Wednesday, 30 November 2016 : 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 2016 : 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 2016 : 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 the 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 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s Scripture passages and readings we have heard revealed to us that we truly live in a time of grace, not quite as what we heard in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah yet, but it is a time of grace because we have all heard and received the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have received through the Church, that is from our priests and bishops, who in turn received it from the Apostles who received it from the Lord Himself.

In the Gospel today, Jesus prayed and thanked the Father for revealing His truth to those whom He deemed worthy of it, not based on the standards of the world, but based on their own faith. Those who were intelligent and had the worldly knowledge then, for example the Pharisees, the elders, chief priests, the scribes and the teachers of the Law all rejected Jesus because they refused to abandon their mistaken way of thinking and embrace the Lord’s teachings.

It was all the normal people, the commoners and all those who were deemed to be uneducated, and even many of those regarded as sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes who actually accepted Jesus as their Lord and listened to Him. Those who have sinned regretted their sinful ways and turned back towards the Lord in sincere repentance. They welcomed the Lord into their midst and they were saved.

What we heard in the Gospel today also pointed out to what great privilege we have for having heard the message of God’s salvation and Good News. Many people before the Lord came had hoped for a long time to be able to receive God’s assurance of salvation and Good News but were not able to. We have received the Good News through the Church, and yet sadly there are those among us who do not appreciate what a great grace we have received.

In this time and season of Advent therefore, it is appropriate and important for us to get ourselves properly prepared and ready for the Lord, that when we come to our celebration of Christmas, we can celebrate it meaningfully, purposefully and then it will benefit us in our way towards the Lord and in our effort to seek salvation in Him.

Have we put our focus and attention on Christ for this coming Christmas? Are our plans for the celebrations putting Christ at the centre of all? We have to understand that if our focus is wrong, then our joy and celebrations will feel empty, as there is something missing from all of them, something that all those kings and prophets were looking for and waiting for, and yet they were not able to get what we now have received through Christ.

This season of Advent is a time for us to take stock of our actions and how we have lived our lives. It is a time for us to reflect and take some time to prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally so that we may appreciate just how great is the grace we have received through Christ and His coming into the world, which is what this Christmas celebration is precisely about.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all commit ourselves to the Lord anew and devote ourselves ever more to Him, listening to His words in the Scripture and understanding His ways through the teachings of the Church. Let us all deepen our spiritual life through prayer and devotions to Him, and be ready for a wonderful celebration of Christmas, commemorating the birth and entry of our Lord Jesus into this world. May God bless us all. Amen.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 : 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 2016 : 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, 29 November 2016 : 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 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 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, 28 November 2016 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures firstly about the anticipation of the coming of our Lord Jesus, as promised by the Lord, in the visions and promises shown by God to His servant Isaiah. And this is the essence of the season of Advent, which is about the waiting, the expectation and the anticipation for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

As mentioned in yesterday’s homily, the celebration of Christmas must be centred in Christ, and not on other things. Our joy and our rejoicing must be focused on the Lord, for it is indeed not about us but about Christ. Yet, many of us and many in this world has the wrong priority in how they celebrate Christmas. They put themselves first when they rejoice and when they celebrate, worrying about what gift they will give or receive, what will they wear at the celebration, what will they eat and drink, and how they will celebrate.

God is easily forgotten out in that manner, and instead of being the focus of our joy, we make ourselves, our ego and greed as the focus instead. That is why, in this season of Advent, it is important for to us to spend some time, all the more why the Church gave us this excellent opportunity of having the four weeks to discern, prepare and anticipate for the coming of our Lord Jesus.

We should read carefully and discern what we have heard in the Gospel today. The words of the army captain or centurion is what we have always recited during the Mass, which I am sure we have come to many times and we may even have memorised the words by heart. But when we say it, do we say it with proper understanding or instead just merely saying it out of familiarity and routine?

‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof’ is the sentence uttered by that army captain, as a sign of great faith and respect which he had for the Lord Jesus. He believed wholeheartedly that God would be able to heal his servant to perfect health, and at the same time, he also understood completely how unworthy he was to accept the Lord at his home, the home of a sinner and an unworthy man.

We have to understand it based on history, and how the perceptions of the Jewish society was at that time. The army captain was likely to be a Gentile, or a non-Jew, whom in the eyes of the Jews at that time, they were seen as pagans and unbelievers, in the same rank as those like the tax collectors and prostitutes. We can already see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law criticised Jesus in several occasions for coming into their houses, sitting and dining with them at the table.

Therefore, the army captain might have felt uncomfortable that this good and wonderful Master and Lord would want to come into his house, the house of a sinner in the eyes of the Jewish people, and therefore, he instead made an even more powerful profession of faith before the Lord. He believed that God would be able to heal His servant just by an order. Most people would want the Lord to touch them and to do something for them so that they would be healed, but this army captain believed so much that he knew that the Lord would heal his servant just by a word from His mouth.

And thus for his faith, the Lord rewarded the army captain greatly and acknowledged his faith before all. Now, let us all ask ourselves, in this season of Advent, we are preparing and anticipating for the celebration of Christmas, but at the same time we are also aware that the Lord will come again as He had promised us. So, when He comes again, are we ready in our hearts, minds, souls and bodies to welcome Him?

Let us take heed the examples of the army captain and his faith. That is the kind of faith that we must have every days of our respective lives. We must understand that we are all sinners who are unworthy of the Lord, and yet God still wants to help us and to save us from our destruction by our sins. Then, if the Lord is willing, are we willing to accept Him and welcome Him too?

Let us use this time of Advent meaningfully, so that we will be able to prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally that when Christmas comes, we will be able to celebrate it with true joy and with proper focus on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Come Lord Jesus, come and save Your beloved people. Amen.

Monday, 28 November 2016 : 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 2016 : 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 the Lord!” 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 the Lord, the assembly of Israel.

To give thanks to the Lord’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 Lord, I will pray for your good.