Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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 together the great Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the foster-father of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. St. Joseph was a humble and simple carpenter of the village of Nazareth, probably uneducated and poor, unremarkable and unknown, and yet, God chose him to be the one who would protect and be part of the Holy Family into which He was to send His Saviour.

St. Joseph was the heir of David, as he was descended from David’s son, king Solomon, as well as the rightful kings of Judah of the house of David, and then to their heirs in exile in Babylon and after the return to the Promised Land. St. Joseph was the forgotten heir to the kingdom of Israel, who was so unknown that even in his own village, he was not highly regarded and later on, the Lord Jesus would be ridiculed for being supposedly the mere Son of the village carpenter when He came to proclaim His truth in Nazareth.

God chose St. Joseph because of the great virtues exhibited by his life and actions, which exemplified righteousness. St. Joseph was highlighted in the Scripture as an upright and just man, who always acted in obedience to the laws and the commandments of God, and yet at the same time, also constantly cared for his fellow men, keeping others around him in his thought. This is made evident by the accounts of the Scripture although St. Joseph did not appear many times in the Bible.

St. Joseph was a God-fearing and righteous man, because he knew and understood the precepts of the Law. When he heard that Mary was with Child even though she has not even married and consummated the marriage with him yet, St. Joseph obeyed the Law and wanted to break the engagement with her. Yet, at the same time, he was also considerate and compassionate, as he wanted to do so in secret, knowing that had he divorced Mary in public, she would have been stoned to death.

He was a righteous man who was responsible as well as loving, as shown in how he willingly took up Mary to be his wife and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as his own Son, despite him not being biologically related to Him. He willingly took care of the Lord Jesus as a legal father and He as his Foster-Son, as if He is of his own flesh and blood. He followed wherever the Lord led his path, when the census called him and the rest of the Holy Family to travel the long journey to Bethlehem, taking care of the heavily pregnant Mary along the way.

St. Joseph also protected Mary and the Baby Jesus, when king Herod wanted to slaughter all the babies and children below the age of two in his attempt to eliminate the threat to his kingdom. When the Angel of God came to him and told him to bring his family into Egypt to keep them safe there, St. Joseph willingly obliged and guided Mary and the Child Jesus to the land of Egypt for a period of time until it was safe for them to return back to Nazareth.

In all of these, we have seen how St. Joseph was truly a great father figure to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Although He is the Divine Word Incarnate, God in the flesh, Son of God, but He is also the Son of Man, born of man and having the frailness of the human body, save that of sin. When He was a mere Baby and a young Child, St. Joseph as a father to Him must have taken good care of Him, and prepared Him for the life and works that had been entrusted to Him.

As all fathers at that time did, St. Joseph must have also taught the Lord Jesus how He ought to live in this world, teaching Him important skills in life, and helping Him to grow in wisdom and faith. This is why the role that St. Joseph plays in our faith and in the Church is not one that is insignificant. In fact, that is why Blessed Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph as the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church in the year of Our Lord 1870.

There are many things that we can learn from the examples shown by St. Joseph. And we are called to follow these good examples in our own lives, in how we act in righteous ways, obeying the Lord and also loving Him. Thus, today, we look up to St. Joseph, holy father and protector of the Church, asking him to intercede for our sake, the faithful and the Church of God, so that God may grant us all the strength to persevere through the challenges and difficulties, trials and oppositions we may encounter.

And let us all keep on remembering the righteousness and courage that St. Joseph has shown, in all of his actions, in being a good role model for his Foster-Son, Our Lord Jesus. Let us all also learn from him, and try our best to live our lives better and more attuned to the ways of God, that we may grow ever closer to Him, particularly during this blessed season of Lent. Let us all rediscover that love which we ought to have for God, and do our best to be righteous at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 : 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.”

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded of the importance of prayer in our life, because as Christians, it is essential that we have a good prayer life. Unfortunately, the reality is that even many among us may not have known how we should pray, and quite a few of us prayed in the wrong way, with some of us praying in a way that we are just going through the motion of prayer without knowing why we pray.

What is prayer, brothers and sisters in Christ? Prayer is a form of communication between us and God, and it can either be a personal prayer or a communal prayer. During the celebration of the Holy Mass, the priest celebrating the Mass acting in the person of Christ as the High Priest, as how it was in the ancient days in Israel, gathers the prayers of the whole congregation of the faithful and lift the prayer up to God as offering.

This is the form of communal prayer, but prayer can also be done in smaller groups, between our families and God for example, and between each and every one of us and God, an individual prayer. Ultimately, all of our prayers are ways for each one of us to speak to God, be it personally, or between our families and Him, or between our larger communities and Him, and even between the whole Universal Church and Him.

Prayer is a communication between us and God, and it is important that we take note of what prayer is about, because many of us think that prayers are like magic in that we think if we have problem then when we pray to God asking Him to remove from us that problem, then everything will immediately be settled. But this is where we are wrong, because we do not and cannot impose our will on God.

If our prayers are like list of requests, or at times even demands, then are we not imposing our will on God and demanding Him to do things to be according to our way? And when things do not go in accordance with what we want, that is why we become angry with God, thinking that He does not listen to us or that He ignored us. But in reality, everything will go according to how God desires it to be, His will be done and not ours.

That is why, instead of being so busy trying to demand our way out to God through prayer, which is a wrong way to do our prayer, just as it is wrong for us to speak all the time when we communicate with someone, then it is perhaps time for us to know how to pray in the right way. A prayer is a two-way communication between us and God, and just as we speak to Him, He is also speaking to us directly into our hearts.

But why is it that we are often unable to hear Him? Why is it that we are not able to recognise Him trying to communicate with us? That is because we are often too preoccupied in our minds and in our hearts, with our various concerns and thoughts, our desires and wishes. For example, when someone is trying to talk to us, and yet, we quickly interject with our own words, that are said more loudly, surely we cannot hear what the other person is trying to tell us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why, when we pray, instead of rushing with our wishes and desires, or our complaints and things to say to God, we should quieten ourselves and clear our minds, allowing God first to speak to us within our hearts, that we may know truly what His will is for each and every one of us. We must not think that if we do not say what we want then God will not know what we want. He is God! And God knows everything in our hearts, even our most, deepest secrets.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we progress through this season of Lent, we should improve our prayer life, and we can do so by following the example of Christ, in the prayer He said to His heavenly Father, the Lord’s Prayer or Pater Noster. Instead of demanding God to do what we want, first we glorify God and thank Him for all the goodness He has bestowed us, and humbly accepting that His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We should be humble in everything, and as the Lord said, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, He is showing us that assurance that God has given us, that He will provide us what we need, and He will take care of us. If we put our trust in God, we will not be disappointed. And through a stronger prayer life, we will have better connection and will be better attuned to the will of God, that in our lives, we will draw closer to Him and do what His will is for us, following the example of Christ, Who obeyed the Father’s will completely for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all have a profound transformation of our prayer life, so that each and every one of us will grow ever closer to God, each and every days of our life. May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen our faith in us, that we may be truly worthy to celebrate together with Him, our loving Father when we are fully reunited with Him in heavenly glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 6 : 7-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do; for they believe that, the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.”

“This, then, is how you should pray : Our Father in heaven, holy be Your Name, Your kingdom, come, Your will, be done on earth, as in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are in debt to us.”

“Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.”