Friday, 20 September 2013 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest and Martyr, St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang, and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 8 : 1-3

Jesus walked through towns and countryside, preaching and giving the Good News of the kingdom of God. The Twelve followed Him, and also some women, who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases : Mary called Magdalene, who had been freed of seven demons; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward; Suzanna, and others who provided for them out of their own funds.

Monday, 5 August 2013 : 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Mass of the Dedication of a Basilica)

Psalm 80 : 12-13, 14-15, 16-17

But My people did not listen; Israel did not obey. So I gave them over to their stubbornness and they followed their own counsels.

If only My people would listen, if only Israel would walk in My ways, I would quickly subdue their adversaries and turn My hand against their enemies.

Those who hate the Lord would cringe before Him, and their panic would last forever. I would feed you with the finest wheat and satisfy you with honey from the rock.

 

 

Alternative Reading (From the Mass for the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major)

 

Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

Saturday, 3 August 2013 : 17th Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings urge us to always be righteous and honest in all the things that we do, in all our dealings with others and in our relationship with the Lord our God and our neighbours, our fellow men. We are urged to always take the path of the righteous ones and avoid the path as taken by King Herod and those who try to cheat and be dishonest in all their actions.

For actions like that of King Herod shows not only dishonesty, but also giving up of oneself to the temptations of the world and the power of evil. King Herod followed his lust and desire to take the former wife of his own brother as his own. It is unlawful because it seems that the King had taken her as wife while his brother was yet still alive, and therefore committed adultery with her in the eyes of man and God.

He gave in to the temptations of the devil, the lust for human beauty and pleasures of the world, especially through his privileged position as a king at the time, surrounded by good things and other things enjoyed by the privileged class. The same was warned against the people of Israel by the Lord through Moses, that they do not let themselves be swayed by their positions and privileges so as to cheat on others on their money, their possessions or other related things.

Money, wealth, and possessions are not necessarily bad, and neither does other things that can give us happiness and pleasurable feelings. However, it is important that we do not misuse them for our own selfish purposes and intents, that we end up being controlled by these things. We have to learn to control ourselves, our desires, and our emotions. Learn to control our possessions, and do not let them control us instead.

We must always focus our attention on the Lord, and put our full trust in Him. He is the One who can give us everything that we need in our respective lives. The Lord our God is the source of our true happiness and our true joy. It is not in the world that we can find our true happiness and pleasure, not in sexual relations, human beauty, wealth, or abundance of possessions, but in the love of God, supported by our love of one another. If we do this, we obey the Lord’s commands, that is to love Him and love one another with all our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength.

If we do not love God with all our hearts and our strength, we will be more prone to the deceptions of the evil one, and eventually lead to scenarios such as the one in the Gospel, where King Herod was literally forced to behead St. John the Baptist and therefore made a great sin in the eyes of God, just because of his complete fascination in his own wife’s daughter’s beauty. Then, the same also can happen as in the scenario highlighted in the First Reading, where temptations can indeed be great for anyone to deal dishonestly with one another, and cheat on one another, particularly in monetary matters.

If we love money and possessions more than our brethren and our Lord, then we will grow to desire to possess them more and more in amount. This will lead to even greater desire, an unending cycle of desire, that will end up with us committing greater and greater sins in the eyes of the Lord. One good example would be gambling, in which many stories tell the same case, that an insatiable desire for more wealth and possessions resulting in major loss of money, and therefore, immense financial problems, which later on, tend to push people to do sinful things such as stealing, crime, or even corruption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must stand up for the Lord, and stand up for His love, and we must dare to stand up against the temptations of wealth, material, and worldly pleasures. We have to realise and come to a full understanding, that worldly possessions are not everything for us. What we truly need is the Lord and His love, and the love of our fellow brothers and sisters, and not the love of money or the love of the world. This is what truly can fulfill our needs, especially our need for love. Money and possessions can satisfy us, but it can never satisfy us forever. We have to use it as a tool to bring love to others instead of being controlled by it.

Let us commit ourselves to our Lord and God who loves us so much that He gave us Jesus as the perfect gift, the divine love of God, given to us freely, that we may have a new hope and a new life in us, in perfect reunion with our God and Creator. He is the true love and true happiness that we should all seek in life, and put our focus on. Let us never forget His Passion and His suffering, and ultimately His death on the cross at Calvary. Let us always look at our crucified Lord with pride in our hearts. May God bless all of us, and remain with us at all times. Amen.

Saturday, 8 June 2013 : Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Scripture Reflection)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, just yesterday we celebrated the great feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, but at the same time, we cannot forget Mary, His mother, who is often also depicted with a flaming heart just like that of Jesus. But while Jesus’ heart in the Most Sacred Heart iconography shows a wreath of the crown of thorns, the heart of Mary was pierced with a sword, which depicted the prophecy of Simeon the prophet, who predicted that Mary’ heart would be ‘pierced’ by a sword, that is her Immaculate Heart.

Yes, just as Christ is loving and filled with love, in His Most Sacred Heart, so does His mother too, with her Immaculate heart, for she was born without sin, in immaculate condition, and her heart was filled with pure joy and love of the Lord. That is what we are celebrating today, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Yet, just as I had mentioned it, that same heart, which is immaculate, pure beyond reasoning and filled with love, would have to be ‘pierced’ with a sword. Not in the literal meaning of course, as this sword represents the heart of Mary that was rendered to pieces in great pain as she watched her Son, our Lord Jesus in His Passion on the way to Calvary, suffering the sins of all mankind unto His death on the cross.

Imagine for all of you mothers out there, that when your children encounter something dangerous, or their lives are in great danger, I am sure that those who are mothers will immediately be faced with the greatest fear of their life. You all will be seized with fear, but even more so, with the feeling of love for your children, that great love bonded by ties of blood that is stronger than anything else, which links between mothers and their children. No mother will want to see her children suffer or face pain. True and loving mothers would even give themselves in place of their children, so that they may live instead of her.

Then, therefore, imagine Mary herself, our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, who had been given the good news by the Archangel Gabriel, that she would bear the great Son of God Most High, whom was to be the Messiah and Saviour of all mankind, the promised salvation that was pronounced through the countless prophets of the ages past. She bore Jesus for nine months in her womb, and with Joseph, her husband, she braved the pain of childbirth at that night in Bethlehem, until she gave birth to Jesus, our Lord and God.

She nurtured Him with love and compassion, and as perfect as a care that a mother can give to her child. With Joseph as the head of the family, they protected the infant Jesus from external dangers such as Herod by escaping to Egypt, and eventually settling down to a happy life in Nazareth, as a simple carpenter family.

But even from the very beginning, the baby that she had is indeed not any ordinary being, but the Lord Himself incarnate into a human being, the vessel of salvation, for through Jesus, the Lamb of God, salvation would come forth to all mankind. Ever since His birth, kings and wise men had pledged their fealty and praise by bringing Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna told her of the greatness that her Child would become and Simeon also foretold her about the sorrows that she would face later.

Mary watched Jesus grew up from being an infant, into an adolescent, during which time he was left behind in Jerusalem, when Mary in great fear, searched for her Child with Joseph, until they found Him in the Temple in Jerusalem. When Mary told Jesus about why He had made things difficult for His family, that was not a chastisement at all, neither was it a scolding. It was in fact the love that Mary has for her Son.

So much that she loves Him that she fears if anything were to happen to Jesus, a feeling that surely all the mothers out there would understand. None of us wants our children to be hurt or lost somewhere. We would do our best to galvanise all available forces until our child can be found, as if a great treasure had been lost.

Mary experienced a lot of strange occurences and happenings throughout her grooming of Jesus, but she did not question the Lord nor did she waver in her faith, but instead, she kept her faith strong, and kept everything in her heart. Indeed, such a great heart that our Blessed Virgin Mary has, to store all that feelings, anxiety, and emotions that she had for her Son in her Immaculate Heart!

She accompanied Jesus through His adulthood, through His ministry after the baptism at the Jordan, and she became the catalyst that allowed Christ to perform His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. Through her help, and her great concern for the wedding couple, she managed to persuade Christ to give them aid by performing the transformation of the water into wine, saving the wedding of the couple.

She accompanied Jesus through His last days on earth, in His Passion, and followed Him through the scourging and the condemnation, and unto Calvary below the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world, made to suffer all the weight of the sins of the entire world, of all mankind past, present, and future. It is at that point, that the prophecy of Simeon came true, that a sword would indeed pierce her Immaculate Heart.

That great loving heart, and the heart that had accompanied the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, ever since His birth, now had to witness the cruelty through which Christ died on the cross for the salvation of mankind. She understood it as a part of God’s plan for salvation, for without the death of Christ, the Lamb of God, there can be no salvation. But imagine the great amount of pain that must have been inflicted to our Lady, seeing her Son mocked and insulted, and condemned to a criminal’s death on the cross.

And yet, despite all of that, she remained faithful to the Lord, and was as firm as ever in her mission entrusted to her by God. She had been faithful since the very beginning, when she accepted God’s will in making her the vessel through which the Saviour of the world would be born, and all the way until the end, she remained faithful. Truly, how great is our Lady and her Most wonderful Immaculate Heart, pure and loving, filled with all the warmth of God’s love, and in this heart we can see the great journey and struggle that our Lady had to go through, along with her Son, Jesus Christ, all the way to the end at Calvary.

Yet, as we know, everything did not end at Calvary, as Jesus our Lord rose again in glory on the third day after His death, and through His glorious resurrection, the salvation of mankind was fulfilled completely, and indeed, our Lady had a great part in this. Just as what we saw in the coat-of-arms of our late Blessed Pope John Paul II, of a cross with a letter M at the bottom. That ‘M’ is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who supported Jesus in His life, since His infancy, all the way to that sorrowful day on Calvary.

Jesus entrusted His mother to His disciple, John on that day, and also entrusted John to His mother. Through that act, therefore, He also made all of us, all mankind, the children entrusted to Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, all the love and warmth of the heart of Mary will be poured out to us, and her love will help us and guide us in a straight path to her Son, Jesus. It is indeed true, the saying that, “To Jesus, through Mary”.

Mary is our mother too, and just as she had cared for her Son, Jesus, she will also love and care for us. Pray to our Lady often, and ask her for her intercession for all of us sinners who are still suffering in this world, that just as at the wedding in Cana, she will also help intercede for our sake before her Son, that Jesus would show us His wonderful mercy.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, the most wonderful heart of Mary, pierced by a sword of sorrow at the cruel death of Your Son, be with us and guide us in our own paths towards Your Son, that we will stay faithful, and that we will not inflict ever more wounds to increase the suffering of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for every sin that we commit is another wound that we add to the wounds of Christ.

Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the Fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013 : Wednesday of the Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Luke 24 : 13-35

That same day (as the Resurrection), two followers of Jesus were going to Emmaus, a village seven miles from Jerusalem, and they talked about what had happened. While they were talking and arguing about what had happened, Jesus came up and walked with them, but their eyes were not able to recognise Him.

He asked, “What is it you are talking about?” The two stood still, looking sad. Then the one named Cleophas answered, “Why, it seems You are the only traveler to Jerusalem who doesn’t know what has happened there these past few days.” And He asked, “What is it?”

They replied, “It is about Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet, you know, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. But the chief priests and our rulers sentenced Him to death. They handed Him over to be crucified. We hoped that He would redeem Israel. It is now the third day since all this took place. It is also true that some women of our group have disturbed us.”

“When they went to the tomb at dawn, they did not find His body; and they came and told us that they had had a vision of angels, who said that Jesus was alive. Some of our people went to the tomb and found everything just as the women had said, but they did not find a body in the tomb.”

He said to them, “How dull you are, how slow of understanding! Is the message of the prophets too difficult for you to understand? Is it not written that Christ should suffer all this, and then enter His glory?” Then, starting with Moses, and going through the prophets, He explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning Himself.

As they drew near the village they were heading for, Jesus made as if to go farther. But they prevailed upon Him, “Stay with us, for night comes quickly. The day is now almost over.” So He went in to stay with them. When they were at table, He took the bread, said a blessing, broke it, and gave each a piece.

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised Him; but He vanished out of their sight. And they said to one another, “Were not our hearts filled with ardent yearning when He was talking to us on the road and explaining the Scriptures?”

They immediately set out and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and their companions gathered together. They were greeted by these words : “Yes, it is true, the Lord is risen! He has appeared to Simon!” Then the two told what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how Jesus had made Himself known, when He broke bread with them.

Monday, 1 April 2013 : Monday of the Easter Octave (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 28 : 8-15

The women left the tomb at once in fear, yet with great joy, and they ran to tell the news to Jesus’ disciples. Suddenly, He met them on the way and said, “Rejoice!” The women approached Him, embraced His feet and worshiped Him. But Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid! Go and tell My brothers to set out for Galilee; there they will see Me.”

While the women were on their way, the guards returned to the city, and some of them reported to the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests met with the elders, and decided to give the soldiers a large sum of money, with this instruction, “Say that His disciples came by night while you were asleep, and stole the body of Jesus. If Pilate comes to know of this, we will explain the situation and keep you out of trouble.”

The soldiers accepted the money and did as they were told. This story has circulated among the Jews until this day.