Monday, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as the whole Church all of us celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, who is also the Mother of the Church, or Mater Ecclesiae. Pope Francis declared this day after the Pentecost Sunday as this Feast approximately over two years ago and this is the third time that we are celebrating this feast of Mary, Our Lady and Mother of the Church. But we must not then think that this title of the Mother of the Church as a modern invention or something new to our faith.

On the contrary, Mary has been known as the Mother of the Church since the earliest days of the Church along with the other titles like Theotokos or the Mother of God (or God-Bearer). Mary always had that special position within the Church and among Christians, and many always sought her intercession and help for their various needs, and the various devotions towards her rose and became popular over the centuries.

What then, is the Scriptural foundation of this Marian title and our devotion to her as the Mother of the Church? It is exactly what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, recounting to us the very moment just before our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ was about to die on the Cross for our salvation. Mary, His mother as well as His beloved disciple, St. John the Apostle was by the side of His Cross as He was about to offer His life and die for our sins.

It was at that moment that the Lord then entrusted to St. John, His own mother Mary to be under his care, while at the same time, He also entrusted St. John to the care of His mother Mary. It may seem to be quite strange that such double-entrustment happened, but if we understand the significance of this event and the importance of Mary to us Christians and the Church, then we will understand clearly why the Lord did as He did that day as He was hanging from the Cross.

St. John the Apostle in fact signifies and symbolises the Church, that is all of us Christians, as our representative in this new relationship we have with Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. After all, the Church was established by Our Lord Himself and is His by right, and everything belongs to Him. If we call Mary as the Mother of God, then it makes perfect sense for her to be also accorded the title of the Mother of the Church.

We honour Mary as such with this title because first and foremost, she is truly the greatest of all the role models in faith that we have, greater than all the other saints, holy men and women of God. It was her faith, her dedication and commitment, her virtuous and pure life, dedicated solely to the greater glory of God that are such great inspirations for us, that for the many centuries after, the Church has accorded to her such honours and encouraged us Christians to follow in her examples and good life.

And because she is the Mother of the Church, our loving Mother, surely all of us as her beloved adopted children ought to listen to her and follow her good examples? Just as at Cana in Galilee where the Lord Jesus performed His very first miracle, in turning the water into wine, the Lord Himself listened to the pleas made by His mother Mary for help on behalf of the wedding couple in distress. And Mary at that same time also told the servants to listen to her Son and ‘do whatever He tells you to do’.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is exactly what we need to do as well in our own lives. Our mother is telling us and has always told us to listen to her Son, to follow Him and to be good Christians in our daily living. Are we able to listen to our mother’s advice and follow her good examples and faith? She has appeared many times to various people over time, all with reminders and call to everyone to return back to her Son and to repent from our sinful ways.

Today, as we honour Mary as our beloved mother and the Mother of the Church, let us all then listen to her and follow her own good examples and dedicate ourselves in walking down the path of faith from now on. Let us all entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother’s care, and follow the Lord together with her leading the way. Let us all therefore continue our journey in faith and do what we have been called to do, to be faithful witnesses of the Lord’s truth, salvation and Resurrection.

May the Lord continue to guide us and give us the strength and courage to persevere in faith through life. May He bless us in all of our efforts and good endeavours, from now on. O Mary, Holy Mother of God and Mother of the Church, pray for us sinners, your beloved children, that your Son may continue to give us His strength to follow your good examples in faith, for each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Monday, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 19 : 25-34

At that time, near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “This is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

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.

Monday, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 86 : 1-2, 3 and 5, 6-7

He Himself has built it in His holy mountain; YHVH prefers the gates of Zion to all of Jacob’s towns.

Great things have been foretold of you, o city of God. But of Zion, it shall be said, “More and more are being born in her.” For the Most High Himself has founded her.

And YHVH notes in the people’s register : “All these were also born in Zion.” And all will dance and sing joyfully for you.

Monday, 1 June 2020 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, and St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Genesis 3 : 9-15, 20

YHVH God called the man saying to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?”

The man answered, “The woman You put with me gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.” God said to the woman, “What have you done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

YHVH God said to the serpent, “Since you have done that, be cursed among all the cattle and wild beasts! You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will make you enemies, you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”

The man called his wife by the name of Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

Alternative reading

Acts 1 : 12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount called Olives, which is a fifteen minute walk away. On entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were staying. Present there were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alpheus; Simon the Zealot and Judas son of James.

All of these, together, gave themselves to constant prayer. With them were some women, and also Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the exchanges between Jesus and the Sadducees, an influential and powerful group in the Jewish society at the time, namely those who practiced and believed in pragmatism and rejecting spirituality and matters beyond what can be deduced with human reasoning, one of the greatest of which is the matter of the resurrection from the dead.

The Sadducees did not believe in spirits, in Angels, in all things that are beyond this world. That is why they were particularly unhappy and angry at what Jesus had been telling the people about the matters of the life after death, the afterlife, and the promise of the eternal life after the death of the physical body. That is why they confronted Him and tried to discredit Him and brought Him into trouble by asking Him a difficult question to trap Him in His own words.

But Jesus gave them a perfect answer and rebuke, when they asked about whose wife would the woman attached to seven brothers be in heaven. Jesus rebuked them for their naivety and failure to look beyond matters of this world. These thought of things that are not important, thinking of woman as mere property and marriage as a mere formality.

They could not comprehend all these because they were thinking in worldly terms. They thought of living at the moment, living for the world that is now, and they even tend to fear of what is to come when people die. That is because firstly they did not believe in life after death, and death is feared as the end of everything. But they were very wrong indeed.

Indeed, all of us Christians have that core faith and belief in God, that we believe in the life of the world to come. That is placed prominently at the very end of our Creed, the Nicene and the Apostles’ Creed, which we recite with faith at every celebrations of the Holy Mass on Sundays. And we also believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered, died on the cross and rose again gloriously at the Resurrection.

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the hope for all of us Christians, and indeed, for all mankind, for through His own resurrection, all of us have been given an undeniable and solid proof of life beyond death, of our eventual triumph over death, and that death does not have the final say over us. We feared death because we saw it as an end, but in fact, death is not the end, rather the beginning of something new.

Today therefore, as in our first reading, as what St. Paul had written to St. Timothy, all of us are urged to stand up for our faith and live with devotion to our God. We must not fear and be afraid just because our faith and beliefs are against that of the world, or if the world persecutes us because we believe in God and His ways. This is how it is supposed to be, and what we must do as those who follow the Lord and His ways.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Justin the Martyr, a renowned servant of God whose life can indeed be inspiration for all of us. St. Justin was known especially for his many writings and works, particularly regarding the nature of God, on the nature of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Divine Word of God, Who became Man for our sake, Jesus Christ.

St. Justin explained many of the tenets and aspects of the faith through his many works, and thanks to him, many people grew firmer in their faith and many others were converted from their pagan ways. St. Justin did not fear the opposition of the world and openly preached his faith among the many communities of the faithful at that time. But the world did not remain quiet, and in the end, they persecuted the faithful, including St. Justin, who endured martyrdom for his faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. Justin was courageous in his faith and devoted his whole life to serve the Lord, even amidst persecution and challenges laid in his path by the world and the Roman authorities. But, because of his hard works and his devotion to the faith, he has led many others into salvation, by his inspiring examples, which helped to call many more people to remain faithful to God and His ways.

Shall we all therefore also follow his examples and live our faith and our lives with zeal and devotion? We should not be afraid of the world’s rejection, but rather, we should grow ever bolder and stronger in standing up for our faith and our beliefs, against the ways of this world that are against the Lord’s ways.

Let us all hold firm in our beliefs, in what Jesus had taught us all through His Church, that we may not be swayed by the falsehoods of the world. In the Risen Lord, His resurrection has given us the sure hope and the certainty of the future for us if we believe in Him and keep our faith in Him alive. May God help us to remain firmly faithful to Him at all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 12 : 18-27

At that time, the Sadducees also came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned Him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law : if anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother.”

“Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”

Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like Angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses?”

“God said to Moses : ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 122 : 1-2a, 2bcd

To You I lift up my eyes, to You Whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of the servants look to the hand of their master.

As the eyes of maids look to the hand of their mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

2 Timothy 1 : 1-3, 6-12

From Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of His promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus, to my dear son Timothy. May grace, mercy and peace be with you from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I give thanks to God Whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly, day and night, in my prayers. For this reason I invite you to fan into a flame the gift of God you received through the laying on of my hands. For God did not confer on us a Spirit of bashfulness, but of strength, love and good judgment.

Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord, nor of seeing me in chains. On the contrary, do your share in labouring for the Gospel with the strength of God. He saved us and called us – a calling which proceeds from His holiness. This did not depend on our merits, but on His generosity and His own initiative.

This calling given to us from all time in Christ Jesus has just been manifested with the glorious appearance of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light in His Gospel. Of this message I was made herald, Apostle and teacher.

For its sake I now suffer this trial, but I am not ashamed, for I know in Whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is capable of taking care of all I have entrusted to Him until that day.