Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we hear today of the Lord’s great kindness and compassion to us, His great love to us, that He provides for us daily what we need in our lives. He is our Father, who created us from dust and gave life to us. Yet, He did not just stop there and leave us to our own devices. He continues to care for us, nurture us as we grow, giving us His love that pours out from His heart.
He shows us compassion whenever we are hungry, whenever we are without love, whenever we are oppressed unjustly, and whenever we are under great distress. He is a loving Father who always makes Himself available to all of us. Never will He leave us without help. In His own mysterious ways, He sends us many help along the way in our lives, whether we realise it or not.
He gives us food, the physical food and nutrition we need for our survival, the sustenance of our physical bodies, the same way Christ had fed the five thousand men, and many more women and children. We receive these food through our parents, our families, our friends, and even those whom we buy the food from. He truly works His grace for us through various ways. Have we realised this, and realised His great love for us?
However, He does not only provide us with physical food to sustain us, but also the spiritual food of His love, the spiritual food of His words, which He gave us through Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. He poured His love into our hearts, that we may not only be physically satisfied, but also spiritually satisfied and whole. That is why we must take good care of our spiritual health. Remember always the rebuke Christ made to Satan when He was first tempted in the desert, that men does not live on bread alone, but from every Word that came from the Lord, that is our spiritual sustenance.
The Lord does not forget us when we are in trouble, nor will He turn us away when we come to Him to seek His help. He sent Moses to deliver His beloved people, Israel, from slavery and suffering in Egypt, delivering through Moses His wrath to Israel’s slave masters, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He delivered them through the Red Sea and gave them even food from heaven, the divine manna. Who else may claim that their God feed them with food that came from His own table in heaven?
He also delivered the people of Israel from the threat of utter destruction, by sending an unlikely deliverer, in Judith the widow, who courageously went through the enemy’s camp and slaying the enemy commander with God’s power and grace. He gave power to the weak to bring down the proud and the powerful, and giving freedom to His people living in fear and oppression under tyranny of evil. He does not forget His people, but instead walks among them and support them all the time of their lives.
And most important of all, there is no great gift and providence our Lord had given all of us, without exception, than the gift of Himself, through Jesus Christ His Son, the Word of God made flesh, who descended into the world to become our Saviour, our great Redeemer. Just as the people of Israel was under the tyranny of the Pharaohs, and later under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who sent his general Holofernes to destroy them, so did all of us fall under the tyranny of evil, of sin, and of Satan, our jailor.
He sent us Jesus to be our Saviour, to be the One who broke forever the chains of sin that kept us bound to death that was our fate. It is not that we will not die, but we will no longer suffer eternal death, that is eternal separation from God who is life, if we put our trust in Jesus our Lord and accept Him as our Saviour.
He offered His salvation to all by the outpouring of His love to all of us, the ultimate nourishment for us and our souls, that He gave us through His disciples, the Most Precious Body and Blood of His own Body, in what we now know as the Most Holy Eucharist, that we regularly receive at the Holy Mass in the Holy Communion. Now truly, we should all be able to see and realise how great the love that God has for all of us, His children!
Today, brothers and sisters, we also commemorate the memorial of the dedication of Basilica of St. Mary Major or Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. This basilica is one of the four Papal Basilicas, and one of the most important sites of Christendom. This basilica was dedicated to the Mother of our Lord, our Blessed Virgin Mary herself, who is also the protector of the city of Rome. Our current Pope Francis went to visit the Basilica to ask for the Lady’s protection and intercession for his Pontificate on the day after his election as our Pope.
You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all blessed that the Lord Himself cared so much about all of us sinners in this world, that He sent to us not only His Son, Jesus to be our Saviour, but also even earlier on, His mother Mary, to be our greatest intercessor before her Son, to be our greatest defender and help, when we are in the darkest depth of sin and evil. That is because the best way to the Lord is indeed by Christ, through Mary His mother. Mary is an example to all of us through her numerous deeds and righteousness, and her dedication to her Son, our Lord Jesus and the love she has for all mankind.
Remember that Christ had entrusted His mother to John, His beloved disciple and vice versa. In this way, Christ did not just give Mary to John, nor did He just give John to Mary to care for one another, because in fact, Christ, through John, gave His own mother to all of us, all mankind, without exception! Mary is our great intercessor, as she pleads for our sake, for our case, before her Son in heaven.
Remember again what happened in Cana, in the wedding, when Christ politely rejected the request to perform His first miracle to help the wedding couple in trouble because they ran out of wine. Yet, at the urging and persistence of Mary, in her own words, asking the servants to follow whatever the Lord said, He eventually helped and performed His first miracle, to the relief of the couple.
Yes, the same can also happen to us, brothers and sisters, as the Lord Himself had said, that if we want something, we should ask for it, and we should knock the door, if we want the door to be opened for us. He is generous for mercy, forgiveness, and love, but only if we ask Him, and persistently ask Him. He will give us all that we need, and provide us with everything we need, be it food, physical or spiritual, and other things that we require. Where does our mother, Mary come in this? She is, as I had mentioned, our greatest intercessor, the greatest of all saints, and the one nearest to the throne of mercy, to the throne of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through the intercession of Mary, we can be closer to God, and through her, many souls can be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. That is why, brothers and sisters, it is important for us to promote the devotion to the Blessed Virgin, our mother and the mother of our God. Ask her for help and for her intercession for our sake before her Son, and our prayers will be heard.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, and henceforth, let us remember always the kindness and love God had showered us with, all the blessings He had given all of us. Let us always thank Him for the daily bread and blessings He had given us, remembering His love, and His dedication for us, that He even gave Himself to us, that we may live and have eternal life with Him in the glory and bliss of heaven. God bless us all. Amen.