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, 15 September 2021 : 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 we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is always celebrated on the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, reminding us of the important role that Mary, our Lady of Sorrows and the Mother of God, played in the history of our salvation, and how faithful she has been in obeying God’s will and in following her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as He went to fulfil the mission entrusted to Him by His heavenly Father.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as the Lord Jesus picked up His Cross on His shoulders and journeyed with much pain and sufferings, with scourges and wounds onwards to the hill of Golgotha or Calvary, the place of His execution, Mary followed Him throughout, shadowing Him along the journey, and it was also told by tradition that they also met each other during that Way of Sorrows, as Mary beheld her beloved Son, scourged and bruised from His many wounds.

We can only imagine just what kind of sorrow and suffering that Mary herself had experienced as she beheld her Son in such a state, rejected by the people that He had loved and cared for, condemned to die for sins that He did not commit, scourged and broken, tortured and bleeding from His many wounds. No mother should ever have to see her own children suffering, and yet, that was what Mary precisely experienced as she walked the Via Dolorosa together with her Son, on the way to Calvary.

Yet, just as the Lord Jesus remained faithful and firm to His convictions, holding up His Cross despite falling on three occasions, and reaching the place of His crucifixion, Mary also remained firm in her dedication to her Son, her great love for Him, that she stayed by His side even to the foot of the Cross. She looked upon her Son on the Cross as He laboured and spent the time of suffering for the atonement of all of our sins, fulfilling what the Lord has promised to all of us. Just as the prophet Simeon had said, a sword truly must have pierced Mary’s heart, seeing all that unfolding before her own eyes.

And from the Cross, the Lord then entrusted His own mother to the care of St. John the Apostle, His beloved disciple, to be his own mother and for him to be her own son. Through this significant and symbolic act in fact, the Lord entrusted His Church, that is all of us, to His own mother Mary, giving her to us to be our mother and our caretaker, as a loving mother to her children, ever worried and concerned about us, and ever dedicated to each and every one of us, as her own adopted sons and daughters.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is little wonder then why the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Our Lady of Sorrows appeared quite often especially after periods of great turmoil and troubles, during times of war and destruction. In many times she has shown herself in many forms, to serve as a reminder to each and every one of us, passing to us her wish and the message, that all of us may be converted to the truth and embrace the salvation that her own Son, Our Lord and Saviour has offered to us freely from the Cross.

In all of those occasions, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows always called for us to turn back towards the Lord and be converted, to pray and to do our best efforts to contribute to the conversion of souls. Having seen how her Son had suffered under the weight of the burden of our many sins, all of His wounds and scourges essentially were due to our many faults and trespasses, which He bore out of love for us, henceforth, it is no surprise that Mary has always been concerned for us, as our own loving mother, who does not want to see her children to fall into the eternal damnation in hell.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and as we recall the celebrations of yesterday’s Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we as the people of God, as fellow Christians, let us all help one another and be sources of inspiration to lead us all towards the path of redemption and eternal life in God. Let us all be courageous to stand up to our faith and be truly committed to God in all things, that by our deeds and commitment, many more may also come to believe in God.

Let us all confide in our sorrowful mother, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, who is always sorrowful upon seeing our many sins, the same sins that have caused her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, so much pain. Let us all ask her for her constant intercession, that she will continue to pray for us, even to the hour of our death, for the sake of all of us, sinners unworthy of God, and yet beloved and whom God desired to forgive, out of His everlasting love for us. May God be with us always, and may His beloved mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, continue to watch over us. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 : 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.”

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 2-3a, 3bc-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!

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 : 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.

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.