Thursday, 1 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 10 : 46-52

At that time, Jesus and His disciples came to Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, he began to call out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!”

Many people scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying, “Take heart! Get up, He is calling you!” He immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus.

Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Master, let me see again!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And, immediately, he could see, and he followed Jesus along the road.

Thursday, 1 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 32 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Give thanks to Him on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises. Amid loud shouts of joy, sing to Him a new song and play the ten-stringed harp.

For upright is YHVH’s word and worthy of trust is His work. YHVH loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

The heavens were created by His word, the breath of His mouth formed their starry host. He gathered the waters of the sea into a heap, and stored the deep in cellars.

Let the whole earth fear YHVH; let the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke and so it was, He commanded, and everything stood firm.

Thursday, 1 June 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Sirach 42 : 15-26

Now I shall remind you of the works of the Lord and relate what I have seen. The Lord’s works depend on His word, and creation obeys His will. The sun shines on everything and the work of the Lord is filled with His glory. Not even to His holy ones has the Lord given full knowledge of all His marvellous works. The Lord, Master of the Universe, has ordained that all should stand firm in His glory.

He penetrates both the depth of the abyss and the human heart and knows their secrets. For the Most High has full knowledge and ordains the signs of the heavens. He knows the past and foretells the future and reveals the traces of the world’s mysteries. No thought escapes Him, no word is hidden from Him.

He has ordered the marvellous works of His wisdom, from ever and forever. Nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away and He has no need of counsel. All His works are beautiful, even to the smallest spark of light. All this lives and endures forever : all is useful and obedient to His will. All things are in pairs, one opposite the other, and nothing He makes is in any way deficient. One thing emphasises the excellence of the other; who could ever weary of admiring His glory?

Wednesday, 31 May 2023 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the last day in the month of May, also known as the month of the Rosary, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Chronologically, this feast celebrates what occurred back then during the time when Mary, who was bearing within her the Son of God Himself, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hillside of Judea. Elizabeth was then heavily pregnant and was almost due for her son, the future St. John the Baptist, and both women had their children conceived in the most miraculous way. Mary conceived the Child in her womb without any human intervention, as the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and by the power and will of God, the Divine Son of God, the Word of God Himself became incarnate in the flesh, to be born of Mary as the Son of Man, the Saviour of the world. Meanwhile Elizabeth conceived a child in her old age, something that seemed impossible, especially after many years having unsuccessfully conceived a child at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, we are reminded that this day is truly a joyful celebration because of the great things that the Lord had done for His faithful servants, for Mary and Elizabeth, in performing great and miraculous deeds through them and their respective conceiving of their children. The prophet Zephaniah was conveying the great joy that the people of God ought to experience because of everything that the Lord had shown them, in the faithfulness and steadfastness that He had shown towards His Covenant with all of His beloved people, and in many other things that He has done for us. And most importantly, as mentioned, through Mary and Elizabeth, the light of God’s salvation and Good News was finally revealed to us, through our Lord and Saviour Himself, and through His Herald, St. John the Baptist.

Then, as we heard the account of the encounter between the two women, Mary and Elizabeth as told by our Gospel passage today, we are all reminded of the love which God has shown us that He was willing to come into our midst, and He did so not in a magnificent and glorious manner, but He came to us through two ordinary woman, and especially through His mother Mary, a most ordinary woman and virgin from the unassuming small town of Nazareth in Galilee, with her cousin Elizabeth, another ordinary elderly woman living in Judea. Yet, it was through them that God made His salvation tangible and real to us, one as the mother of His Herald to proclaim His Good News and to prepare everyone for His coming, and one as His own Mother, allowing Him to enter this world in the flesh, coming upon us and dwelling in our midst.

Then in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the great song of rejoicing by Mary, who was full of the Holy Spirit, inspired to sing that song which we all now know as the Magnificat. The Magnificat is a great hymn of praise and thanksgiving which summarised the great joy which all of us mankind experienced for having seen and received the salvation from God and the assurance that everything which He had promised would come true. For Mary herself, the joy was even greater because she would become no less than the Mother of God herself, and God chose her, a humble and poor young woman, as the Vessel and the one to bear the Saviour, to bring forth the deliverance that God has long promised His people. God truly works in mysterious ways, and this was how our salvation came to be, not through great miracles and wonders by a mighty and conquering God, but through a simple yet devout woman who embraced her role and answered positively to the Lord’s call.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to these words from the Scriptures and recalled how the Lord had performed His great and wonderful deeds through those two great and holy women, Mary, Mother of God and Mother of us all, and St. Elizabeth, the Mother of St. John the Baptist, all of us are reminded that each and every one of us also share in their grace and the love which God has shown both of them. All of us are also beloved children, the sons and daughters of God by adoption through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Therefore, all of us, having been made sharers in our Lord’s plan of salvation and the New Covenant that He has established with us, the Church that He has established in this world as the tangible and real Communion of all those who are faithful to Him, all of us have also received the same assurance of salvation and eternal life, and we should emulate both Mary and Elizabeth in their response and faith.

Each and every one of us have been blessed and provided by the Lord with a variety of gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities, unique to each one of us and our various circumstances. Therefore, all of us are called and sent out to do God’s will in our various capacities and opportunities, and we should do whatever we can to glorify God in all things, and in our every actions and works, in even the smallest and least significant of the things we do. We should live our lives with zeal and commitment, entrusting ourselves to the Lord and doing whatever we can to carry out His will and to follow Him as best as we are able to. We should not be idle or ignorant of what we can contribute to the good works of the Church, but do our best always, at all times to serve the Lord and to inspire each other by our own lives and actions.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us emulate the faith that Mary and Elizabeth had in the Lord and let us do what we can to make good use of the blessings and opportunities provided for us so that we may help to lead more and more souls back towards the Lord and that we may proclaim God and His Good News among more people and in more places, that we do not waste these opportunities provided for us. Each one of us can serve our role and parts as members of God’s Church and as an integral part of the work of the Church’s mission in evangelising the world. Each one of us should help others to fulfil their parts and roles in loving God and loving one another, that the Lord’s works become ever more tangible in this world, and more and more may come to experience God’s great love and glory.

May the Lord continue to guide us in our path, and may He empower all of us to walk ever more faithfully in His ways, providing us the courage and strength to do His will, and the perseverance and commitment to endure the challenges and trials that may come our way. May the Lord give us the Spirit to walk ever more faithfully like Mary and Elizabeth had done, so that we may be more and more like them and our holy predecessors in how we live our lives, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023 : Feast of the Visitation 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.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid. YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me. You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation.

Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.

Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023 : Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving Warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast.

I will drive away the evil I warned you about, and you will no longer be ashamed.

Alternative reading

Romans 12 : 9-16b

Let love be sincere. Hate what is evil and hold to whatever is good. Love one another and be considerate. Outdo one another in mutual respect. Be zealous in fulfilling your duties. Be fervent in the Spirit and serve God.

Have hope and be cheerful. Be patient in trials and pray constantly. Share with other Christians in need. With those passing by, be ready to receive them. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not wish evil on anyone. Rejoice with those who are joyful, and weep with those who weep.

Live in peace with one another. Do not dream of extraordinary things.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all reminded that following the Lord as Christians is something that will require from us a commitment and the willingness to face hardships and challenges, trials and more for the sake of the Lord. Following God requires us all to be active and be filled with dedication to the Covenant that He has established with each one of us. The Lord has also dedicated Himself to the same Covenant, and lest we think that He has not suffered or made His effort, then we must remind ourselves how He sent to us His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who came into our midst and was persecuted for our sake. We must remember how the Lord Himself went through the worst of it all just so that all of us might be saved, by laying down His own life on the Cross.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Sirach, which exhorted the people of God to live their lives worthily and well, in accordance with the Law and commandments of God, to be selfless and caring towards others, just as the Lord has taught us all how we should be living our lives as Christians in this world. The prophet said how everyone ought to be kind and just towards each other, and shun all kinds of evils and wickedness, and to be truly faithful in all things, and not just merely paying lip service in the faith. He also highlighted how the Lord knows everything in our minds and hearts, and we should not come to the Lord with an empty hand, but with offering. If we read this literally, we may think that the prophet Sirach referred to the sacrificial offerings that were commonly offered at the Temple like the burnt offerings and others. However, in truth, if we understand the context of what he had said in this whole segment, then it went really much deeper than that.

The prophet Sirach wanted all the faithful people of God to live wholeheartedly in the presence of God, full of genuine love for Him and for everyone, ever faithful and ever dedicated to Him, in all things, and not just outwardly only. This is of course not easy to be done, as more often than not, we will be tempted to put ourselves and our desires first than that of others. In this world, we tend to live inherently selfish lifestyle, and often we are taught and shown that we ought to put ourselves first before that of others. However, that is against what the Lord Himself has told us to do, and hence, as Christians, we often have to go on this path that may not necessarily be aligned with the path that is common and understandable by the world and many of the people around us.

That is why all of us are reminded that as Christians, all of us are called to a new way of life and existence, which sometimes require sacrifices and commitment from us, and some amongst us are called to make more sacrifices and to endure more hardships, depending on our vocation and calling in life. Like the Apostles as mentioned in our Gospel passage today, and as St. Peter asked the Lord, mentioning how they have given up on a lot of things to follow Him, which was indeed the case. They had to leave behind their families, loved ones and past lives, their works, careers and other things because they dedicated themselves wholly to the Lord, to do the works of the Lord at all times, and to be His missionaries and evangelisers among the various peoples that they had been sent to.

The Lord again reassured them all, and all of us, just as what we have heard from the prophet Sirach, that He truly knew everything, and that all of us who have given up a lot for Him, dedicating ourselves to Him and spent the time to carry out His will, shall not be disappointed as He knew all that we have done for Him, and He will bless us and keep us all in His grace and love. This is a reassurance and reminder that we should continue to live our lives faithfully in God and we should not allow the temptations of this world and the fear of sufferings and persecutions, hardships or trials to sway us from our path and from the way of righteousness. If we allow ourselves to be swayed as such, we will end up quickly losing our path in life, and will likely fall deeper and deeper into the path of sin and evil.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today therefore as we continue to carry on living our lives in this world today, let us all dedicate ourselves anew to Him, to our loving God and Saviour. In all the things we say and do, let us all be genuine in living our lives in a most Christian manner, in loving God and loving one another wholeheartedly. This is our Christian mission and calling, brethren, and one that we should heed as we continue living our lives with faith and commitment to God. But are we able to do this? Are we willing and able to follow the Lord wholeheartedly as we should, trusting in Him and believing that even if we have to endure hardships for Him, that it is all worth the efforts? And not just that, but all of us are also part of the Church has the obligation and calling to be active in its works and mission, to reach out to more and more people all around us.

Therefore, let us all commit ourselves, our time and efforts from now on, especially if we have not done so, to be missionary and evangelising in our lives, and we can do so not by grand actions or mere words, but by every single actions and deeds, words and interactions we make, even to the smallest and seemingly least significant ones. All of them are part of our contribution to our Christian faith and living, and it is by truly living up to our Christian faith that we are all expected to do in our lives, that we can proclaim the Good News of God most efficiently and most worthily to many more people around us. How can we expect others to believe in the Lord if we have not truly believed in Him ourselves and if we have not acted or lived our lives in the manner that we are all expected to? Let us all ponder and reflect on these things as we continue carrying out our mission as Christians.

May the Lord continue to guide each and every one of us, and help us to live our lives as Christians, as His disciples and followers with zeal and commitment, in each and every moments of our lives, from now on and always. May He bless our every good works, efforts and endeavours, in all things. Amen.

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Mark 10 : 28-31

At that time, Peter spoke up and said, “We have given up everything to follow You.” Jesus answered, “Truly, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive his reward.”

“I say to you : even in the midst of persecution, he will receive a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and lands in the present time, and in the world to come eternal life. Do pay attention : many who are now first will be last, and the last, first.”

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 49 : 5-6, 7-8, 14 and 23

Gather before Me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice. The heavens will proclaim His sentence, for God Himself is the Judge.

Hear, o My people, for I am speaking. I will accuse You, o Israel, I am God, your God! Not for your sacrifices do I reprove you, for your burnt offerings are ever before Me.

Yet offer to God a sacrifice of thanks, and fulfil your vows to the Most High. Those who give with thanks offerings honour Me, but the one who walks blamelessly, I will show him the salvation of God.