Friday, 26 July 2019 : 16th 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, on this day we celebrate the feast of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, namely St. Joachim and St. Anne, her father and her mother respectively. They were remembered as those who were faithful and committed to obey the Lord and His laws, which they passed on to their daughter, Mary, preparing her well for the crucial role she would end up taking as the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour.

The parents of our blessed mother Mary taught her to be obedient to the Lord, to be righteous and just in accordance to the Law which God has revealed to His people through Moses, as we ourselves have also heard in our first reading passage today, which related to us the important Ten Commandments that God revealed to Israel at Mount Sinai, as the core and basis of the laws which He has provided for them.

And in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the parable of the sower which we all should be familiar with, as spoken by the Lord Jesus to His disciples and all the people who were listening to His teachings. In that parable we heard how the sower of the seeds spread the seeds that fell onto different kinds of soils and conditions, and as a result the seeds grew differently and ended up in various conditions.

The Lord also explained how all those seeds that fell by the roadside and got eaten up by the birds, or those that fell on the rocky ground and perished, and those seeds that fell among brambles and thistles and were choked to death, were symbolic of those who have received the seeds of faith from God, and yet, failed to allow those seeds to grow and germinate in them, therefore, they bore no fruits in them.

This has to be understood in the context of how the Law of God, which God has given to His people at Mount Sinai through Moses, had been neglected and abandoned by the very same people who have received them firsthand from God, and even those who have witnessed God’s miraculous wonders and works in the first place. They did not allow God’s laws and words to take roots in them, and as such, they ended up being unfaithful.

They refused to believe because they allowed the many concerns of the world, the temptations of worldly desires and the pressures of sin cause them to fall and to get further and further away from the Lord. But what if the opposite happen then, brothers and sisters in Christ? That was exactly what happened with Mary, who not only prepared especially for the role she was to undertake as the Mother of God, but she was also brought up well in faith.

It was her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne who brought her up well in faith, instructing her in the ways of the world and to be a righteous, just and obedient person, as a servant of God. In the traditions of the Church, St. Joachim and St. Anne were truly loving and caring parents who brought up Our Lady well, showing to us what it truly means to be parents to our children, and especially as Christian parents.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, through the faith and good examples shown by St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary, we are all called to reflect on our own Christian lives, especially in our own Christian families, in how we live our lives together in our respective families, in our roles either as a father, or as a mother, or as a child, or as a son-in-law or as daughter-in-law, or as any other members of the family.

Christian family is a very important part of the Church, as without good and faithful Christian families, the foundations of the Church will crumble and collapse, and countless souls would have been lost to sin and to the devil’s machinations. And the devil and his allies know this perfectly well, and thus, they constantly assault our Christian families and the institution of marriage itself, wanting to destroy the fabric of our Christian faith.

Let us all remember that our families must stay together in faith and look upon the good examples set by St. Joachim and St. Anne, in their faith and dedication and in how they raised Mary up well in the faith. Let us all follow in their examples and do what we can to live up to the same kind of faith as they have. Let us all model our own Christian families after the example of Mary’s loving family from now on, praying together and striving to be united together in faith.

May the Lord continue to bless us and our families, and may He bless all parents, that they may continue to remain faithful to their calling as parents, in the responsibilities they have to one another as husband and wife and to their children. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 26 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 18-23

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a person hears the message of the kingdom, but does not take it seriously, the devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed that fell along the footpath.”

“The seed that fell on rocky ground stands for the one who hears the word, and accepts it at once with joy. But such a person has no roots, and endures only for a while. No sooner is he harassed or persecuted because of the word, than he gives up.”

“The seed that fell among the thistles is the one who hears the word, but then, the worries of this life and the love of money choke the word; and it does not bear fruit. As for the seed that fell on good soil, it is the one who hears the word and understands it; this seed bears fruit and produces a hundred, or sixty, or thirty times more.”

Alternative reading

Matthew 13 : 16-17

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”

Friday, 26 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 18 : 8, 9, 10, 11

The law of YHVH is perfect : it gives life to the soul. The word of YHVH is trustworthy : it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of YHVH are right : they give joy to the heart. The commandments of YHVH are clear : they enlighten the eyes.

The fear of YHVH is pure, it endures forever; the judgments of YHVH are true, all of them just and right.

They are more precious than gold – pure gold of a jeweller; they are much sweeter than honey which drops from the honeycomb.

Alternative Psalm

Psalm 131 : 11, 13-14, 17-18

YHVH swore to David a promise, and He will remain true to it : “I will keep your descendants on your throne.”

For YHVH has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling : “This is My resting place forever; this I prefer; here, will I dwell.”

From here, a Saviour shall come forth, a Son of David; here, shall shine forever, the lamp of My Anointed. In shame will I clothe His enemies, but upon His head a crown shall shine.

Friday, 26 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 20 : 1-17

God spoke all these words. He said, “I am YHVH your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Do not have other gods before Me. Do not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

“For I, YHVH your God, am a jealous God; for the sin of the fathers, when they rebel against Me, I punish the sons, the grandsons and the great-grandsons; but I show steadfast love until the thousandth generation for those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

“Do not take the Name of YHVH your God in vain for YHVH will not leave unpunished anyone who takes His Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you will labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for YHVH your God.”

“Do not work that day, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals, nor the stranger who is staying with you. For in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested; that is why YHVH has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

“Honour your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land that YHVH has given you. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness against your neighbour. Do not covet your neighbour’s house. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.”

Alternative reading

Sirach 44 : 1, 10-15

Let us now glorify illustrious men, the ancestors of our people. But now consider the godly men whose good deeds have not been forgotten. Those who came after them benefitted from the rich legacy they left; their race remained faithful to the Covenant, their children followed their example.

Their family will endure forever and never will its glory be tarnished. Their bodies will be buried in peace but their memory lives through generations. People will speak of their wisdom and the assembly will celebrate their praise.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th 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, on this day we celebrate together the feast of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. They are St. Joachim and St. Anne, according to the tradition of our faith. On this day we focus on the great faith which both of these faithful servants of God had, in the upbringing of the Blessed Mother of God from her infancy and through to her adulthood.

Although the life of St. Joachim and St. Anne was not recorded in the Scriptures, but through sacred tradition and history of the Church, and through our own observation of the nature and characteristics of Mary, as a faithful and obedient servant of God, who was an exemplary role model for all of us, therefore, it is just right that her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne must have been made of the same qualities in life.

And this is contrasted to what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, beginning from the book of the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, where the Lord spoke to His people through the prophet, of a lamentation of their disobedience and bad treatment of the Lord, even after all that He had done for their sake, loving them and protecting them from harm and from their enemies.

They have turned away from the path which He had shown to them through His prophets and messengers. The people had built up idols and false gods as the ones to whom they worshipped, and they forgot about God and all the good things which they have received and been blessed with. They disobeyed His laws and commandments, and instead, they turned to sinful ways and performed what were wicked in His sight.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is linked to what we heard in our Gospel passage today, when the Lord spoke to His disciples and followers about why He always taught them in parables. Through the parables, the Lord was in fact trying to explain to the people about the truth and the Good News in ways that were more easily understandable and relatable to them. However, whether they benefitted from those efforts depended on whether they were open in their hearts and minds to the word of God.

When the people of God hardened their hearts and minds against God, essentially what they were doing was that they refused to listen to the Lord, and rejected Him, as it was often that they failed to recognise God’s presence in their midst. They were often preoccupied heavily by worldly concerns and matters, to the point that they ended up focusing on the wrong things in life, including worldly glory, fame, recognition, wealth and pleasures of the body and the flesh.

All of those things are obstacles and hindrances that prevented us from finding our way to God and from recognising the Lord Who is in our midst and Who is always trying to reach out to us, speaking to us and calling us in the depths of our hearts. We have not responded favourably to the Lord Who has always showed His greatest efforts to be with us and to work with us, in every possible way and at every possible opportunities.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to continue to walk down this path of rebelliousness and disobedience? Are we going to continue to harden our hearts and resist our Lord’s efforts to help us? If we continue to follow down this path, then I fear that there is nothing else for us in the end, except for damnation and suffering, for when we reject God’s love and mercy, then we do not deserve His mercy and forgiveness.

Instead, let us all look upon the great faith and dedication that holy saints, St. Joachim and St. Anne have shown in their lives, which became great role model for their daughter, Mary, who herself is the great role model for all of us Christians. Let us all seek to resist the temptations of worldly glory, the corruptions of sin and the allure of Satan, and turn towards God with all of our hearts, minds, strength and might.

May the Lord be with us in our journey of life, so that we may turn towards Him with genuine love and sincere dedication, that inspired by St. Joachim and St. Anne, we may find our true direction and purpose in life, to be righteous in all things and to serve God to the best of our abilities. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 13 : 10-17

At that time, the disciples of Jesus came to Him and said, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but not to these people. For the one who has will be given more; and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived of even what he has. That is why I speak to them in parables; because they look and do not see; they hear; but they do not listen or understand.”

“In them, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled : However much you hear, you do not understand; however much you see, you do not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears hardly hear and their eyes dare not see. If they were to see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their heart, they would turn back, and I would heal them.”

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I tell you, many prophets and righteous people have longed to see the things you see, but they did not see them; and to hear the things you hear, but they did not hear them.”

Thursday, 26 July 2018 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Joachim and St. Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 35 : 6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11

Your love, o God, reaches the heavens; Your faithfulness, to the clouds. Your justice is like the mighty mountains; Your judgement, like the unfathomable deep.

How precious, o God, is Your constant love! Mortals take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. In Your house they find rich food and they drink from Your spring of delight.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Bestow on Your faithful, Your love; and give salvation to the upright of heart.