Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s readings from the Scripture, we are reminded of the gift of blessings from God, in the form of holy matrimony, which God had decreed from the moment that He created us mankind, man and woman, to complement each other and to be united with one another in a holy union blessed by God. This union was mentioned in the first reading we have today, in the Book of Genesis.

The Lord created mankind first with a man, Adam, who was all alone among his race, while God created all creatures male and female, according to their natures. And that was why, God created a woman, Eve, who was taken from the man, in a very symbolic act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam when he was in a deep sleep, and God made woman out of man. Regardless whether it was how God actually created us mankind, the truth and reality remains that God made us man and woman.

And the act of taking the bone and the flesh from Adam is in fact God’s reminder for us that we were created to be for one another, to share the love that God has given us, and to complement each other. And our relationship and union, in the sacred bond of matrimony, between a man and a woman, is in fact a reflection and imitation of God’s own perfect union of love, which is present in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Through the sacred bond of matrimony, God also blesses us with children, as His gifts of love for us, to be fruitful and bountiful just as He has commanded us man at the beginning of creation, and to multiply and to fill the earth with our kind. This was the foundation of families and the foundation of our human communities, and indeed, the foundation of our faith and our Church.

For all of us have been born into this world as a small, little baby, each one of us, growing up in a family, where God’s love was given to us through our fathers and our mothers. And it is in the family that all of us learn what it truly means to be human beings, to be those whom the Lord has given intellect, wisdom and the ability to survive in this world. Without our families, then our human society will eventually perish and be destroyed.

Similarly, the family is the foundation and the core part of our Church and faith, as it is through the family that the faith, which has been preserved by the Church, is imparted at the beginning to the small children, baptised and raised in good faith by their parents. If the children were not raised well by their parents, ultimately, not only that they will likely lose faith, but they will also grow to be people who are without love in their hearts, capable of committing all sorts of wickedness and atrocities.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, the reality is such that, the foundation of our family and marriage life has always been shaken very badly right from the beginning of time. Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and even in the New Testament, there had been cases when the people who have agreed to be joined in blessed union of matrimony, sought instead to break that bond for various reasons, that is divorce.

First of all, we must understand that the Church does allow for certain exceptional cases where the marriage was not consummated and with various other valid considerations and conditions where the Church decided that the couple can be granted an annulment. An annulment is different from the case of divorce, in that the marriage was considered to have never taken place at all in the eyes of God and the Church.

However, what the Lord Jesus was referring to, in our Gospel passage today, when the Pharisees looked for Him and tried to test Him on the matter of marriage and divorce, was that of validly contracted marriages and unions which were deliberately sought to be broken by the desires of man. And the Pharisees argued that they were allowed to divorce as according to the Law of Moses, as long as settlement has been made and documents have been signed and agreed on, the marriage can be dissolved easily.

But God made it very clear to the people, that the matter of marriage is in fact not just a formality, which can be easily overwritten and overridden by the statutes of human laws, customs and practices. Instead, as mentioned, the bond of marriage is a matter of divine law, a divine union blessed by none other than God, Who has decreed that a man and a woman are united in the same love that unites the Holy Trinity together, and what He has united, no man should divide.

This, in truth, is the foundation of our marriages and families, and why we should indeed put a lot of attention to them. The devil knows this as well, and that is why, he is always on the offensive, trying to strike at us, God’s children, in our marriage and family life, that by destroying this important unit and foundation of our Church and faith, he can lure more souls into the damnation in hell.

In many cases of divorce, it was caused by our human frailty and inability to resist the temptation of the pleasures of the flesh, as well as other desires. Many people fell into adultery because of their inability to resist the temptations of their flesh, which are constantly persuading them to turn away from the Lord’s path and into the path of debauchery and unfaithfulness. Many have not been faithful to their respective spouses, and this resulted in the breaking away of families.

And when we become divided, we end up losing our faith, and the children are also badly and negatively affected. The devil then has a great time trying to pull us into ever deeper trap of his temptations and false promises of pleasure, of glory, of material goods and other things that have become thorns in the body of our family and marriage. We find it hard to restrain the temptation to sexual pleasures, to materialism and many more things that made us to desire separation and ending of the sacred bond of matrimony.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the same time, we need to realise that there are just a lot of things that each one of us as Christians can contribute to help all those who are troubled in their family and marriage life. Even there may be those who are in our midst, and among those whom we know, that are currently suffering in their family and marriage. Are we then going to ignore them should they come to us seeking help, advice or assistance? Or are we going to lend them a listening ear and to extend our hands to help wherever possible?

Today, all of us also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, on the seventh day of October every year. This feast was once also known as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, commemorated after the great victory of the Christian army and forces at the Battle of Lepanto against the enemies of Christ and His Church. At that time, the enemies of the Lord and His Church mustered a massive and overwhelmingly powerful forces, that threatened the very existence of Christendom, but through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, the Christian forces managed to obtain a decisive victory.

The significance of that event and this celebration then goes beyond just the historical importance of that victory to the survival of Christendom and the Christian faith as we know it. All of us must realise that we are in a constant battle, every single day and every single moments of our lives, against the devil and all of his evil forces seeking our downfall and damnation. He is the source of all of our troubles, including all the current forces and efforts aimed at the dismantling of our institution of sacred matrimony and the family.

That is why, at this moment, it is all the more important that we seek for necessary help in order to prevent us from falling into the temptations and into threat of eternal damnation. And the Lord has provided us a very good source of help, in His beloved mother, Mary, and through the rosary which she has introduced to us, through St. Dominic, and many other saints, through whom she revealed to us the rosary as a means by which we can come closer to God.

Why is that so? That is because the rosary is a series of prayers, which prominently involved the Hail Mary, a prayer invoking the prayers from Mary, the Blessed Mother of Our God, and also extolling the virtues of her life. Far from being a meaningless and repetitive prayer as many of its opponents and detractors often claimed, the rosary is a very effective weapon in our battle of life, against the forces of evil.

Many of us do not realise that we have often been lacking in our prayer life and in our spiritual development. And through the rosary, we are in fact reminded of the need to reorientate our lives to the Lord, by following the examples and the inspiration of Mary, the Mother of God, who is the perfect disciple and follower of God, in how she obeyed the Lord and put her trust in Him so completely, allowing God to do His wonderful works through her.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep the sanctity of both our married life and family life, by putting God at the centre of our lives, by devoting ourselves more to His mother, Mary, that in this month of October, month of the Holy Rosary, we should spend time to pray together, as a family, together between husband and wife, and the children, asking for the intercession of Mary, that she will continue to pray for our sake and ask her Son to help us in our battle against evil.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us sinners and help us that we may imitate your examples in faith, in your obedience and devotion to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 2-16

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question : “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

People were bringing their little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, He was very angry and said, “Let the children come to Me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then He took the children in His arms and, laying His hands on them, blessed them.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Mark 10 : 2-12

At that time, some Pharisees came and put Jesus to the test with this question : “Is it right for a husband to divorce his wife?”

He replied, “What law did Moses give you?” They answered, “Moses allowed us to write a certificate of dismissal in order to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you, because you are stubborn. But in the beginning of creation God made them male and female, and because of this, man has to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body. So they are no longer two but one body. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined.”

When they were indoors at home, the disciples again asked Him about this, and He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against his wife, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another also commits adultery.”

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Hebrews 2 : 9-11

But Jesus, Who suffered death, and for a little while, was placed lower than the Angels, has been crowned with honour and glory. For the merciful plan of God demanded that He experience death, on behalf of everyone.

God, from Whom all come, and by Whom all things exist, wanted to bring many children to glory, and He thought it fitting to make perfect, through suffering, the initiator of their salvation. So, He Who gives, and those who receive holiness, are one. He, Himself, is not ashamed of calling us brothers and sisters.

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

Blessed are you who fear YHVH and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots, will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears YHVH. May YHVH praise you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

May you see your children’s children, and Israel at peace!

Sunday, 7 October 2018 : Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Genesis 2 : 18-24

YHVH God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will give him a helper who will be like him.” Then YHVH God formed from the earth all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to man to see what he would call them; and whatever man called every living creature, that was its name.

So man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the air and to every beasts of the field. But he did not find among them a helper like himself. Then YHVH God caused a deep sleep to come over man and he fell asleep. He took one of his ribs and filled its place with flesh. The rib which YHVH God had taken from man He formed into a woman and brought her to the man.

The man then said, “Now this bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man.” That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her become one flesh.

Saturday, 7 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, part of our celebration of the Marian month of October, when the daily recitation of the rosary is highly encouraged as part of our devotion to God through His mother, Mary. And we remember today, this loving mother, whom the Lord had entrusted to us as our own mother, through the rosary which she had granted us and revealed to us, as the means to help to achieve our salvation.

The origins of this feast came about from the historical moment of a great battle that raged over four centuries ago, at the time of great danger to the Christian world and the faithful, when the forces of the enemies of the Church and the unbelievers were arrayed against it, attacking the Church both from within and without. The Church was divided and assailed by the heresies and divisions that threatened to destroy the faithful.

But the greatest threat then came from the forces of the mighty Ottoman Empire, which armies and ships had risen up against Christian nations and states, overpowering them one by one. Christendom at that time came under very great threat, the threat of destruction and martyrdom. Yet, at the same time, salvation came as the Christian forces gathered together and met the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Lepanto in the year 1571.

While the Ottoman fleet outnumbered the Christian fleet, but through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who apparently according to some eyewitnesses, made her apparition among the clouds with many other saints of God, the Ottoman forces were driven back and vanquished. And in thanksgiving for the great battle, which occurred on the seventh day of the month of October that year, the Pope then, Pope St. Pius V declared that day as the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.

Before the battle, the Pope called for all of Christendom to pray the rosary, and led a rosary procession through the city of Rome himself. The great victory and triumph of the forces of the faithful at Lepanto was therefore commemorated on this day, also as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, in remembrance of the power of the holy rosary in calling upon the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary.

Now, back to our present day, there is still a great reason to celebrate this Feast of the Holy Rosary, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary herself. For there is always a great challenge and opposition facing the Church and all of us the faithful, by Satan our great enemy, and all of his forces of fallen angels and demons, arrayed against us. The devil is always active at work, trying to persuade, cajole, force and pressurise us to abandon our faith and commit sin instead, disobeying God’s laws and commandments.

Through the praying of the holy rosary, we reorientate ourselves to the Lord through the intercession of His Blessed Mother. The rosary is a great tool through which Mary desired to help all of us, whom God had entrusted to her as her own children. Surely, a mother who loves her children will not want any of them to be lost from her. For the price of sin is death and damnation in hell, as we are sundered forever from God’s grace and love.

St. Louis-Marie de Montfort once said that Mary is the surest, straightest and easiest path for us to reach out to God. And this cannot be further from the reality and the truth, as it is by imitating Mary that we will come closer to God, by following the examples of Mary, the mother of our God. Mary was faithful and obedient, and it was by the same obedience to God’s will that she accepted her role as the mother of God and Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The rosary when prayed with genuine devotion and faith is a constant reminder of the faith of Mary, through which she had devoted her entire life to the service of God. The rosary is the means through which mankind, fallen into sin, are able to climb their way back up to the light, from the darkness which had enveloped us through sin. And Mary is rightly feared by Satan and his allies, not just because of her great faith and commitment to God, her piety and holiness, but also because of the rosary.

Let us think of how many souls the devil has lost because of the rosary. Let us reflect on how many souls have gone to heaven instead of going to hell with the devil, just because they piously pray and recite the rosary prayers from their hearts, dedicating themselves to God through His mother Mary. Those who pray the rosary daily and with devotion, shall not fall into damnation, but instead go towards eternal life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we do not yet have the habit of praying the rosary daily or at least regularly, let us begin praying it every day, especially during this month of October, the Marian month of the rosary. Let us all pray the rosary, believing that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will be able to find the surest and most straightforward path to our Lord, through her guidance.

May the Lord continue to bless us and guide each one of us, so that we may continue to draw closer and ever more towards His salvation. Let us pray, asking for the continued intercession from our Blessed Mother, that she will continue praying for the sake of us sinners, for the salvation of our souls, and through the rosary, may we find the way towards righteousness in God. Amen.

Saturday, 7 October 2017 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.