Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Scripture Reflection)

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.

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Matthew 14 : 13-21

On hearing this, Jesus set out by boat for a secluded place, to be alone. But the people heard of it, and they followed Him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowds gathered there and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, His disciples came to Him and said, “We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat.”

But Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes.” Jesus said to them, “Bring them here to me.”

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised His eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves, and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets.

About five thousand men had eaten there, besides women and children.

 

 

Alternative Reading (From the Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major)

 

Luke 11 : 27-28

As Jesus was speaking, a woman spoke from the crowd and said to Him, “Blessed is the one who gave You birth and nursed You!”

Jesus replied, “Truly blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it as well.”

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Psalm 80 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

But My people did not listen; Israel did not obey. So I gave them over to their stubbornness and they followed their own counsels.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would quickly subdue their adversaries and turn My hand against their enemies.

Those who hate the Lord would cringe before Him, and their panic would last forever. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

 

 

Alternative Reading (From the Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major)

 

Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Numbers 11 : 4b-15

“Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we ate without cost in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic. Now our appetite is gone; there is nothing to look at, nothing but manna.”

Now the manna was like coriander seed and had the appearance of bedellium. The people went about gathering it up and then ground it between millstones or pounded it in a mortar. They boiled it in a pot and made cakes with it which tasted like cakes made with oil. As soon as dew fell at night in the camp, the manna came with it.

Moses heard the people crying, family by family at the entrance to their tent and YHVH became very angry. This displeased Moses. Then Moses said to YHVH, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Is it because You do not love me that You burdened me with this people? Did I conceive all these people and did I give them birth?

And now You want me to carry them in my bosom as a nurse carries an infant, to the land You promised on oath to their fathers? Where would I get meat for all these people, when they cry to me saying : ‘Give us meat that we may eat?’ I cannot, myself alone, carry all these people; the burden is too heavy for me. Kill me rather than treat me like this, I beg of You, if You look kindly on me, and let me not see Your anger.”

 

Alternative Reading (From the Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major)

 

Revelations 21 : 1-5a

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. A loud voice came from the throne, “Here is the dwelling of God among mortals : He will pitch His tent among them and they will be His people; He will be God-with-them.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away.” The One seated on the throne said, “See, I make all things new.”