Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, commemorating with joy this month in which we are encouraged to pray the rosary, asking for the prayers and intercessions of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. But the origins of this feast day came from the famous victory of the forces of the Christian faithful against the enemies of the Church in the Battle of Lepanto.

Originally this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory from this battle, in which, at the time, as the growing power of the Ottoman Empire and its forces began to threaten Christendom, having subjugated quite a few Christian populations under its rule, the situation of the Christian faith and Church were truly dire, as the Christians themselves were bitterly divided by the various heresies and splinter groups appearing at the time due to the reformation movement.

As the day of the decisive battle and conflict comes close, the Pope then, Pope St. Pius V called all of Christendom to pray the rosary fervently, asking for the intercession of the Mother of God that her Son would be with the forces of the faithful fighting for the survival of the Christian faith under persecution and trials. And through the efforts of all those who dedicated the prayers of the rosary, through the power of their prayer, God was moved to intervene on the side of His faithful people.

Although the forces arrayed by the enemy forces at Lepanto were extensive and immense, outnumbering the forces of the faithful, but the Lord was with those who were faithful to Him, fighting by their side against the enemy. And through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Victory, the forces of the Christian faithful triumphed against the enemy forces, defeating them utterly and showing the power of God’s providence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that was the historical origin of the celebration of this Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the dedication of the month of October as the month of the Holy Rosary. But even more significantly, brothers and sisters, do you all know that our prayers, when made with devotion and genuine faith, are powerful tools and weapons against the attacks and insidious plans of the evil one and all of his forces? A genuine prayer is feared more by Satan than the clang of weapons and swords.

We heard in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, on the Apostles and disciples of the Lord after the Lord ascended into Heaven, in how they continued to gather and pray together, spending their time as they awaited the coming of the Helper, the Holy Spirit that has been promised by God to them. And even after the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the Christian faithful often gathered together and pray as a community, and even when they were on their own, they also often spent their time in prayer.

And rosary is truly a special form of prayer, as the prayers often associated with the rosary help to remind us of the important events in the history of our faith and in the story of our salvation by God. And through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, our prayers will be raised even closer to God’s Throne, for Mary is at the side of her Son in Heaven, praying and interceding for our sake, at each and every moment. The rosary is indeed like its name, implying a ‘rose’ or flower, a bouquet of prayers that we offer to God through His mother, who is also our beloved mother, Mary.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in these particularly difficult times and challenging moments in life, as we faced so many bitter trials and difficulties in these past few months this year, we need to deepen our spiritual and prayer life, and the rosary is one way how we can deepen our prayer life and spirituality. Are we willing to commit ourselves to be more prayerful Christians, in each and every moments of our lives? The choice is ours to make, and as God has called us all, let us devote ourselves ever more faithfully to Him, from now on, with the guidance from His blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary.

Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us all sinners, just as we make our prayers of the rosary dedicated to you, out of our love for you, our blessed and ever loving Mother. Pray and intercede for us, and help us to follow your examples, and be faithful to God as you have been faithful yourself, in all things. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020 : 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate the feast of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. It is interesting that after the high of the celebrations of the joyful exaltation and triumph of the Holy Cross yesterday, then we come to the remembrance of the sorrows of our Blessed Mother, who was sorrowful at the suffering and death of her Son.

But in truth, this is an important reminder that the Cross of Christ, while it is a sign of great victory and triumph against sin, evil and darkness, but it is also where our Lord and Saviour suffered grievously for the sins and faults that He had willingly bore for our sake, every blows and wounds that He bore up to the Cross, as a most worthy offering to God, for the redemption of all mankind and atonement of all of our sins.

And in all these, His mother, Mary, grieved as a mother should when the mother sees the suffering of the child. As the mother grieved in seeing her son suffers, Mary saw her own Son, born of her womb and Whom she took care all her life, suffering so much for the sake of the whole world, fulfilling the task which had been entrusted to Him as the Saviour of the world. And Mary saw all of that, and faithfully walked beside her Son, following Him as He took the last steps of the journey towards His crucifixion.

It must have been painful for Mary to witness such a horrific scene happening before her, as she saw her Son suffering in such a manner, deprived of all dignity and honour, betrayed and cast aside by the authorities and the people, condemned to death for faults that were not His. Yet, Mary obeyed perfectly and completely to the will of God, and bore her sorrows with the faith and knowledge that everything would happen as God willed it.

It must have indeed been most sorrowful for a mother to witness her own child’s death, but that was exactly what happened as Mary beheld the lifeless body of her Son, at the foot of the Cross. This is most commonly depicted as Our Lady of Sorrows, the most sorrowful and sad depiction of Mary, as a loving Mother holding her Son, His mission fulfilled and completed, but with sorrow piercing her heart seeing all that happened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can just see how great Mary’s faith and dedication is, that despite her sorrows and the trials she had to endure, she remained firmly committed to the cause and mission that has been entrusted to her. And seeing her Son suffered in such a way, certainly brought Mary to shown great concern and love for each and every one of us, whom by adoption into the Church, has become her own children and beloved ones.

That is why, if we notice, Mary has appeared many times to many people in various times and places, all with the similar message imploring us mankind to turn away from our sins, to repent sincerely and to embrace God’s forgiveness and most generous mercy. That is because she knew full well the suffering that we all will endure for our sins, in the suffering that her Son had endured and which she had witnessed herself as she followed Him faithfully right up to the foot of the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate this Feast of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, let us all look up to Mary, our loving Mother for her exemplary faith and dedication to God. Let us all be ever more faithful and turn away from our wickedness, from our actions that had brought scandal to our faith, and genuinely seek God’s forgiveness so that we may be forgiven our sins and be worthy of the eternal glory, life and joy that will be ours in God’s presence.

Let us turn to our sorrowful and loving Mother and comfort her by our dedication and desire to lead a more Christ-like life, to obey the Law of God and to follow His will in every actions and deeds we have, and to be shining beacons of Christian faith for one another in this darkened world. Let us all sin no more, and strive to follow our Mother’s faithful examples, so that we may receive the crown of eternal life and glory, and triumph with the Holy Cross of Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

May the Lord, our crucified Messiah and loving Saviour continue to bless and guide us, and may His ever loving Mother continue to show her tender care towards us all. O Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us all sinners, and pray that we may all endeavour to turn away from our wicked sins, and enter into God’s mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th 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.”

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

In You, o YHVH, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver me in Your justice. Give heed to my plea, and make haste to rescue me.

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o YHVH, faithful God.

But I put my trust in You, o YHVH, I said : “You are my God.” My days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, to those who take refuge in You!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 5 : 7-9

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him, Who could save Him from death, and He was heard, because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt, through suffering, what obedience was, and, once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation, for those who obey Him.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, celebrated not long after the celebration of her Nativity just a few days ago. And this is also parallel to what we celebrate on her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Most Holy Name the week after Christmas, His birth into the world.

And we may be wondering then, what is it there in a name? And we will be surprised to note that name is something which is very significant, that symbolises identity and truth about someone and something. No longer will it be indistinct and unremarkable, for a name can make great difference. For simple example, none of us knows the names of the billions of peoples who lived throughout the millennia of our human existence, as each of these were not prominent enough, and known each only by their own relatives and close families.

But we can clearly remember the names of famous rulers, kings, personalities, famous peoples and scientists, many of whom had departed this world many years, decades and even centuries and millennia ago. This is because their names are powerful reminder, an identity that invoke the memory of that person’s achievements, greatness, all the deeds he or she had done. In the same way, a great criminal and enemy of humanity throughout history had also been remembered this way, with even mere mention of the name could bring up chilling reminder and memories of the terrible things and deeds the person had committed.

In this same manner therefore, whenever we utter the Name of Our Lord Jesus and that of His mother, Mary, do we actually realise that we have just invoked the great power of the Almighty God, and that of the powerful intercession of His mother? And yet, many of us have not treated their Name with the proper care and respect needed, but we often took these Holy Names for granted, or use them in vain, inappropriately and without proper respect.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise that Satan himself would tremble at the mere mention of the name of Mary, God’s own mother, the mother of our Lord and Saviour. Satan would flee and not remain as he could not stand before the mother of God, through whom his final defeat and loss had been guaranteed for all eternity, for Mary is the promised Woman, that from the beginning of time God had promised that Satan would be defeated and crushed at the feet of the Woman.

Not only that Mary remained uncorrupt and righteous throughout her life, but her obedience to God has been feared by Satan ever since the beginning, as she was not under his dominion and power, without the corruption and taint of sin, and with the faith and obedience that was unshakeable, her love and devotion to her Son that was so complete. Mary is the antithesis of Eve, the new Eve that unlike the first Eve, Satan was unable to shake, tempt and make to fall into sin.

And even more importantly, through her acceptance and humble obedience to the will of God, Mary became the Mother of God, through whom the salvation of this world has come, the Light came which dispelled the darkness of sin and evil, and from whom, the path to Satan’s ultimate defeat had been paved and made clear. Naturally, therefore, just as Satan definitely trembled at the mere mention and utterance of the Holy Name of God. The name of His beloved mother would make him to fear and flee as well, especially when uttered with faith.

And as we call upon the name of Mary, in fact we are also calling upon her, who is our loving and caring mother. When we call upon her name, it is indeed like a child calling and yearning for the mother, for protection, love, comfort and assurance. Let us all look upon our mother Mary, and call upon her to help us in our struggle against evil, and that she may continue to intercede and pray for us all. Let us all not be fearful of evil any more, for our blessed mother is by our side, and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, loves us even more.

Let us also be inspired by the faithful examples showed by Mary, in her faithful life, her obedience and commitment to the Law of God and to the mission which He has entrusted to her. Let us all be faithful and be good Christians in the way that our blessed mother has showed us by her actions. Let us all seek to be closer to God through His mother Mary, and commit ourselves anew to a life dedicated to the Lord, rejecting the temptations of sin and evil.

O Holy Mother of God, Mary, our loving mother, pray for us all sinners, and be with us always, that we may draw much inspiration from your dedication and the love you showed to your Son. Help us to be always ever faithful, and ever righteous despite the many trials and temptations in our path. May the Lord bless us all and may He grant us the strength to love Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 6 : 43-49

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to Me, and listens to My words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overflowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built.”

“But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The flood burst against it, and the house fell at once : and what a terrible disaster that was!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 1 : 39-47

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!”