Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Church celebrates yet another important feast in honour of Mary, the mother of God. On this day we focus our attention to the Most Holy Name of Mary, a name that is the terror of demons and all evil spirits just as her Son’s Name is even feared more by the same enemies of the Lord. At the mere mention of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, even Satan in all of his power and might cringe and have to submit in total fear.

And why is it that Satan fears the Name of Mary so much? It is understandable for him to fear the Holy Name of Jesus for He is God and the Master of all universe and creation, and even Satan and all the fallen angels have to submit to Him and obey Him and worship Him, no matter how reluctant they are. God’s authority over all things is absolute and therefore Satan fears the mere utterance of the Name of the Lord. But what about the Name of His blessed mother?

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all think about it for a moment. In our world, if someone who is not known and yet related to another person of great power and majesty, and that person’s relationship to the latter is known and revealed, is it not that all will also fear and give the same respect to the former just as they fear and respect the latter? There have been cases in the history of our world when kings and rulers have come from humble origins, and when they rose to kingship and rulership, even their relatives, especially their parents and mothers were brought up to a great position and esteem too.

It is therefore the same with the case of Mary and our Lord Jesus. If we have known and believed that truly, the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Master of all the universe and Omnipotent Almighty God, then by virtue of Mary being the mother of Our Lord, she is therefore also accorded the great honour of being His mother. In the historical past and even up to today, the mother of a king is accorded with great honour.

Therefore, first of all, whenever Mary’s name is mentioned in fact, it is almost equivalent to invoking the Name of her Son as well. That is why no wonder that Satan and his wicked allies and forces fear her Name so much, as the mention of her Name is also a mention of the Name of her Son, Jesus. And if Satan fears the latter, it is just right that he also fears the former. That is why we celebrate this feast of the Holy Name of Mary, our mother and our protector.

And Satan did not just fear Mary because of her being the Mother of God, but also because he has also had no power over her at all, as she was not just immaculate and conceived without the taint of original sin, but throughout her whole life she has remained faithful to God and placed her focus on Him alone, and Satan has no means by which to ever be able to corrupt her or to bring her under his power.

As such, Satan fears her precisely because in her, Satan had seen his ultimate defeat and inability to harm the sons of man, because not just that the salvation of this world came through her womb, in the form of Our Lord and Saviour, but also because Our Lord has entrusted all of the sons and daughters of mankind under her care and love. From the cross, Christ has entrusted His mother to us, and vice versa, all of us to her.

That is why Mary has appeared many times before us in her many apparitions, in Guadalupe, in Fatima, in Lourdes, in La Sallete among many others, as she constantly reminded us all to repent from our sins and to turn towards her Son with faith. She has done a lot in trying to help us all to be closer to God and to be closer to the path of salvation through her Son. For all that she has done, in being our help and also in being our role model in faith as the one whom many of us are looking up as example, the mere utterance of her Name therefore terrifies all the demonic forces in this world and beyond.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be thankful that God has given us such a wonderful means towards our salvation by giving us none other than His own beloved mother to help us in our journey of faith and in our struggles of life, by her constant intercession and reminders for each and every one of us. Let us all as Christians be inspired by her role model and example in how she has obediently lived her life with fullness of faith.

May the Lord through His mother Mary continue to help us to draw ever closer to Himself, by our ever growing love and devotion towards Him, being inspired by the love and faith which Mary herself had throughout her whole life. Let us all seek to be ever more committed and faithful from now on in all things, and glorify God by all of our words, deeds and actions in life. Amen.

Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

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!”

Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Psalm 150 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the vault of heaven. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him for His own greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with lyre and harp. Praise Him with dance and tambourines; praise Him with pipe and strings.

Praise Him with clashing cymbals; praise Him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praise to the Lord. Alleluia!

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

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, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Colossians 3 : 12-17

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise.

And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

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.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Ephesians 1 : 3-6

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in His presence.

From eternity He destined us, in love, to be His adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will. This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness, which He granted us His beloved might finally receive all glory and praise.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are called to reflect on the importance of trusting and putting our faith in the providence of God, and all of us are encouraged to discern more deeply about how we can be better disciples and followers of the Lord in our daily living. We are called to discern carefully what it truly means for us to be a disciple of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

To be a disciple of Christ, which means as Christians, all of us must be willing and committed to accept the cross of Christ as He Himself mentioned to His disciples in our Gospel passage today, that those who follow Him must carry their crosses in life. This cross that they carry is the cross of suffering united to the cross of Christ’s suffering, on which He has borne all of our punishments for our sins and died for our sake.

Through all of these that God had spoken to us through His words in the Sacred Scripture today, God wants each and every one of us to know that following Him is not going to be something that can easily be done or something that will be all pleasant and good. In fact, the reality is such that to be a follower of Christ will often mean that we will endure the same kind of rejection and suffering that the Lord Himself has suffered.

And that is why He put it plainly before all of us without sugarcoating any of the details. He put it clearly and plainly that being His disciples will often lead us to be in difficulty, in moments of trials and challenges, in rejection and persecution, all of which will lead us to doubt, or question or even wanting to give up our faith entirely. But we must not give in to those temptations and pressures, and instead we must learn to put our trust in God.

In our second reading today, in the letter which St. Paul had written to Philemon, this servant of God addressed himself as a prisoner of Christ, which highlighted the plight and suffering that he was then going through as someone being persecuted for his faith and dedication to the Lord. St. Paul has endured a lot of trials and challenges throughout his ministry as an Apostle during his evangelising missions.

He has been rejected by many people just as there were many others who accepted him and listened to him and his message of God’s truth. He has been cast out of towns and cities, ridiculed and almost stoned to death, persecuted and almost killed by his enemies and those who despised the Lord and the Christian faith. He has been betrayed and made to suffer pains in the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions, and yet, he remained true to his faith.

And why is that so? That is because St. Paul united his sufferings and trials to the very sufferings of Christ. He did not carry his cross all alone by himself, or just by carrying them with some others. In fact, as I have mentioned earlier, he carried his cross in union with Christ Himself, knowing that for everything he had suffered, the Lord has suffered infinitely a lot more, having had to endure the punishments for all of our sins.

There were also many other saints and holy servants of God who have suffered in the same manner as St. Paul or even more. Throughout the history of the Church there had been countless men and women who endured willingly those many pains and sufferings in the defence and witnessing of their Christian faith. They committed themselves to God, again knowing that they carried out their crosses in their respective lives and circumstances being united with Christ’s own sufferings.

There must have been a lot of questions that would have arisen amidst all those sufferings. Just as is in our human nature, it is bound for us to doubt, or to question or to wonder why is it that we have to suffer in this world, especially as those who believe in God and considered as God’s own beloved ones. It is common for us to hear questions such as ‘Why is there suffering if God is so good and loving?’ or ‘Why does God let His people suffer if He loves us all so much?’

This is where then we need to understand first and foremost why we have to suffer and carry our crosses in life as we follow the Lord in His path. Our sufferings come about because of the abuse of human freedom and our own stubbornness in refusing to listen to and to accept God’s truth. All of us are all beloved by God, every single one of us without any exception. Thus, by that nature, all of us ought to enjoy God’s full grace and love for eternity as He has intended.

Unfortunately, because we refuse to obey Him and chose freely to embrace the tempting fruits of sin and wickedness that Satan has presented to us, that we become corrupted and attached to those sins and temptations. And therefore suffering comes because we willingly chose to abandon God’s fullness of grace, love and providence, and preferred to walk down our own path to ruination. We chose the path of sin and disobedience and in doing so, we become reluctant to follow the Lord.

That is also why those who remained in sin and refused to believe in the Lord ended up persecuting their brethren who chose to believe in God. They refused to listen to the truth often because the truth pointed out to the defects and what are lacking in their hearts. Their pride and ego, their greed and desire for acknowledgment and superiority and unwillingness to let go of those negative things led them to persecute those who believe in the truth, that is us as Christians.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where then each and every one of us must truly contemplate what we should be doing with our lives from now on. Again in our Gospel reading passage today, God spoke to the people with regards to a parable He chose to portray and deliver His message to them. He spoke of a person building a house who ought to be thinking of what would be needed in order to build the house and complete it thoroughly or else, the house cannot be completed and the builder would be shamed.

Similarly then, the Lord spoke using the example of a king who was about to go into war with another king, who ought to discern and examine carefully the prospects of victory before engaging each other in battle. Essentially, using these two examples, the Lord wants us to discern carefully on our own respective lives as well, given that He has presented to us the truth of everything, and how each and every one of us have been given the free will to choose between following Him or to follow the path of the devil and the world.

Following God, as I have mentioned earlier, will often mean for us to suffer and to have to endure difficulties and challenges for His sake. Of course the extent of sufferings, trials and challenges will be different for each and every one of us, and no two same people will encounter the exact same conditions and sufferings as each other. Nonetheless, it is a fact and reality that the path that we have to take as faithful Christians will be an uphill one.

On the other hand, it is often so much easier for us to take the other path, that is the path of disobedience and sin, the path which Satan and his fallen angels, our tempters have presented to us all the time. This path is likely to be much more appealing and enticing to us than the path that God has shown us. Yet, the Lord also made it very clear and had revealed to us, that those who choose the path of sin and willingly and constantly going down that path has nowhere else to go but the damnation in hell, while those who persevered in the path of faith will receive the eternal and true glory of God.

Now, all of us have been given the wisdom and the ability to discern carefully what our course of action in life should be, that we have known what the two possible ultimate outcomes are. But a lot of times, we end up being distracted and fall into indecisiveness because we tend to worry, be concerned about ourselves and our worldly well-being, about being accepted by others and by the community.

This is where our first reading passage today from the Book of Wisdom should enlighten us and help us in our decision, as it was mentioned there that ‘our human reasoning is timid and our notions are misleading’ and how our ‘physical body weighs down on the active mind’. All of them reminds us of our own mortality and our own vulnerability to the temptations of the body and the flesh, the weakness of our body that become obstacles in our journey of faith.

That is why, because of our own weaknesses and inability to understand many things around us that we have to learn to put our trust in God and to focus our whole attention and our whole being on Him. The more we try to comprehend things or make decisions by considering all the concerns and thoughts we have, the more we will be confused and easily be trapped by the devil and his snares.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all pray and spend more time building a healthy and good relationship with God from now on, and trust in Him with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, knowing that He has provided us with everything that we need, and despite the sufferings, trials and challenges we may encounter in life, let us remember that He Himself has endured those same sufferings and worse, all for the love He has for each and every one of us.

Let us all therefore spend this time and moment to grow ever stronger in our faith, and to walk ever more faithfully in the path towards God. Let us be ever closer to God with each and every passing moment. May the Lord continue to guide us and journey with us, as we strive to carry up our crosses with Him, entrusting ourselves completely in His hands. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 14 : 25-33

At that time, when large crowds were walking along with Jesus, He turned and said to them, “If you come to Me, unwilling to sacrifice your love for your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, and indeed yourself, you cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not follow Me, carrying his own cross, cannot be My disciple.”

“Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it? Otherwise, if you, have laid the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone will make fun of you : ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'”

“And when a king wages war against another king, does he go to fight without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand can stand against the twenty thousand of his opponent? And if not, while the other is still a long way off, he sends messengers for peace talks. In the same way, none of you may become My disciple, if he does not give up everything he has.”

Sunday, 8 September 2019 : Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Philemon 9b-10, 12-17

The one talking is Paul, the old man, now prisoner for Christ. And my request is on behalf of Onesimus, whose father I have become while I was in prison.

In returning him to you, I am sending you my own heart. I would have liked to keep him at my side, to serve me on your behalf while I am in prison for the Gospel, but I did not want to do anything without your agreement, nor impose a good deed upon you without your free consent.

Perhaps Onesimus has been parted from you for a while so that you may have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave. For he is very dear brother to me, and he will be even dearer to you. And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself.