Wednesday, 2 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more.

The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken. On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain the hand of YHVH rests.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, as is common during the season of Advent, the preparation season before the celebration of Christmas, we heard about the promise of God of the coming of a Deliverer, of the descendants of Jesse and David, Who would come to save the world and bring peace and true harmony upon it, the Messiah and Saviour of the world.

God has revealed all of His intentions, His love for us and His desire for us to be reconciled and reunited with Him through His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who have shown the future that awaits us if we listen to Him, know and understand His will, and follow His ways in our lives and in all the things we do in this life. God does not wish for us to be destroyed because of our own sins and wickedness, but He hopes that all of us will eventually find our own way to Him.

People from throughout the ages, ever since the days of Adam, the days of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David, and from the days of the kings and the prophets all have waited very long for the coming of the Lord’s deliverance and the fulfilment of all His promises which He had made to all of us. To all of them God had promised that men will be brought out of their misery and their slavery to sin, and the glory of God will be with men, and He will dwell with them, as God who is with His people, Emmanuel.

And for so long the people could only hope and wish to see, know and witness the coming of the time of deliverance, and they could not see it, even though they longed for it. That was what Jesus meant when He said to His disciples that they were truly blessed to have been able to witness the events as they unfolded at that time, for they themselves were witnesses to the works of God’s salvation.

And at the same time, there were also so many other people who were also blessed to be witnesses of God’s direct works of bringing His salvation to them, including even the Pharisees, the elders, the teachers of the Law and the scribes. Judging by looking at the number of times these people actually followed Jesus and His disciples, and how many times they have tried to test the Lord and doubted Him, they would have been the ones to witness our Lord’s works the most!

And yet, as we know it, and as we have witnessed throughout the Gospels, many if these people refused to believe in Him, and even though their eyes had seen, their ears had heard, and their own hands and feet had felt and witnessed the great works of the Lord made through Jesus, His Son, our Lord and Saviour, they deemed those works as the works of the devil.

Remember what the Lord had said to Thomas, His disciple? Thomas was not around when the Lord appeared to His disciples for the first time after His resurrection, and he refused to believe that the Lord had risen from the dead. Yet, when Jesus finally appeared to him on the next occasion, he believed and proclaimed his faith before Jesus. And Jesus praised all those who have not seen and yet believed.

Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his faith, as it is still better for someone to believe after seeing the truth, rather than those who have seen, and yet refused to believe. Indeed, for all of us, we should ask ourselves, as we have not seen directly what the Lord had done for His people, do we then truly believe in Him? Is our faith truly genuine or is it just a passing statement?

Let this be something for all of us to ponder on, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas, the joy and the celebration of the day of our Lord’s birth into this world. Let us all ask ourselves, have we truly believed in Him? And have we then taken this consideration into account as we celebrate and have all the joys in Christmas? Is Christ even somewhere in our celebrations? Or is the celebration just about ourselves and about us being happy?

Christmas is not just about the gifts, the merrymaking and all the happiness we have by all the holidays, the shopping and all the time we have to enjoy in revelry with one another. It is truly about the Lord, about giving thanks to the One Who had made it all possible for us. Without Christmas, when our Lord willingly came down into this world in order to save us, there would have been no hope for us, save for eternal damnation.

Let us all therefore refocus our attention to the Lord, and as we prepare to celebrate Christmas this Advent, let us all make our celebrations more proper and meaningful by placing our Lord Jesus Christ at the centre of all our celebrations and joys. May we all find true joy in Him, our Lord and our Saviour. God bless us all. Amen.

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

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

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

O 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 in 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 life 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 blessed by all nations.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 : 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 the Lord.

Not by appearance 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 the Lord. 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, 30 November 2015 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, Feast Day of the Church of Constantinople (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew, St. Andrew the First-Called, known as such because he was among the first of the Apostles to be called by the Lord, as we heard the story in the Gospel passage of today, where Jesus called him and his brother Peter from their job as fishermen on the shores of the Lake of Galilee.

St. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter, who would later be the one to establish many churches and structure of the Universal Church in many places, and in the end became the first Bishop of Rome, and also as the first Pope as he was given the authority by the Lord to be the chief shepherd and the leader of all His faithful ones. St. Andrew himself went on to establish his own dioceses and churches, and the most famous and lasting one is the Church of the city of Constantinople, then known as Byzantium.

St. Andrew would become the patron of that city and as its first bishop, and as that city grew in importance, and especially after the Roman Emperor Constantine, the very first Christian Emperor and the one to rescind the persecution against the faithful, conquered the whole Empire and chose the site if Byzantium to be his new capital city, the city he named after himself as Constantinople, to be the site of New and Second Rome.

And thus from then on, the episcopal see of St. Andrew, the See of Constantinople rose in prominence and importance until it became second in importance only after the See of Rome. And the Patriarchate that grew from Constantinople, patronised by St. Andrew, would become eventually a great Church that helped to spread the Faith to many peoples in what is now Eastern Europe, and as the centre of the Eastern half of Christianity.

It is therefore with a sense of great regret that we now exist as a divided and shattered Church, where the Universal authority of St. Peter of Rome was not recognised and acknowledged by the successors of St. Andrew, his brother, as since about a thousand years ago, due to the worldly ambitions of the then Patriarch of Constantinople, the See of Constantinople tore itself apart from the Universal Church, a division that we now seek to heal and restore.

Therefore, today, on the feast of the faithful and devoted St. Andrew, brother of the first Vicar of Christ, who shared with him the blood of martyrdom and in the defense of his Faith in God, having both been tortured, incarcerated and crucified as the chief disciples and Apostles of our Lord, we pray that firstly the Church established by St. Andrew will be reunited to the whole Universal Church under the primacy, supremacy and leadership authority of the Pope, whose authority extends over the entire Church and over all the faithful without exception, as the Vicar of our Lord Himself.

And then, let us also pray for ourselves, as the examples of the Holy Apostles and disciples of Christ should have made us to realise that there are still so many of the works which they have initiated that are still left undone and incomplete. And if we look carefully and listen to what St. Paul had exhorted the faithful in Rome in our first reading taken from his Epistle to the Romans, then we should know what is to be expected from us.

Yes, St. Paul reminded that salvation cannot come to the people of God unless they believe in the Lord God Who saved them from sin and death, but they cannot believe before someone bring to them the truth and the wholeness of the Good News, and while the Good News is already there, but without someone to convey the message and the truth, no one would know and thus no one will be saved.

This is the fact that all of us should understand and know, and we have to realise that God has not just called the Apostles to be His bearers of the Good News of His salvation, but in fact, He has called even all of us, all of us here living in this world today, many years after the time of the Apostles, to continue their good works and missions, following in their footsteps and in the examples of their successors.

Let us all therefore on this day, ask for the intercession of the Holy Apostles, particularly that of St. Andrew, that through us and through our works, we may bring light into the world, and also unite all the faithful ones of the Lord, especially those who have separated themselves from the unity of the Church under His Vicar. Let us all pray for the unity of all Christians and for the conversion of the whole world. Amen.

Monday, 30 November 2015 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, Feast Day of the Church of Constantinople (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.