Monday, 29 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the day after the Pentecost Sunday, and therefore mark the beginning of the second part of the Ordinary Time of this current liturgical year. And on this day the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God herself in her aspect as the Mother of the Church or Mater Ecclesiae. We remember Mary in her constant guidance and protection for the Church that has been entrusted by her own Son to her care, so that all of us may always seek for her intercession and guidance, and do not easily give up the struggles and the trials that we may have to face in this world in becoming faithful disciples and followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of our beloved Mother, who is also the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all of us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Genesis of the account of the downfall of mankind which happened because the first woman, Eve, was unable to resist the temptations of the devil who convinced her to disobey the Lord and succumb to the temptations of her desires, eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Gardens of Eden. Through her therefore, disobedience and sin entered into the hearts of mankind, separating us from the grace and love of God. Mankind was cast out from the Gardens of Eden, and forced to wander off and suffer the consequences of our disobedience and evils, our sins and failure to listen to the words of God. And this was highlighted today because Mary is also known as the New Eve just as Christ is the New Adam.

That is because unlike and opposite that of the original Eve, Mary as the New Eve obeyed the Lord perfectly and wholeheartedly, saying yes to the Lord Who revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel that she would be the Mother and bearer of the Messiah, the Son of God Himself, incarnate in the flesh. Such a task must have been very challenging and difficult, and yet, despite all the uncertainties, Mary chose to entrust herself to the Lord and to dedicate herself wholly to Him, answering His call with a resounding yes. Her obedience to God and her faith became therefore the source through which salvation entered into the world, coming through her Son, Who was in her womb for nine months, and afterwards, she continued to take care of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and followed Him throughout all His works and ministry.

And we heard of how the Lord entrusted her to His disciple St. John in our Gospel passage today, to be his Mother and hence, by extension, as the Mother of all the faithful and of the whole entire Church. Mary followed her Son all the way even throughout all of His Passion, His sufferings and crucifixion right up to the very foot of the Cross. She watched her own Son dying before her, and faithfully continued to dedicate herself to Him. That is all how Mary, as the New Eve, have shown us true obedience, love for God and faith in Him, an example and inspiration that all of us as Christians should be inspired to follow and emulate as well. Mary, as the Mother of the Church is also our Mother, loving and ever caring towards us, ever concerned about us falling again and again into sin and being separated from His Son.

That is why, today, all of us are reminded of our obligation and need to follow our Blessed Mother’s own examples in faith and do whatever we can so that we can be good role models and inspirations ourselves for our fellow brethren in faith, and for many others who have not yet known the Lord or those who have not yet understood His teachings and commandments. And it is through our own examples and actions, our worthy and exemplary way of life that just like Mary, our Mother herself had done, we can inspire others and be great missionaries and evangelisers of our Christian faith. Through Mary, the Mother of the Church, all of us are also led to follow her examples and to follow the path that she led us into, the most direct path to her Son, Our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we embark on this time post Easter, with this Ordinary Time and season, let us all remind ourselves that this time is not for us to slacken our faith life and our Christian obligations and duties. The word Ordinary here as we all ought to know does not refer to anything being ordinary or usual, but rather refers to the word ‘Ordinal’, which pertains to the numbered nature of the weekly observance of the Lord’s time and year, right up to the very last day of our current liturgical year. And all of us as Christians have the important calling and mission to lead a worthy and holy life, dedicated and committed to God much like Mary, our Mother and the Mother of the Church had done in her own life.

Let us all ask Our Blessed Mother to intercede for us and to lead us down the path of righteousness, to always inspire and remind us whenever we err or make any mistakes in life, so that we will not be easily be swayed by the many temptations all around us, all the evils and wickedness of the world. Let us all follow the Lord and His Mother, and do whatever it is that we have been called to do, to be worthy in all things and to commit our lives anew as Christians, those whom God had called and chosen to be His own beloved people. Let all of our actions, works and deeds from now on continue to inspire many others and help many of our fellow brethren to be able to come ever closer to God together with each one of us.

Mary, our loving Mother and the Mother of the Church, pray for us all sinners and pray for the Church that your Son, Our Lord and Saviour, had established in this world. Intercede for us all whenever we need your help, and be with us always in our journey towards your Son. May God be with us all and with His Church, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 29 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 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, 29 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 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.

Monday, 29 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

Alternative reading

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Monday, 22 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each one of us are called to continue to live our lives faithfully as Christians and continue to carry out what the Lord had commanded us to do, to live our lives in the manner that He has taught us all to do, so that in everything we say and do, we will always be the worthy bearers of His light and truth, and that we may be inspiration and good role models for others around us, proclaiming the Good News and truth of God through our own lives and works, through our every words and interactions. All of us should do what we can to spread God’s message and ways to others whom we encounter in our lives. This is our calling and vocation as Christians, regardless whichever specific vocation that we have been called to.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Acts of the Apostles about the works of St. Paul the Apostle among the faithful in the region of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Ephesus was one of the early centres of Christianity, and the faithful there grew rapidly in numbers as both Jews and Gentiles alike embraced the new faith in God. The Lord has called on all of them to be His followers, and He spread to them His Good News and truth through His disciples and missionaries like St. Paul, who went to their region to proclaim the Good News and the truth of God. St. Paul was speaking to some of those disciples who were likely to have belonged to the Jewish diaspora there, who believed in the teachings of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah. As was evident from the accounts from the Acts of the Apostles and the other parts of the New Testament, St. John the Baptist and his teachings were quite widespread around the region.

However, those disciples like the ones in Ephesus have not yet received the fullness of truth as what the early Christians have received, and hence, the Lord called on His Apostles and disciples to evangelise and spread the Good News to all of those people who have not yet heard of this truth and Good News. St. Paul taught them about the teachings and truth of the Lord, proclaiming to them the Good News and the Gospel of salvation. Those disciples believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as their Saviour and Master, and were baptised by St. Paul. The Holy Spirit came down upon them and many great miracles happened, as St. Paul continued to minister to all the faithful there and carrying out the good works that God had planted among them. That was how the Church kept on expanding and growing at that time in Ephesus and elsewhere.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples when they told Him that He was finally telling them the truth and no longer was using parables, hidden meanings and other forms of story-telling through which those who listened to the Lord had not been able to discern fully what He wanted to tell them. But this was because the Lord did not want them all to know everything at once, and wanted them to journey with Him, and to discover their faith in God gradually through their experiences and by listening to the word of God speaking in their hearts and through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit stirring in them, prodding them to follow the path that the Lord has shown them, and for them to find out about the truth which He has presented and brought before all of them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, essentially through what we have received in our Scripture readings today, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us who have received the same truth and revelation of the Good News of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, all of us have the obligation and calling, the mission and vocation to proclaim the truth of God to more and more of the people whom we encounter daily, at each and every moments. In our every works, our words and actions, in our every deeds and interactions with one another, all of us should do our part in living our lives worthily so that we may indeed bear our Christian faith and truth to others who interact with us and witness our work and actions. All of us bear within us this calling and mission, with whatever it is that the Lord has blessed and entrusted us with, in our various areas and competencies.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the examples of St. Rita of Cascia whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Rita of Cascia was an Italian saint and Augustinian nun, a holy and devout religious sister who had dedicated her life to the service and the glory of God. She was married at a very young age by her family and despite her desires to enter a convent even from an early age, she remained as a good and faithful wife to her husband, who was quick-tempered and immoral in nature. She was remembered for her efforts in trying to change her husband’s ways, in the marriage that lasted for eighteen years until her husband and sons passed away. It was known that her husband’s family was involved in the then bitter interfamilial struggles and conflicts, and when her husband was murdered, St. Rita of Cascia tried to dissuade her sons from seeking revenge for their father’s death. She also forgave her husband’s murderers and enemies.

And when the sons of St. Rita of Cascia were in danger of committing sins in the pursuit of vengeance, she voluntarily asked the Lord to take them away so that they would not fall into the path of sin and damnation. Miraculously, God listened to her prayers, and her sons were taken away from her, as they passed away from dysentery, before they could commit murder and mortal sins that could harm and endanger their eternal souls. Afterwards, St. Rita of Cascia entered the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Cascia, in which she devoted the rest of her life to a work of prayer and piety, and managed to bring the two feuding families together in fulfilling the conditions that were imposed to her before she was to join the monastery community, devoting her life henceforth only to the glorification of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence be inspired by the examples and the role models showed to us by St. Rita of Cascia and many others of our holy predecessors. Let us all turn towards the Lord once again and commit ourselves to His path, doing whatever we can to do His will and to love Him at all times. May the Risen Lord, Our Saviour Jesus Christ continue to be with us and guide us all, and bless us all in our every good works, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 22 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 29-33

At that time, the disciples said to Jesus, “Now You are speaking plainly and not in veiled language! Now we see that You know all things, even before we question You. Because of this we believe that You came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “You say that you believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have told you all this, so that in Me you may have peace. You will have trouble in the world; but courage! I have overcome the world.”

Monday, 22 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 67 : 2-3, 4-5ac, 6-7ab

Arise, o God, scatter Your enemies; let Your foes flee before You. As smoke is blown by the wind, so blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before You.

But let the righteous be glad and exult before God; let them sing to God and shout for joy. Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; the Lord is His Name. Rejoice in His presence.

Father of orphans and Protector of widows – such is our God is His holy dwelling. He gives shelter to the homeless, sets the prisoners free.

Monday, 22 May 2023 : 7th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 19 : 1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul travelled through the interior of the country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples whom he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered, “We have not even heard that anyone may receive the Holy Spirit.” Paul then asked, “What kind of baptism have you received?” And they answered, “The baptism of John.”

Paul then explained, “John’s baptism was for conversion, but he himself said they should believe in the One Who was to come, and that One is Jesus.” Upon hearing this, they were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came down upon them; and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of them in all.

Paul went into the synagogue and for three months he preached and discussed there boldly, trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God.

Monday, 15 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the Lord speaking to us through the Sacred Scriptures, all of us are called and reminded to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and dedicate ourselves to His works and ministry, and all that He has entrusted to all of us to do in our lives. Each and every one of us have been called to be good and faithful Christians in all things, to be role models and exemplary in our lives and actions so that we may be beacons of God’s light, truth and love in our various communities, proclaiming His Good News and truth to all the people all around us. That is what we have been called to do as Christians, and we will do well to heed this calling and to do what the Lord has commanded us to do, and to live our lives to the best of our abilities, in walking down the path that God has shown us.

In our first reading today, all of us heard from the Acts of the Apostles regarding the continuing works of the Apostles, as St. Paul continued on with his mission, travelling from place to place, proclaiming the Good News of God and ministering to the faithful in all those places. Many were turned towards the Christian faith and truth, and not few like what we heard today, in the example of the God-fearing lady named Lydia from Thyatira, who became a believer, and as we heard, her whole entire household were baptised in the Lord. More and more believers came to follow the path of the Lord, and more gave themselves to be baptised, growing the early Church from a very small community in the very beginning into a rapidly burgeoning assembly of the faithful, spreading from cities and towns, from place to place.

Despite the hardships, challenges and the many trials that the Apostles like St. Paul and the many other missionaries had to face throughout their mission, this certainly did not dampen their passion and efforts to proclaim the Good News of the Lord, as they continued to labour hard amidst the people of God, doing what they could to spread the truth of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, to more and more people. They patiently reached out to people of various origins and thoughts, convincing even some among those who were reluctant and even hostile at first, to become believers in the Lord and in His salvation. Thanks to the hard work of the Apostles and the saints, they have gained for the Lord innumerable new converts and more and more people who become parts of His Church, coming down the path towards salvation and eternal life.

They were all empowered and strengthened by the Holy Spirit just as the Lord Himself has promised and reassured them all in our Gospel passage today. The Lord has promised His disciples that He would send them all His Helper, or the Advocate, that is the Holy Spirit of God, Who would strengthen and invigorate them, give them the wisdom and the courage to carry out their missions and works, so that they might persevere and endure well despite the many challenges facing them, and the many obstacles and hardships that they had to go through amidst the duration of their ministry and hard work. The Holy Spirit guided the Apostles and the other missionaries and all the people of God ever since the Holy Spirit descended upon them at the time of the Pentecost. And from them, eventually the Holy Spirit has also passed down to us as well.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have received the Holy Spirit as well and we have also been entrusted with the same gifts, talents and blessings, and given the same missions that the Lord has given to His disciples and servants then. What the Lord had asked His followers to do then, are still relevant to what we are supposed to do in our world today, as all of us are also called and reminded to proclaim the Good News of God, His truth and love in our own communities, as we embark upon our own missions and works as part of the Universal Church of God. There are also still a lot of people out there who have not yet known the Lord, and have not realised all the good things that He has done for us. The Lord has taught us all everything so that hopefully we can be the bearers of His truth and teachings, His ways and all to the others.

Not only that, but in fact, all of us are also called to rejuvenate and strengthen the faith of all those who are around us, those within the Church and our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, who have lapsed from their faith, who have forgotten their important obligations, duties and responsibilities in living up to their Christian calling and life, just as the Lord had told us all to do. There are many among us Christians who have not even gone to church or participate in the celebrations of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments for quite some time. And there are also many among us who have only gone through the motions in the way how we carry out our Christian living, in our actions and works. Many among us have become lukewarm in our faith, lacking true and genuine commitment to the Lord in our every deeds and works in life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore today discern carefully our path in life, so that we may truly discern a path forward that leads us down the right path towards God and His salvation. If we have often been distracted by the many temptations and other matters in life, in all the worldly things and attachments we have, then we should take this opportunity to reevaluate our lives and how we have lived them so that we may truly be ever more faithful to the Lord, and have the right focus in life. All of us should reorientate our lives and our way of living them so that the Lord our God will always be at the very centre and as the very focus of our whole lives and existences. Let us all discern this carefully so that we may help to lead and inspire many others around us to live their own lives worthily in the path that God has shown us.

May the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, King and Good Shepherd be with us always and be with His Church, that each and every one of us may ever be empowered, encouraged and strengthened to live our lives worthily as Christians, to be worthy beacons of God’s light, truth and love at all times. May God bless us all, in all of our works and efforts, for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Monday, 15 May 2023 : 6th Week of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 15 : 26 – John 16 : 4a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From now on the Helper, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have told you.”

“Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do. Come now, let us go.”

“I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinegrower. If any of My branches does not bear fruit, He breaks it off; and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit. You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you. Live in Me as I live in you.”