Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 1 : 18-24

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Romans 1 : 1-7

From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, an Apostle called and set apart for God’s Good News, the very promises He foretold through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures, regarding His Son, Who was born in the flesh a descendant of David, and has been recognised as the Son of God endowed with Power, upon rising from the dead through the Holy Spirit.

Through Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and for the sake of His Name, we received grace and mission in all the nations, for them to accept the faith. All of you, the elected of Christ, are part of them, you, the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy : May God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you grace and peace.

Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Isaiah 7 : 10-14

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet
Offertory
Luke 1 : 28
Ave, Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum : benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus Fructus ventris tui.
English translation
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb.
Secret Prayer of the Priest
Sacrificiis praesentibus, quaesumus, Domine, placatus intende : ut et devotioni nostrae proficiant et saluti. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
English translation
Look with favour, we beseech You, o Lord upon these offerings here before You, that they may profit both for our devotion and for our salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
Communion
Isaiah 7 : 14
Ecce, Virgo concipiet et pariet Filium : et vocabitur Nomen Ejus Emmanuel.
English translation
Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a Son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel.
Post-Communion Prayer
Sumptis muneribus, quaesumus, Domine : ut, cum frequentatione mysterii, crescat nostrae salutis effectus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
English translation
Having received Your gifts, o Lord, we pray that the saving effect of the mystery may increase as we frequent it. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet
Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Luke 3 : 1-6
Anno quintodecimo imperii Tiberii Caesaris, procurante Pontio Pilato Judaeam, tetrarcha autem Galilaeae Herode, Philippo autem fratre ejus tetrarcha Ituraeae et Trachonitidis regionis, et Lysania Abilinae tetrarcha, sub principibus sacerdotum Anna et Caipha : factum est verbum Domini super Joannem, Zachariae filium, in deserto.

Et venit in omnem regionem Jordanis, praedicans baptismum paenitentiae in remissionem peccatorum, sicut scriptum est in libro sermonum Isaiae Prophetae : Vox clamantis in deserto : Parate viam Domini : rectas facite semitas ejus : omnis vallis implebitur : et omnis mons et collis humiliabitur : et erunt prava in directa, et aspera in vias planas : et videbit omnis caro salutare Dei.
English translation
In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate as the governor of Judea, and Herod as the tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina, under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, the word of the Lord came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the Book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah, “A voice of one crying in the wilderness : Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valleys shall be filled, and every mountains and hills shall be brought low. The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways plain, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : Violet
Psalm 144 : 18, 21 and Tradition of the Faith
Prope est Dominus omnibus invocantibus eum : omnibus, qui invocant eum in veritate.

Priest : Laudem Domini loquetur os meum : et benedicat omnis caro Nomen sanctum Ejus.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Priest : Veni, Domine, et noli tardare : relaxa facinora plebis Tuae Israel. Alleluja.
English translation
The Lord is nigh unto all those who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

Priest : My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His holy Name.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Priest : Come, o Lord, and do not delay, forgive the sins of Your people Israel. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Violet
Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
1 Corinthians 4 : 1-5

Fratres : Sic nos existimet homo ut ministros Christi, et dispensatores mysteriorum Dei. Hic jam quaeritur inter dispensatores, ut fidelis quis inveniatur. Mihi autem pro minimo est, ut a vobis judicer aut ab humano die : sed neque meipsum judico.

Nihil enim mihi conscius sum : sed non in hoc justificatus sum : qui autem judicat me, Dominus est. Itaque nolite ante tempus judicare, quoadusque veniat Dominus : qui et illuminabit abscondita tenebrarum, et manifestabit consilia cordium : et tunc laus erit unicuique a Deo.
English translation
Brethren, let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day, but neither do I judge my own self.

For I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified, but He Who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the Lord comes, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise from God.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 18 December 2016 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Violet
Introit
Isaiah 45 : 8 and Psalm 18 : 2
Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum : aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem.

Caeli enarrant gloriam Dei : et opera manuum Ejus annuntiat firmamentum.

Priest : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
English translation
Drop down dew, you heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain on the just, let te earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour.

The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declares the work of His Hands.

Priest : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Collect
Excita, quaesumus, Domine, potentiam Tuam, et veni : et magna nobis virtute succurre; ut per auxilium gratiae Tuae, quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentiae Tuae propitiationis acceleret : Qui Vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
English translation
Bestir, o Lord, Your might, we beseech You, and come, and with great power come to our aid, that, by the help of Your grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Your merciful forgiveness. You Who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, 17 December 2016 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the message of the Sacred Scriptures telling us about the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the time of Abraham all the way to David, and from David all the way to Jesus Himself. It is a reminder for us that He is the Son of Abraham and Son of David, as the One Whom God had promised to all of His people, that He has fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Although Jesus was not the biological Son of Joseph, His foster-father, but as Joseph was legally married to Mary, His mother under the Law, therefore He is considered legally as His father, and therefore the right of inheritance is His through His foster-father Joseph, including as Heir to the throne of David and as the One through Whom God fulfilled His promises to Judah and to David, His forefathers.

In the first reading, we heard the moment when Jacob, before he passed away, blessing his sons with many words of blessings. And for Judah, he gave a special blessing, which would be fulfilled through his descendant Jesus, that the throne and sceptre will belong to his house forever, and it is through him that David would be born, and then his descendant Jesus after him, as the King and Lord over all of God’s people forever.

In all of these we can see that God is a faithful God Who always remembers His promise to all of His people, and we can also see the long expectation of the salvation which all mankind had awaited since the very day that they were separated from their loving God due to sin. Abraham himself was a descendant of Adam, as all mankind are, and all of humanity have shared in his sins, because of his disobedience against God at the beginning of creation.

And thus, by taking up upon Himself the flesh of Man, through His mother Mary, Jesus our Lord had endeavoured to make Himself as the new Adam, as mentioned by St. Paul in one of his Epistles, that while the old Adam brought sin and death upon everyone, right down to us all living in this world today, but the new Adam, that is Christ, had united all of us upon Himself, and by His sacrifice on the cross, He has destroyed our sins and liberated us from the certainty of damnation.

Unfortunately, it is sad to see just how many of us disregarded God’s promise made to us through Christ, and ignored His free offer of love and mercy. Many of us are often too busy to spend time with our Lord, and rather than believing in Him and walking in His ways, we end up following the whims of our own human desires and worldly greed.

Many of us forgot about Christ and even took out Christ from Christmas. We see it more as a yearly and regular period of rejoicing and celebrations, yet we did not put the Lord Jesus at the centre of our joys. We become engrossed on worldly goods and materials, and we have forgotten what Christmas and our joys are truly about. And this is what we need to reflect on, as we progress through this season of Advent, that we may find true Christmas joy for ourselves.

Let us all realise that in Christmas lies the fulfilment of the very long promised salvation which the Lord promised to mankind ever since the days of Adam. Countless sons and daughters of mankind were unable to know and witness the coming of their Saviour unlike all of us who have received the knowledge and revelation of Christ through our faith and the Church.

Many people longed for the coming of their salvation and they did not have hope because after all their lives, they would succumb to death and to the uncertainties afterwards. And yet, through Christ, now all of them, past, present and future of mankind have that new hope have dawned on mankind. We may not realise just how important that is, but let us then think about what would have happened, had Christ chosen not to come and save us.

Imagine an eternity of suffering and separation from the love of our God. An eternity of despair without hope, and all shrouded in darkness, anguish and pain, because we have been sundered forever from the care of our Lord. Without God we will perish for sure and be destroyed. And yet, it is because of Jesus our Lord that we have received that new light and that new hope from Him.

A new light has dawned on us all brethren, and now what matters is for us to accept the coming of this light. Let us all turn ourselves towards this light, repent and turn away from our sinful past, and be renewed in our faith in the Lord our God. May all of us spend meaningful time to work together to make sure that we put the Lord our God at the centre of our lives, and focus on Him all the days of our lives. May we be ready to celebrate the true joy of Christmas. Amen.