Saturday, 5 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 9 : 35 – Matthew 10 : 1, 5a, 6-8

At that time, Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.” Then He called His twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness.

Jesus sent these twelve on mission with the instructions : “Go instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go and proclaim this message : The kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. You received this as a gift, so give it as a gift.”

Saturday, 5 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 146 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! How good it is to sing to our God, how sweet and befitting to praise Him! The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; He gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals their broken hearts and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars, He calls each of them by name.

The Lord is great and mighty in power; His wisdom is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble, but casts the wicked to the ground.

Saturday, 5 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 30 : 19-21, 23-26

O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. When you cry, YHVH will listen; when He hears, He will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of anguish and the water of distress, He, your Teacher will hide no longer. Your own eyes will see Him, and your ear will listen to His words behind you : “This is the way, walk in it.”

He will then give rain for the seed you sow and make the harvest abundant from the crops you grow. On that day your cattle will graze in wide pastures. Your beasts of burden will eat silage tossed to them with pitchfork and shovel.

For on the day of the great slaughter, when fortresses fall, streams of water will flow on every mountain and lofty hill. The light of the moon will be as light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven times greater, like the light of seven days, when YHVH binds up the wounds of His people and heals the bruises inflicted by His blows.

Friday, 4 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture readings told us about the merits of keeping up faith in the Lord, and the importance of keeping hope in Him Who cares for us and Who blesses us all daily with life and all its goodness. It is a reminder that we do not live alone or suffer in this life alone in this world, but rather we have our Lord Who is constantly with us, guiding us and protecting us.

God never failed His people and He had never, and will never ever break the promises He had made. He had promised to bring us all mankind into His salvation, and that is precisely what He will do. He always fulfil whatever He had promised, and He will always love us all, no matter how sinful and wicked we were. Yet, it was always us mankind who have disappointed Him, rejecting the love which He had shown us, and spurning His care and compassion for us.

Let us just ask ourselves, to look into our own lives and how we have acted in this life. How often is it that we put God aside and forget about Him in the pursuit of our own selfish goals and desires? It is in our nature to be focused only on ourselves and ignore all other things. And we do not remember God until the time when we actually ‘need’ Him.

Yes, do we remember God in our good times? Maybe sometimes we do, but do we give Him thanks for every blessings He had granted us? Or did we just take all of His kindness for granted? This is the tendency that all of us have, that we tend to gloat and be proud of our own achievements, and glorify ourselves in front of others, praising our deeds and greatness, but not giving due thanks to God for all the things which He had blessed us with.

First of all, are we thankful of this life which God had granted us? Have we shown gratitude for every breath we take, the allowance we have been given by the Lord to live in this world and to enjoy all the good things we have and possess? All the graces and blessings of this world have been made available to us, and yet, many of us were not thankful, and instead we demand more, and we even become angry at God for not listening to our wants and wishes.

This is why it is important for us to understand in this season of Advent, the importance of rediscovering our true focus in the Lord. It is important for us to prepare ourselves thoroughly to be able to welcome our Lord’s coming properly and with piety, as we go on to celebrate Christmas in the coming few weeks’ time. Otherwise, our Christmas celebration will become empty and meaningless, and our joy will become illusory and merely satisfying the desires of our flesh rather than truly bringing us true joy in Christ our Lord.

Let us in all this, heed the examples and the life of St. John Damascene, or St. John of Damascus, whose feast we are celebrating today. St. John Damascene was a devoted monk and priest of the Lord in what is now Syria, hailing from Damascus, which would become his appellation in the years to come. He was committed to the Lord and showed his great faith by commissioning numerous writings and works that helped to prevent the faithful from following erroneous teachings and heresies.

St. John of Damascus also stood up for his faith against heretics and all those seeking to destroy the Church, including the infidels which by that time had conquered the lands where St. John lived. More and more persecutions and harsh treatment against the faithful ensued, but St. John Damascene remained as a bright light amidst all the darkness, and his works became an inspiration to many of the faithful, both those who were around him and those further beyond, including us all living today.

Through St. John of Damascus, God showed us that to become one of His disciples and faithful ones, we cannot just live in accordance to our wishes and satisfying our own desires. There will be times when we will be challenged to stand up for our faith and to defend it before others who seek to destroy the Faith and persecute the faithful.

In that case, will we be able to put forth our strength and our commitment to the Lord as St. John Damascene had done? St. John had put his trust in the Lord, and even though he often encountered difficult times, but the strength which he drew from the Lord allowed him to persevere on and to keep on trying to help the cause of the Lord, and show God’s love and truth to more and more people.

Therefore, now the challenge comes to us, as the present day disciples of our Lord. Are we able to commit ourselves to the Lord and to recognise all the good things that God had done for us, His people? God had protected St. John of Damascus, and all of His other faithful ones, and blessed them in various ways. Even though they were in trouble and in difficulties, but God did not leave them alone.

God will bless us and strengthen us at all times, and when challenges come our way, He will help us and protect us. Now we must understand His love and seek to be able to show our gratitude to Him Who had given so much for us. Let us all draw closer to our God, and as we go on through this season of Advent, let us all prepare ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically so that all of our beings may be able to celebrate with true joy the celebration of Christmas. God bless us all. Amen.

Friday, 4 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Matthew 9 : 27-31

At that time, as Jesus moved on from the official’s house, two blind men followed Him, shouting, “Son of David, help us!”

When He was about to enter the house, the blind men caught up with Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do what you want?” They answered, “Yes, Sir!”

Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “As you have believed, so let it be.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning, “Be careful that no one knows about this.” But as soon as they went away, they spread the news about Him through the whole area.

Friday, 4 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Psalm 26 : 1, 4, 13-14

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the Rampart of my life; I will not be afraid.

One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek – that I may dwell in His house all the days of my life, to gaze at His jewel and to visit His sanctuary.

I hope, I am sure, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Trust in the Lord, be strong and courageous. Yes, put your hope in the Lord!

Friday, 4 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Priests)

Isaiah 29 : 17-24

In a very short time, Lebanon will become a fruitful field and the fruitful field will be as a forest. On that day, the deaf will hear the words of the Book, and out of the dark and obscurity the eyes of the blind will see.

The meek will find joy and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the scoffers gone forever, and all who plan to do evil will be cut down – those who by a word make you guilty, those who for a bribe can lay a snare and send home the just empty-handed.

Therefore YHVH, Abraham’s Redeemer, speaks concerning the people of Jacob : No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will his face grow pale. When he sees the work of My hands, his children again in his midst, they will sanctify My Name, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and stand in awe of the God of Israel.

Those who err in spirit will understand; those who murmur will learn.