Friday, 30 December 2016 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Matthew 2 : 13-15, 19-23

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

After Herod’s death, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the Child are dead.” So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother and went to the land of Israel.

But when Joseph heard that Archilaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. Joseph was given further instructions in a dream, and went to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way, what was said by the prophets was fulfilled : He shall be called a Nazorean.

Friday, 30 December 2016 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Friday, 30 December 2016 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 3 : 2-6, 12-14)

For the Lord established that children should respect their father; He confirmed the right of the mother over her children. Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself.

Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother.

My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins.

Alternative reading
Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise.

And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

Thursday, 29 December 2016 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded by the readings from the Holy Scriptures that we just heard, that in order for us to be disciples of Christ, it is required that we should obey the Lord and fulfil His commandments, and not pretending to believe in Him, and yet in our actions we are corrupt, wicked and contrary to what the Lord had taught us to do.

God Himself has come into the world through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother. And this is the perfect manifestation of His laws and commandments, which are made perfect and fulfilled through Christ. That is because the laws and commandments of God are the commandments of love. And God Himself is love, and through Christ, He has shown each and every one of us what love truly means.

And why is this so? God Himself has become Man willingly out of His love for us. For Him to assume the humble and mere flesh of our humanity is not something that is just insignificant or easily done. How many of us are willing to part with all the greatness, glory and inheritance that we have, for the sake of another person? And how many of us are willing to forsake everything and die for the sake of another person? And indeed, how many of us are willing to do so for the sake of evil and wicked people?

That was what Christ had exactly done. As St. Paul said in his Epistle, very few would have wanted or be willing to die for the sake of another person, even if that person was an upright and good person. Less so would anyone be willing to suffer and die, if that person is a wicked person and a sinner. But that was what Christ had done for us, willingly bearing the cross and our sins, and dying on the cross for us sinners, so that we who believe in Him may live.

And He showed us obedience to the law of God, by obeying the will of His Father perfectly. He did not let His human weaknesses and the temptations of the flesh to bring Him down. He put His complete trust in His Father’s will, and because of that, we are all saved. The chief priests and the elders could not understand why He did not try to save Himself while He had saved many others, mocking Him from below His cross. That was because they were unable to understand His ways, as they were people of this world and had been corrupted by the ways of this world.

And what is that? Perhaps by looking at the life and examples of the great saint whose memory we cherish and celebrate today, we will be better able to understand how we really ought to be living as Christians, and not as the people of this world. St. Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury and thus was the Primate of England and the chief of the Catholic bishops in the kingdom of England, about nine centuries ago.

He was once the chancellor to the king of England, the right hand man of the king, who was entrusted by the king with much power and authority, and was involved in much worldliness and the pursuits of power and the flesh, imitating the behaviours of the nobles and the kings of those days. And everything changed the moment when the king appointed him to be the successor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, expecting him to be as loyal to him as he had been as his chancellor.

But St. Thomas Becket had a great conversion and change of heart, as he became a devout and ardent defender of the faith from then on, to the irritation and annoyance of the king and his nobles. Expecting a submissive and obedient Archbishop of Canterbury and Church, instead, the king got obstacles and challenges as he attempted to undermine the Church and increase his own worldly authority and power.

Tension arose as St. Thomas Becket was increasingly conflicted against the king and his nobles on the other side. But St. Thomas Becket did not fear the world and its opposition, and he held fast to the strong faith he had in the Lord, and when a noble was accused of murdering a man of God, who was indeed a priest, St. Thomas Becket excommunicated the noble despite opposition from the king and the nobles.

Eventually, some nobles, with tacit approval from the king, assassinated St. Thomas Becket, murdered him as he celebrated the Holy Mass. This was met with a huge outcry from the populace and the Church throughout Europe, and the nobles were excommunicated and were forced to undergo penance and carry out service to the Church for many years as penance, and even the king had to publicly shame himself for his role in the murder of this holy saint. But, the legacy of St. Thomas Becket and his examples continue to this very day.

From what he had done in his life, we see how we Christians should be like, that is to reject our worldliness and all the forms of temptations of the flesh, of greed, power, ambition, desire for human glory and fame, all which brought us to corruption and sin, and incompatible with God’s ways. As I have said at the beginning of this discourse today, we must not pay lip service for our faith to the Lord, meaning that we cannot be Christians and yet our actions show contrary to that faith.

Let us all dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord this Christmas, remembering once again what is the purpose of our lives as Christians, to serve God with all of our heart, obeying Him with all of our body, mind, heart and soul just as Jesus has obeyed the will of His Father, and willingly die out of love for our salvation. Let us all remember our Lord Who have come in the human flesh as Jesus our Lord, through Whom we receive every blessings and grace. May God be with us all, and may St. Thomas Becket intercede for us sinners. Amen.