Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent, the time of preparation before the coming of Christmas, when we will celebrate together the birth or Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Today as the First Sunday of Advent, we also begin a new liturgical year, as a new cycle of the liturgical celebrations begin anew.

We heard the passages from the Scriptures today speaking to us about firstly, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, reminding us as God’s people that we have fallen from the grace of God when we sinned against Him, disobeying His laws and commandments. Yet, God is ever forgiving and merciful, and He is willing to forgive us our sins, as long as we open ourselves to His mercy and allow His grace and love to transform us from a being filled with sin into a being of light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embark through this season of Advent, preparing ourselves for the coming of Christmas, it is important that we take note, that this season is not about preparing our homes with decorations, or the time for us to do our pre-Christmas shopping and preparation for our lavish Christmas parties and celebrations. Instead, this time of Advent is designed for us that we may stop from whatever we have been doing throughout this year, and reflect on them, so as to prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally to celebrate Christmas properly.

Many of us do not understand what Christmas is truly about, and we ended up being drawn into the secular way of celebrating Christmas. In fact, if you look around the town, all the shopping malls and gathering places, and even along the roadsides, you can see plenty of Christmas decorations all over those places. We can see all the Christmas trees, the lights and all the beautiful messages wishing everyone a happy Christmas, happiness, peace and prosperity.

Yet, if we look deeper, except for some noteworthy exceptions we surely have encountered, there is something very important missing from all those Christmas celebrations. And what is that, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is Christ! Christ has been missing from Christmas, and the celebration which is primarily and indeed solely about Christ Our Lord, has lost its true meaning and purpose, hidden beneath layers of excess and revelry.

Many of us worry about what we are to wear during the celebrations, or what to cook or provide in our feasts, but for what purpose? Indeed, it will be good to wear something new and good looking for the festive seasons, but are we doing these for the right purpose? Are we celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or are we being vain, trying to look good and beautiful in front of our guests and relatives?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are living in a world awash with many material excesses as well as materialistic attitudes. We are surrounded by all these things, that distract us from the true focus of Christmas. Imagine if in a birthday party, everyone is busy enjoying themselves, talking among themselves and be occupied by various activities, and yet, the person who is having the birthday is forgotten. Is that something logical or right? Surely it is not.

And that is exactly what happens when we come to celebrate Christmas, but not with the right purpose and intention. Instead of a celebration of our faith and rejoicing for the arrival of Our Lord and Saviour, the long awaited Messiah, we have made Christmas to be a celebration of ourselves, our ego and human ambitions, and we have left God out of these celebrations.

The Gospel passage today serves as a reminder for all of us the importance of this season of Advent, as a time of reflection and recollection, for us to think deep in our hearts what it truly means for us to celebrate Christmas, and indeed, what it means to be Christians. For we believe in the Lord Jesus, Our God, Who has descended to us assuming the flesh of Man, and died for us on the cross.

This is the fundamental tenet of our faith which we have to follow and understand, if we are truly willing to understand the true spirit and intention of our Christmas celebrations. For Christmas is not just like any other earthly celebrations and revelry. The very reason we rejoice is because Christmas itself is intimately and inseparably tied with another great event in our faith, that is of the Passion of Our Lord that we celebrate during Good Friday, and His resurrection in Easter.

Without the crucifixion, death and resurrection in Easter, Christmas has no meaning, as then it will be just the birth anniversary of yet another human being, no different from any one of us. Instead, it is because of Easter that Christmas has its meaning, because we believe that God Himself has become Man and entered into the world at the moment of His birth, celebrated as Christmas. And the very purpose of His coming into this world, which makes Easter also inseparable from Christmas, is so that He may lay down His life on the cross, as a perfect sacrificial victim, for the sake of our redemption.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to spend time to reflect on this, and see if we have done what we are expected to do, in preparation for the worthy celebration of Christmas. Otherwise, this time of Advent and eventually this upcoming Christmas season will just pass and go without meaning or purpose for us, year after year, again and again. Instead, all of us as Christians should become role models in our faith, and do our best to worthily welcome Christmas, celebrating the very important moment of the birth of Our Lord, God Who have willingly made Himself a Man, for our sake.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to prepare ourselves this season of Advent, by going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, doing confession for our sins and conducting penance through our good works and charity, giving up our bad habits, and prepare ourselves, heart, mind, soul and body to be ready to celebrate Christmas in full faith, no longer focused on ourselves and all the revelries, but instead, returning to our true focus in Our Lord Jesus Christ, the birthday Boy, Whose birth we rejoice at.

May the Lord bless us always, and may He empower each and every one of us, so that we may live faithfully and walk in His ways, all the days of our life, persevering through the challenges of life and all the temptations of this world. May He guide us in this season of Advent, that day after day, we may come ever closer to God and His grace. Amen.

Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Mark 13 : 33-37

At that time Jesus said to His disciples, “Be alert and watch, for you do not know when the time will come. When a man goes abroad and leaves his home, he puts his servants in charge, giving to each one some responsibility; and he orders the doorkeeper to stay awake.”

“So stay awake, for you do not know when the Lord of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, when the cock crows or before dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him catch you asleep. And what I say to you, I say to all : Stay awake!”

Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Corinthians 1 : 3-9

Receive grace, and peace from God, our Father, and Christ Jesus, our Lord. I give thanks, constantly, to my God, fo you, and for the grace of God given to you, in Christ Jesus. For you have been fully enriched, in Him, with words, as well as with knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you.

You do not lack any spiritual gift and only await the glorious coming of Christ Jesus, our Lord. He will keep you steadfast to the end, and you will be without reproach, on the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus. The faithful God will not fail you, after calling you to this fellowship with His Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16, 18-19

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You, Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o YHVH of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

But lay Your hand on Your instrument, on the son of man, whom You make strong for Yourself. Then, we will never turn away from You; give us life, and we will call on Your Name.

Sunday, 3 December 2017 : First Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 63 : 16b-17, 19b and Isaiah 64 : 2b-7

But You, o YHVH, are our Father, from the beginning, You are our Redeemer : This is Your Name. Why have You made us stray from our ways? Why have You let our heart become hard so that we do not fear You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your inheritance.

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down! The mountains would quake at Your presence. Let them witness Your stunning deeds. No one has ever heard or perceived, no eye has ever seen a God besides You Who works for those who trust in Him. You have confounded those who acted righteously and who joyfully kept Your ways in mind. But You are angry with our sins, yet conceal them and we shall be saved.

All of us have become like the unclean; all our good deeds are like polluted garments; we have all withered like leaves, blown away by our iniquities. There is no one who calls upon Your Name, no one who rouses himself to lay hold of You. For You have hidden Your face, You have given us up to the power of our evil acts.

And yet, YHVH, You are our Father; we are the clay and You are our Potter; we are the work of Your hand.

(Usus Antiquior) First Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 3 December 2017 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Offertory

Psalm 24 : 1-3

Ad Te levavi animam meam : Deus meus, in Te confido, non erubescam : neque irrideant me inimici mei : etenim universi, qui Te exspectant, non confundentur.

 

English translation

To You, o Lord, have I lifted up my soul : in You, o my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. Neither let my enemies laugh at me, for none of them who wait on You shall be confounded.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Haec sacra nos, Domine, potenti virtute mundatos ad suum faciant puriores venire principium. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Cleansing us by their mighty power, may these Holy Mysteries, o Lord, make us become more pure before You Who are their Author. 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

Psalm 84 : 13

Dominus dabit benignitatem : et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.

 

English translation

The Lord will give goodness, and our earth shall yield her fruit.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Suscipiamus, Domine, misericordiam Tuam in medio templi Tui : ut reparationis nostrae ventura sollemnia congruis honoribus praecedamus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May we receive Your mercy, o Lord, in the midst of Your Temple, that with due reverence we may prepare for the coming festival of our redemption. 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) First Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 3 December 2017 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke

Luke 21 : 25-33

In illo tempore : Dixit Jesus discipulis Suis : Erunt signa in sole et luna et stellis, et in terris pressura gentium prae confusione sonitus maris et fluctuum : arescentibus hominibus prae timore et exspectatione, quae supervenient universo orbi.

Nam virtutes caelorum movebuntur. Et tunc videbunt Filium Hominis venientem in nube cum potestate magna et majestate. His autem fieri incipientibus, respicite et levate capita vestra : quoniam appropinquat redemptio vestra.

Et dixit illis similitudinem : Videte ficulneam et omnes arbores : cum producunt jam ex se fructum, scitis, quoniam prope est aestas. Ita et vos, cum videritis haec fieri, scitote, quoniam prope est regnum Dei. Amen, dico vobis, quia non praeteribit generatio haec, donec omnia fiant. Caelum et terra transibunt : verba autem mea non transibunt.

 

English translation

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world.”

“For the powers of heaven shall be moved, and then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.”

And He spoke to them a similitude, “See the fig tree, and all the trees, when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”