Thursday, 14 December 2017 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard again about St. John the Baptist in the Gospel passage today, as Our Lord Jesus exalted this faithful servant of God, in his faith and conviction to serve Him, being the one who has been trusted with the mission of proclaiming the coming of the Saviour of the world, preparing the way for His coming and entry into this world.

He proclaimed the Good News which was long awaited by all mankind, as through the Saviour all of us have been saved from our fated destruction because of our sins and disobedience against God. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, from which is taken our first reading today, we heard God’s promise to His people, that He will help His people and will no longer turn His back against them.

And this prophecy was fulfilled completely and perfectly in the Lord Jesus Christ, Our God and Saviour, by Whose coming and entry into this world, and later on by His death on the cross and glorious resurrection from the dead has delivered us all from death into life, for He fulfilled His promise to those who have faith in Him, that He will redeem them and protect them from their enemies, and gather them as He gathers all of His flock to Himself.

And St. John the Baptist was the important servant of God, who became His mouthpiece and messenger, calling upon the people to repent from their sins and turn back towards their Lord. He revealed to them that the Lord would soon come and redeem His people as He promised, and they should prepare themselves for His coming. That is why St. John the Baptist laboured hard among the people, devoting himself completely to God.

St. John the Baptist is the epitome of the discipleship in Christ, as he obeyed the Lord and His will, and faithfully carried out the mission which he has been entrusted with. He did not sway away from the purpose of his mission, and as we witness in the Gospels, when asked whether he was the Messiah, he could have been tempted to claim that he was the One. Yet, he did not do so, and he humbly mentioned that he was not the One Who was to come after him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we prepare for the coming of Christmas season, we need to heed the examples of St. John the Baptist in his faith, devotion and commitment to the Lord. We should also listen to what he has also preached, calling on us to repent from our sinful ways to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. For as I have mentioned a few times in the past month, as we prepare for Christmas, we do not just recall His historic birth in Bethlehem, but we should also remember that He will come again the second time, at the time of the final judgment.

Are we ready to welcome Him should He come again at a time we do not expect at all? The coming of the Lord will be sudden and swift, catching many by surprise. Surely we do not want to be counted among those who are caught unprepared if this happens. Then, we should follow the examples and faith of St. John the Baptist, in his humility and commitment to the Lord.

And we should also heed the examples of St. John of the Cross, the saint whose feast day we celebrate today. St. John of the Cross was known as a holy and devout priest, who together with St. Teresa of Avila were remembered for their roles in reforming and purifying the religious order of the Carmelites. Through the reform, both saints sought to return the religious order and its members to a more faithful observation of a devout spiritual life, filled with prayers and devotions to God, deepening their commitments to God.

Through his many works and writings, St. John of the Cross inspired many others to seek a deeper understanding of their faith, and to walk more faithfully in the ways of the Lord. His pious examples and simple lifestyle, and humility echoed that of St. John the Baptist, whose life we just discussed earlier on today. That is how all of us Christians should also be, putting our trust in God, and be ever humble before the Lord, remembering that without the Lord, we are truly nothing.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we approach the time of our Christmas celebrations, let us reform our lives, that we throw away the excesses of this world, as well as all sorts of temptations and other things that have become obstacles in our ability to love the Lord and to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. May He continue to bless each and every one of us, that we may draw ever closer to Him, and be found worthy to receive His eternal glory when He comes again. St. John the Baptist and St. John of the Cross, pray for us always. Amen.

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