Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a very popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who appeared approximately five hundred years ago in the area that is now Mexico, at the site where now a great Basilica built in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe now stands. Today let us reflect on the many wonders which we mankind have received through her intercession.

At that time, during the early years of Spanish America, Our Lady chose to appear to a local native, St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, whose feast day we celebrated just a few days ago. At that time, she made her appearance on a hill known as the Tepeyac hill to St. John Diego, who then related her apparition and message to the local bishop. The local bishop was skeptical of St. John Diego’s account and wanted a proof of her authentic apparition.

Therefore, as Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared again to St. John Diego, she asked him to gather some flowers from the spot she pointed out on the hill, which were miraculous, as those flowers, Castilian flowers, were not existent at that part of the world. St. John Diego gathered the flowers in the cloak that he was wearing, called a tilma, and brought the flowers as a sign and proof to the bishop.

When St. John Diego came to the bishop and presented the miraculous flowers to him, what amazed the bishop much more and to his great surprise was that the very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on the tilma or cloak that St. John Diego was wearing. Many people came to believe in this miracle and apparition, and came to greater devotion to God through His mother, who appeared as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Pope eventually recognised this apparition as authentic, and great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe had continued ever since.

Today, as we recall this great apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Guadalupe, we should take note how Mary appeared many times to many different people, at Guadalupe, at Lourdes, at Fatima, and at many other places as deemed authentic by the Holy See. And all these apparitions were in fact ways through which Mary, the great Mother of God, is still ever active trying to bring us all, her adopted children, towards reconciliation and salvation in her Son, Our God.

For Mary has a special role in our salvation, and the Church has recognised her as the co-Redemptrix of mankind. It was not that she by her own power has saved mankind, but rather, it was through her that God made His salvation to be able to reach out to us. Her obedience and willingness to be part of God’s plan of salvation for us mankind has brought forth the Saviour into this world, just as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.

Our Lord Himself has also entrusted all of us mankind to her, symbolically represented as He entrusted St. John the Evangelist to her, and at the same time entrusting her to his care. Through this, all of us have been made to be her children, as Jesus her Son, is also our Brother. As she has now been assumed to Heaven, to sit at the side of her Son, she is the greatest of all our intercessors, constantly praying for our sake. And this is also why she frequently appeared to us, appealing for us to repent from our sins and change our lives.

She loves each and every one of us mankind, just as she loved her Son Jesus with all of her loving heart. Every man and woman who died with sins unforgiven and unrepentant are in danger of eternal damnation, and is sorrowful for her. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that she was with her Son throughout His Passion, as He walked the path to Calvary, bearing the heavy burden of the cross and our sins. Just as she was sorrowful because of the suffering endured by her Son, she is also sorrowful for all the souls who will endure eternal damnation and suffering because of their sins.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate and rejoice in the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe today, let us also then remember to reflect about our own lives and actions. Have we been truly faithful to God in all of our actions? Or have we rather allowed ourselves to fall into sin, and forgetting God and all of His love for us? Many of us have lapsed from our faith, and have not been active in practicing our faith in God, and we have allowed ourselves to be busy with worldly matters and forgetting about God.

In this season of Advent, during this time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas therefore, we need to prepare ourselves, our hearts and minds, our bodies and our souls, our whole beings, to be able to celebrate Christmas worthily and understand better its importance for our salvation. Christmas is the celebration of Our Lord’s birth and entry into this world, as the Light of the world that dawned and pierced through the darkness of this world.

And as the Church teaches us, the best way to reach out to the Lord, Our Light, is through His Mother, Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who constantly appeared to mankind, in order to guide us all to her Son. It is imperative therefore, that we make whatever opportunity that we have been given, this very life, to reach out to the Lord, and humbly seeks His mercy and forgiveness for our sins, that we may come to be worthy of His eternal glory.

We should follow the examples of our holy and devout predecessors, the saints, in the examples of their lives. And there is no greater example than Mary herself, whose obedience and adherence to God’s will, whose commitment of love for her Son, Our Lord, made it possible for salvation to come to us from God. We are all now called to follow in her footsteps, that she may lead us all down the path towards salvation and eternal life.

May the Lord continue to bless each and every one of us, and may His blessed mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe continue to intercede for us sinners still living in this world. May all of us strive to be ever more committed to serve the Lord in all of our ways, and repent from our sins, that we may draw ever closer to God and His grace, and be worthy of the glory of eternal life. O Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Matthew 18 : 12-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

“It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

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!”

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Psalm 95 : 1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name; proclaim His salvation, day after day.

Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds. Say among the nations, “He will judge the peoples with justice.”

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-8

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more.

The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone. YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up.

YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts. He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour. The earth to its pillars belongs to YHVH and on them He has set the world.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 40 : 1-11

Be comforted, My people, be strengthened, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, proclaim to her that her time of bondage is at an end, that her guilt has been paid for, that from the hand of YHVH she has received double punishment for all her iniquity.

A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way for YHVH. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley will be raised up; every mountain and hill will be laid low. The stumbling blocks shall become level and the rugged places smooth. The glory of YHVH will be revealed, and all mortals together will see it; for the mouth of YHVH has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry.” and I say, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of YHVH blows upon it. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will forever stand.”

Go up onto the high mountain, messenger of Good News to Zion, lift up your voice with strength, fear not to cry aloud when you tell Jerusalem and announce to the cities of Judah : Here is your God! Here comes YHVH Sabaoth with might; His strong arm rules for Him; His reward is with Him, and here before Him is His booty. Like a shepherd He tends His flock : He gathers the lambs in His arms, He carries them in His bosom, gently leading those that are with young.

Alternative reading (Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10c

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.” But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel, for God-is-with-us.”

Tuesday, 5 December 2017 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard from the Scriptures first of all, from the prophet Isaiah who prophesied about the coming of the Messiah which was promised by God to His people through His messengers. The prophet Isaiah mentioned how the Messiah would come from the house of David, as a fulfilment of all the promises that God had made with His people, and with David, His faithful servant.

He also mentioned how the Messiah would be filled with the Spirit of God and with His wisdom, and He would reveal to all the people, the will and desires of God, and He would bring about a great era of joy and peace. He would reveal the light of God to a world darkened by sin and disobedience, and bring about a renewal of all God’s people. And as Christians, all of us believe that all of these have been perfectly fulfilled with the coming of God’s promised Messiah, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

And in this Messiah we do not just have a mere Man, but instead as He Himself had revealed, God Who has been incarnated in the flesh of Man, and both God and Man equally, He is the One through Whom the salvation of this world, and all of us His people have been brought to the hope of reconciliation and renewal. And in the Gospel today, we heard the joy of the Lord, Who proclaimed to all His disciples, the truth about Himself, and how He had brought salvation and joy to all of them.

In this time of Advent, as we continue to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, we should reflect on what we have just heard and discussed. Let us ask ourselves, what is the meaning of Christmas to us? Is Christmas merely just another holiday and merrymaking period? Is Christmas merely just a time for us to rest from our work and to dress nicely, and to party and be merry with our friends?

Is Christmas a time for us to show off to our friends and relatives, by competing and showing who is able to decorate our houses the best, or who is able to give the most expensive gifts and make the best parties? No, our answers for all of these should be a resounding no. We may indeed be joyful, be merry and be happy as indeed we should. But at the same time, we must not let all these worldly celebrations to distract us from our true focus, that is Our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the essence of Christmas must be understood by all of us. Let us first of all remember that each and every one of us are sinners, who have been absolved and forgiven by God, because of His wonderful love and mercy, through none other than the provision of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His sacrifice and death on the cross, and by His glorious resurrection from the dead.

If we can understand all of these, then we will surely rethink how we should be celebrating Christmas, with Christ Himself at the centre and as the focus of all or our joys and our merrymaking. That is how we should celebrate Christmas, and in this season of Advent, we should then prepare ourselves so that we may worthily celebrate it, with the right intention, with the right meaning, so that the Lord’s grace may truly work its wonders among us.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us from today onwards, recommit ourselves to the Lord and seek to renew our efforts to live faithfully, by doing what He has commanded us to do, and by trusting in Him, Our Lord and Saviour, that the way He has shown us, is the way for us to go through, for our salvation and redemption into eternal happiness with Him. May the Lord be with us always and may He always grant us His blessings and graces. Amen.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 10 : 21-24

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Tuesday, 5 December 2017 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Justice will flower on His days, and peace abound, till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

He delivers the needy who call on Him, the afflicted, with no one to help them. His mercy is upon the weak and the poor; He saves the lives of the poor.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.