Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, in the mountainous region of Judea, a few months after the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her with the Good News that she would become the mother of the Saviour of the world and the Son of God, hence becoming the great Mother of God.

And today, we celebrate that moment when Mary visited Elizabeth and in that meeting, she recognised her as the Mother of God, as her own son, St. John the Baptist in her womb, leapt and kicked with great joy when Mary came to her house. Through this event, we see the very first time when the coming of the Lord was revealed to the people, as prior to this, only Mary herself was told this truth by the Archangel.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to remember the great joy of Mary, who sang the famous hymn ‘Magnificat’, praising God for all the good things that He has done for His people, especially to Mary, whom God had chosen to be His vessel and His instrument for the salvation of the world. Through Mary, God has made Himself incarnate into the flesh, and became Man.

Through Mary, we have seen the great work of God, and the culmination of the long promised salvation that He has promised to all of us. Mary has also herself showed the example of how we ought to be, as a model Christian. She showed us all how to be obedient to God, and how we should walk in the way of the Lord. She entrusted herself completely to the Lord and gave herself completely to God’s will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are called to follow in the example of Mary, the mother of Our Lord. Mary showed all of us the way forward in our lives, and she showed us the importance of prayer and of listening to God. In the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary sang, was contained in essence a prayer to God, praising and thanking Him, and remembering all that He had done.

How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we led a good and prayerful life? Have we walked faithfully in God’s ways? Have we devoted our time, effort and attention to the Lord and put Him as the focus and the centre of our lives? If we have not done all these, then perhaps we should really spend some time to reflect and reevaluate our actions and lives.

Shall we turn ourselves towards God, and shall we learn to focus more on Him? Shall we spend more time in prayer, contemplation and focus on the Lord, that we, in the midst of our busy schedules and activities, will not lose our focus and our way? All of us are called to a holier and more prayerful life. All of us need to be holy just as the Lord is holy, in everything we say and do in our lives.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He empower us all to live worthily and filled with faith, every single days of our life. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

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 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! 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.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.

Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid. YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me. You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation.

Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.

Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Thursday, 31 May 2018 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving Warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast.

I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be ashamed.

Alternative reading

Romans 12 : 9-16b

Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Outdo one another in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the Spirit and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone. Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep.

Live in peace with one another. Do not dream of extraordinary things.

Thursday, 24 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mary, Help of Christians)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the memorial of Mary, Our Lady, Help of Christians, and the Lady of Sheshan, named after the famous Sheshan Basilica in Shanghai, China. On this day, in particular, we remember all those brothers and sisters of ours, who are currently facing intense persecution and difficult time, as they struggle to remain true to their faith in God.

That is why, the Church has designated this day, true to the memorial I just mentioned, as the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. We are praying on behalf of our brethren in faith, who may be undergoing and are indeed, for many among them, facing persecution and challenges just because they identify themselves as Christians, that is as those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and take Him as their Lord and Saviour.

In China today, especially in recent years, there had been increasing intolerance towards Christians in particular, and many of the faithful find it more and more difficult to remain true to their faith. I am sure many of us have heard news of how crosses were forcibly removed from churches, and restrictions put in place on Christian worship, and even, young children were barred from attending the Holy Mass or going to Church.

In all these, we can see how the persecution of Christians that once happened during its early days came back once again, especially in China, but in truth, is happening in many other parts of the world, such as in the Middle East, Africa, in the Western world, the Americas, and even recently in the Philippines, being a Christian, and especially for priests, it can be very challenging and a matter of life or death.

And when I speak about persecution and challenges, it is not just about persecution with lions and gladiators, or with swords and whips and lances, as how it was in the Ancient Roman times. Indeed, such kind of persecutions still exist, but nowadays, persecution exist in many more ways than what we think persecution is truly about. Persecution happened in many areas, in the political world, in the society and the community, through the attacks on Christian values and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we should spend some time, to think about these suffering brethren of ours, and pray for them, that God will protect them and defend them from their enemies, all the forces of darkness assembled against them. And then, we should also realise just how fortunate we may be, if we have not faced a similar kind of persecution and challenge as these brethren of ours had experienced.

Let us all do our best therefore, to live our lives as true Christians, dedicated and devoted to the Lord, that we show love and charity in our actions, towards all those who are around us. However, most importantly, in order to show our true faith, we cannot forget, that the most important virtue is indeed, love, and love that is unconditional and generous, as the Lord Himself had done.

It is easy for us to be angry at our enemies and to all those who hate us and persecute us. However, if we become angry at them, hate them and strike back at them, then are we not just as evil and wicked as our enemies had been wicked? If the Lord Jesus Himself had forgiven those who condemned Him to death and crucified Him from the cross, and prayed for them? Should we not do the same then?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us all be exemplary in our faith, that we become inspiration for one another, and also even strength for those who are being persecuted for their faith, by standing up for the Lord’s sake and living our lives with faith. Let us all pray for our brethren, that God will be with them, and also with all of us, that together, we may in the end, enjoy forever the eternal grace and glory of heaven, having suffered for His sake. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 24 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mary, Help of Christians)

Mark 9 : 41-50

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone gives you a drink of water because you belong to Christ and bear His Name, truly, I say to you, he will not go without reward. If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a great millstone around his neck.”

“If your hand makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a hand, than with two hands to go to hell, to the fire that never goes out. And if your foot makes you fall into sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter life without a foot, than with both feet to be thrown into hell.”

“And if your eye makes you fall into sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, keeping both eyes, to be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them never die, and the fire never goes out. The fire itself will preserve them.”

“Salt is a good thing; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

Thursday, 24 May 2018 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mary, Help of Christians)

Psalm 48 : 14-15ab, 15cde-16, 17-18, 19-20

This is the fate of people trusting themselves, the future of those who rely on their strength. Like sheep led to the grave, they have death, as their shepherd and ruler.

Quickly, their form will be consumed in the world of the dead, which is their home. But God will rescue my soul from the grave by receiving me unto Himself.

Fear not, when someone grows rich, when his power becomes oppressively great; for nothing will he take when he dies; his wealth and pomp he will leave behind.

Though he praised himself in his lifetime, “All will say that I have enjoyed life,” he will join the generation of his forebears, who will never again see the light.