Sunday, 4 December 2016 : Second Sunday of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the second Sunday in the season of Advent, a time for preparation and anticipation for the celebration of the Nativity, of our Lord’s birth at Christmas. On this day we heard about the life and works of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah and servant of God, and also of the promise of the time of His Second Coming, a time of true peace and harmony.

The readings hearken us to the meaning of Advent, which is anticipation and preparation, not just to celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus which happened two millennia ago, but also that of His expected and promised Second Coming, which many of us are currently not aware of and are ignorant of. This is a time for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord, so that when the Lord comes again, we will be ready for Him.

It is therefore related to what we heard in the Gospel today, when we heard about St. John the Baptist, who came before the Lord to proclaim His imminent coming and arrival into the world to prepare the people, so that when the Lord comes again, they will be ready to welcome Him. It is therefore important that we should heed what he said in the Gospel today, so that we will be able to make full use of this Advent season for our benefit.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are looking for the time of the Lord’s coming, when He will herald peace, justice and harmony among all the peoples, as we heard in the First Reading, a vision that the prophet Isaiah had seen at that time of the coming of the Messiah or Saviour of the world. But before He comes, we have to prepare ourselves, heart, mind, body and soul, so that we will not be caught unprepared when the Lord comes again.

Otherwise, what St. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and the elders would also be said to us by the Lord. At another occasion in the Gospel, Jesus told His disciples and the people about the Last Judgment, where the good and wicked will be separated from each other. Those who are wicked are rejected by God because they have not done what the Lord had asked them to do.

They have ignored the plight of the needy, the needs of those who are hungry, thirsty, imprisoned and without love, and thus God rebuked them and rejected them. Those who have done what they could to help these needy brothers and sisters of theirs have been rewarded by the Lord with the gift of eternal life and joy in the kingdom of God.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, the elders and the scribes, all of these liked to show off their faith to the people, showcasing their piety to the people to see, but at the same time, they strictly enforced the tenets and practices from the laws of Moses, and made it difficult for the people of God, and they condemned people like tax collectors and prostitutes, whom they deemed to be unclean and damned, without hope of salvation.

And in their hearts, they did not place God as first in their priorities, but instead, they put themselves and their ego first. Why is this so? That is because in all the things they do, not only that they had made it difficult for the people to remain faithful, they also closed the door of salvation to those whom they deemed to be sinners and unworthy, and they did all that they have done in order to be seen by the people and receive praise and fame.

Let us all ask ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we like the Pharisees in our faith? Have we considered ourselves as Christians and yet, in our actions, we tend to exclude and condemn others because of their supposed sins and wickedness? Have we all acted to enhance our own self-prestige and glory amongst men? Have we gone to the Mass intending to boast of our own piety and look down on others.

First of all, we have to realise that all of us are sinners, from the ones with the least sins to those who have committed great sins. But all of us are equal in the manner that all of us have disobeyed the Lord at one point of our life or more. Some have committed more and some committed less sins, but nevertheless, all of us have been separated from the love and grace of God by our sins.

And that is why this Advent should be a time for us to contemplate our actions and deeds, and remember the moment of our own baptism, even as we listened to St. John the Baptist and how he baptised the people at the Jordan with water to bring them to a turning and conversion of the heart that they abandon their sins and wickedness, be washed through and through and made clean, and begin a new path towards God.

At our own baptism, we have made the promise to reject the advances and the false promises and lies of Satan, and we have made that profession of the faith committing ourselves to God and His ways. But along the way, we have encountered many persuasions and temptations, and some of us fell into the temptation and sinned.

Nevertheless, God always gives us the opportunity and chance to repent and to turn our back away from our sins. As long as it is not too late for us, and as long as we still draw breath in this world, there is always a chance for us to change our ways. Let us all not be like those who always procrastinate, thinking that they can always delay their repentance and do whatever they want first, and delay their conversion and repentance to the last minute.

After all, who among us are able to tell when is the exact time we will meet the end of our earthly life. It is only God Who will know the time. Many people who were condemned and met their end in hell were those who kept delaying their repentance even unto their last breath. They waited and waited, and when the time comes they realise that it is too late for them.

Let us all think about how we have lived our lives so far, and let us reflect about our actions in life. Have we been procrastinating about turning towards the Lord? Have we waited and delayed in our repentance? There is always time before it is too late, and therefore, let us wait no longer. Let us use this opportunity given to us this Advent season to reexamine our lives, devoting ourselves to new actions for each other, founded in love and mercy.

Let us all show mercy, compassion and love in all of our dealings. Let us forgive each other our mistakes and whatever had caused hurt in our hearts and bodies. Let us show love and care for our brethren who are in need of these, those who are unloved, ostracised and abandoned by the society, and all those who are poor, oppressed and weak.

May each and every one of us be able to show true Christian values in our lives, being selfless and caring for one another, and do as what the Lord had taught us to do. Let us not be hesitant and delay no longer, for the Lord is coming, and surely we will not want us to be caught unprepared when that happens. Do not tarry and wait until the moment when the Lord is before us and He cast us out of His presence and we are condemned to suffer eternally because we have ignored all the reminders and opportunities given to us thus far.

May God help us all in our endeavours, and may He strengthen our faith and our resolve to live our everyday life filled with commitment and love for each other and for our Lord, so that when the time comes, we will be welcomed into the life everlasting filled with harmony, peace and true joy as what we have heard in the first reading today, the vision of the prophet Isaiah. May the Lord be with us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

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