Saturday, 2 January 2016 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 19-28

This was the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John recognised the truth, and did not deny it. He said, “I am not the Messiah.”

And they asked him, “Then who are you? Elijah?” He answered, “I am not.” They said, “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Tell us who you are, so that we can give some answer to those who sent us. How do you see yourself?”

And John said, quoting from the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness : Make straight the way of the Lord!” Those who had been sent were Pharisees; and they put a further question to John, “Then why are you baptising, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?”

John answered, “I baptise you with water, but among you stands One Whom you do not know; although He comes after me, I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandal.”

This happened in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Saturday, 2 January 2016 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

Saturday, 2 January 2016 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 22-28

Who is the liar? The one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is an antichrist, who denies both the Father and the Son. The one who denies the Son is without the Father, and those who acknowledge the Son also have the Father.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you, too, will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise He Himself gave us : eternal life.

I write this to you thinking of those who try to lead you astray. You received from Him an anointing, and it remains in you, so you do not need someone to teach you. His anointing teaches you all things, it speaks the truth and does not lie to you; so remain in Him, and keep what He has taught you.

And now, my children, live in Him, so that when He appears in His glory, we may be confident and not ashamed before Him when He comes.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the beginning of the new year in the reckoning of our calendar, and as we welcome the very first moments of this year, we also remember, as we have done every year, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, also known as Theotokos, by the virtue of her being the mother of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today’s celebration is very important for us and for our faith, for in it lies the very basic tenet of our Faith, which even many people over the ages tried to rebuke and disprove in their wrong thoughts and heretical teachings. Chief of all these is Arius, the one who started the heresy of Arianism. In this heresy, those who adhere to its false teachings contended that Jesus was not God, but only mere Man.

For them, the nature of Jesus is as a created being, no different from that of all the other creatures. They did not see Jesus as the Son of God, and therefore much less, as the Divine Word incarnate into Flesh. They refused to believe that He is God, from the beginning until the end and unto all ages. They thought in their feeble minds, that it is impossible for God to bear a Son in Jesus.

And therefore the Church, having recognised the falsehoods of Arius and his followers, a confusion set by the devil himself, set on its way to counter and to fight back this false teaching and vicious heresy. As a result, during the very first Ecumenical Council convened in Nicaea in the year 325 AD, the nature of Christ as the Son of God was established and finalised, and all those who refused to believe in this truth, were cast out as heretics.

And by that virtue, in the later Ecumenical Council, namely the Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in the year 431 AD proclaimed Mary as the Theotokos, as the Mother of God (Theos). Previously there were also many who believed that Mary is the mother of Jesus, the Man, and as the mother of Christ but no more. There were also those who believed that because Christ is the Lord, both Man and God at the same time, even though Mary His mother was a human being, but by the virtue of being the mother of Jesus Christ, she is also the Mother of God.

This fact cannot be separated from the earlier part of the struggle between the Arians and the faithful Christians, on the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether He is just a Man, or whether He is both God and Man at the same time. If Jesus is just a mere Man, as the Arians had believed, then Mary is no more than just a mother of a great Man and nothing else.

Yet, we all believe in the Motherhood of God, in Mary as the Theotokos, because her Son Jesus is not just a Man, but also God at the same time. He is both fully God and fully Man at the same time, and the two natures, God and Man, while distinct, cannot be separated from each other and they are bound together in perfect hypostatical union in Christ, in perfect love.

This is why I said that this belief in Mary as the Mother of God is central to our faith, and without which I can say that our hold onto our faith is tenuous and weak. And it is also important to take note that this does not make Mary into a deity or a goddess herself. Rather, if we compare it to an earthly analogy, in a kingdom, a king’s mother is honoured even though she does not rule the kingdom as the mother of the king.

Similarly therefore, as God is the King of kings and the Ruler of all the universe, it is by the virtue of His great Kingship that His earthly mother is also honoured in the same way. This is why Mary as the Mother of God had such a special position in our faith and for all of us too. Why is this so? We have to look no further than the Sacred Scriptures in the Gospels themselves.

Firstly, all of us have been entrusted by our Lord to her, just as He entrusted her to all of us. When Jesus was crucified and about to die, He spoke to both His mother Mary and John His beloved disciple, and He entrusted Mary His mother to him, while at the same time He also entrusted him to His mother. In this manner, He had also entrusted all of us to her care, and He entrusted His own mother to be our intercessor and helper.

In the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine, a miracle we all surely are familiar with, it was because of Mary’s urging and pleas that eventually Jesus allowed Himself to perform His first miracle despite His unwillingness and earlier rejection to help the wedding couple in distress. Mary never gave up in trying to help them, as she knew that the couple was in great trouble if they were to gain no help.

In the same way therefore, Mary is the one who can also help us on our way to the Lord, and whenever we are lost and in trouble, it is to her that we can also turn in order to help ourselves to escape from our predicament. It was said that the best way to reach out to our Lord Jesus is through His mother Mary, and indeed this is true. For Mary, being the closest to the throne of her Son, lies the closest to Him and her prayers are the ones that her own Son will not overlook.

Today, we also celebrate the World Day of Prayer of Peace, as we embark on this new year, let us all pray for world peace, that mankind will no longer seek to destroy and bring pain and suffering to one another, but instead live in harmony and true peace with each other. Let us all ask for the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, that these prayers we make will come to the ears of our Lord, and may He bless us with His peace.

O Lord Jesus, listen to us Your children and Your people, and let us all live in peace, love and harmony, and through Your blessed Mother Mary, who prays for our sake without cease, let peace reign on earth forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 16-21

So the shepherds came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the Angels had told them.

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed : He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! that is, Father!

You yourselves are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say : May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!”

“In that way shall they put My Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

Thursday, 31 December 2015 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are asked to reflect on the joy which we have and with which we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in this Christmas season. Each of us should reflect on today’s Scripture readings in order to understand in greater depth how significant this celebration of Christmas is for all of us.

This reading used to be read at the end of every Mass as what is known as the Last Gospel, for the very purpose that, the whole Mass itself, the entire celebration of our Faith and the whole purpose of the Church, and the very fact why we rejoice in this Christmas and have a hope in God and the eternal life which He promised us, is because of what had been written and revealed in that passage from the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour was not created by God, and neither should He be counted to be among the created ones of God. Even though He is fully and completely Man, but He was not created by God, as He is different. He has existed before everything was made, and indeed, He existed before the world and before the beginning of time, for He is God, and He was God, and He will be always God.

He is the Word of God, the Word of Creation, the one and inseparable aspect of the Lord, which in our understanding, exists as one and only God, but with Three distinct Godheads or Aspects, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all of Whom are united in perfect love and harmony, such that although they are distinct from each other, but they cannot be separated from each other without diminishing the fullness of God’s greatness and glory.

The Word of God has made Himself into Flesh, the Flesh of Man. He was the Word that was with God, Who is God, and through Whom God created this world, all of creation, all of us mankind and everything that ever was, is, and will ever be. And it is the same Word, Who had come into this world, assuming the flesh of Man, and through the intermediary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, He was born into this world, an event we celebrate as Christmas.

This is very important as, before He came into this world, He is intangible, untouchable and distant, but God Who loves us all greatly and tenderly, desired for all of us to be reunited with Him and to be with Him in the union of perfect love, and therefore, through Jesus, He made Himself tangible, touchable, and now we can see in Him, the fullness of His love, and indeed, of our own future of happiness and eternal life together with Him.

Through Jesus our Lord, we have seen the very personification of God’s love and mercy. He has provided us this act of ultimate mercy, giving us the new and perfect opportunity to be reconciled with God. He has done everything for our sake, that all of us may be rescued from the abyss of darkness and damnation in hell. Shall we not therefore give our love and devotion to Him as well then?

Let us today reflect on the examples of the faithful servant of God, whose feast we are celebrating today, namely Pope St. Silvester I, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Universal Church who lived and reigned as Pope during a time of great change in the Church and in the world. Pope St. Silvester I was among the first Popes to have led the Church after the official toleration of the Faith by the Edict of Milan in the year 313 AD, and he led the Church through a time of great renewal.

Pope St. Silvester I led the Church through a time of great building of many churches and basilicas, and many people flocked to the Church as never before. Many professed the faith and became believers, and Pope St. Silvester I and his good leadership and role model in faith helped ensure more and more souls being saved through the good works God had done through His Church.

As we all embark on this last day of the old year and as we rejoice in welcoming the beginning of the new year tomorrow, let us all also follow in the examples of Pope St. Silvester I and the other holy saints of God, so that we may usher in the beginning of a new year to be filled with the fullness of God’s love and our faith in Him. This is the time for us to make our new year’s resolution, that is to abandon our old ways of sin and wickedness, and embrace fully the ways of the Lord.

May Almighty God bless us all, and may He bless our coming new year, so that His blessings may fill that year with much grace, and all of us may look up to the coming of the new year of hope, and be ever more faithful and be more devoted to our Lord and God. God be with us all. Amen.

Thursday, 31 December 2015 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 1-18

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone.

He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him. He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name.

These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving kindness.

John bore witness to Him openly, saying, “This is the One who comes after me, but He is already ahead of me, for He was before me.” From His fullness we have all received, favour upon favour. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving kindness came through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God, but God-the-Only-Son made Him known : the One, Who is in and with the Father.