Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is exactly one week after the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and is a reaffirmation of the special status which Mary has in the history of salvation and in the history of this world and mankind.

For there is no greater human being than Mary, as although she remained a mere human being, but because of her great piety and her great humility, and ultimately because she has allowed herself to become the vessel of God’s salvation, obediently allowing God to perform His great works through her, she has become the mother of our God and Saviour.

As I have mentioned during the Solemnity of the Assumption, Mary was granted the singular honour amongst all other men and women, for she was lifted up bodily and soul into the glory of heaven, for she has borne the Saviour of the world, Who saved all mankind from sin and death, and therefore, it is only right that He would also save her as well.

And we all believe that Mary is now in the glory of heaven, seated at the side of her Son, the King and ruler of Heaven and all the universe. And if in the history long past, the mother of a king is considered a queen, by the virtue of the kingship of her son, even if she herself was not a royalty or noble by birth, then the same should have also applied for the case of Mary.

If she is the mother of the King of Heaven and all the Universe, then by that virtue also, she has been made a queen. And therefore rightly she had been granted the following titles by the Church, that of the Queen of Heaven, the Queen of Angels, the Queen of All Saints and the Queen of Peace, amongst many others. We honour her because of her Son, our Lord and King, and certainly just as when a king’s mother is honoured, the king is also honoured, then it is the same case with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

And to us, Mary has a special place in our faith, because she is the greatest and first among all the saints, the holy men and women of God. She is the one closest to her Son in heaven, and as she has proven from time to time, in her various apparitions, she is always constantly thinking about each and every one of us, mankind, as she is our mother who cares for us, just as she cared for her Son, Jesus. Jesus our Lord Himself has entrusted us to her from the cross, as He laid there dying to fulfil the salvation He promised to us mankind.

Mary is our greatest intercessor, and she is always pleading for our sake, that God may have mercy on us. She has shown us all the examples of how to be faithful and obedient to the will of God, and by following her examples, we will be able to draw closer to her Son, and thus will be worthy to receive His salvation and eternal glory. And through her various apparitions, Mary always reminded us mankind to seek her Son and to repent from our sinful ways.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we rejoice in Mary, our mother and Queen, let us all ask for her intercession, that she will continue to pray for our sake, and implore her Son to forgive us our trespasses, that through her words and intercession, God may be moved to guide us to the path towards righteousness. And then, let us also strive to do our best to imitate the examples of Mary in faith, that we may learn to give ourselves completely and dedicate our whole being to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us always, and remain with us, and may through the intercession of His blessed mother Mary, Queen of Heaven, Queen of All Saints, Queen of Angels, Queen of Peace, and through the intercession of all the other holy saints and martyrs, all of us may be brought ever closer to God’s love and grace, and be forgiven from our sins when we repent with sincerity and commitment to live a new life filled with faith. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 26-38

At that time, in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son; and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 112 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Alleluia! Praise, o servants of YHVH, praise the Name of YHVH! Blessed be the Name of YHVH now and forever!

From eastern lands to the western islands, may the Name of YHVH be praised! YHVH is exalted over the nations; His glory above the heavens.

Who is like YHVH our God, Who sits enthroned on high, but also bends down to see on earth as in heaven?

He lifts up the poor from the dust and the needy from the ash heap. He makes them sit with princes, with rulers of His people.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 : 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 9 : 1-6

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. A light has dawned on those who live in the land of the shadow of death. You have enlarged the nation; You have increased their joy. They rejoice before You, as people rejoice at harvest time as they rejoice in dividing the spoil.

For the yoke of their burden, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressors, You have broken it as on the day of Midian. Every warrior’s boot that tramped in war, every cloak rolled in blood, will be thrown out for burning, will serve as fuel for the fire.

For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; the royal ornament is laid upon His shoulder, and His Name is proclaimed : “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

To the increase of His powerful rule in peace, there will be no end. Vast will be His dominion, He will reign on David’s throne and over all his kingdom, to establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forever. The zealous love of YHVH Sabaoth will do this.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great feast and solemnity of the Church, honouring the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, most holy and ever virgin, the one whom God had entrusted to be the one to bear the Saviour of the world, and therefore, she was special among every other human beings, as one set aside by God to be the instrument of His salvation through Jesus Christ, her Son.

We must be wondering why is it that we as Catholics and as Christians celebrate and honour Mary as such? Why is it that we glorify her above every other human beings, even though she herself is also a human just like us? There are many out there who because of their misunderstandings and lack of knowledge about what we truly believe, about Mary and many other tenets of our faith, had criticised the holy Catholic faith, charging us falsely with idolatry of Mary.

Yet, if one truly understands what our faith is really about, they will indeed immediately see the errors of their ways and beliefs, and turn themselves to our faith. They will give honour to Mary, the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ as we all have done. That is not because we glorify her as an equal to God or as a goddess in her own right, but rather because of her position as the mother of our Lord, God and Saviour.

In the historical times, especially from the traditions of the kingdom of Israel, the position of the mother of the king of Israel is a significant one, as what is also common in the other kingdoms and states in history. The queen mother has a significant place of honour, not because of her own authority and power, but because she is the mother of the king, the one who bore the king into the world, and the one who took care of the growth of the king.

If we honour our own mother, love her, and are grateful for all that she has done for us, in bringing us up, caring for us, and if we want to thank her and give her the best that we can give her, then it is the same case for the king, as shown in the time of the old kingdom of Israel, particularly shown as Solomon, the king, honoured his mother, Bathsheba greatly and put her place in a position of honour just beside his throne.

And thus, in the same manner, is it not then the same for the mother of our Lord and God, the King of all kings and the Master of the entire universe? Surely the Lord Jesus also honours His mother just as all of us honour our own mothers, and surely He has also given her a position of honour in heaven, close to His own throne, just as the kings of the ages past and the kings of Israel had honoured their own mothers?

This is the first reason why we celebrate this day, to honour the Mother of our God. However, that is not the only and main reason why we honour Mary. Indeed, on this day, the Scripture passages from the Vigil Mass and today's Mass focus on the role that Mary played as the bearer of the Messiah and the bearer of the One Who has established a new Covenant between God and mankind, sealed by His loving sacrifice on the cross.

Therefore, as the bearer of the Lord Jesus, the New Covenant He had established with us mankind, Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, just as the first Ark of the Covenant bore inside it the Covenant of God, in the form of His laws, passed down through Moses, the manna that is the symbol of God's love in feeding His people throughout their journey through the desert. And in Jesus, is found God's laws and love personified, for He is the Law and He is Love.

If we read the Scriptures at the time of the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant is a very precious and holy container of God's Law, which mortal eyes cannot ordinarily look upon or touch with bare hands, such that it was veiled from sight by a veil, and carried upon its poles to avoid touching the Ark directly. The Ark itself represents God's holy Presence in this world, and therefore, in the Temple of Jerusalem, it is placed in the innermost and holiest of all its places, the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, that is why the Lord created His Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as holy and precious, because she bore in her womb, in her very own body, the New Covenant of God, in Jesus Christ. And there lies not the two slabs of rock on which God wrote His Law, but the Law Himself, for God Himself had taken the flesh of Man, and descended into this world, the Real Presence of His Being in this world, contained within the womb of Mary, who therefore became the New Ark.

That was why Mary was conceived without the taint of original sin, immaculate and pure, set aside from among all the other mankind. For the original Ark was made by human hands using the precious metals and materials adorning the container of God's original Covenant. But, there can be no better Ark than the creation of God, perfect and good, as all of us humans have been crafted by none other than God Himself.

It was just that we have been tainted and corrupted by sin, and we have been made unworthy by those wickedness and sins. That is the reason why God, accordance to our faith and belief, as per the knowledge passed down to us from the time of the Apostles, created Mary immaculate and free from those sins, making her the perfect vessel for the Messiah and Saviour, Lord of lords and King of kings, as the Ark of the New Covenant.

That is thus the second reason why we honour Mary, as the greatest of all the saints and all human beings, that while she is still human and not divine, yet, because of her special place in the story of our salvation, she deserves the honour being not just the Mother of God, but also because of the virtue of that position, also the new Ark, of the New Covenant of God in Jesus Christ.

And Mary remained true and righteous throughout her life, living in accordance with what the Lord commanded and willed her to do. She submitted humbly to the will of God, made known to her through the Archangel Gabriel in Nazareth, and become therefore the Mother of God by her humble acceptance. And she walked faithfully, caring for her Son, and following Him even to the foot of the cross, seeing Him as He laid there, hung on the cross, dying for the sake of us all mankind.

Mary therefore, as I have just mentioned, is the greatest of all the saints, and is our greatest intercessor in heaven. She is also our role model in life, an example for us to follow in faith and in how we ought to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. This is all the more reason why we love Mary, and why we honour her, just as her own Son loved her and honoured her greatly.

And because of that, we come to the reason why we rejoice and celebrate in today's Solemnity, that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. First of all, we must be clear at what the Assumption is truly about. The Assumption does not equate with the Ascension of our Lord Jesus, a common misconception had by many, as in the Ascension, our Lord ascended in His own glory and by His own power into heaven, while in the Assumption, by the grace of God, Mary was assumed or taken up into heaven, in the body and soul.

The reason for the Assumption is none other than because all mankind have suffered death as a consequence for their sins and wickedness, and there is no one who can escape death. And while Christ is without sin, He willingly accepted death to free all of us mankind from the threat of eternal death, through His sacrifice on the cross.

And because He wanted to free mankind from death caused by their sins and their disobedience, it is only proper and right that He would want His own mother, who was conceived without sin, and had been righteous throughout her whole life, and as the holy Ark of the New Covenant, to be free from death, and not to fall into the same death that had claimed many others because of their sins. And hence, He gave her the grace, to be assumed body and soul into heaven, at the end of her earthly life.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord Himself also said that the same thing will happen to us at the end of time, at the time of the Last Judgment when all of us will be brought up, in our glorified body and soul, into the eternal glory of heaven with God. Thus, as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Assumption today, it is also a foreshadowing of what will happen to us in the end, should we walk faithfully in the presence of God, and live in accordance with His will just as Mary had done.

On this joyful day, therefore, as we rejoice together with the whole Church, and honour the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all renew our commitment to live in accordance with the will of God, imitating the examples shown upon us by Mary herself, in how she devoted her whole life and committed herself thoroughly to the Lord, no matter what difficulties and challenges she had to face, even the pain and sorrow of seeing her own Son being tortured and crucified.

Let us all change our lives and turn ourselves completely to the Lord, shedding off our sinful ways of life and all the wickedness and selfishness we have committed in life thus far, so that we may truly be worthy of the Lord, and in the end, we will also be worthy of living an eternity of joy and happiness, when the Lord will bring us up in body and soul to His heavenly glory at the end of time.

Let us ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, she who has been assumed into heaven, and upon whom the Lord had bestowed the honorary title of the Queen of Heaven, the queen mother of all the universe, for she is indeed the closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, and as she had made known to us through her various apparitions, she is always constantly praying for us, for all of us sinners still living in this world. O Blessed Virgin Mary, Assumed into your glory in heaven, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 1 : 39-56

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 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! 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."

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017 : Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 15 : 20-27

But no, Christ has been raised from the dead, and He comes before all those who have fallen asleep. A human being brought death; a Human Being also brings resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all die, so, in Christ, all will be made alive. However, each one in his own time : first Christ, then Christ's people, when He comes.

Then, the end will come, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, after having destroyed every rule, authority and power. For He must reign and put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. As Scripture says : God has subjected everything under His feet.

When we say that everything is put under His feet, we exclude, of course, the Father, Who subjects everything to Him.