Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Sacred Scriptures, we are reminded of how fortunate we are for having received the revelation of truth from God, of the coming of His future return, and how we shall all be partakers and inheritors of His glorious kingdom, when He comes again at the end of time. We are reminded that God will deliver us into a new existence and life free from the bondage and sufferings due to our sins and wickedness. The Lord has reassured us that He will never abandon us to the darkness, and all of us who are faithful to Him shall receive from Him the gift of everlasting grace and life, freedom from the darkness of sin and death. No longer shall we have to fear the threats of evil and the attacks of Satan, the evil one, because our Lord will lead us to His great triumphant victory in the end.

However, along the way there will indeed be plenty of challenges, trials and obstacles facing us. Hence, we really have to be patient and committed to the Lord, with all of our hearts and minds, so that we may remain firm and true in our faith in Him, and not be tempted to walk away and abandon Him for other comforts and pleasures in the world. And that is why we have to remind ourselves in this season of Advent of what we are expecting in the coming Christmas, as we approach the time of rejoicing because we see the coming of the hope and new life in Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are reminded that we rejoice greatly as we have seen the light of Our Lord’s glory and all that we shall enjoy in Him, the eternity of perfect bliss and happiness in His presence.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus Himself praised His heavenly Father for all that He had planned for the salvation of all mankind, and how everything had indeed been fulfilled and accomplished perfectly through His coming into this world, He, the Son of God and Son of Man, incarnate in the flesh and born of His blessed Mother Mary. Through Christ, all that God has promised all of us and our ancestors and predecessors, all mankind from the beginning of time had come to a full circle and perfect accomplishment. He has shown us the fullness of God’s love manifested before our own eyes, where God became tangible and approachable, and hence, showing and proving to us that whatever He has promised us all and our predecessors are not merely empty promises.

Indeed, it was not just that the love of God has been made manifest in this world and tangible to us, but through His actions, especially by His suffering and death on the Cross, Christ has delivered us the ultimate expression of God’s ever enduring love for all of us. As He Himself said that there is no greater love than for someone to lay down one’s life for a friend, that was exactly what the Lord had done for our sake. The Lord has shown us just much beloved we are and how precious we are to Him, that despite of our constant stubbornness and rebellion against Him, He still reached out to us and loved us nonetheless. His salvation has been extended to all mankind, even those who have hurt and persecuted Him. He is the one Lord of all, and all of us are His people, His beloved ones.

If God has loved us so much then we really need to ask ourselves, why then we have often neglected and ignored Him in our preparations for Christmas? Why have we spent so much time and effort in preparing and immersing ourselves in the festivities and merrymaking and yet, Christ is nowhere near the centre or the focus of our celebrations? The Lord has given us the wonders and riches of His love, and yet, we have not responded to His love with openness and willingness to embrace that love. How often is it that we remain stubborn in our refusal to embrace God’s love and mercy despite Him having patiently cared and reached out to us all these while? We have been busy preparing for Christmas, but is it the true Christmas that we are truly preparing for? Or is it the Christmas of our fancy and desires that we are actually looking forward to.

Let us all consider all of these very carefully even as we continue to progress through this season of Advent. We should not let the distractions and temptations of the secular and worldly Christmas from misleading us down the wrong path this season of Advent. Instead, we should do better in deepening our understanding of God’s love and compassion for us, and how we can do better in our respective lives to do what God has called on each one of us to do. We should this time of Advent to reflect on everything that God had done for us, in loving us and in showing us mercy and forgiveness, even when we have repeatedly disappointed Him and disobeyed Him, betrayed and rejected Him. Such pure love that God has shown us should be reciprocated and responded with our own love and devotion towards Him. But many of us realised it only too late that God has loved us so much.

Too many times we have been too busy with ourselves, our desires and pursuits in this world, blinded by our ego and pride, and as a result, we end up falling deeper and deeper into the path of worldliness and sin, and distracted away from the path of God’s righteousness and truth. Unless we keep this in mind and do our best to steer ourselves away from worldly temptations and resist their influences, we may likely end up going down the wrong paths, and end up being found unworthy to receive the Lord’s glorious inheritance on the Day of Reckoning. Is that what we truly want, brothers and sisters in Christ? To gain the temporary and short-term pleasures and happiness of the world, we sacrifice and forgo our assurance of eternal life in God?

May the Lord continue to guide us in our journey, and may He strengthen our faith, resolve and commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly in our way of life. May God be with us always and may He encourage us to walk down the path of righteousness and justice, and be ever vigilant against the allures, coercions and pressures of worldly corruptions, evils and temptations, as well as by deepening our relationships with God. May God bless our every actions and interactions, and give us the strength to carry out our calling and duties faithfully in life. Amen.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 10 : 21-24

At that time, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and made them known to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. I have been given all things by My Father, so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Then Jesus turned to His disciples and said to them privately, “Fortunate are you to see what you see, for I tell you, that many prophets and kings would have liked to see what you see, but did not see it; and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

God, endow the King with Your justice, the royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Justice will flower on His days, and peace abound, till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

He delivers the needy who call on Him, the afflicted, with no one to help them. His mercy is upon the weak and the poor; He saves the lives of the poor.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him; and He will be praised by all nations.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 11 : 1-10

From the stump of Jesse a Shoot will come forth; from his roots a Branch will grow and bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and power, a Spirit of knowledge and fear of YHVH.

Not by appearances will He judge, nor by what is said must He decide, but with justice He will judge the poor and with righteousness decide for the meek. Like a rod, His word will strike the oppressor, and the breath of His lips slay the wicked. Justice will be the girdle of His waist, truth the girdle of His loins.

The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them. Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together. Like cattle, the lion will eat hay. By the cobra’s den the infant will play. The child will put his hand into the viper’s lair. No one will harm or destroy over My holy mountain, for as water fills the sea the earth will be filled with the knowledge of YHVH.

On that day the “Root of Jesse” will be raised as a signal for the nations. The people will come in search of Him, thus making His dwelling place glorious.

Monday, 28 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas, through the words of the Sacred Scriptures we heard today, all of us are being reminded that there will be the time when the Lord comes again in His glory, to gather us all, His beloved people and all of His faithful ones, that all of us may find rest and true happiness in Him. And we are reminded too that we should have faith in God and in His providence, and that in Him we shall have sure hope of eternal life and salvation, and we should believe in Him wholeheartedly and sincerely, devoting ourselves, our time, effort and attention to serve Him in each and every moments of our lives. Especially also during this Advent season, we are all called to rediscover our connection and strengthen our relationship with God, Whose coming celebrate this upcoming Christmas.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah regarding the promises that God brought to His people regarding the coming of the time of glory, joy and liberation for all of them, as He will deliver them from the hands of their enemies. The Lord never forgets all of them and has always put them in His thoughts. The Lord proclaimed of the future coming of His eternal and righteous dominion over all, when He will rule over all the people and the nations of the world, and where the old wickedness, evils and filth of this world will all be swept away and replaced with the righteousness and justice of God. They will all live in the presence of God, enjoying the fullness of His love and grace, and they will not suffer or have any more need any longer, because they will find perfection with and through God.

And that is what we are looking forward to as we journey through this season of Advent, in preparing ourselves for the joyous and glorious celebration of Christmas that is coming soon. We all know that Advent is a time for preparation for us so that we can celebrate Christmas worthily but how many of us truly know what it is that we are really celebrating in Christmas and its significance to us? Christmas marks the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has dwelled in His mother’s womb for nine months, and then appearing to us in the flesh, as He was born into this world, that the Saviour of this world finally made His appearance and became tangible and approachable by all of us. In Christ is the culmination and the completion of all that God had proclaimed and reassured His people with, all the promises of salvation and grace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard a seemingly different narrative, that of an army captain or centurion whose beloved servant was very sick to the point of death. This army centurion, which by the conventions of the time was most certainly not a Jew, and might likely be a Roman, a pagan and outsider by the standards of the people living in the land of Judea and Galilee back then, came to the Lord with great faith, one that the Lord Himself praised before all. For this army centurion, although one of high rank and therefore would have been expected to demand assistance from the Lord, instead humbled himself before everyone who might have witnessed the encounter between him and the Lord, and he had so much faith in the Lord that he went all the way to Him by himself, asking Him personally for the favour for his servant’s sake.

Peculiarly, we may also notice that the army captain also said to the Lord that He should not come to his house when the Lord was making a move towards there, because he was unworthy to have Him enter under his roof. This is the same phrase that we mention every time the priest in the Holy Mass raised the Most Holy Eucharist, the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord before us after the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God, saying, ‘This is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb’, and we respond with the exact same words that the army centurion had spoken. This is the profession of our faith and also our humility, realising just how unworthy we truly are for the Lord to come into our midst, and yet that is what He had done for our sake.

Back then, what the army centurion had done was also very shrewd and right, as it was considered taboo and wrong for a Jew to enter the house of a pagan. According to the strict observance of the Law by the Pharisees and the elders, that would have made the Lord Jesus and His disciples unclean by merely stepping into the army centurion’s house. Hence, the army centurion might have wanted to prevent that unfortunate circumstance, which would have generated more reasons for the enemies of the Lord to attack and persecute Him all the more. But nonetheless, what matters is that the army centurion had such great faith in the Lord that essentially he did not have to witness the Lord actually performing His miracles before his own eyes in order for him to believe in Him.

Contrast this to the attitudes of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and all the elders who continued to doubt and question the Lord, refusing to believe in Him and His truth, and even accusing Him of blasphemy and colluding with demons when they themselves had seen many miracles and wonders performed before their own eyes, and heard all the wisdom and good things that the Lord had spoken before them, and which had fulfilled the prophecies and predictions made by the prophets, a fact that they were all certainly familiar with. What is the reason then for the contradiction and contrast, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because for all of those people, they had no faith in them, and in their pride, ego and self-righteousness, they had closed the gates of their hearts and minds against God.

Hence, today as we continue our journey through this blessed season of Advent, let us all reflect on our attitudes in life, in our way of life and in how each one of us have responded to God’s call in our lives. In our preparation for Christmas in particular, have we realised and understood the true meaning and importance of Christmas to us? Or have we allowed the extreme commercialisation and secularisation of Christmas to affect and influence us? It is not wrong for us to celebrate Christmas the way that we are familiar with, but we must not allow that to distract us from appreciating and celebrating the true meaning and importance of Christmas. We should do our best to observe Christmas with the true spirit and understanding of what we are celebrating, and we should maintain our focus on the light of truth and salvation that Christ has brought into our midst.

May the Lord, our God and Saviour, born into this world and incarnate in the flesh, revealed to us and through Whom we have been made sharers in God’s most generous love and inheritance, continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, and may He strengthen each one of us in our resolve so that we may always be ready to follow Him and walk in His path at all times. May God bless us and our every good endeavours and efforts, all for the greater glory of His Name, and may He help us to prepare ourselves well so that we may indeed welcome the season of Christmas worthily with faith and true joy, in Christ, the One in Whom we truly should be celebrating and be rejoicing about. Amen.

Monday, 28 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 8 : 5-11

At that time, when Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached Him, to ask His help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralysed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have You under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, He was astonished; and said to those who were following Him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.”

Monday, 28 November 2022 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5, 6-7, 8-9

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of YHVH!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

Jerusalem, just like a city, where everything falls into place! There the tribes go up.

The tribes of YHVH, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to YHVH’s Name. There stand the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : “May those who love you prosper! May peace be within your walls and security within your citadels!”

For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be with you!” For the sake of the house of our YHVH, I will pray for your good.