Thursday, 19 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Lord through the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of the need for us all to imitate Him in just how forgiving and merciful He is towards each and every one of us. For despite all of our sins and disobedience, our wickedness and rebelliousness, God still loves all of us very dearly ever since He created us. And as a loving Father, He will always stand by us and provide for us.

God will always be merciful and be ready to welcome us back to His presence, but all of these time, it is us who often make things difficult by being stubborn and refusing to accept God’s love and mercy because we are so proud and filled with ego, thinking that we know it better and that we could not have been wrong or mistaken. We often accuse others instead of being wrong or less perfect than we are and we blame them before we blame ourselves.

That is what we have heard especially in our Gospel passage today, in which the Lord Jesus during a dinner in the house of a Pharisee named Simon, was anointed by a woman who was known in the town for her sinful reputation. When that woman knelt before the Lord and humbled herself before everyone, pouring expensive perfume over His feet and anointed it, and wiped it dry with her tears and hair, the Pharisees who were there looked down on her and criticised both the Lord and the woman.

They looked down on the woman and condemned her as a sinner while failing to realise just how they themselves were sinners much like her. And while they thought that the woman was immoral, sinful and less worthy than them in the eyes of God, they did not realise that their own actions and attitudes towards their own faith and their responsibility as those who have been entrusted with the guardianship of the people of God were equally if not more lacking than that of the woman.

It is this attitude that is always preventing us all from finding God’s forgiveness and mercy. The stubbornness in our hearts and minds, our ego and pride close the doors of our heart to the truth, and this causes us all to continue to live in sin and refusing God’s forgiveness. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law often insisted on their superior position and piety as compared to others, when in reality they were themselves still struggling with sin.

It often takes a lot of effort to be like the woman, being looked down upon, humiliated, losing one’s pride and ego, face and status totally, and yet, receiving the fullness of God’s forgiveness, mercy and ultimately love and grace. That was what the Lord made clear before all those who heard and saw Him and the sinful woman, that the woman’s faith and dedication have saved her and her sins have been forgiven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day therefore each and every one of us are reminded to look deep within ourselves and reflect, whether we have been like that of the sinful woman or like that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. Have we opened our hearts and minds to God or have we instead closed them tight up against Him because of our ego and pride? We need to examine our hearts and minds and think how we should go forward in life from this.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Januarius, a renowned bishop and martyr venerated especially in the region of Benevento in southern Italy, where he was bishop during the years of terrible persecution of Christians. He was also venerated in Naples and the relic of his blood miraculously liquefies every time his feast day is celebrated annually, that is this day. St. Januarius was remembered especially for his dedication to God and to the flock entrusted to his care.

St. Januarius remained strong in his faith and in his dedication even amidst the great persecution which eventually led to his arrest, suffering and finally martyrdom. And this is just possible if St. Januarius truly had great and genuine faith in God, a heart that is centred and focused on God, and by not letting the ego and pride in his heart and mind to be distractions that kept him from God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Januarius, and be ever better disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ from now on? Are we able to humble ourselves enough like that of the sinful woman, knowing just how sinful we are, no matter who have more or less sins, but that all of us need God to forgive us and to heal us from this terrible affliction of sin?

Let us all reflect on this and think of how we can better live our lives from now on, with renewed faith and commitment towards God, and with hearts that are contrite before God, always constantly seeking forgiveness for the multitudes of our sins and with the desire to sin no more and live righteously before God. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 19 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 7 : 36-50

At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to share his meal, so He went to the Pharisee’s home, and as usual reclined at the table to eat. And it happened that, a woman of this town, who was known as a sinner, heard that He was in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and stood behind Him, at His feet, weeping. She wet His feet with tears; she dried them with her hair; she kissed His feet and poured the perfume on them.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus was watching, and thought, “If this Man were a Prophet, He would know what sort of person is touching Him; is this woman not a sinner?” Then Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and said, “Simon, I have something to ask you.” He answered, “Speak, Master.”

And Jesus said, “Two people were in debt to the same creditor. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. As they were unable to pay him back, he graciously cancelled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, who was forgiven more.” And Jesus said, “You are right.” And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? You gave Me no water for My feet when I entered your house; but she dried them with her hair. You did not welcome Me with a kiss; but she has not stopped kissing My feet since she came in. You provided no oil for My head; but she has poured perfume on My feet. This is why, I tell you, her sins, her many sins, are forgiven, because of her great love. But the one who is forgiven little, has little love.”

Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others reclining with Him at the table began to wonder, “Now this Man claims to forgive sins!” But Jesus again spoke to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace!”

Thursday, 19 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 110 : 7-8, 9, 10

The works of His hands are faithful and just, trustworthy are all His precepts, ordained to last forever, bearers of truth and uprightness.

He has sent His people deliverance and made with them a Covenant forever. His Holy Name is to be revered!

The fear of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are those who live by His precepts. To Him belongs everlasting praise.

Thursday, 19 September 2019 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Januarius, Bishop and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

1 Timothy 4 : 12-16

Let no one reproach you on account of your youth. Be a model to the believers, in the way you speak and act, in your love, your faith and purity of life. Devote yourself to reading, preaching and teaching, until I come.

Do not neglect the spiritual gift conferred on you with prophetic words, when the elders laid their hands upon you. Think about it, and practice it, so that your progress may be seen by all. Take heed of yourself, and attend to your teaching. Be steadfast in doing this, and you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Church celebrates yet another important feast in honour of Mary, the mother of God. On this day we focus our attention to the Most Holy Name of Mary, a name that is the terror of demons and all evil spirits just as her Son’s Name is even feared more by the same enemies of the Lord. At the mere mention of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, even Satan in all of his power and might cringe and have to submit in total fear.

And why is it that Satan fears the Name of Mary so much? It is understandable for him to fear the Holy Name of Jesus for He is God and the Master of all universe and creation, and even Satan and all the fallen angels have to submit to Him and obey Him and worship Him, no matter how reluctant they are. God’s authority over all things is absolute and therefore Satan fears the mere utterance of the Name of the Lord. But what about the Name of His blessed mother?

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all think about it for a moment. In our world, if someone who is not known and yet related to another person of great power and majesty, and that person’s relationship to the latter is known and revealed, is it not that all will also fear and give the same respect to the former just as they fear and respect the latter? There have been cases in the history of our world when kings and rulers have come from humble origins, and when they rose to kingship and rulership, even their relatives, especially their parents and mothers were brought up to a great position and esteem too.

It is therefore the same with the case of Mary and our Lord Jesus. If we have known and believed that truly, the Lord Jesus is the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Master of all the universe and Omnipotent Almighty God, then by virtue of Mary being the mother of Our Lord, she is therefore also accorded the great honour of being His mother. In the historical past and even up to today, the mother of a king is accorded with great honour.

Therefore, first of all, whenever Mary’s name is mentioned in fact, it is almost equivalent to invoking the Name of her Son as well. That is why no wonder that Satan and his wicked allies and forces fear her Name so much, as the mention of her Name is also a mention of the Name of her Son, Jesus. And if Satan fears the latter, it is just right that he also fears the former. That is why we celebrate this feast of the Holy Name of Mary, our mother and our protector.

And Satan did not just fear Mary because of her being the Mother of God, but also because he has also had no power over her at all, as she was not just immaculate and conceived without the taint of original sin, but throughout her whole life she has remained faithful to God and placed her focus on Him alone, and Satan has no means by which to ever be able to corrupt her or to bring her under his power.

As such, Satan fears her precisely because in her, Satan had seen his ultimate defeat and inability to harm the sons of man, because not just that the salvation of this world came through her womb, in the form of Our Lord and Saviour, but also because Our Lord has entrusted all of the sons and daughters of mankind under her care and love. From the cross, Christ has entrusted His mother to us, and vice versa, all of us to her.

That is why Mary has appeared many times before us in her many apparitions, in Guadalupe, in Fatima, in Lourdes, in La Sallete among many others, as she constantly reminded us all to repent from our sins and to turn towards her Son with faith. She has done a lot in trying to help us all to be closer to God and to be closer to the path of salvation through her Son. For all that she has done, in being our help and also in being our role model in faith as the one whom many of us are looking up as example, the mere utterance of her Name therefore terrifies all the demonic forces in this world and beyond.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be thankful that God has given us such a wonderful means towards our salvation by giving us none other than His own beloved mother to help us in our journey of faith and in our struggles of life, by her constant intercession and reminders for each and every one of us. Let us all as Christians be inspired by her role model and example in how she has obediently lived her life with fullness of faith.

May the Lord through His mother Mary continue to help us to draw ever closer to Himself, by our ever growing love and devotion towards Him, being inspired by the love and faith which Mary herself had throughout her whole life. Let us all seek to be ever more committed and faithful from now on in all things, and glorify God by all of our words, deeds and actions in life. Amen.

Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 6 : 27-38

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “But I say to you who hear Me : Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who strikes you on the cheek, turn the other cheek; from the one who takes your coat, do not keep back your shirt. Give to the one who asks, and if anyone has taken something from you, do not demand it back.”

“Do to others as you would have others do to you. If you love only those who love you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do favours to those who are good to you, what kind of grace is yours? Even sinners do the same. If you lend only when you expect to receive, what kind of grace is yours? For sinners also lend to sinners, expecting to receive something in return.

But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend when there is nothing to expect in return. Then will your reward be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High. For He is kind toward the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

“Do not be a judge of others and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 1 : 39-47

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!”

Thursday, 12 September 2019 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Most Holy Name of Mary)

Psalm 150 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the vault of heaven. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him for His own greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with lyre and harp. Praise Him with dance and tambourines; praise Him with pipe and strings.

Praise Him with clashing cymbals; praise Him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praise to the Lord. Alleluia!

Alternative Psalm (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Mary)

Luke 1 : 46-47, 48-49, 50-51, 52-53, 54-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!

He has looked upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, Holy is His Name!

From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.

He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.