Monday, 1 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, remembering the foster-father of our Lord, St. Joseph who was a carpenter of the village of Nazareth. He was just a mere carpenter, a profession which was not highly respected at that time, considered a menial labour and job for the poor people, and yet, he was an upright and just man, who obeyed God in all of His commandments.

He worked hard to meet the daily needs for himself, and later on, also for his family, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As the breadwinner and head of the family, he must have laboured hard to sustain and provide for the whole family. The job as a carpenter was surely not an easy one, as carpenters even today can attest to. The job was tough and consumed many hours, and yet the pay was minimal.

Yet, St. Joseph remained true to his work and to his calling, which he had been called to, to be the foster-father of the Lord and the protector of the entire Holy Family. He remained true to the mission he had been entrusted with, and he was ever faithful, protecting Mary as she was heavily pregnant, while they were going down from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. He guided her through from inn to inn, and dwelling to dwelling, even though all of them rejected them because they were all already full.

And when king Herod wanted to kill the newborn Baby Jesus, the Angel of God instructed St. Joseph to bring both Him and Mary to the land of Egypt, so that He might be hidden away from those who would want to cause Him harm, like Herod and the other enemies of the Lord. What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that livelihood must have been hard for St. Joseph and for his family, as that meant, St. Joseph would have to live in exile in Egypt for the time when Jesus was there, and not being able to return to Nazareth meant that he must have laboured hard in the foreign land trying to make ends meet for his family.

But St. Joseph never complained, and he remained true to his calling. He accompanied the Holy Family and led it through times of joy and through times of difficulty. He was there for the young Jesus as He was growing up in body and stature. It was likely that he taught Jesus the skills required to survive in life, and likely taught him carpentry skills. St. Joseph worked hard throughout his life, and he is an inspiration to all of us who also work, and who also worry about our daily living, on how we are to make ends meet for ourselves and for our families.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the life and the works of St. Joseph, let us all spend some time to ask ourselves this question. What is work and our career for us? What is the significance of what we are doing in our daily work, in our workplace, in all the busy things and schedules we filled our lives with? Is there meaning to all the things that we are doing in life?

Many of us instinctively will say that we are working in order to gain more money and wealth, to make sure that we are able to sustain our lives, providing for our daily needs. However, do we all realise that we can be easily distracted from what we ought to do in life, and we end up having the wrong focus in our work and in our daily efforts? It is because of our greed and desire, which caused us to lose focus on what working in life truly means.

Let us reflect, brothers and sisters, on all the time when we have become too busy in our lives, too busy trying to aim for promotion in our career, looking for more opportunities to gain renown, fame, recognition and praise from others around us, and in the process, we end up neglecting our families, our relatives and those whom we love, just because we have been too busy with our work, but with the wrong focus.

And we know how some people, if not many of them, in their pursuit for money, for power, for influence and other things, sought illegal and unjust means in order to attain and obtain whatever it is that they desired. This resulted in the corruption of the hearts and minds, as we fall into sin because of our unbridled and uncontrolled desire. This is what we all must avoid doing, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all model ourselves after the good worker and the faithful servant of God, St. Joseph, the carpenter, the just and upright man, a hardworking person, and the foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was exemplary in his life and actions, in how he committed himself to his work, and in how he has obeyed the Lord in all of his life’s deeds. In the same manner therefore, we too should do the same in our own respective lives.

Let us all inspire one another, and help one another in reaching out to God and to His salvation. May the Lord help us all in all of our endeavours, and may He bless all of our works, so that not only that we will do our work from now on, keeping in mind that it is God for whom ultimately we labour for in this world, and not for ourselves. Let us all pray that we shall be given the strength to persevere through all sorts of challenges in life. Amen.

Monday, 1 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 6 : 22-29

At that time, the next day after Jesus fed the five thousand men, the people, who had stayed on the other side, realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with His disciples; but rather, the disciples had gone away alone.

Bigger boats from Tiberias came near the place where all these people had eaten the bread. When they saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Master, when did You come here?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you, you look for Me, not because of the signs which you have seen, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give it to you, for He is the One on Whom the Father has put His mark.”

Then the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?” And Jesus answered them, “The work God wants is this : that you believe in the One Whom God has sent.”

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)
Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Monday, 1 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 118 : 23-24, 26-27, 29-30

Although princes conspire against me, Your servant will observe Your decrees. Your laws are my delight, my counsellors who uphold me.

When I explained my ways, You responded; instruct me then in Your precepts. Explain to me all Your ordinances, and I will meditate on Your wondrous deeds.

Keep me away from deceitful paths; be gracious and teach me Your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart upon Your laws.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)
Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Monday, 1 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)
Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Monday, 20 March 2017 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great solemnity and feast of St. Joseph, the Foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ by the virtue of his marriage to Mary, the mother of God. While it was through both Joseph and Mary that the Lord Jesus was born into the family of the descendants of Israel and Abraham, it was through St. Joseph that the Lord was the rightful heir of David, the great king of Israel.

In the genealogy of Jesus, it was mentioned His descent from Adam and Abraham, as well as the descent from David through the line of the kings of Israel and Judah, and down to the ancestors of our Lord to the time when the Lord deemed it right for His glorious Saviour Jesus to enter into the world, at the end of the genealogy mentioned, as the perfect fulfilment of God’s promise to all of His people throughout the ages. God is indeed forever faithful.

When mankind first fell into sin at the time of Adam and his wife, Eve, God promised to mankind that He will save them from the evils of Satan, the great enemy who had tempted and deceived our ancestors to sin against God. He promised a deliverance that was to come through the sons of man, through the Woman who would bear the salvation for the whole world. All these were fulfilled through Mary, who bore Jesus the Son of Man and Son of God, Saviour of all mankind.

But God did not stop there, and He renewed His promises made to our forefathers, beginning from Abraham, the father of many nations, with whom God first made a Covenant with His people. God promised Abraham and called him to follow Him, that He will bless him because of his great faith and obedience to His ways and His laws.

God kept His word and gave the son which He had promised Abraham, through whom He became the father of many nations and peoples, many tribes and groups, and eventually, the Lord also fulfilled His promise to Abraham, that the glory of his name will remain forever, for among his descendants, the Lord and Master of the Universe Himself is counted among them.

And to David, the descendant of Abraham and Israel, God had given the kingship over Israel as He had promised to him, because of his great faith and obedience to God, over that of Saul, who was the first king of Israel but who was disobedient and committed grave sins against God. God promised David that his descendants will remain on the throne of Israel forever, and his kingdom will be forever firm.

It might seem that God did not fulfil this promise when the kingdom of Israel was torn apart into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and when the line of the kings ended in Judah as the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and ended the southern kingdom of Judah. However, in reality, God fulfilled the promise He had made yet again with the coming of Christ, Who is the Heir of David through St. Joseph, and He reestablished the kingdom which God had given to David, and this time, His kingdom will never end.

Through Jesus God had fulfilled the promises He had made to all mankind, in the past, present and in the future to come. Through St. Joseph, God had made Himself to be the Heir to all that God had promised to all of our forefathers, from the time of Adam, to Abraham, to David, and ultimately to all of us. God is always faithful, and He did not abandon us to our sins and to our destruction.

And St. Joseph as the foster-father of our Lord Jesus, besides giving Him the means to be the Heir of David and Abraham, he was also very crucial for our Lord especially in the early years of His life on earth. For it was St. Joseph, in the Gospels we read, who protected Him from all those who was looking for His death, from Herod the Great who wanted Jesus dead as He was a rival to his own kingship, and all other dangers and difficulties.

St. Joseph was a hardworking and patient man, a righteous and just person, who obeyed the Lord and His precepts, who was a role model and an exemplary father to Jesus our Lord, Who in His humanity was born a fragile baby in Bethlehem, Who needed to learn the tools and trade, the ways of this world. And St. Joseph, together with Mary, His mother certainly provided all that the young Jesus needed.

In the person of St. Joseph, we can see the qualities of the faithful people of God in the past, namely Abraham, whose faith in God was so great, that he placed his complete trust in Him. St. Joseph trusted in God in His plans, even though Mary, when she was still just betrothed to him, conceived a Child without any intercourse with him. But he placed his full trust in God, and carried out his obligations as a father just as much as if Jesus is his own biological son.

St. Joseph is the head of the Holy Family, of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He did his duties as a loving and faithful father, filled with love, care and concern for Jesus and Mary, even though these two persona often surpassed him in renown and he was often eclipsed by their importance. He committed himself to the care of the young Jesus, equipping Him with what He needed in life, and thus He grew well and blessed by God, ready for His mission.

The commitment which St. Joseph gave to his mission made him a great model for all of us Christians throughout the world, and just as he watched closely over the young Jesus, he still indeed continues to watch over the whole Church that Jesus had established in this world, as the great patron saint and protector of the whole Universal Church, a title and role that the Church itself had officially recognised as belonging to the great patron saint, St. Joseph, whose feast and honour we remember today.

Let us all reflect on all the good deeds St. Joseph had done, and how the Lord has also loved us all and how He has been faithful to all of His promises throughout the ages, all being fulfilled through Christ His Messiah, through Whom all of us have received the promise of everlasting life by our faith in Him. In this time of preparation, during this season of Lent, let us redouble our efforts to live faithfully as St. Joseph had been faithful, be more charitable and loving to our brethren, particularly those who are in need.

Let us show love to our fellow brethren, and let us turn our backs to our sinful past, and instead embrace a new future blessed by God. Let us all also ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, that he will pray for our sake, for the Church that his foster Son Jesus had established in this world, that God will continue to protect it and bless all of its works. May God bless us all and His Church. Amen.

Monday, 20 March 2017 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 1 : 16, 18-21, 24a

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah.

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do.

Alternative reading
Luke 2 : 41-51a

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them.

Monday, 20 March 2017 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Romans 4 : 13, 16-18, 22

If God promised Abraham, or rather his descendants, that the world would belong to him, this was not because of his obeying the Law, but because he was just and a friend of God through faith.

For that reason, faith is the way and all is given by grace; and the promises of Abraham are fulfilled for all his descendants, not only for his children according to the Law, but also for all the others who have believed.

Abraham is the father of all of us, as it is written : I will make you father of many nations. He is our father in the eyes of Him Who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, for this is the God in Whom he believed. Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation, thus becoming father of many nations, as he had been told : See how many will be your descendants.

This was taken into account for him to attain righteousness.