Monday, 6 June 2022 : 10th 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 on the day after Pentecost Sunday we enter once again into the season of Ordinary Time, which will continue until the end of this current liturgical year in November this year. And today, we also mark the celebration of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, or Mater Ecclesiae. This celebration began in the recent years commemorating what had been widespread acknowledgement of the role of Mary as the Mother of the faithful people of God and hence, also the Mother of the Church. Just as St. Joseph was made the Protector of the Universal Church, it is only right then that Mary is officially accorded the honour of being the Mother of the Church.

As we listened in our Scripture passages today, Mary is the Woman who has been long awaited by the world, to be the one through whom the salvation of this world would come through. Mary is the New Eve just as Christ is represented as the New Adam, the New Man, through Whom the salvation of the world would come from. In our first reading today from the Book of Genesis we heard of the story of how mankind had fallen into sin because they chose to listen to the lies and false promises of Satan, disguised as a snake, and chose to follow him instead of keeping the commandments of God.

Our first ancestors, Adam and Eve fell into sin because they gave in to the temptations presented to them by Satan. Satan tempted them with the knowledge of good and evil that he said would make both of them to be like God. That desire and pride in our ancestors led them to be swayed to turn away from God and His righteous path. Hence, instead of obeying God, mankind instead chose to listen to Satan and his lies, committed sin against God and hence, were sundered off from the fullness of God’s grace and blessings, cast out from Heaven and forced to wander off in the wilderness of this world, to suffer the consequences of our sins.

However, God did not abandon us or cast us out into eternal damnation, as He could have done so if He wanted it. He could have crushed and destroyed us all by the power of His will alone. Yet, His love for us endured even though we had sinned against Him. He continued to love us, and just as He pronounced what man would have to endure for their sins and disobedience, He also rebuked Satan and proclaimed His triumph against the wicked one and the salvation of man which would come through the Woman. While Satan and his forces would have dominion and power over men for a while, this dominion and stranglehold they had over us would not last forever.

That was already foretold by the Lord Himself as He spoke of the coming of His salvation through the Woman, from whom the dominion of Satan and the forces of evil would be broken forever. This is the salvation that Mary had a role in bringing unto this world, that by the grace and will of God, Mary, as the New Eve, through her complete obedience to the will of God, as contrasted to the disobedience of the old and first Eve, would bring unto mankind, the salvation and new life, new existence in God that they truly needed. Christ, the Mediator of the New and Eternal Covenant between God and His people, was born through Mary, and through Him, God willed to reconcile us to Himself, once and for all.

And Mary committed herself thoroughly to the mission and calling entrusted to her, loving her Son wholeheartedly, following Him and being with Him even to the foot of the Cross. As we heard in our Gospel passage today, Mary followed her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, right up to the feet of the Cross, seeing her own Son suffering and dying for the salvation of the whole entire world. She saw it all, all of her sorrow and pain, sharing in the pain suffered by her Son on His Cross. She has always been with her Son, all the time, and the Lord entrusted her henceforth, to His beloved disciple, St. John the Apostle, while at the same time, also entrusting St. John to His own mother, Mary.

Through this act, we have to realise that the Lord was not only entrusting Mary, His mother to St. John the Apostle, and St. John to His mother. St. John was in fact representing the whole Universal Church, and all of us have been entrusted to Mary, to be our own Mother. We are all her children by this entrustment and adoption, and hence, Mary and her title of the Mother of the Church made truly perfect sense. Mary is truly our Mother, who cares for us and has always reached out to us, and through her many apparitions in the past centuries, Mary has always shown us her motherly love, always ever reminding us to turn away from our sinful path, and to return to her Son.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed heart, faith and commitment, following His own Mother, Mary, the Mother of the Church, who is also our own Mother. Let us all therefore also entrust ourselves to her, and remind ourselves to follow her good examples in faith, her dedication and love for God, in our own lives. Let us also continue to do the good works of the Church, in evangelisation of the whole world, revealing the truth that God has shown us, and guided by His Holy Spirit, to continue to spread the light and hope of God’s truth to more and more people. O Mother Mary, our mother and the Mother of the Church, pray for us sinners always, and guide us all towards your Son’s light and salvation. Amen.

Monday, 6 June 2022 : 10th 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, 6 June 2022 : 10th 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, 6 June 2022 : 10th 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, 24 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Feast of Mary, Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church that is celebrated on the day following the Solemnity of the Pentecost. The Feast of Mary Mother of the Church is a reminder to all of us that Mary is indeed the Mother of all of us, God’s beloved people, whom God had entrusted to us to be our own loving Mother, and to whom we have also been entrusted as her own beloved adopted sons and daughters, through Christ, her Son, Who shared with us His humanity, and His death on the Cross.

Since the very beginning, Mary had been with the Church, and she has always been with the Apostles and the other prominent leaders of the Church, and according to Apostolic tradition, Mary herself as depicted in numerous artworks of faith, has received the Holy Spirit like the other Apostles and disciples, and she, being full of grace and Mother of God, occupies an even more important position being the one who had borne the Lord Himself within her, and because Christ Himself is the Head of the Church, that is His Body, thus it is indeed fitting that Mary is honoured as the Mother of the Church, or Mater Ecclesiae.

It was Mary who fulfilled the Lord’s own prophecy at the very beginning, as we heard in our first reading from the Book of Genesis, how the Lord proclaimed that Satan’s defeat would come from among the descendants of mankind, whom he would oppress and persecute, tempt and tried to lure away into their downfall through sin. And while he had been successful with Adam and Eve, the first of our ancestors, who fell for Satan’s ruse and sweet lies, and succumbed to the temptations of their desires, but Mary as the New Eve would resist those same temptations and remained completely faithful to the Lord, even as she followed her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as the New Adam, to the foot of the Cross.

Yes, as we can see, there are also obvious parallels between the moment of mankind’s fall and the moment of mankind’s salvation. When mankind fell into sin, Satan tempted and made them to eat of the fruits of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, tempting Eve who then persuaded Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree, disobeying God’s specific commands that they were not to eat from the tree, as they wanted to become like God, to know all things good and evil. Their desire and pride became their undoing.

Meanwhile, at the crucifixion, the moment of our salvation, Mary, as the New Eve, stood by the ‘Tree’ of the Cross, made from the wood of the tree, as her Son, Christ, the New Adam, was hanging on it, pierced and bared before all, stripped of all glory and power, humiliated and made to endure the most painful and bitter of all punishments for the sake of all of us, obeying completely and perfectly the will of His heavenly Father, to the point of accepting death, a most loving death on the Cross, borne out of love for each and every one of us. Though He is God, He emptied Himself and humbled Himself for us, in an obvious contrast with mankind’s fall.

It was therefore Mary’s obedience and faith, as the New Eve, which allowed her to partake in the Lord’s great mission, in accepting wholly her role as the Mother of God, as the one to bear the Saviour of the world in her womb, and to remain free from sin throughout her life, full of grace, and resisting the temptations of Satan, that unlike Eve who fell to those temptations, her steadfast faith and obedience brought salvation and liberation to all of us, indeed the Woman prophesied to crush the head of Satan, and to destroy all of his wicked plans and deeds.

And, as mentioned earlier and in our Gospel today, Mary has been entrusted to us as our Mother, as symbolically presented by the Lord in our Gospel today, as He entrusted His mother Mary to His disciple, St. John the Apostle, who was then similarly entrusted to Mary as her own adopted son. St. John the Apostle represents all of us Christians, the members of God’s Church, who therefore become the children of Mary, God’s own beloved Mother, and she is indeed, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all Christians, all who believe in the Lord.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians, and in particular with respect to China, the Church in that great country and its faithful, who are still being persecuted daily and oppressed, we also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, and the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. For many decades, the Church and the faithful in China had been constantly under oppression and pressure from the government and other authoritative figures, that many of the faithful and the bishops and priests had to go into hiding, and persevered in maintaining the faith against the corrupting influence of the government and its intervention in the affairs and matters of the faith.

That is why today indeed, as we remember Mary, the Mother of God as our Mother, the Mother of the Church and the Help of all Christians, we put into our particular intentions, our brothers and sisters in China, as well as any other Christians all around the world who are suffering from persecution and challenges, trials and difficulties daily, having to hide themselves and hide their Christian faith, at times, in order to remain faithful and yet survive through the turbulent times and challenges. There are still so many of our brethren out there who are suffering and even dying, as modern day martyrs for their faith.

We must never take our faith for granted, and if we find it difficult going for the Holy Mass or any other celebrations of our faith just because we are lazy or even too busy with our work, then let us realise and spare some thoughts for all our brothers and sisters who desire to be with the Lord and celebrate the sacraments, receive the Eucharist and yet, are unable to do so, much like the early Church martyrs and saints, all the faithful who had to celebrate in the catacombs hidden from view in secret. There are also so many workers of the faith, priests and bishops who are persecuted daily for their ministry and works, especially in China, but also in many other parts of the world.

Therefore, today, let us all ask for the intercession of our beloved Mother Mary, Mother of the Church and Help of All Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, that she will extend her wonderful and loving protection to all of our brethren who are suffering for their faith in her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Let us also spend our time to pray for the sake of all these brothers and sisters of ours who are not as fortunate as we are, and do not have the relative freedom that we have in being Christians, and in celebrating the Holy Mass and the Sacraments.

Let us all ask the Lord to be merciful and kind, and to help our brethren who are suffering, and through His mother, that we pray asking her to intercede before her Son, the case of our own brothers and sisters, that they may be helped and protected, and brought out of their troubles, and most importantly, that they all will remain faithful and strong in faith despite all the sufferings and trials that they are experiencing now. And let us all also grow to appreciate our faith and the blessings that we ourselves have received, and not to take our faith for granted ever again.

May God be with all of us, and in particular with His Church and all those who are suffering just because they are Christians, as followers of the Lord. May God be with them and protect them, and may His mother Mary, Mother of the Church and Help of all Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, continue to intercede for their sake, and watch over them, all the time. Amen.

Monday, 24 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Feast of Mary, Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 24 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Feast of Mary, Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 24 May 2021 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, Feast of Mary, Help of Christians and Our Lady of Sheshan (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, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as the whole Church all of us celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, who is also the Mother of the Church, or Mater Ecclesiae. Pope Francis declared this day after the Pentecost Sunday as this Feast approximately over two years ago and this is the third time that we are celebrating this feast of Mary, Our Lady and Mother of the Church. But we must not then think that this title of the Mother of the Church as a modern invention or something new to our faith.

On the contrary, Mary has been known as the Mother of the Church since the earliest days of the Church along with the other titles like Theotokos or the Mother of God (or God-Bearer). Mary always had that special position within the Church and among Christians, and many always sought her intercession and help for their various needs, and the various devotions towards her rose and became popular over the centuries.

What then, is the Scriptural foundation of this Marian title and our devotion to her as the Mother of the Church? It is exactly what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, recounting to us the very moment just before our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ was about to die on the Cross for our salvation. Mary, His mother as well as His beloved disciple, St. John the Apostle was by the side of His Cross as He was about to offer His life and die for our sins.

It was at that moment that the Lord then entrusted to St. John, His own mother Mary to be under his care, while at the same time, He also entrusted St. John to the care of His mother Mary. It may seem to be quite strange that such double-entrustment happened, but if we understand the significance of this event and the importance of Mary to us Christians and the Church, then we will understand clearly why the Lord did as He did that day as He was hanging from the Cross.

St. John the Apostle in fact signifies and symbolises the Church, that is all of us Christians, as our representative in this new relationship we have with Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. After all, the Church was established by Our Lord Himself and is His by right, and everything belongs to Him. If we call Mary as the Mother of God, then it makes perfect sense for her to be also accorded the title of the Mother of the Church.

We honour Mary as such with this title because first and foremost, she is truly the greatest of all the role models in faith that we have, greater than all the other saints, holy men and women of God. It was her faith, her dedication and commitment, her virtuous and pure life, dedicated solely to the greater glory of God that are such great inspirations for us, that for the many centuries after, the Church has accorded to her such honours and encouraged us Christians to follow in her examples and good life.

And because she is the Mother of the Church, our loving Mother, surely all of us as her beloved adopted children ought to listen to her and follow her good examples? Just as at Cana in Galilee where the Lord Jesus performed His very first miracle, in turning the water into wine, the Lord Himself listened to the pleas made by His mother Mary for help on behalf of the wedding couple in distress. And Mary at that same time also told the servants to listen to her Son and ‘do whatever He tells you to do’.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is exactly what we need to do as well in our own lives. Our mother is telling us and has always told us to listen to her Son, to follow Him and to be good Christians in our daily living. Are we able to listen to our mother’s advice and follow her good examples and faith? She has appeared many times to various people over time, all with reminders and call to everyone to return back to her Son and to repent from our sinful ways.

Today, as we honour Mary as our beloved mother and the Mother of the Church, let us all then listen to her and follow her own good examples and dedicate ourselves in walking down the path of faith from now on. Let us all entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother’s care, and follow the Lord together with her leading the way. Let us all therefore continue our journey in faith and do what we have been called to do, to be faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth, salvation and Resurrection.

May the Lord continue to guide us and give us the strength and courage to persevere in faith through life. May He bless us in all of our efforts and good endeavours, from now on. O Mary, Holy Mother of God and Mother of the Church, pray for us sinners, your beloved children, that your Son may continue to give us His strength to follow your good examples in faith, for each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Monday, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

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.