Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 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 together the feast of the Marian apparition which was one of the first apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be recognised and approved by the Church, that is of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared to a local Christian, who is also now a saint, St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, showing herself to him in a vision on a hill called the Tepeyac hill, where now a great Basilica stands in her honour, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego a few times over a series of visions, in which she spoke to St. Juan Diego about who she was, and on the ninth of December, the now feast of St. Juan Diego, Mary made her first appearance before him. This happened in the year of Our Lord 1531, just slightly more than a decade after the conversion of Mexico and many parts of the New World to the true faith in God.

Mary identified herself in St. Juan Diego’s own native language, revealing that she is the mother of the One True God, Who is Jesus Christ, Our Lord. She also asked him for a church to be built at the site in her honour. When St. Juan Diego spoke of this to his Archbishop, the latter requested him to ask the Lady for a miraculous sign as a proof of her authentic apparition. Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego again and agreed to provide a sign.

When St. Juan Diego’s uncle was very sick, and St. Juan Diego seeking to find a priest to minister to him on his deathbed, again Our Lady appeared to him and chided him with the now famous words, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” and promised that St. Juan Diego’s uncle would be healed, and also asked him to gather some flowers from Tepeyac hill to be shown as a sign to the Archbishop.

When St. Juan Diego presented the flowers to the Archbishop, the latter was surprised with what he saw in the tilma or cloak in which St. Juan Diego had carried the flowers. The very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe who appeared to St. Juan Diego was imprinted on the tilma, which is kept until today in the great Basilica, as the proof of Our Lady’s miraculous apparition in Guadalupe.

Ever since then, Guadalupe became a centre of intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, through which many of the faithful came seeking for petitions and favours from the Mother of God. And Mary did also appear several more times in various other places, of which those that had been recognised include Fatima, Lourdes, La Sallette, and many others. Through all these apparitions, Mary sought to remind us, as the mother of Our Saviour, that we ought to be faithful to her Son.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and as we have just celebrated a few days ago, she was special amongst all of us mankind, for she has been conceived without the taints of sin, the Immaculate Conception, as the one whom God had bestowed His fullness of grace and as the one who would bear the Messiah in her, as the New Ark of the New Covenant.

Mary is special to us because she is the role model for all of us mankind, as the perfect disciple and follower of God, having lived her whole life in total devotion and commitment to the Lord, and having dedicated her life to the love and care of her Son, seeing Him taking up the cross and dying for the sake of all of us mankind, fulfilling the role which the Lord had sent Him to do in this world. And at the very end, He entrusted her to us all, through St. John, His disciple, and vice versa, entrusting us all to her in the same way.

Mary is the mother of us all, and as a mother loves her children, thus, that is why Mary is also loving to each and every one of us. She certainly does not want us to fall into damnation, and thus away from her and from her Son for eternity. Mary has appeared many times throughout the years for this purpose, reminding us again and again of the need for genuine repentance and change of hearts and attitude in our minds.

She appeared in Guadalupe to help us, His people to become closer to Him through her. By following her examples in life and by devoting ourselves just as she had devoted her own, we can be closer to God, and be able to reach out to the salvation which He has promised all of us. Now, we are called to reach out also to the blessed Mother of Our Lord and God, Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking her to intercede for our sake, that we may received the grace of God in our own lives.

O Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, you who have been conceived without sin, the Mother of God, pray for us all sinners, and bring us ever closer to the saving grace and love of Your Son. May God bless us all, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

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

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of 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.”

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!”

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

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

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Alternative Psalm (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.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

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

Isaiah 40 : 25-31

To whom, then, will you liken Me or make Me equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and see : who has created all this? He has ordered them as a starry host and called them each by name. So mighty is His power, so great His strength, that not one of them is missing.

How can you say, o Jacob, how can you complain, o Israel, that your destiny is hidden from Me, that your rights are ignored by YHVH? Have you not known, have you not heard that YHVH is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He does not grow tired or weary, His knowledge is without limit.

He gives strength to the enfeebled, He gives vigour to the wearied. Youth may grow tired and faint, young men will stumble and fall, but those who hope in YHVH will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.

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.”

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scripture passages which remind us of the love of God and all the graces which He is willing and wanting to bless us with, each and every moments of our life and existence. He loves each and every one of us, and what we heard from the two readings and the Psalm today, are just as much proof as we need to see how God loves all of us, His beloved people.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, God spoke through Isaiah about the coming of the time of happiness and grace, a foreshadowing of the world that is to come. In that world of joy, in the presence of God, all sorrows and pain will no longer be present, and everyone will live with fullness of joy and happiness in God’s presence. That is in fact what the Lord has always intended for us to be, to live with Him forever.

But it was because of our disobedience, that we have been sundered from this intended life which God has planned for us all. God loves us and He created us because of that love, and thus, in no circumstances that He had wanted us to suffer, but it was by our own free will and the abuse of that free will through disobedience, that we have sinned and thus fell into the suffering and pains of this world.

Yet, it was exactly for that love, that God has given us many ways and opportunities for us to be reunited with Him, by opening pathways for us and calling us to return to Him, so that we may be completely reconciled with Him and be worthy to stand and live once again in His presence. But such a state can only be achieved with a genuine conversion of heart and with a strong desire to love God above anything else.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what the essence of Advent is all about, of a penitential, repentant and expecting nature, when we mankind are looking forward to a reunion with our God, our loving Father, Shepherd and Master, Who loves us so much that despite our constant transgressions and sins, He is still willing to forgive us, should we come to Him asking Him for forgiveness with fullness of sincerity of heart.

But all these require us to have that desire for repentance and to be forgiven from our sins, and also commitment from us to live our lives from now on, in accordance to God’s ways and in obedience to His will. God is our loving Shepherd and Father, Who knows us well and wishes for us to follow Him, Who is always thinking for our good and for our well-being. That is why He is calling on us to follow Him and to walk with Him once more.

In what we heard from the Gospel passage today, we witnessed all the wonderful things the Lord had done in the midst of His people, how He healed them from their sicknesses and how He fed multitudes of people, caring for their physical needs, and even more importantly, their numerous spiritual needs. He blessed them and forgave them their sins, and many sought to be forgiven and healed by Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to do what we need to do in order to be forgiven our sins? Are we able to make that step forward in our life and dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord with faith? We are called in this season of Advent, and indeed, the Church has given us this great opportunity of Advent, to reevaluate our lives and to change our way of life. Are we then open to the Lord coming into our lives and transform it into what He wants us to be? To be good and faithful children of His?

Today, we are called to look up to the hope which we have in God, and in the providence and love that He has shown us. Let us therefore turn towards Him this Advent, with a new spirit and desire to serve God with a new heart and with great courage, to glorify Him with our every actions and deeds in life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 15 : 29-37

At that time, from the place where Jesus healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman, He went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into hills, where He sat down. Great crowds came to Him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. People carried them to the feet of Jesus, and He healed them.

All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed, and the blind able to see; and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.”

His disciples said to Him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.”

Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then, He took the seven loaves and the small fish, and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to His disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover pieces filled seven wicker baskets.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.