Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 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, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, a highlight of this month of October, which is also the Month of the Holy Rosary, a time when we are all encouraged to pray the rosary daily and to rediscover that love and relationship we have for God through Mary, His loving Mother and our beloved mother too. Mary has always interceded and prayed for us on our behalf, and her thoughts are always ever focused on us, her wayward children still living in this dark and sinful world.

Today, we mark the occasion of the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, a great and decisive battle, a triumphant victory for the forces of Christendom and the champions of the Lord in the struggle against the forces of heathens of the Ottoman Empire and its allies, who sought the domination of the world and the subjugation of Christians and the Christian kingdoms and states of that time. At that time, Christendom was beset not only with these external pressures but also with many internal divisions, having suffered from the effects of the reformation that led to many leaving the Church and many in rebellion against the true faith.

Therefore, at that time, the Church, the faithful and the entire Christendom itself were under great threat of destruction, and that would have happened if not for the great intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, by the actions of the Pope then, Pope St. Pius V, who exhorted all of Christendom to stand together and asked all the faithful to pray the Rosary as he gathered together forces from the various kingdoms and realms, establishing a great Holy Alliance aimed at standing up against the great Turkish invasion forces.

At the same time, the Church also geared up her efforts in combating the heresies and divisions by the conclusion of the Ecumenical Council of Trent and its many sweeping reforms through which many excesses and previous errors of the Church were eradicated, and the teachings of the Church were reaffirmed and reinforced. Missionaries and teachers of the faith, led by the courageous Jesuits were sent to the forefront where many of those who have lapsed from the true faith were to be encouraged and welcomed to return to the Holy Mother Church, and many more still were sent to evangelise in far away nations and places.

And then, the forces of Christendom were gathered together, numerous mighty ships, sailors and soldiers, all gathered against an even larger armada of the Ottomans bent on destruction of Christendom. With the guidance and intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, as Christendom was united in the prayer of the rosary as encouraged by the Pope, the forces of the Holy Alliance met the enemy at the Bay of Lepanto in a great battle that is still remembered to this very day, as a major turning point in the history of the world.

During the battle, many eyewitnesses saw a great vision of heavenly forces led by Our Lady, with a rosary in her hand, which terrified the forces of the enemies of the Lord, and many of the sailors and slaves on the ships, who were enslaved Christians forced by the wicked Ottomans, turned against their masters and slavers, seeking freedom and turned the whole tide against the enemy, resulting in a great overwhelming victory for the forces of Christendom. The forces of the enemies of the Lord were scattered, and the faithful were saved from the destruction planned against them.

Through this great victory, the whole Christendom rejoiced and celebrated, as church bells tolled and rang all around, commemorating the great triumph which God had led His people into. The Pope proclaimed the day of this great victory initially as the celebration of Our Lady of Victory, before eventually it was changed to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary as we all celebrate it today. We remember the great intercession by which Our Lady of the Rosary had helped the faithful being attacked by the forces of the enemies of the Lord and His Church.

As we heard in the story of the Battle of Lepanto, and undoubtedly many other examples present in our world and in our own lives, the Lord often delivered the faithful through the intercession of His loving mother, who always directed her gaze upon us, her children in this world, and through the Holy Rosary that we dedicated to her, we united ourselves in prayer through Mary to her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. So, we ought to ask ourselves if we have spent at least some good quality time in prayer to God and also asking His blessed mother to pray for us, by devoting ourselves through the rosary.

The rosary devotion has been given to us by our own blessed mother Mary, as a way for us to draw closer to the Lord through her, as a way for us to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, by removing from us the distractions and the temptations of our daily living, and instead focusing ourselves on the Lord and His mother, through which we may grow ever deeper in spirituality and in commitment to God, and through the rosary, we may grow ever better as Christians, and also even inspire others to follow in our good examples.

Let us all therefore entrust ourselves to our beloved mother Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, so that we may grow ever deeper in our love for God through His mother. May the Lord, our loving God and Saviour deliver us from those who seek our destruction, and may He strengthen and encourage us all always, to strive and persevere through the challenges of our lives, at all times. Our Lady of the Rosary, our most loving mother, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 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.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 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.

Thursday, 7 October 2021 : 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.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorating the birthday of the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, marking that day when the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour was born into this world, to the loving family of St. Joachim and St. Anne, her parents. As we celebrate this Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary today, all of us are called to look upon Mary, on her faith and dedication to God, on her virtuous and upright life.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is our best role model among all the children of God, as one who has been chosen and given the special grace to be free from the taints of original sin, immaculate and pure, and at the same time, full of love and commitment to the Lord. Mary is the Woman that the Lord had promised to all of us, His beloved people, through whom the salvation of this world would come from, by her role as the Mother of that Saviour of all, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through Mary, God has fulfilled His long awaited promises to all of His people, revealing to them His salvation through a simple and humble woman, the virgin lady of Nazareth, a small and insignificant small town in Galilee, at the periphery of the Jewish world and settlements at that time. Mary was specially prepared by the Lord, by a singular grace, hallowed and made to be immaculate and pure, completely free from the taints of original sin, so that this vessel crafted by the Lord’s hands, may be worthy to bear Himself and His divine existence into this world.

Yes, just as the old Ark of the Covenant was made by the hands of men and crafted with the finest goods of the Earth, and hallowed by God, hence, the New Ark, of the New Covenant of God, Mary, the beloved daughter of God and full of grace, made not by human hands but designed and prepared by God, made to be pure and immaculate, which is possible by God’s will and power, to be hallowed and ready for the coming of His salvation, the Divine Word of God incarnate in the flesh, becoming the Son of Man dwelling in Mary’s womb.

Mary’s Nativity marked the moment when the salvation of God began to come forth into the world, as God slowly revealed to us all the truth about Himself and His plans for us. Yet, this is an even more amazing story as God chose not the rich and powerful, the influential and the great to conduct His work of salvation, but instead, He chose a mere ordinary woman, from likely a poor family in Nazareth, on the peripheries to be the one whom He chose to be the Mother of the Saviour.

And why is this significant for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It shows us that God chose us all sinners, unworthy as we may be, and called us to be His disciples and followers, and just as He has chosen Mary, to be the one bearing the Messiah, and made her to be full of grace, we too are called to embrace God and His love, and to be filled with His grace. We have all been called from our most ordinary backgrounds, from our various occupations and lives, to be the genuine and loving disciples of the Lord.

That is what all of us must recognise as God calls all of us to be His faithful labourers and workers, in the world, in our communities and among our own circles of friends and relatives, and among those whom we encounter daily in life, to our acquaintances and neighbours, and even to strangers whom we met along the way. We have to be role models of faith, to be the bearers of God’s hope and truth to all, just as Mary has been a great role model to us. We are all reminded today, just as we celebrate her birthday, that we can also be like her, in her commitment to the Lord and in her virtuous and graceful life.

The question is, are we all willing to embrace the Lord wholeheartedly the way that Mary has done with her life? Are we willing to live our lives with sincere devotion to God and to practice our faith with genuine actions and not just mere words and formality only? Mary dedicated her life to the mission entrusted to her, and saw through many challenges throughout, having taken care of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, protected and nurtured Him, and followed Him throughout His ministry right up to the foot of the Cross. We cannot even begin to imagine the sufferings and the sorrows she had throughout her life, and yet, Mary joyfully dedicated it all out of her love for her Son.

As we celebrate the Feast of Mary’s Nativity, her birth and appearance into this world, all of us are reminded of the hope that she had brought into this world and the faith with which she has lived her life. We are called to follow her examples and commit ourselves to the Lord as best as we can, to be the bearers of hope and light amidst this darkened world, so that our actions, words and deeds may bring life to all whose lives we have touched. This is our calling as Christians, as those who have shared in Christ the gift of His light and hope, and the assurance of salvation and eternal life.

In our daily lives, can we spend more time and effort to be faithful to the Lord, and to be exemplary and inspirational to one another so that we may help each other to be ever closer to God, and to be more attuned to His truth and ways? Are we also willing to reach out to the less fortunate and those who are suffering around us, sharing with them the love of God, and the hope of salvation. Let us discern these things carefully and remind ourselves of the many things that we can do as God’s faithful people, in keeping our faith alive and in following the good examples and inspiration from our beloved mother, Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour.

As we rejoice together celebrating her birthday, let us all continue to entrust ourselves to the Lord through His blessed mother, who is also our mother. Let us all turn towards the Lord and allow ourselves to be guided to Him by our ever patient and loving mother, who is always ever praying and interceding for our sake from Heaven, at the side of her Son’s glorious Throne. May the Lord heed her prayers for our sake, and may He have mercy on us sinners, and bring us all to Him, into His fullness of grace and eternal life of true joy. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-16, 18-23

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-23

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 12 : 6ab, 6cd

But I put my trust in Your unfailing love, my heart will rejoice on seeing Your salvation.

I will sing to YHVH, for He has been good to me!

Wednesday, 8 September 2021 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Micah 5 : 1-4a

But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, so small that you are hardly named among the clans of Judah; from you shall I raise the One Who is to rule over Israel. For He comes forth from of old, from the ancient times.

YHVH, therefore, will abandon Israel until such time as she, who is to give birth, has given birth. Then the rest of His deported brothers will return to the people of Israel. He will stand, and shepherd His flock with the strength of YHVH, in the glorious Name of YHVH, His God.

They will live safely, while He wins renown to the ends of the earth. He shall be peace.

Alternative reading

Romans 8 : 28-30

We know that in everything, God works for the good of those who love Him, whom He has called, according to His plan. Those whom He knew beforehand, He has also predestined, to be like His Son, similar to Him, so, that, He may be the Firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And so, those whom God predestined, He called, and those whom He called, He makes righteous, and to those whom He makes righteous, He will give His glory.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrating the patron of the Carmelites in her appearance to St. Simon Stock, one of the early founders of what is now known as the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Mother of Our Lord, according to tradition, appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the now popular brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, promising grace and blessings to those who wear it with faith and devotion.

Through this devotion, the Lord called us all through the intercession of His beloved mother, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, to turn towards Him and to be converted. The Lord called on everyone to put their trust in Him, and His ever loving mother always has her gaze on us all too, as we are all her adopted children, having been entrusted to her from the Cross by her Son. And through her and her many apparitions to us mankind, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel had endeavoured to bring us all ever closer to the Lord, to her Son, Our Saviour.

In today’s Scripture readings, from the day’s readings proper, we continue to hear the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the aftermath of the great plagues which came over Egypt as a result of their stubbornness and the Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people of Israel go free. As the Lord then revealed to Moses and Aaron, He instructed the people of Israel to prepare for the first Passover, as the commemoration of their freedom and as a constant reminder of the Lord’s mighty deeds in saving all of them.

That first Passover was a meal for the community and each families, all gathered that night to prepare for the salvation of God. The Passover lamb was prepared and chosen from among the flock, and slaughtered to be shared by the people gathered in the Passover feast, and its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites that the Lord would spare them the incoming destruction. Thus, as they were spared from death and destruction that befell the Egyptians, as the Angels of the Lord ‘passed over’ the people of God as they came to scourge the land of Egypt and its people.

This is a reminder for us all of the most important role that Our Lord Himself, as Our Saviour had in our salvation. He is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of the Cross, and His Precious Blood shed, just like the Passover lamb, to mark all of His faithful ones, that those who have embraced Him as their Lord and Saviour, all of us, be spared the death and destruction that awaits those who have not received this grace of salvation. Through Him, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation.

God has done so much for all of us, all because of His generous love and commitment towards us, His ever strong desire to love us and to be reconciled with us. He does not want us to perish because of our sins and wickedness. That is why, He has reached out to us and sent to us His messengers, servants and others whom He has sent into our midst in order to remind us to walk in His path and not to fall into worldly temptations and falsehoods. We are all reminded to stay faithful to His way, and because of this, He enlisted even the help of His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel to help us in our journey.

All of us should look upon the faith and examples of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and how she is our inspiration and strength in living our lives faithfully as Christians. We should see how Mary followed her Son faithfully and with love, patiently and obediently in walking and journeying with Him, as she often followed Him from place to place. And she went up all the way even up to the feet of the Cross. Despite all the challenges and difficulties that she had to endure, Mary remained true to her calling and mission, and this, on top of her being the Mother of our Lord and God, is why we revere Mary as the greatest among all the saints and as our own beloved mother.

Let us all therefore look to the Lord and His salvation, to His Cross and the promise of His eternal glory, by journeying together and with Mary by our side, as we walk towards His Presence humbly and with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with renewed conviction and zeal, with desire and hope for healing and redemption, to be reconciled with God. Let us embrace the Lord Who has always lavished us with His love and compassionate mercy, and let us turn to Him with all of our heart and inspire others to do the same as well.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary, the Holy Mother of God and our beloved mother continue to pray and intercede for us sinners, on our behalf, and help us in our journey towards heavenly joy and glory with God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”