Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 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 together the feast of the Marian apparition which was one of the first apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be recognised and approved by the Church, that is of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared to a local Christian, who is also now a saint, St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, showing herself to him in a vision on a hill called the Tepeyac hill, where now a great Basilica stands in her honour, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego a few times over a series of visions, in which she spoke to St. Juan Diego about who she was, and on the ninth of December, the now feast of St. Juan Diego, Mary made her first appearance before him. This happened in the year of Our Lord 1531, just slightly more than a decade after the conversion of Mexico and many parts of the New World to the true faith in God.

Mary identified herself in St. Juan Diego’s own native language, revealing that she is the mother of the One True God, Who is Jesus Christ, Our Lord. She also asked him for a church to be built at the site in her honour. When St. Juan Diego spoke of this to his Archbishop, the latter requested him to ask the Lady for a miraculous sign as a proof of her authentic apparition. Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego again and agreed to provide a sign.

When St. Juan Diego’s uncle was very sick, and St. Juan Diego seeking to find a priest to minister to him on his deathbed, again Our Lady appeared to him and chided him with the now famous words, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” and promised that St. Juan Diego’s uncle would be healed, and also asked him to gather some flowers from Tepeyac hill to be shown as a sign to the Archbishop.

When St. Juan Diego presented the flowers to the Archbishop, the latter was surprised with what he saw in the tilma or cloak in which St. Juan Diego had carried the flowers. The very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe who appeared to St. Juan Diego was imprinted on the tilma, which is kept until today in the great Basilica, as the proof of Our Lady’s miraculous apparition in Guadalupe.

Ever since then, Guadalupe became a centre of intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, through which many of the faithful came seeking for petitions and favours from the Mother of God. And Mary did also appear several more times in various other places, of which those that had been recognised include Fatima, Lourdes, La Sallette, and many others. Through all these apparitions, Mary sought to remind us, as the mother of Our Saviour, that we ought to be faithful to her Son.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and as we have just celebrated a few days ago, she was special amongst all of us mankind, for she has been conceived without the taints of sin, the Immaculate Conception, as the one whom God had bestowed His fullness of grace and as the one who would bear the Messiah in her, as the New Ark of the New Covenant.

Mary is special to us because she is the role model for all of us mankind, as the perfect disciple and follower of God, having lived her whole life in total devotion and commitment to the Lord, and having dedicated her life to the love and care of her Son, seeing Him taking up the cross and dying for the sake of all of us mankind, fulfilling the role which the Lord had sent Him to do in this world. And at the very end, He entrusted her to us all, through St. John, His disciple, and vice versa, entrusting us all to her in the same way.

Mary is the mother of us all, and as a mother loves her children, thus, that is why Mary is also loving to each and every one of us. She certainly does not want us to fall into damnation, and thus away from her and from her Son for eternity. Mary has appeared many times throughout the years for this purpose, reminding us again and again of the need for genuine repentance and change of hearts and attitude in our minds.

She appeared in Guadalupe to help us, His people to become closer to Him through her. By following her examples in life and by devoting ourselves just as she had devoted her own, we can be closer to God, and be able to reach out to the salvation which He has promised all of us. Now, we are called to reach out also to the blessed Mother of Our Lord and God, Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking her to intercede for our sake, that we may received the grace of God in our own lives.

O Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, you who have been conceived without sin, the Mother of God, pray for us all sinners, and bring us ever closer to the saving grace and love of Your Son. May God bless us all, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

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!”

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

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

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Alternative Psalm (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.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

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

Isaiah 40 : 25-31

To whom, then, will you liken Me or make Me equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and see : who has created all this? He has ordered them as a starry host and called them each by name. So mighty is His power, so great His strength, that not one of them is missing.

How can you say, o Jacob, how can you complain, o Israel, that your destiny is hidden from Me, that your rights are ignored by YHVH? Have you not known, have you not heard that YHVH is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He does not grow tired or weary, His knowledge is without limit.

He gives strength to the enfeebled, He gives vigour to the wearied. Youth may grow tired and faint, young men will stumble and fall, but those who hope in YHVH will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.

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.”

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 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, a very popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who appeared approximately five hundred years ago in the area that is now Mexico, at the site where now a great Basilica built in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe now stands. Today let us reflect on the many wonders which we mankind have received through her intercession.

At that time, during the early years of Spanish America, Our Lady chose to appear to a local native, St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, whose feast day we celebrated just a few days ago. At that time, she made her appearance on a hill known as the Tepeyac hill to St. John Diego, who then related her apparition and message to the local bishop. The local bishop was skeptical of St. John Diego’s account and wanted a proof of her authentic apparition.

Therefore, as Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared again to St. John Diego, she asked him to gather some flowers from the spot she pointed out on the hill, which were miraculous, as those flowers, Castilian flowers, were not existent at that part of the world. St. John Diego gathered the flowers in the cloak that he was wearing, called a tilma, and brought the flowers as a sign and proof to the bishop.

When St. John Diego came to the bishop and presented the miraculous flowers to him, what amazed the bishop much more and to his great surprise was that the very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on the tilma or cloak that St. John Diego was wearing. Many people came to believe in this miracle and apparition, and came to greater devotion to God through His mother, who appeared as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Pope eventually recognised this apparition as authentic, and great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe had continued ever since.

Today, as we recall this great apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Guadalupe, we should take note how Mary appeared many times to many different people, at Guadalupe, at Lourdes, at Fatima, and at many other places as deemed authentic by the Holy See. And all these apparitions were in fact ways through which Mary, the great Mother of God, is still ever active trying to bring us all, her adopted children, towards reconciliation and salvation in her Son, Our God.

For Mary has a special role in our salvation, and the Church has recognised her as the co-Redemptrix of mankind. It was not that she by her own power has saved mankind, but rather, it was through her that God made His salvation to be able to reach out to us. Her obedience and willingness to be part of God’s plan of salvation for us mankind has brought forth the Saviour into this world, just as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.

Our Lord Himself has also entrusted all of us mankind to her, symbolically represented as He entrusted St. John the Evangelist to her, and at the same time entrusting her to his care. Through this, all of us have been made to be her children, as Jesus her Son, is also our Brother. As she has now been assumed to Heaven, to sit at the side of her Son, she is the greatest of all our intercessors, constantly praying for our sake. And this is also why she frequently appeared to us, appealing for us to repent from our sins and change our lives.

She loves each and every one of us mankind, just as she loved her Son Jesus with all of her loving heart. Every man and woman who died with sins unforgiven and unrepentant are in danger of eternal damnation, and is sorrowful for her. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that she was with her Son throughout His Passion, as He walked the path to Calvary, bearing the heavy burden of the cross and our sins. Just as she was sorrowful because of the suffering endured by her Son, she is also sorrowful for all the souls who will endure eternal damnation and suffering because of their sins.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate and rejoice in the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe today, let us also then remember to reflect about our own lives and actions. Have we been truly faithful to God in all of our actions? Or have we rather allowed ourselves to fall into sin, and forgetting God and all of His love for us? Many of us have lapsed from our faith, and have not been active in practicing our faith in God, and we have allowed ourselves to be busy with worldly matters and forgetting about God.

In this season of Advent, during this time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas therefore, we need to prepare ourselves, our hearts and minds, our bodies and our souls, our whole beings, to be able to celebrate Christmas worthily and understand better its importance for our salvation. Christmas is the celebration of Our Lord’s birth and entry into this world, as the Light of the world that dawned and pierced through the darkness of this world.

And as the Church teaches us, the best way to reach out to the Lord, Our Light, is through His Mother, Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who constantly appeared to mankind, in order to guide us all to her Son. It is imperative therefore, that we make whatever opportunity that we have been given, this very life, to reach out to the Lord, and humbly seeks His mercy and forgiveness for our sins, that we may come to be worthy of His eternal glory.

We should follow the examples of our holy and devout predecessors, the saints, in the examples of their lives. And there is no greater example than Mary herself, whose obedience and adherence to God’s will, whose commitment of love for her Son, Our Lord, made it possible for salvation to come to us from God. We are all now called to follow in her footsteps, that she may lead us all down the path towards salvation and eternal life.

May the Lord continue to bless each and every one of us, and may His blessed mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe continue to intercede for us sinners still living in this world. May all of us strive to be ever more committed to serve the Lord in all of our ways, and repent from our sins, that we may draw ever closer to God and His grace, and be worthy of the glory of eternal life. O Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 18 : 12-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

“It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”

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!”

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

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

Psalm 95 : 1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name; proclaim His salvation, day after day.

Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds. Say among the nations, “He will judge the peoples with justice.”

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

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.