Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great feast of St. Joseph, the Spouse and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that makes him the foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the legal and adoptive father of our Lord, because of his marriage to Mary, and he is a very essential figure whose actions were crucial in keeping the young Baby Jesus and Child Jesus safe through the world.

And it was also likely that an honourable man and servant of God as he was, he would have contributed greatly to the responsible upbringing of our Lord, guarding Him as He grew up as a Child, and providing for Him as all fathers had done. And in St. Joseph we saw the very important values of responsibility, of commitment, of devotion to God and to the works he has been entrusted to, which are some of those that we ourselves can apply to our own lives.

St. Joseph was an upright man who held righteousness and justice in highest esteem, and he has always lived in accordance to this principle, even though materially, he was just a simple and humble carpenter, making his work as a way to earn a living for his family. And from what information we can gather from the Gospel, it is evident that the people at that time did not respect much such a profession, which they likely thought to be menial and humiliating in nature.

But St. Joseph did not care about all that, he lived responsibly and with faith in the Lord, and he cared deeply for his family, and even most importantly for Jesus, as even though He was not his biological son, but St. Joseph treated Jesus as his own, and he protected Him from all dangers of the world when He was still young and defenceless. He brought his whole family to Egypt when king Herod, jealous and worried about Jesus, tried to kill Him by killing all the newborns in Jerusalem.

St. Joseph cared for his family as a father should have done, and he loved them with all of his heart, and truly, he is a role model to all fathers, and to all families. And as I have mentioned, his life and his works are also inspirations for us all to follow, in how we ought to live our lives as faithful brothers and sisters in our Lord. He did not cheat, or do anything that is wicked for the pursuit of worldly comfort, wealth and influence, and instead he was content with living a quiet and honest life with his family in Nazareth, as he helped to bring up Jesus with Mary.

As we celebrate the solemnity of this special day, the feast of St. Joseph our Lord’s foster father and the spouse of His mother Mary, all of us ought to remember whatever he had done, and all the things he had done in righteousness and justice, and endeavour to model ourselves after him. He was among the greatest of the saints because of his closeness to our Lord and Saviour, and there is much for us to learn from him.

Let us all ask ourselves, how often is it that we all have forgotten our duties and responsibilities to our own families? To our own neighbours and those whom we have been entrusted with? How many of us actually have done what we have been expected to do, and not to take shortcuts or take measures that benefit ourselves and disadvantaged others? Let us reflect on this and think about our actions, all that we have done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us approach the Holy Week next week with a clear mind, and with a clear and renewed focus as we reflect on St. Joseph and his life, and in whatever things he had done in life, and in how he devotedly cared for his adopted Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us model our lives after him, rejecting all forms of worldliness, greed and all desires that lead to selfishness and destruction.

And one more thing, that as St. Joseph guarded Jesus, he therefore also guards the whole Holy Church of God, which God Himself also likely entrusted to his intercession and protection. In the same way as he had cared for the Lord when He was young, St. Joseph is also concerned about the Church his adopted Son had established on earth, and about us all who believe in Jesus and are members of that Church.

Therefore, let us all today ask for the intercession and protection of St. Joseph for the whole Church, and let us also ask him to intercede for our sake, that all of us sinners may find our way to his adopted Son through his guidance and protection, and that he will inspire many of us, especially our young ones, to live our lives with faith, with responsibility and with hard work to reach out to God and to be worthy of Him in all things.

May God bless us all and strengthen our faith, and may He through the intercession of His foster-father, St. Joseph, be with us always and protect us and the whole Church at all times. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : 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.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : 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.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will keep My covenant firm forever, and My love for him will endure.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 : Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 7 : 4-5a, 12-14a, 16

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : ‘When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. He shall build a house for My Name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son.”

“Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, n this day we heard about the people who contested against Jesus, who doubted Him, persecuted Him and rejected Him, trying to stone Him for allegedly trying to portray Himself as God. But the truth is just that, that He is God, and He was the One Whom the prophets and the other servants of God had been proclaiming about, and Whose coming the people should have expected and welcomed with joy.

But they did not do so, and instead, they resisted Him at every turn possible, attacking Him for His revelations of truth about Himself. Indeed, what Jesus was doing was merely to dispel centuries and millennia of misinformation, twisted truths and teachings, and prejudice as well as other things that have kept the people from seeing the truth that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

And the people of God who were living in sin did not like to be told by someone else, that they have sinned and that they need to follow the path shown by the Lord Jesus if they were to seek salvation in God. This was because of the great ego in their hearts, the reluctance and unwillingness to change themselves because others said that what they have done so far and thought was right, was actually wrong.

Thus, they persecuted the prophets and the messengers of God, whose messages they did not like and which they did not want to hear. And similarly, when the Lord Himself came into the world, save for a few who are willing to listen and to accept the word of God, the rest of them continued in their constant rebellion against God, shutting themselves, their ears and their hearts from God trying to speak to them and make them understand the truth.

And in their stubbornness, they have not just damned themselves by refusing God’s offer of salvation, but similarly, they have even caused others to be shut out from salvation, misleading one another, and ultimately, committing sin, as they had done with their ancestors, by persecuting the prophets, the messengers of God, holy men and women carrying the good works and the good news of the Lord’s salvation, and they even persecuted the Lord Himself Who loved them regardless of how they had treated Him.

In this season of Lent, as we are approaching its ending and the beginning of the Holy Week this coming Palm Sunday, let us all use the remaining time as we prepare to celebrate the upcoming greatest feast and mysteries of our faith and welcome the season of Easter, to become people who are more willing to open up ourselves to the love of God, to listen more with our ears and our hearts, the reminders from the Lord, seeking for our repentance.

Today we celebrate also the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a holy bishop and servant of God, who devoted his whole life to the service of God and His Church. From him, there are many examples that we can learn about, if we are to become ever more faithful to God and be more righteous in His sight. There are many things that we can learn from his life and from his devotion.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a devoted bishop who oversees the faithful in Jerusalem and beyond, caring for his flock and serving them with love and commitment. And he helped them to resist the pressure of heresy and all those who sought to undermine the Church by promoting false teachings. Those heretics tried to persecute him, and St. Cyril was even exiled a few times for his persistence in resisting such heresies, but he continued to press on hard regardless.

In the end, the faithful people of God triumphed, and all the heresies were defeated. The forces of the wicked were not able to destroy the Church and the truth found in it. And the faithful were saved from being harmed by such lies, and those who have fallen, many of them returned to the faith and to the salvation God had offered through His Church alone.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, looking at this example, let us all also seek to find the truth in God through the Church and cast aside all of our stubbornness, ego and all the things that kept us away from being truly devoted to God. Let us find ourselves the path that leads us to God, and that path is likely through penitence, self-limiting, and all the charitable acts and works that we should do, in order to limit our selfishness and grow in our loving care for others.

May God see us and all that we are doing to bring glory to His Name. May He forgive us all our sins and past trespasses, and we hope that one day God will bless us and welcome us into His eternal kingdom, granting us the inheritance and the promise He has given to all of His faithful ones. May God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, 18 March 2016 : 5th Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 10 : 31-42

At that time, the Jews then picked up stones to throw at Him; so Jesus said, “I have openly done many good works among you, which the Father gave Me to do. For which of these do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered, “We are not stoning You for doing a good work, but for insulting God; You are only a Man, and You make Yourself God.” Then Jesus replied, “Is this not written in your law : I said, you are gods? So those who received this word of God were called gods, and the Scripture is always true. What then should be said of the One anointed, and sent into the world, by the Father? Am I insulting God when I say, ‘I am the Son of God?'”

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do them, even if you have no faith in Me, believe because of the works I do; and know that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

Again they tried to arrest Him, but Jesus escaped from their hands. He went away again to the other side of the Jordan, to the place where John had baptised, and there He stayed. Many people came to Jesus, and said, “John worked no miracles, but he spoke about You, and everything he said was true.” And many became believers in that place.