Thursday, 12 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the New World, widely venerated and celebrated not just in the American continent but also now all over the world. This devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe had its roots in the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the site of Tepeyac hill near Mexico City today, where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to a native American, St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

At that time, about five hundred years ago, just recently after the discovery of the New World, the American continent and the arrival of the Christian faith to the New World, Our Lady appeared on the ninth of December on the year 1531 to St. John Diego who was a native peasant who saw Our Lady speaking to him in his native tongue and explaining to him who she was and asked him to build a church over at that site in her honour.

Over the next few days, the apparition at the site of the Tepeyac hill continued and St. John Diego corresponded with the local bishop on the matter of the miraculous appearance and the vision he experienced of Our Lady. The Archbishop did not initially believed St. John Diego and it was only after St. John Diego again experienced the vision and related to him what he had seen, that the Archbishop inquired St. John Diego to go to the apparition of Our Lady to ask of her for a miraculous sign that could prove her identity.

At that same time, St. John Diego’s uncle was very sick, and as a result, St. John Diego was unable to meet Our Lady at the appointed time, and had to delay the meeting to the next day, and on that day, St. John Diego initially tried to avoid meeting Our Lady because he was still concerned of his uncle’s condition and then he was also ashamed of his failure to fulfil what she had asked of him in meeting her the previous day.

That was how then there was another encounter between Our Lady and St. John Diego as she chided him for not having put his trust in God through her intercession. In the words that are now famous, Our Lady spoke to St. John Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” as a kind reminder not only to St. John Diego but also to all of us that we can indeed put our trust in her as our mother and the mother of our Lord, God and Saviour.

Then, Our Lady arranged some flowers and put them into the cloak worn by St. John Diego, flowers that are not common or native to the place, and asked him to bring them to the Archbishop to be shown as a sign. When St. John Diego came before the Archbishop bearing the flowers and showed him the miraculous flowers, what attracted the attention of everyone and the Archbishop was the image of Our Lady herself, imprinted on the cloak worn by St. John Diego.

From this tilma or cloak, we now have the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as it had been for the past almost five centuries. The original tilma is still enshrined within the great Basilica now standing at the very place of the apparition, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to which many millions of pilgrims and visitors came every year, devoting themselves and seeking for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we are called to reflect on what we have just discussed earlier on about the occurrence of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. John Diego and the faithful, we should realise how all of us need to have greater faith in God through our greater love and devotion to Him as well as to His mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Just as she reminded St. John Diego to seek her and to ask for her intercession, we should also do the same.

For Mary, the Mother of God is indeed the one closest to her Son in heaven, being placed at His right hand as the Queen Mother of Heaven, much like king Solomon of Israel placed his own mother Bathsheba by his side. Through Mary, the greatest and most wonderful and blessed of all the saints and by her intercessions for our sake, probably countless souls have been brought closer to God by His grace, and saved from eternal damnation through her many works and efforts.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to seek recourse to our blessed Mother? Or are we going to overlook and ignore her as what we have done all these while? Let us all look upon our blessed Mother, whom Christ our Lord had in fact entrusted to us from the Cross just as He entrusted her to His beloved disciple St. John the Apostle, representing all of us the members of His Church. Let us all devote ourselves to God ever more deeply and lovingly by deepening our own devotion to His blessed mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, most blessed and honoured among all women, the greatest of all the saints and the Holy Mother of God, pray for us all sinners, that your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may look kindly upon us and have mercy on our wretched souls and beings. May you continue to intercede for us all, o Lady of Guadalupe, most blessed and loving mother of us all. Amen.

Thursday, 12 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Matthew 11 : 11-15

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “I tell you this : no one greater than John the Baptist has arisen from among sons of women; and yet, the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven is something to be conquered; and violent men seize it.”

“Up to the time of John, there was only prophesy : all the prophets and the Law. And if you believe Me, John is indeed that Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

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!”

Thursday, 12 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Psalm 144 : 1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

I will extol You, my God and King; I will praise Your Name forever. YHVH is good to everyone; His mercy embraces all His creation.

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o YHVH, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom; and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign, and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures, from generation to generation.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-8

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. The earth to its pillars belongs to YHVH and on them He has set the world.

Thursday, 12 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 41 : 13-20

For I, YHVH, your God, take hold of your right hand and say to you : “Fear not, I am your assistance.” Fear not, Jacob, poor worm, and you, people of Israel, so frail. I am your Redeemer, says YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, your Helper.

I will make you a thresher, new and with sharp double teeth : you will thresh hills and mountains, crushing them and reducing them to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will carry them off and the storm will scatter them. But you will rejoice in YHVH and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The poor and the afflicted seek water, and find none. Their tongues are parched with thirst. But I, YHVH, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up streams over the barren heights and let the rivers flow through all the valleys; I will turn the desert into lakes and brooks and the thirsty earth into a land of springs.

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive; I will plant in the wasteland fir, cypress and pine – that all may see and know, consider and understand, that the hand of YHVH has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10c

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.” But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel, for God-is-with-us.”

Monday, 9 December 2019 : Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Thursday, 21 November 2019 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

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.”

Thursday, 22 August 2019 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship 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 Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a full seven days after the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, celebrating the glorious queenship of the Mother of God, as the Queen of Heaven, and also as her many other titles suggest, as Queen of Angels, as Queen of All Saints, and as Queen of Peace and Queen Mother.

Mary is Queen not because of her own power or inheritance, but because of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was in her womb for nine months and was born from her, a virgin and humble woman of the small and poor village of Nazareth. Mary is Queen because her Son is King, the King of Kings and the true King of Israel, the Heir of David and Solomon, and also the King of the entire Universe by virtue of His being the Creator of the whole universe and the world.

It is very important for us to take note and to keep in mind this nature of Mary’s queenship and the great honours we always give to her because of her special place within our faith and within the Lord’s plan of salvation. We do not honour Mary because of her own greatness or power, and neither do we treat her like a divine being or a goddess, as what some would have accused us of doing because of their misunderstanding.

Instead, we honour Mary as a special person, being and a glorious Queen because we honour, adore and worship her Son, as our one and only True God and King. In many ancient traditions and kingdoms, in many nations and peoples, the mother of the king has a very important position, as the queen mother of the nation. And the queen mother does not have to be born into royalty or be descended from royalty. Her great honour comes from her son who is the king.

And the queen mother has a special position and being revered by many in the whole country, as in the Scripture, in the Book of Kings, we can see how Solomon placed his mother Bathsheba at his right hand, sitting on a throne by his side, and he often asked his mother for advice and inputs in how he ought to make decisions and reign as a king. It was truly a great honour that Solomon as king has given to his mother.

Therefore, if kings and rulers of this world have honoured their mothers as such, and if we ourselves love and honour our own mothers, how can our Lord Jesus not honour His own mother? That is why, we all believe fervently that Mary is truly honoured as the Queen Mother of Heaven, as the glorious Queen of Angels and all Saints because she truly sits at the side of her Son in heaven, beside His Throne, a special honour reserved only for her.

And just one week ago as I have mentioned earlier today, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, when we celebrate the moment Mary was assumed or taken up in the whole body and spirit up from this world into heaven. Therefore, we believe that Mary is now in heaven, glorified by her Son and reigning as Queen by His side, and becoming for us our greatest intercessor, as the greatest and most honoured among the saints.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should really be thankful that we have Mary as someone whom we can trust and rely on, as the one through whom our prayers and thoughts can be brought to, our petitions which she will pass on to her Son. That is why so many people have strong devotion to Mary, because not only that she is truly close to her Son, but even more so because she is also our mother just as she is the mother of Our Lord and Saviour.

From the cross, Our Lord has entrusted His own mother to us as our own mother when He entrusted her to St. John the Apostle, who represents the Church symbolically. And in the same manner, just as He also entrusted St. John to Mary as her own son, therefore Our Lord has entrusted us all, His beloved people to be the beloved children of His own mother, Mary. That is why Mary has always loved us all just as she has loved her Son with all of her heart.

She has done so much in trying to bring us closer to her Son, in her numerous Apparitions, in Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima among many others, imploring all those who have seen her to spread the message of God’s truth and for the repentance of sinners. She has shown us all the love shown by a mother to her children, as she wants us all to be saved and not to be condemned and be separated from her or her Son.

Now, what are we going to do about this then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we going to appreciate what Mary has done for us, in her ceaseless intercession and prayers for our sake? We have the Queen Mother of Heaven herself by our side, and what we need to do is to keep on praying and to try our best to do what she has asked us to do, and that is to turn towards her Son, Our Lord and Saviour with faith.

O Mary, Queen of Heaven, Queen of Angels and Queen of All Saints, most glorious Queen and Mother of God, pray for us all sinners always, that we may draw ever closer to your Son, and be reconciled from all of our sins and unworthiness. We thank you for your constant love and intercession, o dear Mother most beloved. Pray for us always and guide us always to your Son. Amen.