Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, a woman who was prominently featured and mentioned in the Holy Gospels, as one of the women who accompanied Jesus our Lord in His earthly ministry. It was told through the accounts of the Scriptures and by tradition, that St. Mary Magdalene was the woman from whom our Lord Jesus cast out seven demons, and who was also often associated with a former life as a prostitute and sinner.

In the story of St. Mary Magdalene, we saw the great story of conversion, from her former life filled with sin, wickedness and evil, into a new life filled with faith, devotion and commitment to God. As we can see and witness for ourselves, St. Mary Magdalene was henceforth after her conversion, a true disciple of the Lord, often accompanying Him on His journeys, and even walking alongside Mary, the Mother of our God, to the foot of the cross at Calvary.

She was also the one who witnessed the Lord's Resurrection firsthand, being the first one to whom Jesus our Lord revealed Himself after He had risen from the dead. St. Mary Magdalene therefore occupied a great position of honour among the saints and the disciples of the Lord, for her dedication to the Lord and for her faith. She is for us, an example and inspiration, of how all of us mankind, the people of God, can become, if we are truly changed by our interactions with the Lord.

All of us often forget this simple fact, as we reflect on the life and works of St. Mary Magdalene, that God wants from us conversion and change, a sincere repentance and turning back, away completely from our sins and from all of our past failures. We often thought that God is loving and merciful, and that He would forgive us all our sins. But is that the truth? No, God is indeed loving and merciful towards us, because He loves us, but He despises our sins, wickedness and disobedience.

He wants us to be wholly and thoroughly changed, by our conversion and change in attitude, as exemplified by St. Mary Magdalene in how God transformed her life. Jesus our Lord has also often mentioned to the sinners He had healed and encountered, to 'sin no more' and also to obey the Lord from then on. This is what many of us often overlooked, that in order for us to be thoroughly healed from our sins and to be reconciled with God perfectly, we must embark on the painful and difficult path of conversion, where effort is needed for us to remain true to the Lord in faith.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on ourselves, on our lives and on how we have lived our lives thus far. Are we walking in the same path that St. Mary Magdalene had walked through? Or are we instead distancing ourselves further from God because of our sins and our refusal to turn away from those sins? It is time for us to realise that unless we do something with our lives, we are always at risk of falling into eternal damnation and the suffering prepared for the devil and all those who have been deemed unworthy by God.

God has given us many opportunities in order to redeem ourselves and find our way back to Him. He has shown Himself to St. Mary Magdalene first before all other of His disciples, in a very deeply symbolic meaning of the resurrection, which He shares with all of us who have decided to leave behind our life of sin and darkness behind, and embrace the new light of Christ, His love and mercy.

Through our baptism, we have been made to share in the death of Christ, as our old and past selves are forever cast away through water that destroyed our old lives filled with sin, and then the same water of baptism bring with it a new life, as life-giving water which God gives to us, sharing in the resurrection of our Lord as we receive this new life granted to us. St. Mary Magdalene had accepted her part, and we should also do the same as well.

We should find in ourselves the courage and the strength to do as St. Mary Magdalene had done, in her desire to love and to follow the Lord with all of her heart. We should be sincere and genuine in our faith, not just through mere words alone, but indeed through actions and deeds. We must seek out the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our efforts.

Let us all draw therefore, closer to God and to His love. Let us embrace the loving sacrifice with which God had endeavoured to save us, through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. And let us not forget, that there are many more people around us, who are also like Mary Magdalene before she was rescued by the Lord. Let us, through our faithful actions, bring the light of God and His salvation to them. May God bless us and remain with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him."

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, "Woman, why are you weeping?"

She answered, "Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him." As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?"

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, "Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned, and said to Him, "Rabboni!" – which means Master. Jesus said to her, "Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God."

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me."

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Saturday, 22 July 2017 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. "Have you seen the love of my heart?" As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, all of us are reminded yet again that we should not worry about our worldly affairs and about our personal concerns. In the first reading today, Jacob was about to die and join his ancestors, and he was buried in the land of Canaan. The sons of Jacob were worried that Joseph, whom they once had betrayed to the slavers and cast out to Egypt, would seek revenge upon them now that Jacob, their father was dead.

But Joseph dissuaded them from their fears and reaffirmed his forgiveness and mercy, which he had shown them, even though they had caused him much misery and sufferings. Joseph did not seek for vengeance, but instead, he trusted in the Lord, Who had helped him in his time of need and delivered him from the hand of his enemies and dangers. He forgave his brothers just as the Lord our God has also forgiven us all our sins.

In the Gospel today, we heard about how the Lord Jesus told His disciples that the truth will always be unveiled and revealed in its fullness, no matter how one sought to hide it from being uncovered or known. For we have to know, brethren, that the Lord our God knows everything that is inside our hearts and our minds. There is no way we can hide any thoughts or deeds from Him, no matter how well it is that we try to do so.

But at the same time, He also mentioned again that we all should not worry for what could destroy the body but could not harm the soul, and instead, we should fear the One Who is capable of destroying us body and soul. What does the Lord mean with this? He meant that all of us must not fear persecution and challenges, or be worried when even the whole world rose up against us. We should instead be worried if we are to leave behind the Lord for the safety of the world because we are concerned that we will lose everything if we are to go against the world.

No matter how powerful or fearsome the devil may appear to us, and how capable he is in harming us physically through his rule over the world, he has no power over us. All of us who have given ourselves to the Lord and who have been cleansed from our sins are no longer under the dominion of Satan, but God. God our Creator and Master has all the power over us, over our bodies, minds, hearts, and over all of our souls. He is the One Whom we have to fear, should we commit sin that taint our soul and make ourselves unworthy of Him.

And therefore remember this, brothers and sisters in Christ, that if we ignore the Lord, and commit what is wicked in our lives, in order to appease the world and to safeguard ourselves, what we will gain for ourselves will just be a temporary respite from our troubles, and whatever benefits we will receive, will just be temporary, as what they can give us is not true happiness or joy.

The devil is always working very hard in order to persuade us that the way of the Lord is more difficult and challenging, and that his path is an easier and better one, one that is able to satisfy us and fulfil what we need. Yet, let us remember that while the path shown by the devil seems to be easier, but it is in fact leading us to greater sorrow and suffering in the end. And the path of the Lord, while it may seem to be challenging and tough at first, but this path leads to eternal life and true happiness.

As the Lord had said, that what is the point for us to gain the whole world if it causes us to lose our souls to condemnation? And how much better it is indeed for us, even if we do not gain the approval of the world but we are able to gain the salvation for our souls and enjoy forever true happiness and joy which can be found in God alone? This is what all of us really need to think about and reflect on in our lives.

We should also heed the inspiring examples of St. Bonaventure, a renowned holy man and saint, who was a Franciscan religious, eventually becoming a bishop and a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church for his many contributions to the faithful and to the Church as a whole. St. Bonaventure was known well for his great devotion and faith in God, in his dedication to the Franciscans and his numerous works and publications that brought about great intellectual revolution in the Church.

St. Bonaventure did not have it easy though, as he faced opposition for his efforts and works both from within the Franciscans as well as from various other sources. Yet, despite all of these obstacles and challenges, he continued to strive through those difficulties and influenced many others who would also end up being known for their great theology and philosophical works, following the example of St. Bonaventure.

Through this example, all of us Christians should follow the footsteps of St. Bonaventure in his faithful dedication to the Lord despite all the challenges he encountered through his life and his works. Let us all remain strong in our commitment to God even if there may be great temptations for us to do otherwise. Let us never forget that God is ever faithful to His promises, and if we continue to cling on to Him despite the temptations to do otherwise, He will bless us and grant us His grace.

May the Lord awaken in our hearts a strong desire to love Him and to serve Him faithfully in all the things we say and do. May all of our actions bring glory to the Lord, and may our faith in Him continue to flourish despite the challenges we face in life. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 10 : 24-33

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. A student should be content to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If the head of the household has been called Beelzebul, how much more, those of his household! So, do not be afraid of them!”

“There is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I am telling you in the dark, you must speak in the light. What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but have no power to kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of Him Who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

“For a few cents you can buy two sparrows. Yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing. As for you, every hair of your head has been counted. Do not be afraid : you are worth more than many sparrows! Whoever acknowledges Me before others, I will acknowledge before My Father in heaven. Whoever rejects Me before others, I will reject before My Father in heaven.”

Saturday, 15 July 2017 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 104 : 1-2, 3-4, 6-7

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Sing to Him, sing His praise, proclaim all His wondrous deeds.

Glory in His holy Name; let those who seek YHVH rejoice. Look to YHVH and be strong; seek His face always.

You descendants of His servant Abraham, you sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our God; His judgments reach the whole world.