Thursday, 22 July 2021 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the closest followers of the Lord Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. St. Mary Magdalene was mentioned several times in the Gospels, as one of the most fervent disciple of the Lord. She was according to some traditions, the repentant woman and adulterer, or prostitute who had turned towards the Lord and became His disciple. In the same tradition, the Lord also exorcised seven demons or evil spirits from her.

St. Mary Magdalene was honoured by the Church because she has indeed shown faith and dedication as one of the Lord’s closest followers, who have followed Him throughout His ministry, and dedicated herself to Him and His cause, staying by His side even throughout His Passion, His suffering and death, being there with Mary, the Mother of God, by the foot of the Cross. And she was also there when the Lord first made His appearance again after He has risen from the dead.

For this reason, St. Mary Magdalene has often been considered the Equal of the Apostles, since the very beginning of the Church, and she is also known as the Apostle to the Apostles, being the one who brought the Good News of the Lord’s Resurrection to the assembled Apostles on the day of His glorious Resurrection. It was St. Mary Magdalene who joyfully broke the news of the Lord’s return to the disciples who were fearful and afraid after having lost their Lord and Master, and it was St. Mary Magdalene who once again inflamed their hearts with hope.

St. Mary Magdalene was just an ordinary woman, and according to some tradition, even was an unworthy woman in the eyes of people like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, as if she was a prostitute as some tradition mentioned, then she was truly a filthy and unclean person that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law considered as less than human beings, as sinners that were condemned to damnation and destruction because of their vices and sinful actions. This attitude and prejudice remained even though those prostitutes and others like the tax collectors and people who suffered from diseases and demonic possession could repent and turn away from their sinful ways.

But the example of St. Mary Magdalene showed all of us that there is no end for sinners, and there is bright future even for those who have been great sinners, no matter how unworthy they are before the Lord and man alike. St. Mary Magdalene and her conversion to the faith and her commitment to the Lord showed us that God called and chose all of His people even from among those deemed as the most unworthy, that they might turn towards the light and inspire others to follow their examples as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, we are also called to follow in the footsteps of St. Mary Magdalene, to be converts to the true faith and to redirect ourselves and our focus on the Lord. Though we are sinners and we may have been unworthy, but God through His love has always ever been so generous in His kindness and patience, in reaching out to us and calling on us to repent from our sins. In God alone we can find healing and redemption from our sins, and the story of St. Mary Magdalene is a proof and assurance for us, that even great sinners can become great saints.

What truly matters is our focus and internal disposition towards the Lord. We are all called to respond to His call to holiness and to abandon our past, sinful lives, as St. Mary Magdalene had done, and then respond to the call to be part of the Church’s mission, that is to testify for our faith and to be the bearers of God’s truth and Good News to all of His people, as St. Mary Magdalene herself had done when she brought forth the news of the Lord’s resurrection and broke the wonderful news to them, despite many of them at that time not believing in her words.

Let us all therefore walk in the footsteps of St. Mary Magdalene, following her piety and faith, her humility to follow the Lord and casting aside our past sinfulness. Just as she humbled herself in one occasion, to wipe the Lord’s feet with her tears and drying them with her hair, let us all tearfully and sorrowfully also seek the Lord, full of regret and sorrow over our sins and waywardness. Let us all turn away from all those that are evil, and face the Lord once again with true and genuine love, and be the source of inspiration in faith for one another.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us that we may courageously follow Him with greater zeal and dedication, in each and every moments of our lives, and that we should persevere with faith, no matter what challenges, trials and temptations we may encounter. Let us all sinners be sinners no more, throwing away the shackles of our sins by the Lord’s grace and forgiveness, and be fully reconciled and reunited with Him. May God bless us all and His Church, all of His faithful ones, all the same, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 22 July 2021 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 20 : 1-2, 11-18

Now, on the first day after the Sabbath, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone blocking the tomb had been moved away. She ran to Peter, and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and she said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb; and as she wept, she bent down to look inside. She saw two Angels in white, sitting where the Body of Jesus had been, one at the head, and the other at the feet. They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She answered, “Because they have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him.” As she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognise Him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and answered Him, “Lord, if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned, and said to Him, “Rabboni!” – which means Master. Jesus said to her, “Do not touch Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to My brothers and say to them : I am ascending to My Father, Who is your Father, to My God, Who is your God.”

So Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what He said to me.”

Thursday, 22 July 2021 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 62 : 2abc, 2d-4, 5-6, 8-9

O God, You are my God, it is You I seek; for You, my body longs and my soul thirsts.

As a dry and weary land without water. Thus have I gazed upon You in the Sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.

I will praise You as long as I live, lift up my hands and call on Your Name. As with the richest food, my soul will feast; my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.

For You have been my help; I sing in the shadow of Your wings. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Thursday, 22 July 2021 : Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Song of Songs 3 : 1-4a

On my bed at night I looked for the one I love, I sought him without finding him; I called him and he did not answer. I will rise and go about the city, through the streets and the squares; I will seek the love of my heart…

I sought him without finding him; the watchmen came upon me, those who patrol the city. “Have you seen the love of my heart?” As soon as I left them, I found the love of my heart.

Alternative reading

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-17

Indeed, the love of Christ holds us, and we realise, that, if He died for all, all have died. He died for all, so, that, those who live, may live no longer for themselves, but for Him, Who died, and rose again for them. And so, from now on, we do not regard anyone from a human point of view; and even if we once knew Christ personally, we should now regard Him in another way.

For that same reason, the one who is in Christ is a new creature. For him, the old things have passed away; a new world has come.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded to trust ourselves in the Lord and to follow Him, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations and pressures, or by sufferings and trials that we may encounter in our path. We should not be easily swayed and distracted by the lies of the devil and all those seeking our downfall, masking their traps and dangers by false promises of comfort and pleasures in life.

In our first reading today, we heard the Lord and His calling of Moses to be His servant and as the leader of His people, the Israelites. God called Moses at Mount Horeb from a miraculously burning bush, calling on him to go to the land of Egypt and to speak to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the people of Israel go free. Moses was unsure and he was afraid that the people would reject him. But God reassured him and told him that he must reveal Who He was before the assembly of the people, and they would know that God had sent Moses into their midst.

God also reassured His people through Moses, by telling Moses to proclaim to the people the promises of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant which He had made with their ancestors, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God would not abandon His people in their hour of need, and He would show His might and power before the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, that if they would not let the people of Israel go free, then they would see the might and power of God, and by His hand, the Israelites would be set free.

That was what eventually happened in history, as the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people of Israel go free. As such, God sent ten great plagues to Egypt through Moses, and after enduring all the sufferings and pains, the Pharaoh and the Egyptians finally let the Israelites to go free. And when the Pharaoh attempted at the last hour to try to bring the Israelites back again, God opened the sea before all of His people, and crushed the armies and the chariots of Egypt under the waves of the sea.

God has shown His love and faithfulness to His people, and He has proven, time and again, His love and dedication to them. But at the same time, He also called on them all to embrace His Law and His path, as the Covenant which He made with their ancestors and thereafter renewed, entailed the commitment from both parties in the Covenant. Just as God has been faithful to the Covenant He made, the people of Israel were also expected to be faithful to the Lord in all things. This is the ‘yoke’ that they had to bear, in being faithful and resisting the temptations and pleasures of life.

Thus, this is what has been mentioned in our Gospel passage today, as the Lord Jesus told the disciples and others, to come and seek Him, all those who were weary and heavily burdened, as in Him they would find rest and succour, comfort and true joy in the end. At the same time, the Lord also mentioned that His yoke is easy and light, and His kindness and love prevail over all things. This serves as a very important reminder for us that following God as His faithful ones do not mean that we are not to suffer or to endure sorrow and difficulties.

Instead, just as the Lord Himself often highlighted to His disciples, that being a faithful follower of His would lead to conflict and disagreements, even divisions and plenty of challenges and trials. As they commit themselves to Him and His way, there would be those who refused to align themselves to Him, and therefore, led to persecutions, even violence and hatred against those who believe in the Lord and committed themselves to Him. This is the yoke that we have to bear, that is to be faithful even against the opposition of the world and against the temptations of worldly pleasures.

Today, all of us are reminded of this need for us to be faithful and committed to God, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations, so that we may grow ever stronger in our faith. And we can look upon the examples set by St. Bonaventure, our holy predecessor in faith, a great bishop, Cardinal and declared Doctor of the Church for his many important contributions to the Church and the faith, and for his dedication to the Lord and to His people. St. Bonaventure was very much involved in the reforms of the Church of his time.

He was a member of the Franciscan order, one of its earliest members, and a renowned expert on Church teachings and theology. He wrote extensively and had many publications and works attributed to him, and he was also active in the governance of the Church, being also entrusted to be one of the princes of the Church as a Cardinal, supporting the Pope in his efforts to reform the Church and in encouraging the unity and development of the Church. Through his many works and contributions, St. Bonaventure has shown us what it truly means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.

Are we then able to commit ourselves in the same way, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able and willing to follow the Lord and focus ourselves on Him as we continue to embark on our journey of life? Let us all turn towards Him with renewed faith and conviction from now on, that in all things we will always seek the Lord and bear the burdens and yoke we have to wear as Christians with joy, as we know that in the end, we will triumph with God, and gain eternal glory and true joy with Him. May God bless us always, in our every good works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 104 : 1 and 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

Give thanks to YHVH, call on His Name; make known His works among the nations. Remember His wonderful works, His miracles and His judgments.

He remembers His Covenant forever, His promise to a thousand generations, the Covenant He made with Abraham, the promise He swore to Isaac.

YHVH made His people fruitful and much stronger than their foes; whose hearts He turned, to hate His people, to deal deceitfully with His servants.

Then He sent Moses His servant and Aaron whom He had chosen. They performed His signs among them, His miracles in the land of Ham.

Thursday, 15 July 2021 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 3 : 13-20

Moses answered God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them : ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will ask me : ‘What is His Name?’ What shall I answer them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO AM. This is what you will say to the sons of Israel : ‘I AM sent me to you.” God then said to Moses, “You will say to the Israelites : ‘YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me.’ That will be My Name forever, and by this Name they shall call upon Me for all generations to come.”

“Go! Call together the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob appeared to me and said : I have seen and taken account of how the Egyptians have treated you, and I mean to bring you out of all this oppression in Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanites, a land flowing with milk and honey.'”

“The elders of Israel will listen to you and, with them, you shall go to the palace of the king of Egypt and say to him : ‘The God of the Hebrews, YHVH, has met with us. Now let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to YHVH our God.'”

“I well know that the king of the Egyptians will not allow you to go unless he is forced to do so. I will therefore stretch out My hand and strike Egypt in extraordinary ways, after which he will let you go.”

Thursday, 8 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we heard of the moment from the Book of Genesis when Joseph, son of Jacob, was reunited with his brothers in the land of Egypt, in a most unlikely encounter between Joseph, who was then the second most powerful man and Regent over all of Egypt, and his brothers, who had come from the land of Canaan seeking for food and provisions during the great famine that time.

Initially, none of the brothers had recognised Joseph, and since they had thought him long gone after they sold him off to the Midianites, and even probably dead, they did not expect to see Joseph again, after so many years and in such an occasion no less. Joseph, on the other hand, recognised his brothers immediately, and although he could have revealed himself immediately, but he waited and tested his brothers first to see how they were doing.

Eventually, Joseph could not take it anymore and revealed himself before his brothers, saying that it was God’s plan and grace that allowed everything to happen as it was, that their evil plots had been turned to good things as God sent Joseph to Egypt to pave the path for Jacob and his descendants. God sent Joseph ahead of the rest to prepare everything, so that when they would eventually come, they would eventually be taken good care of, as Israel would eventually stay in Egypt for quite many years.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples regarding the way that they ought to live up to their lives and mission as those whom the Lord had sent to be His servants and witnesses, His disciples to be the ones to proclaim His truth among the peoples of all the nations. The Lord called on them all to turn towards Him and entrust themselves to Him, not worrying about what they were to bring and how they were to survive, for God Himself would be with them.

Those disciples would encounter significant challenges and opposition, trials and problems throughout their ministry, just as almost all the Apostles save for St. John encountered martyrdom along with numerous other saints of the early Church and beyond. Throughout the history of the Church, there were then still so many others who had suffered in the midst of their trials and journeys. Yet, they all persevered and remained faithful.

This is what we have been reminded of through today’s Scripture readings, that each and every one of us as Christians ought to trust in the Lord and to follow Him wholeheartedly, and not to be easily swayed by worldly temptations or our fears. We must never be afraid since we will always be preserved and protected by the Lord Who loves each and every one of us without exception. If only that we all have this great faith in Him and love for His kindness and compassionate Heart, with which He has generously taken care of us as always.

Today, we are all called to refocus our attention and focus on the Lord, and do our very best to glorify His Name by our every actions and commitment in life. Are we capable and willing to commit ourselves to be the true bearers of God’s light and truth, brothers and sisters? If we have not followed Him in the manner that we should have, then we really ought to begin doing so now. God has called us to follow Him and to respond to this calling. He has revealed to us what we all need to do as Christians.

We can no longer be complacent or idle as Christians, ignorant of all that we can and should be doing as those who proclaim to believe in God and His truth. God has called on all of us to walk in His path, and that is what we all should be doing, with great faith and dedication. That is why, we should dedicate our time and effort to serve Him, to be His witnesses to all the whole world. Let us all be good witnesses and servants of God, and let us show our devotion, now and always. May God be with us always, and may He ever strengthen our resolve to walk in His path. Amen.

Thursday, 8 July 2021 : 14th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Matthew 10 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give. Do not carry any gold or silver or money in your purses. Do not take a travelling bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or a walking stick : workers deserve to be compensated.”

“When you come to a town or a village, look for a worthy person, and stay there until you leave. When you enter the house, wish it peace. If the people are worthy people, your peace will rest on them; if they are not worthy people, your blessing will come back to you.”

“And if you are not welcomed, and your words are not listened to, leave that house or that town, and shake the dust off your feet. I assure you, it will go easier for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment, than it will for the people of that town.”