Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrating the patron of the Carmelites in her appearance to St. Simon Stock, one of the early founders of what is now known as the Carmelite Order. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Mother of Our Lord, according to tradition, appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the now popular brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, promising grace and blessings to those who wear it with faith and devotion.

Through this devotion, the Lord called us all through the intercession of His beloved mother, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, to turn towards Him and to be converted. The Lord called on everyone to put their trust in Him, and His ever loving mother always has her gaze on us all too, as we are all her adopted children, having been entrusted to her from the Cross by her Son. And through her and her many apparitions to us mankind, Mary, Our Lady of Carmel had endeavoured to bring us all ever closer to the Lord, to her Son, Our Saviour.

In today’s Scripture readings, from the day’s readings proper, we continue to hear the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the aftermath of the great plagues which came over Egypt as a result of their stubbornness and the Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people of Israel go free. As the Lord then revealed to Moses and Aaron, He instructed the people of Israel to prepare for the first Passover, as the commemoration of their freedom and as a constant reminder of the Lord’s mighty deeds in saving all of them.

That first Passover was a meal for the community and each families, all gathered that night to prepare for the salvation of God. The Passover lamb was prepared and chosen from among the flock, and slaughtered to be shared by the people gathered in the Passover feast, and its blood used to mark the houses of the Israelites that the Lord would spare them the incoming destruction. Thus, as they were spared from death and destruction that befell the Egyptians, as the Angels of the Lord ‘passed over’ the people of God as they came to scourge the land of Egypt and its people.

This is a reminder for us all of the most important role that Our Lord Himself, as Our Saviour had in our salvation. He is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of the Cross, and His Precious Blood shed, just like the Passover lamb, to mark all of His faithful ones, that those who have embraced Him as their Lord and Saviour, all of us, be spared the death and destruction that awaits those who have not received this grace of salvation. Through Him, all of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation.

God has done so much for all of us, all because of His generous love and commitment towards us, His ever strong desire to love us and to be reconciled with us. He does not want us to perish because of our sins and wickedness. That is why, He has reached out to us and sent to us His messengers, servants and others whom He has sent into our midst in order to remind us to walk in His path and not to fall into worldly temptations and falsehoods. We are all reminded to stay faithful to His way, and because of this, He enlisted even the help of His mother, Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel to help us in our journey.

All of us should look upon the faith and examples of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and how she is our inspiration and strength in living our lives faithfully as Christians. We should see how Mary followed her Son faithfully and with love, patiently and obediently in walking and journeying with Him, as she often followed Him from place to place. And she went up all the way even up to the feet of the Cross. Despite all the challenges and difficulties that she had to endure, Mary remained true to her calling and mission, and this, on top of her being the Mother of our Lord and God, is why we revere Mary as the greatest among all the saints and as our own beloved mother.

Let us all therefore look to the Lord and His salvation, to His Cross and the promise of His eternal glory, by journeying together and with Mary by our side, as we walk towards His Presence humbly and with faith. Let us all turn towards Him with renewed conviction and zeal, with desire and hope for healing and redemption, to be reconciled with God. Let us embrace the Lord Who has always lavished us with His love and compassionate mercy, and let us turn to Him with all of our heart and inspire others to do the same as well.

May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary, the Holy Mother of God and our beloved mother continue to pray and intercede for us sinners, on our behalf, and help us in our journey towards heavenly joy and glory with God. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, “Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?”

“I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay YHVH for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of YHVH.

It is painful to YHVH to see the death of His faithful. I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid’s son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice, I will call on the Name of YHVH. I will carry out my vows to YHVH in the presence of His people.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin 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.

Friday, 16 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Exodus 11 : 10 – Exodus 12 : 14

Moses and Aaron had worked all these marvels in the presence of Pharaoh, but YHVH had made Pharaoh obstinate and he would not let the people of Israel leave his country.

YHVH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt and said, “This month is to be the beginning of all months, the first month of your year. Speak to the community of Israel and say to them : On the tenth day of this month let each family take a lamb, a lamb for each house. If the family is too small for a lamb, they must join with a neighbour, the nearest to the house, according to the number of persons and to what each one can eat.”

“You will select a perfect lamb without blemish, a male born during the present year, taken from the sheep or goats. Then you will keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. On that evening all the people will slaughter their lambs and take some of the blood to put on the doorposts and on top of the doorframes of the houses where you eat.”

“That night you will eat the flesh roasted at the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat the meat lightly cooked and boiled in water but roasted entirely over the fire – the head, the legs and the inner parts. Do not leave any of it until the morning. If any is left till morning, burn it in the fire.”

“And this is how you will eat : with a belt round your waist, sandals on your feet and a staff in your hand. You shall eat hastily for it is a Passover in honour of YHVH. On that night I shall go through Egypt and strike every firstborn in Egypt, men and animals; and I will even bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I, YHVH! The blood on your houses will be the sign that you are there. I will see the blood and pass over you; and you will escape the mortal plague when I strike Egypt.”

“This is a day you are to remember and celebrate in honour of YHVH. It is to be kept as a festival day for all generations forever.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Zechariah 2 : 14-17

Sing and rejoice, o daughter of Zion, for I am about to come, I shall dwell among you,” says YHVH. “On that day, many nations will join YHVH and be My people, but My dwelling is among you.”

The people of Judah will be for YHVH as His portion in His holy land. He will choose Jerusalem again. Keep still in YHVH’s presence, for He comes, having risen from His holy dwelling.

Saturday, 12 June 2021 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is always celebrated on the day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We remember therefore the loving heart of the Mother of the Lord just after we remember and celebrate the love of our Lord, Who has poured out His love for us from His wounded and bleeding Heart, as He lay dying on the Cross.

Mary was there at the moment of the death of her Son, and she witnessed so many events that had happened throughout her whole life and as she journeyed and followed her Son’s path and ministry. She has always patiently followed Him and kept everything in her heart, all that she had heard and witnessed, including what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, regarding the moment when Jesus was lost to her and St. Joseph, at the age of Twelve as He remained behind in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Again in that occasion we heard how Mary patiently listened and kept everything in her heart, as she heard the Lord Jesus speaking even as a Child, that the Temple of Jerusalem is the House of His Father, His true Father in Heaven. Mary knew in her heart just as she remembered the words of the Archangel Gabriel and all the other signs and words given to her, that her Son Jesus was meant for very great things, and as the old servant of God Simeon spoke to her at the moment of the Presentation of the Lord, that a sword would pierce her own heart, and all secret then shall be revealed.

Mary truly loved her Son, and seeing Him suffering on the Cross must truly be heartbreaking for her, as after all, who would not be in pain to see one’s own child suffer and die? Yet, Mary endured it all with love and faith, knowing that everything is part of God’s plan. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary’s Immaculate Heart is truly so pure and filled with so much love for God, for her Son, and from there also, for all of us. This is because from the Cross, Jesus has entrusted all of us to her, and at the same time, He has also entrusted her to all of us.

That is why, just as much as Our Lord has constantly reached out to us with love, Mary, His beloved mother and our mother, has also constantly reached out to us, asking us and pleading with us to turn away from our path of sin, and be reconciled with God and be forgiven from those sins we have committed. She knew what suffering her Son had gone through for our sake, and the punishment that is due for our sins. And as her own adopted children, certainly she does not want us to fall into an eternity of suffering in hell.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise just how fortunate and how beloved we are to be loved not only by Our Lord, Who poured out for us His loved from His Most Sacred Heart, bleeding, bruised and broken, but also by His mother, Mary, from whose Immaculate Heart pours forth the most wonderful motherly love? Have we realised this and have we been grateful for such great love that we have received? And yet, so many of us still live in the path of sin, in the way of disobedience against God that made Him and His beloved mother, our mother, so sorrowful?

Let us all discern carefully our path in life, brothers and sisters in Christ, that each and every one of us may find consolation and forgiveness through the guidance of our blessed and loving mother Mary, to her Son’s most wonderful mercy and compassionate Heart. Let us all imitate the faith and commitment that Mary had, in obeying the Lord and in loving Him so thoroughly and completely in our own lives, resisting the many temptations to sin and to disobey against His Law and commandments.

May the Lord continue to be with us and bless us in all things, and may He strengthen us and give us the courage to live virtuously and faithfully in accordance to His will. May He guide us towards His path, and may His Blessed Mother, Mary continue to show us the way, through her most loving Immaculate Heart. O, Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us sinners! Amen.

Saturday, 12 June 2021 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart.

Saturday, 12 June 2021 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

Saturday, 12 June 2021 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 61 : 9-11

Their descendants shall be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a race YHVH has blessed.

I rejoice greatly in YHVH, my soul exults for joy in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of His salvation, He has covered me with the robe of His righteousness, like a bridegroom wearing a garland, like a bride adorned with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord YHVH make justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

Monday, 31 May 2021 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering the moment when Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, came to visit her cousin Elizabeth, both pregnant with child. At that time, Mary was just having the Child Jesus in her not long after He was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, while Elizabeth, who had become pregnant earlier, was having St. John the Baptist in her womb, even in her advanced age.

Mary came to visit Elizabeth having been told by the Archangel Gabriel that her cousin was having a child in her, even in her advanced age, as part of God’s plans and to convince her that whatever he has told her is the truth. Mary haas been told that she would become the Mother of the Son of God Most High, that God Himself would come into this world through her, and the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and cause all those things to happen. Mary accepted her role and accepted the truth, and she obeyed the Lord’s will wholly and completely.

When Mary then came to visit Elizabeth, the latter filled with the Holy Spirit praised and honoured Mary, as full of grace and Mother of God, further reaffirming her special role in the work of God’s salvation of mankind. Elizabeth praised her and welcomed her to her place, and Mary herself, filled with the Holy Spirit, sang a great song of thanksgiving that we now know and recognise as the Magnificat, prayed frequently during the prayers of the Divine Office and in other Marian devotions and prayers.

Today as we celebrate this Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary we recall the faith and the wonderful commitment showed by Mary, as an example and inspiration to all of us, as she obeyed the Lord and entrusted herself fully to the divine will, and followed Him to wherever He has led her to. Mary is a great role model for each and every one of us as Christians as we embark on our own journey of faith, following her obedience and dedication to the mission that has been entrusted to her throughout her life.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians we have also been entrusted with the mission by the Lord to proclaim His truth and salvation to all the peoples of all and every nations. Following the faith and example of Mary, we have to commit ourselves to the Lord and the mission entrusted to us with great devotion and commitment. We should be righteous and just, obedient to the Law of God in the same manner as Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God had done throughout her own life in this world.

We have to bear witness to the Lord not just through empty faith and belief, but through real contribution and dedication, through our every words and actions that are founded upon the pillars of our Christian faith. We have to do whatever we can, in our respective capacities and abilities, making use of our talents and gifts in all things, for the greater glory of God. We have to seek the Lord with renewed conviction and zeal, and live our lives in such a way that we may always be living examples and sources of inspiration for one another in faith, that through us the Lord may always be glorified.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow the faith and example of Mary, the Mother of God, our own beloved Mother through adoption. Just as she is ever faithful, let us all be faithful to the Lord as well. Let us resist the temptations that are always all around us, seeking to prevent us from doing what we have been called to do, to live our lives with faith and to commit ourselves to the works of truth and God’s salvation. This is why we should look up to our Mother for inspiration, guidance and strength, that when we encounter challenges and difficulties, we will always be strong and be able to persevere.

May the Lord be with us all and strengthen us, and may His ever Blessed Mother continue to pray and intercede for us at all times, for the sake of all of us sinners who are still struggling and hoping to see the gleam of the light of Christ’s heavenly glory. O ever Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, pray for us all sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, 31 May 2021 : 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.