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.

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the first reading we had, from the Book of Exodus, the account of how the Israelites in Egypt celebrated their very first Passover or Pascha, the moment when the Lord liberated them from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, by sending His Angels to scour the land of Egypt killing all the firstborn ones of the Egyptians while 'passing over' the houses of the Israelites, marked with the blood of the unblemished Passover Lamb.

They have been shown mercy by God, Who looked kindly on them and remembered their suffering and pain in the land of Egypt. He remembered the Covenant which He had established with their forefathers, from the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom He had promised that their descendants would enjoy the inheritance of the Promised Land, a land of flowing milk and honey, and they would be His people and He would be their God.

He has passed over them from death, as He saw the blood of the lamb which He told them to slaughter on the Passover day on their doorposts. And thus while death reigned throughout Egypt, sorrow and wailing could be heard from the houses of the Egyptians, there was peace and serenity, hope and joy coming from the houses of the Israelites.

God gave His people His laws and commandments, in order to guide them to Him and keep them in good faith towards Him. Yet, in the Gospel we heard today, another account of how Jesus our Lord was confronted by the Pharisees, who accused Him and His disciples of breaking the Law of the Sabbath, which according to them was that no one was supposed to do anything on the day of the Sabbath.

But the Pharisees totally missed the point of the Law and the purpose of the Sabbath. They were so focused on the applications of the Sabbath law that they ended up forgetting what was the intent of that law in the first place. They imposed the Law without understanding that ultimately it was because of God's love for His people, which He had shown to them since those ages ago, as we remembered how He saved His people at the first Passover.

Yes, it was by none other than Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, Whom He sent into the world, that God endeavoured to bring His salvation to the whole world. Christ is the new Paschal or Passover Lamb, by which God made His salvation available for everyone, and not just the Israelites. If the people of Israel was brought free from the land of Egypt, having been passed over from death and freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, then God sent Jesus His Son, to free all of mankind, His people, from their enslavement to sin.

For it was by His ultimate loving sacrifice on the cross that Jesus had endeavoured to liberate us from sin, by bearing those sins and faults we have committed unto Himself, and offering Himself to the Lord as a perfect sacrifice worthy to absolve us all from the multitudes our sins. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb marked the houses of the people of Israel, we all have been bathed and washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the love which God had shown each and every one of us, which we ought to appreciate and then apply in our own lives. We must not be shortsighted and conceited as the Pharisees had been, in how they tried to oppose the Lord Jesus and His good works just because He and His disciples were not operating in the manner that they wanted and expected. And in this, perhaps we should also heed the examples of the holy saint, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi was a Capuchin friar and priest, who was renowned for his devotion to the Lord, and for his works in evangelising the Gospel and spreading the teachings of the Church among the people of God, particularly to those who have fallen to the false teachings and heresies of the Protestant reformation. Through his works, many people have returned to the faith, and were converted to a new life in God.

All of us should also follow the examples of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and the other holy saints, whose lives are holy and committed to God, no longer that they served themselves and their own wants and desires, but they embraced the love that God had showed them, and sharing this love with one another, they bring many souls to the salvation in God.

May the Lord through the intercession of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and all of His holy saints and people, bring us all closer to Him and to His eternal life and glory promised to all the faithful servants of God. Amen.

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Matthew 12 : 1-8

At that time, it happened that, Jesus walking through the wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry; and they began to pick some heads of wheat, to crush and to eat the grain. When the Pharisees noticed this, they said to Jesus, "Look at Your disciples! They are doing what is prohibited on the Sabbath!"

Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did, when he and his men were hungry? He went into the House of God, and they ate the bread offered to God, though neither he nor his men had the right to eat it, but only the priests. And have you not read in the law, how, on the Sabbath, the priests in the Temple desecrate the Sabbath, yet they are not guilty?"

"I tell you, there is greater than the Temple here. If you really knew the meaning of the words : It is mercy I want, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. Besides, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Friday, 21 July 2017 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Priests)

Psalm 115 : 12-13, 15 and 16bc, 17-18

How can I repay YHVH for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Name of YHVH.

It is painful to YHVH to see the death of His faithful. I am Your servant, truly Your servant, Your handmaid's son. You have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer You a thanksgiving sacrifice, I will call on the Name of YHVH. I will carry out my vows to YHVH in the presence of His people.