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.

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

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

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 5-6, 10 and 12, 24 and 35c

Bless the Lord my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

You set the earth on its foundations, and never will it be shaken. You covered it with the ocean like a garment, and waters spread over the mountains.

You make springs gush forth in valleys winding among mountains and hills. Birds build their nests close by and sing among the branches of trees.

How varied o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. Bless the Lord, my soul!

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.

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

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

Genesis 1 : 1-19

In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘Day’ and the darkness ‘Night’. There was evening and there was morning : the first day.

God said, “Let there be a firm ceiling between the waters and let it separate waters from waters.” So God made the ceiling and separated the waters below it from the waters above it. And so it was. God called the firm ceiling ‘Sky’. There was evening and there was morning : the second day.

God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered in one place and let dry land appear. And so it was. God called the dry land ‘Earth’, and the waters gathered together he called ‘Seas’. God saw that it was good.

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, fruit trees bearing fruit with seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And so it was. The earth produced vegetation : plants bearing seed according to their kind and trees producing fruit which has seed, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the third day.

God said, “Let there be lights in the ceiling of the sky to separate day from night and to serve as signs for the seasons, days and years; and let these lights in the sky shine above the earth.” And so it was. God therefore made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the smaller light to govern the night; and God made the stars as well. God placed them in the ceiling of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning : the fourth day.

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.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019 : 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 day we celebrate both the first day of the new year in the Gregorian calendar, the first day of January, and also the occasion of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, or also known in the original Greek title, Theotokos. This day, we commemorate on the last day of the Christmas Octave, Mary as the Mother of not just any ordinary man, but of God Himself in Jesus Christ, her Son, born from her womb.

In order to appreciate better the nature of the celebration today, we should look deeper into the history of the Church and the nature of our faith and the identity of Mary within our Christian beliefs. Today’s celebration of Mary as the Mother of God is indeed an important one, for this belief in Mary as the Mother of God came from the very core of our faith, in our belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, was none other than God Himself, Who become incarnate as Man through Mary.

In the early days of the Church, the many diverging views and thoughts, beliefs and practices among the Christians became a great concern, as some of the leaders of the Church subscribed to the unorthodox and heretical ways of teaching the faith, and spreading false ideas and teachings among the people of God. And of particular concern is the identity of Christ, the Saviour of the world, and that of His mother, Mary.

Now we all know that Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is no less than both Divine and Man, full in His divinity and full in His humanity, having these two natures, divinity and humanity perfectly united and yet distinct, in the person of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. His divinity is never diminished by His assumption of humanity, and neither is His humanity is diminished by His divinity. Jesus is truly God and truly Man, united in His person, as the Son of Mary.

This is when the title granted to Mary, as the Mother of God and confirmed by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, is truly crucial in the correct understanding of our Christian faith. For at that time, the Church was divided bitterly among those who claimed that Mary, as a human being, could not have been the mother of God, but only merely the mother of Jesus Christ, a human being. In the same argument then, they also argued that the One born of Mary was only a human being and separated from God the Divine.

But that was the lie which the devil had sown into the hearts and minds of men, in trying to spread falsehoods and heresies among the people of God. The devil does not desire to see mankind saved and liberated from their sins and wickedness, and thus, he sowed the lies and the divisions that prevented many from being able to find the true path of salvation in God, in doubting that Mary is the mother of God, and therefore, doubting the divinity of Christ Himself.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, although the theology behind the true nature of Christ, His divinity and humanity is indeed a mystery of our faith, but with simple common sense and understanding, we should see why Mary is indeed the mother of God. If we truly believe that Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is truly fully God and fully Man, having two distinct nature of human and the divine in Him, and yet, inseparable and cannot be distinguished, as the two natures are united perfectly in Him.

Therefore, it is illogical and not right for us to say that Mary, is just the mother of a man, or just the mother of the human half of Jesus, because Jesus is both God and Man, and cannot be separated into either or into halves. If such a division is impossible, and if we cannot say that should we divide our own body into halves and that each half is still us, then we cannot say that Mary is only the mother of Jesus Christ the Man. If we believe that Jesus is God, then Mary is, the Mother of God.

Mary occupies a special place in our faith, because of this honour that Christ has bestowed on His mother based on the natural law, of her having had the Lord and Saviour in her womb for nine months, born of her own flesh and blood, and being the one who loved Him and took care of Him, and followed Him all the way to the foot of the cross, as a loving mother to her Son, Our Lord, Saviour and God.

In the ancient times, the mother of the king often occupy a special place in the kingdom as the queen mother of the kingdom, whose experience and wisdom were often sought by the king and also even by his advisors. The example for this is king Solomon, whose mother, Bathsheba, the wife and queen of Solomon’s father David, sat by the right side of the king on a separate throne, and Solomon often conferred with her.

Now, let us imagine the parallel with Christ and Mary. Our Lord Jesus is the King of Kings, the Lord and Master of all the universe, of all creation. If Solomon’s mother occupied such an important seat in her son’s kingdom, and if Solomon himself listened to the advice and the words of his mother, then how can Our Lord Jesus not honour His own mother, Mary, in the same manner? That is why, Mary, as the blessed Mother of God, is so special for us all.

And even more importantly, Mary is not just the mother of God, but in fact, also the mother of all mankind, of all of us, which her Son proclaimed symbolically from the cross, when He entrusted her to the care of His disciple, St. John, and at the same time, entrusting St. John to His mother’s care as well. By that action, in truth, Mary was entrusted to all of us, as our mother, and we are also entrusted to her as if we are her own children.

That is why, Mary has tried to help us so many times, appearing in various places at various times, particularly during times of war and great conflict, when mankind sinned in such a way that so many of the souls of men could have been lost, if it was not for the intervention of Mary, the Mother of God and our mother, who loves us just as much as she loves her Son. She does not want us to be lost to her, and that is why, she is directing us all to her Son.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on our lives, especially as today we also mark the beginning of our current new year. Let us imitate and follow the examples of Mary in our actions and in how we devote ourselves to God. Let us learn from Mary, how we should give our whole being to the Lord, and obey Him just as she had obeyed His will and responded in such a way, that she surrendered herself to His will.

And because Mary, as mentioned, is at the right hand of God, her Son, let us also ask her, our best intercessor, to pray for us. Just as the Lord Jesus even listened to the pleas of Mary, asking Him to help the wedding couple in trouble in Cana, surely, by the intercession of Mary, we too shall be given the favour that we need, providing that everything is also within what God wants from us. Let us all therefore, from now on, reach out to the Lord, through His most blessed and loving mother, Mary, who is also our mother.

O Holy Mary, most blessed among women and blessed mother of God, pray for us all your adopted children, that all of us may find our way to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for us, o mother of God, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019 : 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.