Tuesday, 26 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us through the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, regarding the matter of God’s love for each one of us, and how each one of us are also called to lead a life that is both holy and worthy of God. We are constantly being reminded to turn towards God with faith, sin no more and to do no more what is wicked and unbecoming of our status as Christians. We are all called to be holy just as our Lord and God is holy, and to be righteous and just in the way that He has shown and taught us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, of the prayer which the prophet Jeremiah made on behalf of the people of God in Judah, which began with the Lord’s words mentioning how the Lord was sorrowful of the sufferings and the plight endured by His people in Jerusalem and Judah. They had endured a lot of trials and tribulations because of their own mistakes and disobedience against God, in turning towards the pagan gods and idols instead of the Lord, following the wicked ways of the world rather than turning back towards the Law and the commandments of God.

The Lord has sent His prophets again and again to help set His people on the right path and to remind them of what they had to do as His disciples and followers, as His flock and His people. However, the people had often hardened their hearts and minds, closed themselves off from the Lord and disobeyed Him time and again, and they often persecuted those prophets and messengers who had been sent to remind and guide them in the right paths. Yet, God was still ever patient in reaching out to them, because ultimately should they remain in sin, they would be lost to Him forever.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the continuation of the parable which the Lord told His disciples, the parable of the wheat and the weeds, in which an enemy had spread weeds among the wheat crops in a field. The weeds cannot be removed from the wheat without killing the wheat crops themselves, and they also compete with the wheat crops for nutrients, water, space and more. The owner of the field, who represents the Lord our God, let both to grow together until the day of the harvest, when all the wheat were collected into the barns while the weeds are finally removed, burnt and destroyed.

This is a reminder to all of us, God’s beloved people that if we continue to live our lives in the manner of the wicked and if we remain in the state of sin, then we are like weeds growing in the field of the Lord, that is this world. On the other hand, if we are faithful to the Lord, then we are like the wheat growing wonderfully and fruitfully in the field of the Lord. And we have that choice whether we want to be like the wheat or to be like the weeds. God has given us all plenty of time and opportunities, the choices and the means for us to embrace Him, His love, His truth and His path. If only that we have the courage and the willingness to commit ourselves to that path towards His salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded that while we still have the time and opportunity to do so, we should do our best to turn towards the Lord with contrite hearts and minds, seeking Him with all our hearts and with all our might and strength, and we should do our best to glorify God by our lives and actions from now on. We are all called to be exemplary in faith and to be role models for one another so that we can be true disciples of the Lord and truly are the healthy and fruitful wheat of the Lord’s field. That is our calling as Christians today, and we should do better by looking upon the examples of the great saints, our holy predecessors.

Today, we mark the Feast of the grandparents of the Lord, St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. Although there was not much information that Apostolic tradition had on them, but as we saw how Mary turned out to be, as a truly devoted and dedicated woman, and as a committed servant of God, her parents must have prepared and guided her well. St. Joachim and St. Anne were remembered as loving parents who loved their daughter Mary and who taught her well in obeying God and in the ways of the world. They were Mary’s role models in life, and they should be ours too.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore seek the Lord with renewed faith and commitment, and do our best to live our lives in a true Christian manner, distancing ourselves from sin and wickedness, and being faithful in all things that we may become inspiration and role models for one another. May St. Joachim and St. Anne, their faith and dedication to God, their love for their daughter Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, continue to inspire us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the people of the kingdom; the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine, like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11, 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die.

Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 14 : 17-22

This you will say to them : Let My eyes shed tears night and day without ceasing! For a great wound has the virgin daughter of My people been wounded, a most grievous wound. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword. If I enter the city I see the ravages of famine. For the prophet and the priest did not understand what was happening in the land.

Have You then rejected Judah forever? Do You abhor Zion? Why have You wounded us and left us with no hope of recovery? We hoped for salvation but received nothing good; we waited for healing, but terror came! YHVH, we know our wickedness and that of our ancestors, and the times we have sinned against You.

For Your Name’s sake do not despise us; do not dishonour the throne of Your glory. Remember us. Do not break Your Covenant with us! Among the worthless idols of the nations, are there any who can bring rain, or make the skies send showers? Only in You, YHVH our God, do we hope, for it is You Who do all this.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, we heard about the lamentation about the kingdom of Judah, how that kingdom has been overrun and has been abandoned by the favour of God, awaiting its final days and downfall. It was far from what it was like during the glorious days of kings David and Solomon.

And all of that was caused by the disobedience of the people of God, who have grown to trust their wealth and power more than they trust in God. And as a result, they have also wandered off away from the path that God had set for them. They have disobeyed His precepts, tortured and rejected His prophets and messengers, and they have lived in debauchery and wicked life, led by many of their kings who were unfaithful.

And thus God has abandoned His people to their enemies, allowing them to tear at them and made them suffer, as the just punishment and consequences for their lack of faith in Him. But it does not mean that He entirely despised them or did not care for them, as we have to understand that what God despises is the sins that we have committed, the wicked things that tainted us all in the body, heart and soul.

God loves all of us His children. We are the most beloved and precious of His creations. Yet, it pained Him to see that His beloved children abandoned Him and chose rather to be with the false gods and idols which they deemed to be their gods instead of their only one and only true God. He loves us all in person, and He cares for each and every one of us, but it is the sins that we have committed which separated us from Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why in the Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Jesus Who spoke to His disciples about the parable of the wheat and the weed. The Lord is the sower, Who sowed good seeds in our hearts, as we are all the fertile lands and grounds upon which God had given His grace and blessings. But the devil sowed the seeds of division and confusion, hoping that these would strangle the faith inside of us and trap us with the snares of sin.

If we allow these seeds to grow and develop, then I am afraid that over time it will grow to ensnare us and make it difficult for us to be faithful and loyal disciple of our Lord and God. Temptations and falsehoods of the devil are plentiful, and these are the things that will help those wicked seeds to grow, while preventing the growth or suffocating the growth of the seeds of faith inside each and every one of us.

And thus, perhaps it is good for us to take note of the examples of the two great and venerable saints whose feast we are celebrating today. They are none other than the parents of the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, making them to be the grandparents of our Lord and Saviour. St. Joachim and St. Anne were the parents of Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and through their devout and good life as well as their good care of Mary, they have played a great part in the Lord’s plan of salvation.

Indeed, Mary had been conceived without sin, as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, a centre tenet of our faith has told us, but it is equally important that she was brought up in a good family with a devout and faithful upbringing, which certainly St. Joachim and St. Anne had done for their daughter. This then highlights to us the importance of our own Christian families in the strengthening of the faith in each and every one of us.

Many of us do not realise it, but the family is a very important part of the Church, one of the strong pillars that helped to hold it all together. Without a stable and good family structure, and without a family that devote itself to the Lord and actively promote devotions and commitment towards God, then I am afraid that was the very reason why so many Christians had erred and been led into the falsehoods and the temptations of the devil.

Instead, as Christians, especially those of us in the families of Christ, each and every one of us, be it as a father, or as a mother, as a brother or a sister, as sons and daughters, all of us have a role to play in our Christian families. We are the foundations of the Church, as the saying goes that a family who prays together, stays together. If our families are run and kept as how Mary’s family was, and later on, as how the Holy Family was like, then surely there will be no problem.

The confusion and the wickedness spread by the devil can only grow when the situation and condition is ripe for such a growth, namely in situations where parental care is lacking, and where the Christian values that are supposed to be inculcated since young through the family are absent. Certainly, we do not want this to happen.

Therefore, let us all commit ourselves anew to the Lord by strengthening our families, filled with faith, and devote ourselves anew. May God bless us all and keep us all in His grace, and may His blessings and graces be upon us always, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 36-43

At that time, Jesus sent the crowds away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” Jesus answered them, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seed are the people of the kingdom, the weeds are those who follow the evil one. The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil; the harvest is the end of time, and the workers are the Angels.”

“Just as the weeds are pulled up and burnt in the fire, so will it be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send His Angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom all that is scandalous and all who do evil. And these will be thrown in the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the just will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears, then hear.”

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 78 : 8, 9, 11, 13

Do not remember against us the sins of our fathers. Let Your compassion hurry to us, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God, our Saviour, for the glory of Your Name; forgive us for the sake of Your Name.

Listen to the groans of the prisoners; by the strength of Your arm, deliver those doomed to die.

Then we, Your people, the flock of Your pasture, will thank You forever. We will recount Your praise from generation to generation.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 14 : 17-22

This you will say to them : Let my eyes shed tears night and day without ceasing! For with a great wound has the virgin daughter of my people been wounded, a most grievous wound. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword. If I enter the city I see the ravages of famine. For the prophet and the priest did not understand what was happening in the land.

Have You then rejected Judah forever? Do You abhor Zion? Why have You wounded us and left us with no hope of recovery? We hoped for salvation but received nothing good; we waited for healing, but terror came! YHVH, we know our wickedness and that of our ancestors, and the times we have sinned against You.

For Your Name’s sake do not despise us; do not dishonour the throne of Your glory. Remember us. Do not break Your covenant with us! Among the worthless idols of the nations, are there any who can bring rain, or make the skies send showers? Only in You, YHVH our God, do we hope, for it is You Who do all this.

Sunday, 26 July 2015 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard the Scripture readings which spoke of our Lord as a loving God who is caring and loving for all of His people, and who gave them all that they need, food and nourishment, so that they may live, be filled and satisfied without hunger or worry. In this, we see how much God has loved us, which He manifested through His many works.

In the first reading, we heard how Elisha the prophet fed a hundred man with a mere twenty loaves of bread. His servant did not believe that such a feat was possible, and he asked him, “How can we feed a hundred men with this?” But Elisha showed his servant that what for man is impossible, is possible for God, and the hundred men ate until they were full with loaves left over.

And certainly we can see the clear link with our Gospel today, that when Jesus taught the huge multitudes of people coming to listen to Him, He fed the five thousand men and countless thousands more of women and children, with just five loaves and two fishes. The disciples of Jesus were similarly astounded at first, and even asked the same question as what Elisha’s servant had asked, but God again showed His love and made the whole people to eat until full with twelve full baskets of leftover bread.

In all these things, certainly if our eyes are open, if our ears can listen, and if our hearts are opened, then surely we should be able to see how great is the love which our Lord had shown us, not just in what we have just heard, but in our daily lives, in every things we have enjoyed which had come from the Lord. It is often that we do not realise the extent of the many things we have enjoyed which without the Lord and His love for us, it would not have been possible.

And God had not just given us tangible food as in loaves and fishes to eat and be satisfied with, but even much more than that. Remember that Jesus rebuked Satan when he tempted Him with food when He fasted for forty days in the desert? He said that men did not live on bread alone, but on every words that came from the mouth of God.

This went on to show how God nourishes us not just with the food of the earth, that is to fill our stomachs, but also gives us the nourishment and food for the soul, that is His words and teachings, which He had revealed through His prophets and servants, and last of all, which He revealed in all its fullness, through Jesus, the Word Himself made flesh for all to witness and see.

And then last of all, God gave Himself as the ultimate nourishment of all, through the sharing of His own Body and His own Blood for all to receive and have life in them. For He said that ‘My Body is real food and My Blood is real drink, and although your ancestors who ate the bread of heaven, or manna died in the desert, those who eat of My Body and drink of My Blood will have eternal life.’ Such is the promise which God had given to all who partake and share in Him and His nourishing gift for us.

For it is through His suffering on the way to Calvary, by the scourging of many lashes, by the nails that pierced His hands and legs, and thus by His death on the cross that He had shed His Body and poured out His Blood for all of us to share, so that for all those for whom Christ had died for, that is for all mankind, we may receive Him and He will dwell in us, so that He may nourish us and give us a new and blessed life, no longer afflicted by our past sinfulness and wickedness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having seen all these, have we realised again how much God has loved and cared for us? And most importantly, how have we reacted to the love which God had given us? Have we shown gratitude and thanks to Him? Have we uttered even a word of thanks, and not just from our mouth but from the depths of our hearts?

The word thank you is something which we may take for granted, and which is in fact a very difficult word to utter with meaning and with proper purpose. How many of us actually give thanks for something good which had been done by others upon us? How many of us are grateful for every blessings and good things that come our way? Certainly many of us would see that in many occasions, we have not give due thanks for what we have enjoyed.

And how much more we should therefore thank our Lord, for He has given us so much, providing us all that we need, the nourishment of the flesh as well as the soul, and the blessing of everlasting life which God had given us who share in His Body and Blood, which is the Eucharist. He is God our Father, who cares for us like a parent caring for his or her child.

And today we also commemorate the feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne, who are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was under their tutelage and loving care that Mary was brought up to be such a pious and devoted child of God, who then became an example to all of us as the mother of our God and the one closest to her Son in heaven, our greatest intercessor.

Their loving care of Mary, which in turn is also shown by Mary to Jesus her Son, should remind us of the love which our Lord had poured and lavished upon us. But the question remain the same, as we should ask ourselves, how many of us are grateful to what our parents had done for us? How many of us had given proper and due thanks to them who had given and sacrificed so much for our sake?

Therefore, let us all ponder on this, and think of how we can honour and give thanks to our Lord, who had cared for us, He, our Father, whose thoughts and gaze are always fixed upon us all the days of our lives. It does not mean anything if we do not mean what we say when we give thanks to Him and to others, as words are easy to come out with, but in order to be truly capable of showing thanks for all who have given us good things, especially that of our Lord, it must come from the heart.

May Almighty God, our Father, Lord and Saviour help us all to realise the great extent to which He had blessed us and granted us goodness in all things, that deep in our hearts a great sense of gratitude may swell and we may give thanks due to be given to He who had provided us with everything that we need, nourishments for our body, spirit and soul, so that we have nothing lacking and be fully satisfied. Let us from now on be thankful for every single moments of our lives, for every breath that we take, which is also a gift from God. May we be forever devoted to Him, our Lord and Father. Amen.

Sunday, 26 July 2015 : Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 6 : 1-15

At that time, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, near Tiberias, and large crowds followed Him, because of the miraculous signs they saw, when He healed the sick. So He went up into the hills and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Then lifting up His eyes, Jesus saw the crowds that were coming to Him, and said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread so that these people may eat?” He said this to test Philip, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred silver coins would not buy enough bread for each of them to have a piece.”

Then one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there, so the people, about five thousand men, sat down. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated.

He did the same with the fish, and gave them as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten enough, He told His disciples, “Gather up the pieces left over, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with bread, that is, with pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

When the people see the miracle which Jesus had performed, they said, “This is really the Prophet, the One who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they would come and take Him by force to make Him king; so He fled to the hills by Himself.