus 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.”

Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, just the day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, today we commemorate together the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God and Our Lord Jesus Christ. And why is this day special? That is because just as her Son’s heart is most sacred and holy, as He is God, Mary’s heart was also holy in a similar way, and immaculate, meaning pure and clean from corruption.

This is because Mary herself, according to our faith, has been conceived without sin, known as the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And because of this, unique among other men, Mary alone was free from the taints and corruptions of the original sin. And her heart, mind and whole being are therefore free from the corruption of sin and all sorts of wickedness that corrupt us.

But Mary was great and honoured, more than just because she is the Mother of God and not just because she has been conceived without sin. Mary was exemplary in her life, in how she led a prayerful and devout life, dedicated to purity and holiness, and in how she dedicated herself to the mission which has been entrusted to her, to be the Mother of God, guiding her child Jesus right from before He was born, to the time when she followed Him up to the hill of Calvary for His crucifixion and death.

Mary saw and witnessed many things throughout her life, especially those years when she brought up the Baby Jesus, having seen Him being worshipped and glorified by three Magi from the East, with strange and peculiar gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which act as premonition to Who Jesus truly was and what His mission in this world would be. She has endured many things, including persecution and difficulty from those who desired to see the Lord Jesus destroyed.

She witnessed as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, the great wisdom of her Son Jesus, when He debated the intellectuals and teachers of the Law at the Temple of Jerusalem when He was merely just twelve years old. She heard Him saying peculiar things such as Him having to dwell in His Father’s house. Even though the Archangel Gabriel had told Mary that Jesus would be God’s own Son, but surely that fact must have remained a mystery to Mary.

Yet, she had great faith in the Lord, and put everything she had heard, all her uncertainties and questions into her heart, as the Gospel mentioned today. The heart of Mary is filled with love, and pure love for her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And that love alone is enough for her to overcome all kinds of uncertainties, fears, concerns and all the questions she might have.

That is why, Mary followed her Son even to the foot of the cross, where she saw her Son suffered and died for the sake of all of us. She loved Him so much to the very end. And Our Lord entrusted all of us to her from the cross, as He entrusted His disciple St. John the Apostle to her. Then He also entrusted her to us all, by entrusting her to the same St. John, His Apostle.

Therefore, all of us have Mary as our mother, and her loving heart, and all the love she has shown to her Son, she has also shown to us, whom she had adopted as her own children. Let us have faith in God in the same way as she has been faithful, and let us follow her example in life, in how she have led her life filled with faith, commitment and devotion.

Let us all entrust ourselves to her, and let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith and devotion from now on. Mary, Mother of God, in your most Immaculate Heart, pray for us all sinners, that God will forgive us and welcome us all into His heavenly kingdom. Amen.

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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Friday, 30 December 2016 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 2 : 13-15, 19-23

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.

After Herod’s death, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the Child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel.

But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled : He shall be called a Nazorean.

Friday, 28 August 2015 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the feast of a great pillar of the Church, one of its original and among the greatest of the Doctors of the Church, because of his numerous and countless contributions to both the Church and to the faithful as a whole, in leading them to Christ. He is St. Augustine of Hippo, a great man and a great saint, and yet with an interesting origin and story of his life, in how he became such a great servant of God.

Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of St. Monica, his mother, a holy woman completely devoted to the Lord and to her family, particularly that of her son, St. Augustine himself. And we have to understand where they came from and what were their lives like, so that we can understand and benefit most from today’s sharing of the Scriptures and the lives of the saints.

St. Augustine of Hippo was born in a noble Roman family, between a rich Roman nobleman named Patricius who was a pagan worshipper, and St. Monica, his mother, who was already a Christian, and one who was truly devoted to the Lord. St. Augustine lived in a family well connected and in position to enjoy all the favours and benefits of worldly life, and therefore, he got the best education and treatment, and grew to be an educated person and a philosopher.

But all these could not satisfy St. Augustine, as he desired for something more to fill the emptiness in his heart. And so, influenced by his peers and friends at that time, he fell into the company of those who believed in the syncretic and pagan religion of Manichaeanism, where he gave in to the Manichaean ways and teachings of hedonism and worldliness, involving himself with various forms of the pleasures of the flesh.

Nonetheless, even though St. Augustine had started on a path towards sin and therefore towards ruination, it was the hard effort and ceaseless tears and prayers from his mother, St. Monica, who eventually turned St. Augustine back into the light. Firstly, his own father decided to be baptised on his deathbed and accepted fully the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, and then St. Augustine himself also realised the errors of his ways and repented.

St. Augustine went on to be a teacher, and growing more and more disillusioned with the ways and falsehoods of Manichaeanism, where he did not manage to find true satisfaction, he eventually gave himself to be baptised as well, as a member of the Church, and the prayers which his mother had made for his sake. And thereafter, St. Augustine dedicated himself to the service of God.

And by his many works, including the publications, the City of God and the Confessions which he had written, as well as various other discourses and traditions passed down to us by the other Church fathers, this once great sinner had indeed been transformed completely by the will and by the grace of God to be a great tool for the salvation of mankind and for the deliverance of mankind from our sins.

In today’s Scripture readings we also heard how Jesus told the people the parable of the five wise women and the five careless and foolish women. Many of us knew this story, but do we truly understand its significance? The wise women and the foolish women represent all of us, while the bridegroom represents the Lord who will come again even as He had promised all of us.

The examples of St. Augustine of Hippo should have shown us that all of us have a choice in this life, and this choice is for us to follow either the Lord and His ways, or whether we follow our own whims and our own heart’s desires. God always gives us opportunities, one after another, for He is loving as well as merciful, and despite all of our sins and wickedness, we still have the Lord on our side, holding us and keeping us against the tides of darkness rising against us.

Nevertheless, we should not take this for granted. The Lord loves all of us, for we are indeed the greatest and the most treasured and loved of all the things that God had created, but this does not mean that He just let us all be with all the things we are doing, or condoning all of our sins and wickedness. He continues to watch over us, and it is painful for Him to see how we continue to live in sin and in direct disobedience and rebellion against Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn from the examples of St. Augustine of Hippo and many other saints, who were once sinners and then they turned their lives around, and sought out a new life in God. This is also an inspiration for all of us to do the same. No one was born perfect, and no one was blameless, except for our Lord Jesus Himself. All of us made mistakes in some parts of our lives, but what matters, is whether we take those mistakes to task and learn from them.

May Almighty God be our help and our guide, as we walk in the footsteps of St. Augustine of Hippo, that we may also be like him and many other great saints, who took the step to get out of their past sinfulness, repent from those sins, and follow the Lord in all their ways, and by their righteousness, they were brought into eternal glory and life promised by our Lord. May God bless us all. Amen.