Monday, 16 July 2018 : 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 together the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the apparition of Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, who appeared to St. Simon Stock, one of the member of the Carmelite order which at that time had a chapter at the Mount Carmel area of the Holy Land. Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock in a vision, and told him to propagate the use of the now famous brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The brown scapular eventually become a regular part of the habit of the Carmelites themselves, and through that, the devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel gradually spread throughout Christendom to this very day. The brown scapular is a sacramental, meaning that it is an object signifying sanctification and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her aspect as the Lady of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelites were devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, whom they held as the patron and protector of the Carmelite order itself, as she is the perfect role model for all of them in living their faith and in carrying out their Carmelite charism and commitment. She is a great model in prayer and piety, as a faithful servant of God and the one closest to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And therefore, she should be a great role model for each and every one of us Christians as well. She is the best and most faithful of all the children of God, devoting her whole life to His service and surrendering herself completely to the plan which He had entrusted and revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel, that is to be the Mother of the Messiah and God, Jesus Christ.

She placed herself in God’s hands, and even when she was unsure and afraid, she would trust it all in God. She gave her all to love her Son, Jesus, Our Lord, and brought Him up all the way from the time when He was conceived in her womb, through His birth and young age, and then throughout His adult ministry among the people, and finally, to the cross itself, at Calvary.

Having seen her own Son, her own flesh and blood suffering in such a terrible way because of our sins, which He willingly took up upon Himself, so that we would not have to suffer the punishment and suffering for our own sins, that is why she has appeared so many times before us, in various places, including to St. Simon Stock, by offering the sacramental devotion of the brown scapular, so that we may be saved through her.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is like our loving mother, and indeed, she is our mother. The Lord Himself has entrusted her to us as our mother, when He symbolically entrusted her to His disciple, St. John the Evangelist, and then, vice versa, by entrusting him to Mary, His mother, He has also entrusted all of us to the loving care of our mother, Mary.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have not lived our lives according to the way that the Lord has taught us and which He had commanded us to do. We have been swayed by the many temptations of pride, of worldly greed and desires, of the pleasures of the flesh, of accumulation of money and properties, all for our own selfish benefits and desires, often without consideration of our brethren’s well-being.

And God is not at the centre of our lives, as we sidelined Him during our continuous and unceasing efforts to gain for ourselves more and more of worldly properties, belongings and goods, fame and glory, and all things that we deem to be more precious than anything else. But ultimately, all these things are just illusory and temporary, and our unbridled desire for them led us into sin.

Mary, our loving mother does not want us to remain in this state of sin, and in this despicable state of life, and that is why, she has tried her best, and interceded for us before her Son at every possible opportunity. After all, which mother would want to see her son or daughter suffer and be lost to her? And because Mary is our mother, she cares for us and always thinks of us, just as she has done for her Son Jesus, Our Lord.

Let us today therefore reflect on the word of God in the Scriptures, that hopefully had stirred the faith within our hearts, that we will find the courage and resolution to be faithful to God and to turn towards Him with a repentant and loving heart, desiring to seek Him and to love Him from now on, with all of our hearts, every day of our lives. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Simon Stock continue to intercede for us sinners, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 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 10 : 34 – Matthew 11 : 1

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not think that I have come to establish peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Each one will have as enemies, those of one’s own family.”

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life, for My sake, will find it.”

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me. The one who welcomes a prophet, as a prophet, will receive the reward of a prophet; the one who welcomes a just man, because he is a just man, will receive the reward of a just man.”

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is My disciple, I assure you, he will not go unrewarded.”

When Jesus had finished giving His twelve disciples these instructions, He went on from there to teach and proclaim His message in their towns.

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.”

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

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

Psalm 49 : 8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me. I need no bull from your stalls, nor he-goat from your pens.

What right have you to mouth My laws, or to talk about My covenant? You hate My commands and cast My words behind you.

Because I was silent while you did these things, you thought I was like you. But now I rebuke you and make this charge against you. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.

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.

Monday, 16 July 2018 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (First Reading)

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

Isaiah 1 : 10-17

Hear the warning of YHVH, rulers of Sodom. Listen to the word of God, people of Gomorrah. “What do I care,” says YHVH, “for your endless sacrifices? I am fed up with your burnt offerings, and the fat of your bulls. The blood of fatlings, and lambs and he-goats I abhor, when you come before Me and trample on My courts. Who asked you to visit Me? I am fed up with your oblations. I grow sick with your incense.

Your New Moons, Sabbaths and meetings, evil with holy assemblies, I can no longer bear. I hate your New Moons and appointed feasts. They burden Me. When you stretch out your hands I will close My eyes; the more you pray, the more I refuse to listen, for your hands are bloody.

Wash and make yourselves clean. Remove from My sight the evil of your deeds. Put an end to your wickedness and learn to do good. Seek justice and keep in line the abusers; give the fatherless their rights and defend the widow.

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, 9 June 2018 : 9th 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, on this day, just the day after the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, today we commemorate together the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God and Our Lord Jesus Christ. And why is this day special? That is because just as her Son’s heart is most sacred and holy, as He is God, Mary’s heart was also holy in a similar way, and immaculate, meaning pure and clean from corruption.

This is because Mary herself, according to our faith, has been conceived without sin, known as the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And because of this, unique among other men, Mary alone was free from the taints and corruptions of the original sin. And her heart, mind and whole being are therefore free from the corruption of sin and all sorts of wickedness that corrupt us.

But Mary was great and honoured, more than just because she is the Mother of God and not just because she has been conceived without sin. Mary was exemplary in her life, in how she led a prayerful and devout life, dedicated to purity and holiness, and in how she dedicated herself to the mission which has been entrusted to her, to be the Mother of God, guiding her child Jesus right from before He was born, to the time when she followed Him up to the hill of Calvary for His crucifixion and death.

Mary saw and witnessed many things throughout her life, especially those years when she brought up the Baby Jesus, having seen Him being worshipped and glorified by three Magi from the East, with strange and peculiar gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which act as premonition to Who Jesus truly was and what His mission in this world would be. She has endured many things, including persecution and difficulty from those who desired to see the Lord Jesus destroyed.

She witnessed as mentioned in the Gospel passage today, the great wisdom of her Son Jesus, when He debated the intellectuals and teachers of the Law at the Temple of Jerusalem when He was merely just twelve years old. She heard Him saying peculiar things such as Him having to dwell in His Father’s house. Even though the Archangel Gabriel had told Mary that Jesus would be God’s own Son, but surely that fact must have remained a mystery to Mary.

Yet, she had great faith in the Lord, and put everything she had heard, all her uncertainties and questions into her heart, as the Gospel mentioned today. The heart of Mary is filled with love, and pure love for her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. And that love alone is enough for her to overcome all kinds of uncertainties, fears, concerns and all the questions she might have.

That is why, Mary followed her Son even to the foot of the cross, where she saw her Son suffered and died for the sake of all of us. She loved Him so much to the very end. And Our Lord entrusted all of us to her from the cross, as He entrusted His disciple St. John the Apostle to her. Then He also entrusted her to us all, by entrusting her to the same St. John, His Apostle.

Therefore, all of us have Mary as our mother, and her loving heart, and all the love she has shown to her Son, she has also shown to us, whom she had adopted as her own children. Let us have faith in God in the same way as she has been faithful, and let us follow her example in life, in how she have led her life filled with faith, commitment and devotion.

Let us all entrust ourselves to her, and let us all turn towards God with a renewed faith and devotion from now on. Mary, Mother of God, in your most Immaculate Heart, pray for us all sinners, that God will forgive us and welcome us all into His heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Saturday, 9 June 2018 : 9th 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, 9 June 2018 : 9th 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.