Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the trust and obedience that each and every one of us must have in our lives towards God, our loving Father and Creator, the One Who loves each and every one of us, and by Whose hands we have been brought to freedom from sin, through the gift of His own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, the people of God, the sons and daughters of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt by God’s own great power. Those who were saved enjoyed God’s saving power because they obeyed the Lord and His commands, which He made through His servant Moses. They followed the Lord’s instructions, on the Passover and what they ought to do, smearing the blood of the Passover lambs on their house doorposts.

Those who did not do what the Lord has commanded them to do, and refused to believe in the Lord and obey Him, like the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, as the latter constantly refused to let the people of Israel go free until the very end, all of these suffered because of their disobedience and stubborn refusal to listen to God. They rejected God’s truth and love, and therefore, received the wrath of God as a result.

In our Gospel passage today, this message was reiterated once again by the Lord Jesus Himself, as He mentioned before His disciples and the people, that all those who do the will of God, His heavenly Father, obey Him and follow His ways, are all those who will be considered as His brothers, His sisters and His mother. This happened when the relatives of the Lord came to see Him, and those were waiting while the Lord was busy teaching the people.

It may seem that the Lord Jesus was being rude in rebuking His own relatives and refusing to acknowledge them in such a public manner before His own disciples and so many of the people. But if we look at it more carefully and understand the context and purpose in which the Lord made that comment, then we will realise that the Lord was making a point, calling on the people to be truly faithful to the Lord.

And it also showed how the Lord would not be limited by the boundaries of societal norms and familial relations, which often caused people to be divided and grouped together, to the exclusion of others. What the Lord has done was to show that God’s love is extended to all the people equally, with no favourites and cliques. All those who has obeyed the Lord and done His will shall be considered as God’s own beloved ones.

That is precisely because of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has assumed our humanity in the flesh, the Divine Son of God Who has willingly taken up our human existence and essence to be His own, that in His person is perfectly united and yet distinct, two natures, fully Divine and fully Man at the same time. Through His humanity, and by His sacrifice on the Cross, He has made a new Covenant between us and God.

And by this Covenant, each and every one of us have been made worthy of adoption by God Himself, to share with Christ and through Him the status as the beloved children of God. But are we willing to be part of this great inheritance? More often than not, we are distracted and prevented from finding our way because of the many temptations present in this world, because of sin.

Today, perhaps, all of us should look upon the examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely that of St. Bridget of Sweden, whose feast we celebrate on this day. St. Bridget was born into a noble family and was a devoted mother of a large family. She was remembered for her great piety and generosity in helping the poor and the needy, in being generous for all those who were in need.

St. Bridget devoted her life to the Lord, especially after her husband passed away early, and began the foundation of a religious order eventually named after her, the Brigittines, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, gathering men and women from many backgrounds to dedicate themselves to the Lord in prayer and service in monasteries. She went on a pilgrimage to Rome and stayed on there, performing many more good works throughout the rest of her life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the piety and commitment shown by St. Bridget of Sweden should become a great inspiration and example for each one of us to follow, in our own lives, that we may also do the same and may also grow ever closer to God, in our obedience and wilful following of God’s will in each and every single days of our life.

May the Lord continue to guide us all in our journey of life, and may He strengthen us all to live courageously with faith from now on, for the sake of His greater glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Exodus 15 : 8-9, 10 and 12, 17

At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the surging waters stood firm in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, “I will give chase and overtake, I will divide the spoil and make a feast of it. I shall draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.”

A breath of Yours and the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance, the place You chose to dwell in, o YHVH, the sanctuary prepared by Your hands.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 : 16th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Exodus 14 : 21 – Exodus 15 : 1a

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea. The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant. Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, remembering and honouring Mary, the great Mother of God who appeared to St. Simon Stock of the Carmelite Order, a Crusaders era religious order founded by pilgrims and missionaries in the Holy Land centred in the area known as Mount Carmel. It was told that Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared to St. Simon Stock showing him the brown scapular.

And that was how the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is always identified with the brown scapular, which has been a popular sacramental in the Church. The devotion of the brown scapular has been popular for the past several hundred years in the promises of the Blessed Mother of God that all those who wear the brown scapular with faith will be saved by God, as the devotional wearing of the scapular indicated one’s consecration to Mary, God’s own beloved mother.

Today, all of us ought to reflect upon the great gift of this brown scapular and how we have been given a lot of means by which we can strive to reach out to God’s generous offer of mercy and salvation through Him. And the Carmelites always consider the Blessed Mother of God as the perfect model of their faith and life, because the Carmelites believe in the value of prayer and contemplation, which Mary embodies very well.

Through this devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, all of us are reminded that Mary has always led us towards her Son, and pointed to us the way to follow as we proceed on in this life. She has always patiently prayed for us and helped us along the way, seeking for us to be saved. For Mary is truly our mother, our loving spiritual mother who has been entrusted to us by Christ Himself, just as He entrusted us to her from the Cross.

Today, all of us are called to reflect on our own respective lives thus far in this world. How have we carried out our lives and actions all these while? How have we lived our commitment as Christians that are expected to do what the Lord had taught us to do and called us to do through His Church? If we have not been faithful as we should have all these while, then should we not make the effort to begin in this journey of faith from now on?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this world there are plenty of challenges and temptations that often become great obstacles in the way of our journey towards God. There are a lot of temptations, be it the temptations of money, of power, of worldly glory, of sexual pleasures and immorality, of many other allures and pleasures of the world that can cause us to deviate from the path leading towards God.

This is where we should spend some time to reorientate ourselves and rearrange the way we live our lives. And I recommend the faithful devotion of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel if we have not done it yet, as something that can help us in this journey towards God’s grace and salvation. But at the same time we must also be careful, not to end up making empty devotions, such as when we do the prayers and devotions not for the right purpose and intention.

This is where we should look upon the example of Mary herself, the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose faith and devotion to her Son is truly inspiring and wonderful. She surrendered herself completely to the will of God and obeyed His commands completely, giving herself totally to the mission entrusted to her. And even until now, she is still doing what she has been doing, in helping all of us to reach out to her Son and be saved.

Mary has always directed us to her Son, Our Lord, and we should do well to follow her example and faith. We should renew our lives with faith and with the resolution and commitment to live our lives from now on with righteousness, turning away from sin and wickedness, and instead, doing only what pleases God. Let us all ask for the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, that she will always intercede for our sake, we who are sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 11 : 20-24

At that time, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of His miracles, because the people there did not change their ways.

“Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

“And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Tuesday, 16 July 2019 : 15th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

Psalm 68 : 3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

I am sunk in the miry depths, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.

But I pray to You, o YHVH. At a time most favourable to You, in Your great love, o God, answer me, with Your unfailing help.

But I myself, am humbled and wounded; Your salvation, o God, will lift me up. I will praise the Name of God in song; I will glorify Him with thanksgiving.

Let the lowly witness this, and be glad. You who seek God, may your hearts be revived. For YHVH hears the needy; and does not despise those in captivity.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel)

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.