Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 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, on this day the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, remembering and honouring Mary, the great Mother of God who appeared to St. Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order, a Crusaders era religious order founded by pilgrims and missionaries in the Holy Land centred in the area known as Mount Carmel. It was told that Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock showing him the brown scapular.

And that was how the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is always identified with the brown scapular, which has been a popular sacramental in the Church. The devotion of the brown scapular has been popular for the past several hundred years in the promises of the Blessed Mother of God that all those who wear the brown scapular with faith will be saved by God, as the devotional wearing of the scapular indicated one’s consecration to Mary, God’s own beloved mother.

Today, all of us ought to reflect upon the great gift of this brown scapular and how we have been given a lot of means by which we can strive to reach out to God’s generous offer of mercy and salvation through Him. And the Carmelites always consider the Blessed Mother of God as the perfect model of their faith and life, because the Carmelites believe in the value of prayer and contemplation, which Mary embodies very well.

Through this devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, all of us are reminded that Mary has always led us towards her Son, and pointed to us the way to follow as we proceed on in this life. She has always patiently prayed for us and helped us along the way, seeking for us to be saved. For Mary is truly our mother, our loving spiritual mother who has been entrusted to us by Christ Himself, just as He entrusted us to her from the Cross.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own respective lives thus far in this world. How have we carried out our lives and actions all these while? How have we lived our commitment as Christians that are expected to do what the Lord had taught us to do and called us to do through His Church? If we have not been faithful as we should have all these while, then should we not make the effort to begin in this journey of faith from now on?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this world there are plenty of challenges and temptations that often become great obstacles in the way of our journey towards God. There are a lot of temptations, be it the temptations of money, of power, of worldly glory, of sexual pleasures and immorality, of many other allures and pleasures of the world that can cause us to deviate from the path leading towards God.

This is where we should spend some time to reorientate ourselves and rearrange the way we live our lives. And I recommend the faithful devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel if we have not done it yet, as something that can help us in this journey towards God’s grace and salvation. But at the same time we must also be careful, not to end up making empty devotions, such as when we do the prayers and devotions not for the right purpose and intention.

This is where we should look upon the example of Mary herself, the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose faith and devotion to her Son is truly inspiring and wonderful. She surrendered herself completely to the will of God and obeyed His commands completely, giving herself totally to the mission entrusted to her. And even until now, she is still doing what she has been doing, in helping all of us to reach out to her Son and be saved.

Mary has always directed us to her Son, Our Lord, and we should do well to follow her example and faith. We should renew our lives with faith and with the resolution and commitment to live our lives from now on with righteousness, turning away from sin and wickedness, and instead, doing only what pleases God. Let us all ask for the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that she will always intercede for our sake, we who are sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 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 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

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

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o YHVH. At a time most favourable to You, in Your great love, o God, answer me, with Your unfailing help.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 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 2 : 1-15a

Now a man belonging to the clan of Levi married a woman of his own tribe. She gave birth to a boy and, seeing that he was a beautiful child, she kept him hidden for three months. As she could not conceal him any longer, she made a basket out of papyrus leaves and coated it with tar and pitch. She then laid the child in the basket and placed it among the reeds near the bank of the Nile; but the sister of the child kept at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile; her attendants meanwhile walked along the bank. When she saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to fetch it. She opened the basket and saw the child – a boy, and he was crying! She felt sorry for him, for she thought : “This is one of the Hebrew children.”

Then the sister of the child said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, and the girl went to call the mother of the child. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take the child and nurse him for me and I will pay you.”

So the woman took the child and nursed him and, when the child had grown, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. And she named him Moses to recall that she had drawn him out of the water. After a fairly long time, Moses, by now a grown man, wanted to meet his fellow Hebrews. He noticed how heavily they were burdened and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own people.

He looked around and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day he saw two Hebrews quarrelling. Moses said to the man in the wrong, “Why are you striking a fellow countryman?” But he answered, “Who has set you prince and judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must be known.” When Pharaoh heard about it he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.

Monday, 10 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate for the second time the celebration of Mary, the Mother of the Church after Pope Francis the Vicar of Christ declared that the day after the Solemnity of the Pentecost as the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church. This honour and appellation given to Mary had been done from the ancient times, right from the beginning of the Church.

Why is that so? That is because if we believe that the Church came from God, from Jesus Christ Himself Who has established the Church, and Who is indeed considered the True Head of the Church, then how can we not consider Mary who is the mother of Our Lord and therefore the mother of God as the mother of the Church too? It is only logical that we should regard her as the mother of the Church.

In today’s Gospel reading, we heard of the exchange between the Lord Jesus, His mother Mary and His disciple St. John the Apostle, which would become the Scriptural basis of today’s celebration, for at that moment just before the Lord laid down His life He entrusted His mother Mary to the care of St. John, His beloved disciple and reciprocated it with the entrusting of St. John himself to the care of His mother Mary.

By that action, the whole Church, represented by the Apostle St. John, had been entrusted to Mary, to be its mother just as much as the Lord Himself said to St. John, “Here is your mother”. Mary is truly the mother of the Church, the one whom God Himself had entrusted to care and look after His Church, constantly praying for our sake and watching over us from heaven with loving eyes and thoughts for each and every one of us.

In Mary, we see the perfect example of faith, one that helped to overcome the original sin of man by her perfect obedience and commitment to God, as opposed to what we heard in our first reading today, of the downfall of man into sin, as the first of our ancestors, Adam and Eve, succumbed to the temptations of the evil one and disobeyed God for their own selfish desire, pride and greed. Mary instead showed humility, obedience and love for God.

And she has always been with the Apostles and the disciples during the earliest days of the Church, watching over them and caring for them, and praying constantly for the sake of God’s beloved people. And even after she had been assumed into her heavenly glory, she still continued to be our greatest advocate, being the one nearest to her Son’s Throne, and appearing many times throughout history to many people, calling them all to repentance and to be forgiven from their sins.

Mary, her faith and dedication to God and His Church, and her love and tender care for all the members of the Church, that is all of us truly makes her worthy to be called as our mother, and as the mother of the Church. She is truly the one whom we can turn to at the moments when we encounter challenges and difficulties in life, and whenever we feel that there is no one else we can turn to.

Through Mary, we can reach out to her Son, Our Lord Jesus, and through her, and by following her good examples, commitment, dedication and faith, we too can become even closer and be worthy of God and His salvation. Let us all deepen our love for God and for His mother Mary, and be more like her in her exemplary faith and life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 25-34

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.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water.

Monday, 10 June 2019 : 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 86 : 1-2, 3 and 5, 6-7

He Himself has built it in His holy mountain; YHVH prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns.

Great things have been foretold of you, o city of God. But of Zion, it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And YHVH notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for you.