Thursday, 11 February 2021 : 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 (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, celebrating one of the most well-known Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which happened over a century and half ago at the small town in southern France, now renowned all over the whole world for its miraculous spring water, the water of the grotto of Lourdes.

Every year, millions of pilgrims came to Lourdes to visit the sacred site of the Apparition remembering the moment when Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes. Our Lady of Lourdes revealed herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception and proved that she was indeed genuine and not a false apparation. Mary came to show herself to call her adopted sons and daughters, all of mankind back towards her Son, their Lord and Saviour.

At that time, as was with many other occurrences of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there had been degradation and decline of the faith in many of the communities of the faithful. Just as the other famous Apparition at Fatima, which happened when the world was engulfed in the Great War and Russia was about to begin many decades of persecution of the faithful by the atheist Communists, thus at Lourdes at that time, the Blessed Mother of God appeared to warn all those who have veered away from the path of the Lord.

For at that time, the influence and hold of the faith over many of the people decline precipituously and rapidly, as many rebelled against the authority and the teachings of the Church, preferring to follow the ways of the world. The Lord was no longer the centre and the focus of the lives of many among the people as the tide of secularism and infidelity continued to take root within the community. Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to remind the people to be faithful towards the Lord and to listen to Him.

After all, it was what she herself had told the servants at the time of the wedding at Cana, when the Lord Jesus first performed a miracle publicly. Although initially the Lord did not want to help the wedding couple then in dire straits and in the verge of major humiliation due to them running out of wine in their own wedding celebration, but Mary insisted to help, and she told the servants to do whatever the Lord told them to do.

We can see even there at that moment how Mary had shown so much concern and care for the needs of others, reaching out for others who are in need and helping them, acting as intercessors and guide for them on the way to her Son, Jesus Our Lord and Saviour. She wants us to follow the Lord and to listen to Him, to trust in Him and allow Him to lead us, and she herself is the perfect and best of all the disciples and followers, following her Son throughout His ministry.

Now, all those people who came to Lourdes, all of them came beaten and broken, diseased and weak, either in the body and physique or in the spiritual and in the mind. They came seeking God’s mercy, love and kindness as He expressed it through His mother, Our Lady of Lourdes who helped and guided so many souls of people back towards her Son. She made available God’s wonderful graces through her constant intercession and by leading us all to the right path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes therefore, let us all look towards the Lord with a renewed faith and commitment, guided, led and inspired by His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, ever immaculate in life, dedicated and committed to God, our wonderful role model and inspiration. Let us all be exemplary in our own actions as well, so that we may be inspiration to our fellow brothers and sisters ourselves.

Can we be the guiding light for so many others who are still seeking the Lord and wanting to listen to Him and know Him? We are all called to a life of genuine discipleship and faith, and each and every one of us can play our part in actively leading a good and virtuous Christian living at all times. May God bless us always in our good endeavours and efforts, and may He, through His mother, Our Lady of Lourdes, continue to reach out to us and seek us. Amen.

Thursday, 11 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Gospel Reading)

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

Mark 7 : 24-30

At that time, when Jesus left the place where He rebuked the Pharisees, He went to the border of the Tyrian country. There He entered a house, and did not want anyone to know He was there, but He could not remain hidden. A woman, whose small daughter had an evil spirit, heard of Him, and came and fell at His feet. Now this woman was a pagan, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she begged Him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

Jesus told her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to puppies.” But she replied, “Sir, even the puppies under the table eat the crumbs from the children’s bread.” Then Jesus said to her, “You may go your way; because of such a response, the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

And when the woman went home, she found her child lying in bed, and the demon gone.

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.

Thursday, 11 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Psalm)

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

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will ear the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

Thursday, 11 February 2021 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (First Reading)

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

Genesis 2 : 18-25

YHVH God said, “It is not good for Man to be alone; I will give him a helper who will be like him.” Then YHVH God formed from the earth all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to Man to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called every living creature, that was its name.

So Man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beast of the field. But he did not find among them a helper like himself. Then YHVH God caused a deep sleep to come over Man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh. The rib which YHVH God had taken from Man He formed into a woman and brought her to the man.

The man then said, “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man.” That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked and were not ashamed.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Isaiah 66 : 10-14c

Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.

For this is what YHVH says : I will send her peace, overflowing like a river; and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this first day of the New Year, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God, or Theotokos, commemorating the Mary’s special role, privilege and honour as the Mother of God, and not just an ordinary mother like any other mothers. Mary is truly the Mother of God just as much as Jesus Christ, her Son, is God Himself. If anyone were to deny that Mary is the Mother of God, then they are in fact also denying the divinity of Jesus.

This title and honour of Mary as the Theotokos, or ‘God-bearer’ in Greek, was already an ancient one by the time of the first Ecumenical Council of the Church at Nicaea, as is the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Lord and Saviour. The Church through the Apostles and their successors, guided by the truth and wisdom shown by the Holy Spirit had preserved this truth carefully against all the false ideas and heresies that denied the divinity of the Lord and the divine motherhood of Mary.

At that time, there were those who refused to believe in the divinity of Christ and that Jesus is the Son of God, or those who ascribed that the Son was a created Being, less than equal than the Father, the latter viewpoint as believed by the Arian heretics. In opposition against all these false teachings and ideas were the faithful bishops and all those who remained committed to the true, orthodox Christian faith.

Thus, first of all the bishops gathered and with the support of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who was very favourable to the Christian faith, they commenced the first ever Ecumenical Council of the Universal Church at Nicaea, where the Faith itself was formalised and codified into a firm Creed, which we now know as the Nicene Creed, modified at the later Ecumenical Council in Constantinople into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that we still use to this day.

The divinity and equality of Jesus Christ with the Father was affirmed and codified into the Canon of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, and all the false and heretical teachings such as that of Arius, the founder of the Arian heresy and many others were rejected and condemned as false and heretical. However, with regards to the status of Mary as the Mother of God, it would take yet another century before the issue was definitively settled at another Ecumenical Council.

At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, another great matter dividing the faithful was the heresy of Nestorianism, which was the belief that the Lord Jesus was distinct in His human and divine nature, just as we believe it to this day, but with an important difference, as they believed that the humanity of Christ was totally distinct and separate, with two wills and two existences.

And this was related to the matter of Mary as the Mother of God because those who sided with Nestorius and his heretical views deemed that Mary could not be the Mother of God as she was just a human being, and that she was just merely the mother of the human Jesus Christ, the person born and distinct from the Son of God, thus, they preferred terms such as Christotokos, or the bearer of Christ, the human Jesus.

This was firmly rejected by all those who held strongly to the true faith, in holding to the view that the Lord Jesus was both Divine and Man, and although distinct in their respective natures, but these two natures are inseparably united in the perfect bond of love in the one person, Jesus Christ. Therefore, this is the core of our belief in the Lord Who exists in two natures, Divine and Man, but united perfectly in one Person, and thus, His mother is also the Mother of God and not just the Mother of Man.

At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus therefore, the belief in Mary as the Mother of God or Theotokos was finalised and affirmed as a true teaching of the Christian faith, and all the other, dissenting teachings and falsehoods were considered as heresies and were condemned. Today on this Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, we celebrate that great victory of the truth, upholding that Mary truly is God’s own Mother by His incarnation into this world.

It is also very significant that this celebration is held on the eighth or Octave Day of Christmas, the very last day of the Christmas Octave, as the culmination of the peak of our celebrations of Christmas that will still nonetheless continue on with the upcoming Solemnity of the Epiphany. The celebration of the Divine Motherhood of Mary is an affirmation of the significance of Our Lord’s birth into this world, that through Mary, He has assumed our very own human nature, and became Man, that in time to come, He might save us all through His sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we honour Mary this day in memory of her faith and obedience to God’s will just as we honour her as the Mother of God. If we love our Lord and Saviour, then naturally we should also love His mother as well. How can we not love her when we say that we love her Son? But even more importantly, we should follow the example and the faith that Mary has shown us, in how she lived and in how she dedicate herself to the Lord.

She committed herself so thoroughly to God and obeyed Him, and dedicated herself to the care of her Son, following Him all the way to the foot of the Cross. And from the Cross, the Lord Himself entrusted her to us by symbolically entrusting her to His disciple St. John, while also entrusting all of us to her to be her beloved children in the same way. Hence, we look upon Mary not just as a distant and unknown woman, but as the loving Mother of Our God, Our Lord and Saviour, and also as our own Mother.

Let us all look at Mary’s way of life and her faith, and spend more time with her, by means of prayers and contemplation, and remind ourselves always to follow her examples in every moments of our lives. As we embark on this new year, let us all start it right by living our lives more and more in accordance with our Christian faith and way of life. And as we continue to celebrate this joyful season of Christmas, let us all focus our efforts and attentions to bring joy to the world, and not just any joy but the true joy of Christ.

May all of us as Christians be the bearers of Christ’s Light and joy, His peace, hope and love into our respective communities, families and to all those whose lives we touch. May Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, our loving Mother, continue to pray for us all sinners and guide us in our journey of faith so that one day, all of us may glorify God together with her, reconciled with her Son and forgiven from our many sins. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 16-21

So the shepherds came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him, they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the Angels had told them.

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! That is, Father! You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say : May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!”

“In that way they put My Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

Saturday, 12 December 2020 : 2nd 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 celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, commemorating the Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the site of Guadalupe in what is today part of Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most popular Marian devotions in the world and she is also the Patroness of the Americas, and is also among one of the oldest approved Marian apparitions, from long before the other ones at Lourdes and Fatima.

About five centuries ago, St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, one of the pious native converts to Christianity, whose feast day we have just celebrated three days ago, saw the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the site of the Tepeyac hill where the great Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe now stands. St. John Diego was a simple but pious peasant to whom Our Lady appeared to, revealing herself to be none other than the Mother of God.

Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared a few times to St. John Diego, asking for a church to be built at the site of her apparition in her honour. And most well known is the miracle of the tilma or cloak or mantle, which belonged to St. John Diego and on which was imprinted the image of Our Lady herself, not drawn by any human hands but miraculously appearing on the cloak after she told St. John Diego to gather rare flowers at the place she pointed out, as a sign to the local bishop.

This very mantle is still kept in the great Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the centre of the very popular devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as mentioned. Certainly many lost souls had been found due to her intercession, and many others had had their faith strengthened throughout the past few centuries, and it was indeed no coincidence that she chose to appear there at the time when the Christian faith has just recently then arrived to the Americas.

All in all, today we rejoice because of the great love which our mother
Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe has for all of us, her beloved children. That she has chosen to appear multiple times throughout history and in various occasions, especially after periods of great conflicts and upheavals pointed out to the fact that she truly loves each one of us dearly, and wants us all to find our way to her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to look at our loving mother, appreciating the genuine care and compassion that she has shown us. And through her, we shall find our way towards the Lord, to His salvation, grace and eternal life. Are we willing to follow the example of our blessed mother, in her commitment and faith in God, as well as in her righteous and pious life?

We are all called to reexamine our way of life throughout this Advent season that we may rediscover the true meaning of Christmas that we are all going to celebrate in just two more weeks from now, as well as the true meaning of our Christian faith. This is the perfect opportunity and time for us to rediscover our love for the Lord and to remove from ourselves all the unhealthy attachments to sin and worldly temptations.

Let us all heed our loving mother’s call, that all of us may embrace her with love and find our way to the Lord’s salvation and grace through the path that our mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe has shown us, that we may join the many others who had followed her and devoted herself to her, and through her to her Son. Let us all seek the Lord our God and have a conversion of heart and mind in this blessed season of Advent. May all of us draw ever closer to Our Lord and Saviour, and may His mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, always intercede for us sinners. Amen.