Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the great and boundless love that the Lord has for each and every one of us, freely being poured out from His most loving Sacred Heart, as we recall all that He had done for our sake. On this day, as we commemorate this great celebration, we remember the Lord Whose Sacred Heart had been pierced and torn for us, and Who despite of our many wickedness and iniquities, still continued to patiently reach out to us, because His love for us, coming from His ever loving and generous Heart, is never-ending.

In the Church, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is among the most popular devotions, and while the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was only relatively recently spread to the whole Church and the world about a hundred and seventy years ago by Blessed Pope Pius IX, but the history of the devotion and the celebration of the most generous love and compassionate care of God in His Sacred Heart had extended much earlier than that, as early as seven centuries ago with the institution of the Mass honouring the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Innocent VI during the late Middle Ages.

This devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is and has always been very popular and sought after by the faithful, precisely because it reminds us of the ever loving and compassionate nature of God, our Lord and Saviour. Although we are sinners, but the Lord still loves us all regardless, and His love and mercy are even greater than the combined weight and burden of our sins. We must take note though that sin is still hated and despised by the Lord, and we have to answer for our sins, but we are reminded that God willingly offered us His forgiveness and grace, as long as we are willing to embrace them.

The Lord loves each and every one of us much as how a shepherd loves his sheep and flock, an allusion that is permeating all over our Scripture readings today. From the Book of the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading today, the Lord spoke of Himself as the Shepherd of all the faithful, Who would guide all of His flock to Himself, caring for them and providing for all their needs, among other things. And then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Himself referring to the action of the shepherd who went out to look for the lost sheep, in the parable He used to teach them, and finally how St. Paul in our second reading today, highlighting the action that Christ our Lord had done for our sake, out of His love for us.

In our first reading, the prophet Ezekiel delivered the words of God to His people, who at that time had been exiled and brought far away from their homeland, in the final days of the kingdom of Judah, when their country were battered and eventually destroyed by the forces of the Babylonians, their cities torched and destroyed, the city of Jerusalem and its Temple torn down and crushed, and eventually most of the people of God carried off into exile in Babylon and other regions, and the people were scattered all over the world, lost and no longer had their homeland with them. But God showed pity and mercy on them, and He called them to come back to Him.

God reminded them through Ezekiel, that He did not abandon them or forget about them, even though they had rejected Him, abandoned Him, betrayed Him and left Him behind for the company of pagan gods and idols. He still stood by the Covenant He had made with them and their ancestors, still providing for them and caring for them regardless, and sent many messengers and prophets, guides and helpers to remind them along the way, all the time. Yet, the people often hardened their hearts and and became stubborn, in refusing God’s generous offer of love and mercy.

He sent His salvation henceforth into this world, just as He had promised, in none other than Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, the Divine Word of God incarnate, born of the Virgin Mary, His mother, as the manifestation of God’s love made flesh, becoming apparent and tangible for us. Not only that, but His actions, and all that He did for our sake, in the end, all of those brought the love of God into our midst, and we are all sharing in the generous love that God has poured out upon us, which became the source of our light, hope and salvation amidst the darkness of the world. The Lord had shown us His love, just as St. Paul presented it to us in our second reading today.

St. Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Church in Rome spoke of the manifestation of God’s love for us sinners, through none other than the Passion, the suffering and death of Our Lord Himself on the Cross. St. Paul spoke of how difficult it was for someone to offer to suffer and die for the sake of another, although for a truly righteous and good person, one could probably do so. However, the Lord suffered and died for us when we were still sinners and are still resisting and rejecting Him, and He laid Himself bare before us, showing us and exposing to us just how much He loved us that even though we are still sinners, but He willingly reached out to us in love, for our sake, even suffering the burdens of our sins, for our salvation.

That was what He had done as our most loving Good Shepherd, fulfilling what He Himself said in our Gospel passage today in the parable of the lost sheep. He is the Good Shepherd Who knows every single one of His sheep by name, knowing them all perfectly, each and every one of us. He embodies what He Himself said with the words, ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’ and ‘There is no greater love than this, for one to lay down his life for his friend’. We are all precious to the Lord, His beloved ones, His precious children, His friends and brothers and sisters. We are all His flock, His sheep, whom He knew and love tenderly.

There is truly nothing that can separate us from the love of God, save that of our own stubbornness and refusal to embrace His love. And if we still doubt that love which God has for us, then let us look upon His Most Sacred Heart, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we can see just how wounded and painful His Heart has been, by the many transgressions and sins we have committed, and yet, by that same Heart, by that same love He has always had for us, He constantly gives us the chances and opportunities to embrace His love and mercy, and to return once again to His Presence.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing how much God loves us and how generous He has always been in reaching out to us and in trying to be reconciled with us, let us all therefore turn towards Him, and let us seek once again His loving Heart, ever filled with love for us. Let us all not be stubborn any longer, but allow Him to touch our hearts and minds, and respond positively and courageously to His call, in asking us to embrace and enter into His loving care and compassionate mercy. Let us all turn towards Our Lord and His Most Sacred Heart with renewed love, faith and conviction to live our lives from now on with true commitment to Him.

May the Lord continue to love us as always, and may His Most Sacred Heart continue to shower us with that love and kindness, and that each and every one of us may come ever closer to His Presence. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in You! O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, be with us always, we who are sinners and are always in need of Your love and mercy. Amen.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders? Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’”

“I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 5b-11

Because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God. Consider, moreover, the time that Christ died for us : when we were still helpless and unable to do anything. Few would accept to die for an upright person; although, for a very good person, perhaps someone would dare to die.

But see how God manifested His love for us : while we were still sinners, Christ died for us; and we have become just, through His Blood. With much more reason now He will save us from any condemnation. Once enemies, we have been reconciled with God through the death of His Son; with much more reason, now we may be saved, through His life. Not only that, but we even boast in God because of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, through Whom we have been reconciled.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Friday, 24 June 2022 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 34 : 11-16

Indeed YHVH says this : I, Myself, will care for My sheep and watch over them. As the shepherd looks after his flock when he finds them scattered, so will I watch over My sheep; and gather them from all the places where they were scattered in a time of cloud and fog. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from their countries. I will lead them to their own land; and pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in all the valleys and inhabited regions of the land.

I will take them to good pastures on the high mountains of Israel. They will rest where the grazing is good, and feed in lush pastures on the heights of Israel. I, Myself, will tend My sheep and let them rest, word of YHVH. I will search for the lost and lead back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak; but the fat and strong will be eliminated. I will shepherd My flock with justice.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the most wonderful love that God has shown to all of us, to each and every one of us from His Most Sacred Heart, the heart being the representative of one’s love and emotions, feelings and thoughts. Thus, we remember today the great love that God has for each and every one of us, the love that comes outpouring from His most loving heart.

In our first reading today, we heard of the passage from the Book of the prophet Hosea, in which we heard the Lord speaking to His people through Hosea, referring to Ephraim as the son whom God had brought up and led out of Egypt. This was a reference to the Israelites in the northern kingdom of Israel, which capital of Samaria is in the land of the tribe of Ephraim. The prophet Hosea has been sent to the people of the northern kingdom, to remind them of God and to repent from their wicked ways.

However, the people of the northern kingdom continued to sin against God as they had done multiple times previously, and this is what was referred by the prophet Hosea as ‘Ephraim’ having forgotten about God Who had done so much wonders for them and Who had cared for them all those while. And yet, God would not destroy them, as He truly loved them more than He despised their sins and wickedness. He still loved them, and the fact that He sent them the prophet Hosea, it was proof that He still wanted them to be saved.

God loves every single one of us, and He created us all because He loves us all and wants us to share in this love. Unfortunately, due to our disobedience we fell into sin, as we listened to the falsehood and lies of the devil rather than to trust in the Lord. The Lord could have annihilated us and crushed us there and then, willing us out of existence just as easily as He willed creation into being. Yet, He did not do that, and why? That is because He loves us, from His heart.

It is this same love that St. Paul referred to in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, our second reading today, how God has revealed to all of us, His most generous and wonderful love. And He revealed this love in the person of Jesus Christ, His own Beloved Son, sent into this world to reveal before all of us the full extent of that love, and it was that same love which St. Paul and the other Apostles and disciples had preached about, and testified, for all the wonderful love He has shown to everyone.

They themselves had witnessed and seen the Lord’s ultimate expression of true love for each and every one of us, as He picked up His Cross and bore it upon His own shoulders, bearing upon them all of the punishments and the sufferings that are due for our sins and disobedience. He willingly laid down His own life, and was tortured and suffered for us that all of us may live. This action of Our Lord’s Most Holy Passion reminds us all that His love for us is truly vast and boundless, and enduring even despite our constant disobedience and refusal to believe in Him.

God’s most loving Heart continue to ache because of all of us being distanced from Him, separated by the chasm of sin. He wants to reach out to us and to embrace us with His mercy and compassion. However, unless we embrace that same mercy and compassion, by turning wholeheartedly towards Him, then we will still remain sundered from Him. That is why, He has always sent us reminders and His servants to call us to embrace Him and His loving Heart, to repent from our faults and sins, and to be forgiven from those sins.

As He lay dying on the Cross, He showed us all the most compassionate and loving face of God, a reminder of just how blessed and fortunate each and every one of us are. Through Him, we have received the assurance of eternal life and true joy, and we are all called to devote ourselves to this most loving aspect of Our Lord, His love being outpoured from His wounded and bleeding Heart, a vision seen by one of the most famous visionaries of the Church, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque saw a vision of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, calling on all mankind to turn towards Him and to seek Him, to be forgiven their sins and to find refuge in Him. Through this, the Lord wants us all to know just how wonderful His love for us is, and how blessed we are to be so beloved in such a manner by the Lord, Who generously showered us with His love and kindness despite us having betrayed Him, abandoned Him and refused to listen to Him and obey Him all these while.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we still going to be stubborn and refuse to believe in Him, although He has shown us all of His love? Do not forget that He has died for all of us, the testimony of which has been made by the pouring of blood and water from His pierced heart at the moment of His death, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. Scientifically and medically, that is the sign that someone has truly died, and hence, the soldier who pierced the side of the Lord showed that the Lord died, on the Cross, all for our sake.

And through His Precious Blood, we have been washed clean from the taints of our sins and evils. We have been cleansed and purified from those wickedness and impurities that tainted our hearts, the taints of our sins. Yet, many of us remain in the stranglehold of sin, because we still allow sin reign over us, and we allow ourselves to be swayed by its many temptations. This is why we are all called to put our trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, to come to Him and to open our own hearts, and to find Him that we may enjoy the fullness of His love and mercy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. As all of our priests have been called to be in the person of Christ ‘Alter Christus – in persona Christi’ in the celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments, they have been called to model themselves after the one Eternal High Priest, Christ Himself. We therefore pray that just as we all trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, they too shall always trust in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and model themselves and their hearts after Him.

We pray for holy and dedicated priests, who is as enthusiastic and passionate in reaching out to the people of God as the Lord has tirelessly sought each and every one of us for such a very long time. We pray that they will all be as patient and loving as the Lord has been patient and loving towards us. And last of all, we pray that we ourselves may be ever more faithful to the Lord and that we may be ever closer to His Most Holy and Sacred Heart, to be forgiven by Him and to be filled with His love and grace.

May God be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us to live faithfully in love, and may He empower all of us to remain faithful despite the challenges and trials we may encounter in life. May God bless us all in each and every one of our good endeavours, in our every good works and efforts, for the love of His Most Sacred Heart. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Amen.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 19 : 31-37

At that time, as it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away.

The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus. When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.

The one who saw that, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 3 : 8-12, 14-19

This grace, was given to me, the least, among all the holy ones : to announce to the pagan nations, the immeasurable riches of Christ, and to make clear to all, how the mystery, hidden from the beginning, in God, the Creator of all things, is to be fulfilled.

Even the heavenly forces and powers will now discover, through the Church, the wisdom of God in its manifold expression, as the plan is being fulfilled, which God designed from the beginning, in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. In Him, we receive boldness and confidence to approach God.

And, now, I kneel in the presence of the Father, from Whom, every family in heaven and on earth has received its name. May He strengthen in you, the inner self, through His Spirit, according to the riches of His glory; may Christ dwell in your hearts, through faith; may you be rooted and founded in love.

All of this, so that you may understand, with all the holy ones, the width, the length, the height and the depth – in a word, that you may know the love of Christ, that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled, and reach the fullness of God.

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Friday, 11 June 2021 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hosea 11 : 1, 3-4, 8c-9

I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called My Son. Yet, it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet, little did they realise that it was I Who cared for them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as One Who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them.

My heart is troubled within Me and I am moved with compassion. I will not give vent to My great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst: and I do not want to come to you in anger.