Monday, 25 March 2019 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate together the great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is celebrated on every twenty-fifth day of the month of March each year unless it falls within the time of the Holy Week and Easter Octave or on Sundays. The Annunciation of the Lord therefore marks a period which is exactly nine months prior to the date of Christmas, that is the twenty-fifth day of the month of December.

And that is because the Annunciation of the Lord marks the time when the Lord finally proclaimed His Good News to His people at the time He has appointed, after long waiting and expectation by mankind throughout time. This was the moment marked by the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel before Mary, the virgin and young woman at Nazareth, in which the revelation of God’s Good News was made. When Mary accepted her role as revealed by God, the Lord was incarnate in the flesh of Man right at that moment.

The Archangel Gabriel came to Mary bearing a very important revelation, which all of mankind have awaited for a long time. That was the news of the coming of God’s salvation, which most unexpectedly came in the form of the virgin conception and birth of the Child that Mary bore within her. Yet, that was the exact fulfilment of what the prophet Isaiah had mentioned before king Ahaz of Judah, when Ahaz refused to ask God for a sign, showing his lack of faith.

In contrast with the lack of faith in king Ahaz, when Isaiah spoke to him of God’s favour, we saw the faith in Mary, who despite the uncertainty in her heart, accepted fully and faithfully God’s plans and intentions for her, to be the bearer and mother of the Messiah or Saviour of the whole world. When she asked the Archangel, “How can it be, since I am a virgin?”, Mary was not expressing her disbelief or lack of faith, instead, it was natural that anyone who heard those proclamations by the Archangel would be surprised.

After all, it seemed to be against all natural laws, for a virgin to bear a child, as since the beginning of time, children came about when a man and a woman become joined together, and bearing together the fruits of their love for each other. But Mary, as a virgin and yet to be married to her fiancee, St. Joseph, could not have been with a child yet. Nonetheless, what is impossible or seemingly impossible for us, is completely possible for God.

And Mary chose to trust in God and in the plans He had for her and for the salvation of the whole world. Even more importantly, Mary committed herself not just to a part of God’s plan for humanity, but for the entirety of the journey and the plan that God had made evident through Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary. Mary chose to devote herself to her Son, dedicating her whole life to take care of and raise the One Who had been entrusted to her as Son, and later on, to follow Him throughout His life and ministry, right to the very foot of the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why, Mary is so honoured in the Church and our faith, not because she was different in essence from any one of us. We do not worship her as God is worshipped, but we honour her and glorify her as all saints are honoured, and her honour surpasses that of all the other saints. For her faith, dedication and total commitment to what the Lord has entrusted to her, she has indeed become the Co-Redemptrix of our salvation, as without her faith and commitment, our salvation through Christ would not have been possible.

That is why, Mary is not just a role model to all of us Christians, but she is also the shining example for all of us, in all of her actions, in how humble she was in accepting the role that she was to play as the mother of Our God and Saviour. She remained simple and humble throughout life, and continued to dedicate herself to God and to her Son, Jesus, in doing what she could to support His ministry, as a faithful servant and mother attending to Him.

In this season of Lent, there is a reason why the occurrence of the Solemnity of the Annunciation often happens within the boundaries of this blessed season. That is because all of us have also received God’s Good News, that He has proclaimed to us through His Church, just as Mary received the Good News of salvation through the Archangel Gabriel, as well as how king Ahaz accepted his through the prophet Isaiah.

Now, we all have a choice, brothers and sisters in Christ. Do we want to follow the example of king Ahaz, in his refusal to accept the Good News and in his lack of faith, or do we want to follow the example of Mary, Mother of God and humble servant of His? I think the choice here is very clear. While Ahaz is often condemned and grouped together with those wicked kings of Israel and Judah that led the people of God to sin, but Mary, though once a poor and unknown young woman from the small village of Nazareth, now, she is remembered all over the world as the very Mother of Our Lord and Saviour.

Yet, we must also remember that Mary committed herself thoroughly to God’s call, and dedicated herself in her faithful service. In the same way, all of us are also called to devote ourselves to God, in changing our way of life and turning completely to God. And this season of Lent, with its penitential nature, is the perfect time for us to begin this transformation and conversion, that we may become new beings, filled no longer with doubt, pride, ego, hatred, jealousy and wickedness, but instead with God’s love, full of faith and love in us.

May the Lord continue to guide us through this blessed season of Lent, that each and every one of us may imitate the faith and commitment that His own Mother, Mary, has shown us all, in her humble acceptance of the role that He has granted to her, as well as in her commitment and faith to serve the Lord wholeheartedly, throughout her whole life. May God empower us all, to be ever faithful, that we may grow closer to Him, and be worthy to receive eternal glory at the end of our earthly journey.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, full of grace and blessed among women, pray for us all sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, 25 March 2019 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (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.

Monday, 25 March 2019 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 10 : 4-10

And never will the blood of bulls and goats take away these sins. This is why on entering the world, Christ says : You did not desire sacrifice and offering; You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said : “Here I am. It was written of Me in the scroll. I will do Your will, o God.”

First He says : “Sacrifice, offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire nor were You pleased with them – although they were required by the Law. Then He says : Here I am to do Your will. This is enough to nullify the first will and establish the new. Now, by this will of God, we are sanctified once and for all by the sacrifice of the Body of Christ Jesus.

Monday, 25 March 2019 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 39 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Sacrifice and oblation You did not desire; this You had me understand. Burnt offering and sin offering You do not require. Then I said, “Here I come!”

“As the scroll says of me. To do Your will is my delight, o God, for Your law is within my heart.”

In the great assembly I have proclaimed Your saving help. My lips, o Lord, I did not seal – You know that very well.

I have not locked up in my heart Your saving help, but have spoken about it – Your deliverance and Your faithfulness; I have made no secret of Your truth and of Your kindness in the great assembly.

Monday, 25 March 2019 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.”

Monday, 11 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of oUr Lady of Lourdes, the aspect of Mary, the Blessed Mother of Our God, Jesus Christ, who appeared to a young peasant girl in the remote village of Lourdes in southern France, over a hundred and fifty years ago. At that time, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the young woman, a few times, revealing to her the messages calling for the repentance of mankind, and also showed her the nature of her Immaculate Conception, asking her to build a chapel in that place where she had appeared to her.

St. Bernadette Soubirous faced much opposition and ridicule from all those who refused to believe in the truth and the credibility of her accounts, but she persevered nonetheless, and continued to visit the Blessed Virgin despite having been told not to, and there were those who even had barriers and obstacles installed in order to prevent her from returning to the grotto of Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin appeared to her. Through the miraculous appearance of a spring of clear and healing water at the grotto, the place gradually became more and more popular and the truth about St. Bernadette Soubirous’ account on the apparition was verified as the truth.

That was how the grotto of Lourdes became one of the most famous places in the world for pilgrimages, where millions came down every year, bringing their sick ones in particular, seeking for miraculous healing that came with the holy water that St. Bernadette Soubirous discovered upon the instruction of Our Lady of Lourdes. They wanted to be healed from their bodily and physical troubles, all the sicknesses and illnesses they suffered from.

Through today’s Scripture readings we heard the many wonderful deeds that the Lord has performed in our midst, beginning with His creation of the world and all the good things found in creation. He has loved us all and provided us with all that we need despite our rebelliousness and stubbornness in refusing to love Him, and in continuing to sin against Him, again and again. And the Lord showed pity and mercy when His people asked for Him to forgive them.

That was why, He sent into this world, the fulfilment of the promise of His deliverance and healing, in His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Who came into our midst, healing people who were sick, casting out demons and evil spirits from all those who have been possessed, helping all those who were distressed and loving all those who have been rejected and ostracised by the society, reaching out to the poor, the condemned, the sinners and the ostracised, those who were looked down upon.

And in this, the role of the Blessed Mother of Our Lord and Saviour cannot be understated, for it was her love for each and every one of us, her adopted children, that helped us to link to the compassion and mercy that her Son shows to each and every one of us. Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes showed us her compassion, by appearing to St. Bernadette, calling on her children to return to the loving embrace of God and repent from their sins.

That was why she appeared to us, providing with us the means to seek the help of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, for is she not our mother, just as she is the mother of Christ? From the cross, Our Lord entrusted her to us, and also each and every one of us to her, when He entrusted Mary, His mother to the care of His disciple, St. John the Apostle, and vice versa. Since then, each and every one of us have also had Mary as our mother.

And as she looked out for our well-being and salvation through her Son, are we making the conscious effort to keep ourselves away from the corruption of sin? Today, as we pray for the sake of all those who suffer illnesses and enduring from various diseases, we have to also look deep into ourselves, and discover the state of our sickness in sin. For we may be free from physical ailment and problems, but sin may be corrupting us and causing us to be sick spiritually, which is even more than physically being sick.

Let us all therefore seek the healing in God, putting our trust and faith in the providence and the love of our Lord and Saviour, in His healing grace, and in being forgiven from our many sins. Let us all turn towards our loving God, through the help and tender care from His blessed mother Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, who constantly prays for us and intercedes for our sake at every moments. May the Lord be with us, and may Our Blessed mother, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes continue to pray for us sinners. Amen.

Monday, 11 February 2019 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Lourdes)

Mark 6 : 53-56

At that time, having crossed the lake, Jesus and His disciples came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

John 2 : 1-11

At that time, three days after Jesus called Nathanael, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.” However His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did. The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.