Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate the feast of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. It is interesting that after the high of the celebrations of the joyful exaltation and triumph of the Holy Cross yesterday, then we come to the remembrance of the sorrows of our Blessed Mother, who was sorrowful at the suffering and death of her Son.

But in truth, this is an important reminder that the Cross of Christ, while it is a sign of great victory and triumph against sin, evil and darkness, but it is also where our Lord and Saviour suffered grievously for the sins and faults that He had willingly bore for our sake, every blows and wounds that He bore up to the Cross, as a most worthy offering to God, for the redemption of all mankind and atonement of all of our sins.

And in all these, His mother, Mary, grieved as a mother should when the mother sees the suffering of the child. As the mother grieved in seeing her son suffers, Mary saw her own Son, born of her womb and Whom she took care all her life, suffering so much for the sake of the whole world, fulfilling the task which had been entrusted to Him as the Saviour of the world. And Mary saw all of that, and faithfully walked beside her Son, following Him as He took the last steps of the journey towards His crucifixion.

It must have been painful for Mary to witness such a horrific scene happening before her, as she saw her Son suffering in such a manner, deprived of all dignity and honour, betrayed and cast aside by the authorities and the people, condemned to death for faults that were not His. Yet, Mary obeyed perfectly and completely to the will of God, and bore her sorrows with the faith and knowledge that everything would happen as God willed it.

It must have indeed been most sorrowful for a mother to witness her own child’s death, but that was exactly what happened as Mary beheld the lifeless body of her Son, at the foot of the Cross. This is most commonly depicted as Our Lady of Sorrows, the most sorrowful and sad depiction of Mary, as a loving Mother holding her Son, His mission fulfilled and completed, but with sorrow piercing her heart seeing all that happened.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can just see how great Mary’s faith and dedication is, that despite her sorrows and the trials she had to endure, she remained firmly committed to the cause and mission that has been entrusted to her. And seeing her Son suffered in such a way, certainly brought Mary to shown great concern and love for each and every one of us, whom by adoption into the Church, has become her own children and beloved ones.

That is why, if we notice, Mary has appeared many times to many people in various times and places, all with the similar message imploring us mankind to turn away from our sins, to repent sincerely and to embrace God’s forgiveness and most generous mercy. That is because she knew full well the suffering that we all will endure for our sins, in the suffering that her Son had endured and which she had witnessed herself as she followed Him faithfully right up to the foot of the cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate this Feast of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, let us all look up to Mary, our loving Mother for her exemplary faith and dedication to God. Let us all be ever more faithful and turn away from our wickedness, from our actions that had brought scandal to our faith, and genuinely seek God’s forgiveness so that we may be forgiven our sins and be worthy of the eternal glory, life and joy that will be ours in God’s presence.

Let us turn to our sorrowful and loving Mother and comfort her by our dedication and desire to lead a more Christ-like life, to obey the Law of God and to follow His will in every actions and deeds we have, and to be shining beacons of Christian faith for one another in this darkened world. Let us all sin no more, and strive to follow our Mother’s faithful examples, so that we may receive the crown of eternal life and glory, and triumph with the Holy Cross of Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

May the Lord, our crucified Messiah and loving Saviour continue to bless and guide us, and may His ever loving Mother continue to show her tender care towards us all. O Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us all sinners, and pray that we may all endeavour to turn away from our wicked sins, and enter into God’s mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-27

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.”

Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Alternative reading

Luke 2 : 33-35

At that time, the father and mother of Jesus wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a Sign; a Sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a Sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 30 : 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

In You, o YHVH, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver me in Your justice. Give heed to my plea, and make haste to rescue me.

Be a Rock of refuge for me, a Fortress for my safety. For You are my Rock and my Stronghold, lead me for Your Name’s sake.

Free me from the snare that they have set for me. Indeed You are my Protector. Into Your hands I commend my spirit; You have redeemed me, o YHVH, faithful God.

But I put my trust in You, o YHVH, I said : “You are my God.” My days are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, from those after my skin.

How great is the goodness which You have stored for those who fear You, which You show, for all to see, to those who take refuge in You!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 5 : 7-9

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him, Who could save Him from death, and He was heard, because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt, through suffering, what obedience was, and, once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation, for those who obey Him.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, celebrated not long after the celebration of her Nativity just a few days ago. And this is also parallel to what we celebrate on her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lord’s Most Holy Name the week after Christmas, His birth into the world.

And we may be wondering then, what is it there in a name? And we will be surprised to note that name is something which is very significant, that symbolises identity and truth about someone and something. No longer will it be indistinct and unremarkable, for a name can make great difference. For simple example, none of us knows the names of the billions of peoples who lived throughout the millennia of our human existence, as each of these were not prominent enough, and known each only by their own relatives and close families.

But we can clearly remember the names of famous rulers, kings, personalities, famous peoples and scientists, many of whom had departed this world many years, decades and even centuries and millennia ago. This is because their names are powerful reminder, an identity that invoke the memory of that person’s achievements, greatness, all the deeds he or she had done. In the same way, a great criminal and enemy of humanity throughout history had also been remembered this way, with even mere mention of the name could bring up chilling reminder and memories of the terrible things and deeds the person had committed.

In this same manner therefore, whenever we utter the Name of Our Lord Jesus and that of His mother, Mary, do we actually realise that we have just invoked the great power of the Almighty God, and that of the powerful intercession of His mother? And yet, many of us have not treated their Name with the proper care and respect needed, but we often took these Holy Names for granted, or use them in vain, inappropriately and without proper respect.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we realise that Satan himself would tremble at the mere mention of the name of Mary, God’s own mother, the mother of our Lord and Saviour. Satan would flee and not remain as he could not stand before the mother of God, through whom his final defeat and loss had been guaranteed for all eternity, for Mary is the promised Woman, that from the beginning of time God had promised that Satan would be defeated and crushed at the feet of the Woman.

Not only that Mary remained uncorrupt and righteous throughout her life, but her obedience to God has been feared by Satan ever since the beginning, as she was not under his dominion and power, without the corruption and taint of sin, and with the faith and obedience that was unshakeable, her love and devotion to her Son that was so complete. Mary is the antithesis of Eve, the new Eve that unlike the first Eve, Satan was unable to shake, tempt and make to fall into sin.

And even more importantly, through her acceptance and humble obedience to the will of God, Mary became the Mother of God, through whom the salvation of this world has come, the Light came which dispelled the darkness of sin and evil, and from whom, the path to Satan’s ultimate defeat had been paved and made clear. Naturally, therefore, just as Satan definitely trembled at the mere mention and utterance of the Holy Name of God. The name of His beloved mother would make him to fear and flee as well, especially when uttered with faith.

And as we call upon the name of Mary, in fact we are also calling upon her, who is our loving and caring mother. When we call upon her name, it is indeed like a child calling and yearning for the mother, for protection, love, comfort and assurance. Let us all look upon our mother Mary, and call upon her to help us in our struggle against evil, and that she may continue to intercede and pray for us all. Let us all not be fearful of evil any more, for our blessed mother is by our side, and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, loves us even more.

Let us also be inspired by the faithful examples showed by Mary, in her faithful life, her obedience and commitment to the Law of God and to the mission which He has entrusted to her. Let us all be faithful and be good Christians in the way that our blessed mother has showed us by her actions. Let us all seek to be closer to God through His mother Mary, and commit ourselves anew to a life dedicated to the Lord, rejecting the temptations of sin and evil.

O Holy Mother of God, Mary, our loving mother, pray for us all sinners, and be with us always, that we may draw much inspiration from your dedication and the love you showed to your Son. Help us to be always ever faithful, and ever righteous despite the many trials and temptations in our path. May the Lord bless us all and may He grant us the strength to love Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 6 : 43-49

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “No healthy tree bears bad fruit, no poor tree bears good fruit. And each tree is known by the fruit it bears : you do not gather figs from thorns, or grapes from brambles. Similarly, the good person draws good things from the good stored in his heart, and an evil person draws evil things from the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart.”

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what the one is like, who comes to Me, and listens to My words, and acts accordingly. That person is like the builder who dug deep, and laid the foundations of his house on rock. The river overflowed, and the stream dashed against the house, but could not carry it off because the house had been well built.”

“But the one who listens and does not act, is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. The flood burst against it, and the house fell at once : and what a terrible disaster that was!”

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!”

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 17-18

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

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 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.

Saturday, 12 September 2020 : 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 or Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Corinthians 10 : 14-22

Therefore, dear friends, shun the cult of idols. I address you as intelligent persons; judge what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion with the Blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the Body of Christ?

The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread. Consider the Israelites. For them, to eat of the victim is to come into communion with its altar. What does all that mean? That the meat is really consecrated to the idol, or that the idol is a being.

However, when the pagans offer a sacrifice, the sacrifice goes to the demons, not to God. I do not want you to come into fellowship with demons. You cannot drink, at the same time, from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons. You cannot share in the table of the Lord and in the table of the demons. Do we want, perhaps, to provoke the jealousy of the Lord? Could we be stronger than He?

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.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating the moment when Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, was born into this world. And if we noticed the date and timing, we will realise how it is exactly nine months today, after the eighth day of the month December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

If on the day of the Immaculate Conception we rejoice in the moment the Mother of God herself was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, then nine months after that, today, we celebrate her birth into this world, the moment of joy when both her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne welcomed her into the world although at that time no one would have ever known that this little baby, soon to be a young woman and lady, would be the one to bear the Saviour of the world.

In today’s Scripture readings, we heard of the humanity of Christ that came forth from His descent, through His legal foster-father, St. Joseph, who was the rightful heir of David, the great King of Israel, and He was also descended from king David through His mother Mary, through another lineage also highlighted in the Scripture and according to the sacred traditions of the Church.

We heard through the long lineage how the Lord eventually descended through the kings of Judah and Israel, to king David and through him, from Abraham, the father of many nations, and ultimately from Adam, the very first one of all man. Through this very significant link, we can see that in Christ lays the ultimate culmination of the Lord’s salvation of His people, in Christ as the New Adam, a comparison that was made by St. Paul, the One Who liberated us all from death just as the first, old Adam brought us into death through sin.

Then how does Mary fit in all these, brothers and sisters in Christ? Just as Adam was the first man, and Eve was created by God from the flesh of Adam, then we can surely see the interesting parallel that exists between Adam and Eve, and Christ and His mother, Mary. Yes, exactly, Mary is the new Eve, the new Woman that the Lord Himself had proclaimed at the beginning as the one through whom the final victory of man over Satan and his forces would come from.

When Eve fell to the temptations of Satan and fell into sin, it was Mary’s faith and obedience to God that marked a new beginning for all of us. And while Adam and Eve fell into sin, embracing the temptations of Satan who persuaded them with knowledge and power, to fill themselves up with greatness and in Satan’s own words ‘to be like God’, the new Adam, Christ Himself, although fully Divine, chose to empty Himself from His divinity, and in humble and perfect obedience, destroyed the sins caused by the disobedience of man.

Through Mary and her obedience, her faith and commitment, the love she has for her Son, showed by her dedication through her whole life since birth and through the lifetime and ministry of her Son, she has showed us what it means for us to follow God and to be faithful to Him, and that is why, rightfully, the devil himself fears Mary very, very much, the most of all the children of Adam and Eve, as it was her devotion to God, her perfect love and faith, modelled after her Son, that brought him to his ultimate and complete defeat.

Unlike Eve, Mary was not and could not be tempted by Satan, just as he failed to tempt the Lord Himself. That is why, rightfully, he feared Mary, just almost as much as he had to yield to her Son, his rightful Lord and Master, whom he had rebelled against, lost, and cast out, to face eternity of defeat and destruction, while all of us, who share in the glory of Christ, will be brought out of the clutches of Satan, and with Mary guiding the way for us to her Son, our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in celebration of the birthday of the Mother of Our Lord, let us all therefore look upon the examples of her faith and dedication, her trust in God and how she humbly allowed God to lead her in all things. And indeed, it is by following her examples and being inspired by her faith that we can be closest to God, for ‘through Mary, to Jesus’ should be our rallying cry, in the constant struggle against sin.

Let us all not lose faith and remain strong in our commitment to the Lord, and let us all have faith, that in the end, we will win the struggle over our souls, and by siding with God, with the help of His beloved Mother, Mary, who is also our mother, we will find the surest and best way to reach the salvation in God’s everlasting grace and love.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, whose birth we celebrate and rejoice today, pray for all of us, your adopted children and sinners, that we may grow ever stronger in faith and love for your Son, by imitating and following your own examples, humility, obedience and faith, in all times and at all moments of our lives. May the Lord be with us always, and may He always bless all of our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 : Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-16, 18-23

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-23

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us.