Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church commemorates the occasion of one of the famous Marian Apparitions, or the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who appeared before St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin at the site of Tepeyac hill in what is today Mexico, approximately five hundred years ago. This Apparition is now known famously as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and many millions were converted to the Christian faith upon the miraculous appearance and the miracles associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then many more countless souls were saved in the subsequent centuries and years because of what the Lord had done to help us through His beloved Mother, who has come before us, in order to remind us all to love her Son and to turn away from the path of sin.

Back then, much of the New World, the Americas were still relatively newly discovered by the people from the Old World, and many of the natives still did not yet know the Lord and His truth. Many of the pagan practices especially in the region of Mesoamerica or Central America, which back then involved a lot of cruelty and even human sacrifices were overcome by the power of the Lord’s truth and love, and many among the natives abandoned their past wicked ways and embraced the true faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. However, at the same time, the behaviours of those Spanish conquerors and explorers back then also left much to be desired, who despite of their Christian faith carried out a lot of destruction and loss of life among the people by their actions, their killings and efforts to gain more wealth and glory for themselves, a behaviour most unbecoming and unworthy of those who called themselves as Christians.

Hence, at that time of great destructions, harm and desolation among the people of the world, where chaos reigned free, Our Lady chose to make herself available and approachable, just as later on she would do again in Lourdes and Fatima, also during times of hardships and trials for much of the world. Our Lady chose to appear to a simple and humble native man, St. John Diego, also known as St. Juan Diego. St. John Diego was one of the early Christian converts from among the native peoples of the region now known as Mexico, where he became a devout follower of Christ, and was known for his exemplary life and virtues, and who with his wife was remembered for their piety, simplicity and generosity. Back then, it happened that St. John Diego was passing by the area known as the Hill of Tepeyac when the Mother of God appeared to him, and spoke to St. John Diego in his own native language, revealing herself to be the Mother of God.

When he conveyed this message to others, no one initially believed what St. John Diego had said, and they disregarded him when he conveyed on them the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe about her identity and also her request that a church be built in her honour at the location of her Apparition. Then, at the next time when St. John Diego was supposed to meet Our Lady of Guadalupe, his uncle was very sick and St. John Diego had to get his uncle to meet a priest for the Sacrament of the Sick. And later on, St. Juan Diego tried to take another way, as he was ashamed of having failed to meet the Lady as he was supposed to, only to meet her on his way again, and she told him why she did not entrust his uncle and himself to God through her, with the words now well known as ‘Am I not here, I am, who am your mother?’. This serves as a reminder to all of us how the Lord has indeed entrusted His own Mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe to be our mother as well.

Then, Our Lady of Guadalupe told St. John Diego to show a sign to the local bishop, and asked him to collect some flowers that appeared there at the site of the Apparition that were not native to the region, miraculously appeared there, and then St. John Diego gathered them using his tilma or cloak. As he brought the flowers and showed them to the bishop, what stunned the bishop and all the other witnesses present was not just the unusual flowers, but the fact and evidence that the very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary herself was imprinted on the tilma that was worn by St. John Diego. Everyone who saw that miracle believed, and through the great occasion, many became believers and followed the Lord, all thanks to His mother and also through the faith and dedication showed by St. John Diego in faithfully living his life and in obeying God’s will.

Ever since then, countless millions upon millions had visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which grew more and more in popularity, drawing many people who were attracted to the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion as shown through His beloved Mother, especially during the time of hardships and difficulties. Our Lady of Guadalupe called on all of us to return to her Son with contrite heart and to devote ourselves once more to His cause. In our world today, at a time full of many distractions and worldly pleasures, of many things that have prevented us from finding our path towards God, the call that Our Lady of Guadalupe made upon us, her pleas that we reject the path of sin and embrace her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, through her, are reminders for us to make amends and to turn over a new leaf in our lives, to become God’s faithful people once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to progress through this season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas, let us all make sure that we do not just prepare for Christmas physically and in material, as what most people would have done. Instead, we must make sure that we are ready in heart and mind, spiritually for welcoming the Lord into our midst, as we rejoice in His past coming at Christmas, and as we also hope in the coming joy of His future return, as a mighty and conquering King when He comes again at the end of time. This is the true spirit of Advent and ultimately, Christmas that we all should have within us, the spirit and desire for us to live our lives worthily of the Lord, distancing ourselves from wickedness and evil ways, and from the excesses of worldly pleasures and temptations.

Let us all therefore draw ever closer to the Lord and spend our time now this Advent to deepen our relationship with Him. Let us all sin no more, and focus ourselves once again on the Lord and His truth, with the help of His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and her lovely reminders for us all to be faithful to her Son’s Law and commandments. Let us all spend our time now to prepare ourselves that we may truly worthily celebrate Christmas with true joy and understanding, and not indulge ourselves in the excesses of worldly, secular celebrations of Christmas. It is not that we cannot rejoice and celebrate in that way, but we cannot be distracted by all those excesses of celebrations, merrymaking and festivities that we end up forgetting why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, that is our joy in the Lord’s coming and salvation for us.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey, so that we may remain always ever firm in our faith in His truth and love. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and actions, our every good works and efforts for His greater glory. May He remain with us always in all things, and may His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, intercede for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Matthew 21 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to Him, and asked, “What authority have You to act like this? Who gave You authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “I will also ask You a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptise, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?”

They reasoned out among themselves, “If we reply that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ And if we say, ‘The baptism of John is merely something human’, we have got to beware of the people, for all hold John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

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!”

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Remember Your compassion, o Lord, Your unfailing love from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, but in Your love remember me.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-8

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. The earth to its pillars belongs to YHVH and on them He has set the world.

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Numbers 24 : 2-7, 15-17a

Balaam looked up and saw Israel camping, tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him and he uttered this song : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, and beholds the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled.”

“How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel! Like valleys stretching far, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes planted by YHVH, like cedars beside the waters. His buckets are overflowing and His seeds are always watered. His king becomes stronger than Agag, and His kingdom grows.

Then Balaam pronounced his oracle : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, who has the knowledge from the Most High, and sees the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled. I see a Figure, but not really. I behold Him but not near. A Star shall come forth from Jacob, He rises with a staff in His hand.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10c

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, for God-is-with-us.”

Saturday, 10 December 2022 : 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 Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, which marks the popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy House of Loreto where in that place of Loreto in Italy, the very House that the Holy Family lived in during their time in Nazareth, can actually be found. The story of the miraculous translation of the Holy House of Loreto had a long tradition in the Church, and it was believed that the very same House of Loreto was translated from the site of Nazareth itself, where both St. Joseph and Mary originated from, and after a few occasions and movements, was finally settled in its current place and shrine in Loreto, where many people flocked throughout the year in pilgrimages, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Loreto, and the Holy Family.

The current shrine to Our Lady of Loreto located at the shores of the Adriatic Sea is among the largest Marian shrines in the world, and is the third largest in Europe after the famous shrines at Fatima and Lourdes. The tradition described as such that the very House where Our Lord and Saviour once lived with His family, with St. Joseph, His foster father and with Mary, His mother. It was told that after the Lord’s Ascension and at the very early days of the Church, the Holy House became a place of worship by the Apostles, who celebrated the Eucharist on its very table and place, and an Altar was built in the House. This House thus eventually became a church and place of Divine worship, being so connected to the story of Our Saviour and His life and ministry, and was brought away from the Holy Land at the end of the Crusades, to avoid destruction and harm at the hands of those who sought to destroy and desecrate the sacred places connected to the Lord’s life and ministry.

According to the same tradition, the Holy House was brought by the Angels miraculously from Nazareth first to the region of Dalmatia in what is today Croatia where pilgrims went to visit just as how it was when it was still in its original place in the Holy Land. And then later on, as the pilgrims were beset by bandits and brigands, it was told that the Holy House was brought miraculously once again by the Angels before it finally settled down in Loreto, in its current place, where it had remained ever since. Ever since then, pilgrimages had come every year and at every moment, of people seeking for the intercession of the Blessed Madonna or Lady of Loreto, and the healing power from her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as shown in the famous icon and statue of Our Lady of Loreto, the Madonna and Child enshrined within the Holy House, that remains accessible to this day.

While people have debated the authenticity and the accuracy of the accounts surrounding the translation of the Holy House from Nazareth to its current shrine at Loreto, and whether the Holy House is indeed the same House that Our Lord and Saviour had once lived in, what is important is that, given the many evidences and studies that had supported the authenticity of the Holy House, countless people throughout the years, decades and centuries had come to the Lord through His blessed and loving Mother, Our Lady of Loreto, seeking healing, consolation and help, and many became believers and were converted through their experiences and through the prayers and intercessions of our most loving and blessed mother, who extended her love and care to us just as she had loved her Son very dearly and tenderly.

As we reflect on today’s occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto, the loving Mother of God and the patroness of the miraculous Holy House of Loreto, all of us are reminded that in this season of Advent, which we have now reached approximately the halfway point, we ought to spend the time and effort to deepen our connection and relationship with God. This season of Advent is a time for us to rediscover our love and faith in God, and for us to redirect our attention and attune ourselves anew to the Lord once again. It is a time when we should embrace the Lord wholeheartedly and turn our hearts and minds to Him, to welcome Him into them and to allow Him to change our lives for the better that we may become better Christians, better followers and disciples of Our Lord and Saviour.

Let us ask ourselves whether we are truly ready to welcome the Lord into our midst, or whether we have squandered the time and opportunities given to us by the Lord, especially during this time of Advent, in focusing our attention on worldly matters and pleasures rather than on God, on His truth and love. Let us ask ourselves if we as Christians have spent more time in thinking of all of our worldly concerns and ambitions, our preoccupations with all sorts of things that distract us from the path of following God and His righteousness. And not only that, but if we have been preparing ourselves in the wrong way during this time and season of Advent, we should rectify it by realigning our actions and directions in life so that we may no longer walk in the wrong path, but may finally make good use of this time to prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord with all sincerity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all use this time of Advent to reorientate our lives and focus, and move away from the materialistic focus that many of us often have, not just in our upcoming Christmas celebrations but also in our lives in general. Let us not allow materialism and hedonistic behaviours to sway and lead us down the wrong path, and instead, let us all remember once again the love by which God has constantly shown us, in patiently leading and guiding us towards Himself and His salvation and grace, and in welcoming all of us back to His loving embrace despite of all of our constant stubbornness and rebelliousness. Not only that but He also entrusted us all to the care of His own beloved mother, whom He entrusted to be our own mother, and she, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, as per her many other apparitions and works, has lead us ever closer to her Son, by her fervent love for us and her intercessions for our sake.

May all of us continue to walk down the path of righteousness and grace, as shown by our Lord Himself, and follow Him wholeheartedly from now on if we have not yet done so. Let us all be inspired by the faith, love and commitment which His Mother, Our Lady of Loreto, has shown us, in how she dedicated herself and obeyed perfectly, as the handmaid of the Lord, in doing God’s will and in living a life of grace and virtue, at all times. Let us all be inspired to show the same faith and love as well, in our own lives and actions, in our every interactions with one another. May God bless us always in our every endeavours and good efforts, now and forevermore. Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Saturday, 10 December 2022 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Matthew 17 : 10-13

At that time, the disciples of Jesus asked Him, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus answered, “So it is : first comes Elijah; and he will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come; and they did not recognise him; and they treated him as they pleased. And they will also make the Son of Man suffer.”

Then the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.

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.

Saturday, 10 December 2022 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16, 18-19

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

But lay Your hand on Your instrument, on the Son of Man, Whom You make strong for Yourself. Then, we will never turn away from You; give us life, and we will call on Your Name.

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.

Saturday, 10 December 2022 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White

Sirach 48 : 1-4, 9-11

Then came the prophet Elijah, like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the Name of the Lord he closed down the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire.

How marvellous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future, before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live.

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.”

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church marks the occasion of the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, solemnly commemorating the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in which we believe that Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, free from any taints of sin, the taint of original sin that had affected every single sons and daughters of mankind from the very beginning because of our disobedience and refusal to listen to God. Mary has been conceived by the singular grace and special will of God to be free from this taint of original sin, just as He has once proclaimed to our first ancestors, to be the Woman through whom the salvation of this world would come from. After all, God is Almighty, All-Powerful, and that feat is clearly possible for Him.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Book of Genesis detailing the moment when mankind, having chosen to listen to Satan, the great deceiver appearing to Adam and Eve in the form of a snake, and fell into disobedience and sin against God, was confronted by the Lord Who came to visit them, and asked them of their misdeeds. The Lord knew everything that they had done, but the two of them still tried to hide their misdeeds, and then later on blamed each other and Satan for what they had done. Regardless, God had to cast them out of Eden, the blissful home intended for all of us mankind because sin has no place before the perfection and holiness of God. But God did not do so because He despised or hated us. Rather, He despised the sins and wickedness we committed, while still loving us dearly as He has always done.

He promised us all the salvation through the Woman who will crush the head of Satan, the snake, the great deceiver and enemy of all the faithful people and children of God. That while Satan will indeed sink his fangs and entangle us in his many schemes and efforts to bring about our downfall and damnation, but in the end, he shall be defeated, crushed and overthrown. Satan, no matter how great or powerful he is, how mighty and fearsome he may seem to be, is nothing compared to the greatness and glory of God, Who is the Lord and Master of all. Even Satan had to bend the knee and submit to the Lord, and he will have to admit defeat to all that the Lord has planned for us all, the salvation that He has brought into our midst through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, born into this world through Mary, His mother.

To that extent, that is why we celebrate what we celebrate today, on this great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and the bearer of God Himself, Divine Word of God Incarnate, the Saviour of all the whole world. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is necessary because, God cannot possibly enter into this world through the means of sin, as perfect, holy and blameless He is. Hence, it is very important that the vessel of His entry and coming into this world, must be perfect and without any taint or blame, and that is why, God willed into creation, this most worthy of vessel, that is Mary herself, conceived by the grace and power of God, to be free from the taint of sin, and full of grace, just as the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed before Mary. Mary is full of God’s grace, the new Ark of the New Covenant.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary has often been compared and parallels been observed between the Ark of the Covenant of the times of the old days of Israel and Mary as the New Ark of the New Covenant between God and mankind. The old Ark was made from the finest materials, precious wood and metals, and with the finest craftsmanship, and becomes the presence of God on this world among His people. The Ark contained the Law of God as written on the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, the bread of the manna and the staff of Aaron, with which God has performed His miracles among His people during the Exodus from Egypt, leading them out as their Shepherd out of the land of their enslavement and miseries. The Ark also contained the ‘mercy seat’, the two Cherubim on its top upon which God would come down and sit enthroned on them, His Presence coming down to dwell with His people.

Then, in the same way, Mary is the New Ark, bearing the Saviour Himself, the Son of God, incarnate in the flesh, becoming the Son of Man. By the power of the Holy Spirit, as we heard in our Gospel today of the account of the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, God gave us all His Son, taking up our human flesh and existence, and He became tangible and approachable to us through this Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who spent nine months in the womb of His mother Mary. Like the old Ark which was mentioned, Mary bore the Law of God, made whole and complete through Christ, Who came to fulfil and perfect the Law, and He Himself is the Law and its personification. He is also the Bread of Life, the One Who offered His Body and Blood for all of us, that each one of us who partake in His Most Precious Body and Blood, will have eternal life through Him.

Not only that, but Christ is also the Good Shepherd Whom God had sent into our midst, to be the One to lead us from this land of darkness and evil into the land of freedom and light. He bore the salvation of God into our midst and bring upon us the Holy Presence of God dwelling among us, as Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’. Therefore, as we can clearly see, Mary herself is the New Ark, of the New Covenant that Christ our Lord, her Son, made with us, between God and us all, through His works, His suffering and death on the Cross, and His glorious Resurrection from the dead. If the old Ark was made from the finest materials and was considered holy and sacrosanct, it is only therefore right that Mary must also be holy, hallowed, pure and sacrosanct, and sin cannot be allowed to defile her. Hence, God crafted her and prepared her well to be the bearer of His Son, the Saviour of the world.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice and celebrate in the commemoration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the bearer of Our Lord and Saviour, the New Ark of the New Covenant, we are all reminded that this same Mary is our perfect role model and example in her piety, her obedience to God and in her inspiring actions, in dedicating herself wholly and completely to the mission that was entrusted to her. Mary did not allow the temptations of sin and evils of the world to taint her, and remained full of grace and fully obedient and filled with love for God all throughout her whole life. Mary dedicated herself to love her Son and brought Him up patiently with love. Then, she continued to show her care and love for us all, when her Son entrusted each one of us to her care, that she became our mother and we become her sons and daughters.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect upon our own lives and be inspired by the examples and inspirations set by Mary, the Holy Mother of God, our beloved mother, who have watched over us, prayed for us and guided us to her Son. She showed us all the existence of life that is pure and immaculate, free from sin and full of the grace of God. All of us too can enter into this state of grace, if we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord just as Mary had done, in answering God’s call, to follow Him as His faithful servants and disciples. What we need to do is to focus our attention and efforts that we may truly be ever worthy to be called followers of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Are we willing to make the commitment and effort, brothers and sisters?

Let us all hence seek to be ever closer to the Lord, following the path and the examples set by His mother Mary, our mother and guide. May the Lord continue to guide us as well and remain with us, that in all the things we say and do, in all of our actions and interactions with one another, we will always be ever more and more faithful to the Lord, and be willing to commit ourselves to the missions that He has entrusted to us. May He bless us in our every good works, efforts and endeavours, now and always, evermore. Holy Mary, Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, conceived without the taint of sin, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Thursday, 8 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (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.