Saturday, 23 December 2017 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scriptures telling us about the prophecy regarding the coming of a messenger who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord’s glorious salvation as well as the fulfilment of that prophecy. In the first reading, we heard the prophecy made by the prophet Malachi, the last of the prophets recorded in the Old Testament regarding the servant of God.

In that prophecy, he spoke of someone who would come to straighten the path for the Lord, preparing the people for the coming of the day of restoration and reconciliation between them and the Lord. His prophecy was among the many prophecies and messages which the Lord has given to His people throughout time, and it spoke about St. John the Baptist, the messenger of God and Herald of the Messiah.

As we prepare ourselves to welcome the joy of the Christmas season, it is indeed a good time for us to reflect on the life and works of St. John the Baptist. His birth is the theme of today’s Gospel passage, as God’s long promised salvation was finally at hand. He was the one to prepare the way for the Lord, to make His paths straight, by his works among the people, through his baptisms at the Jordan, where he called the people to repent from their sins.

Now, let us ask ourselves, are we doing what St. John the Baptist has called on the people of his time to do? Yet, if we look at how we normally celebrate Christmas, we will see that many of us worry about many other things during Christmas, and not about what we really need to do with our lives. Many of us worry about how we will celebrate Christmas, what kind of food and gifts we are going to have, instead of remembering the true purpose of this celebration in Christmas.

When we celebrate Christmas, we are joyful not because it is just another holiday or day off from work, and also not because it is a time for us to go for holidays and have merrymaking and parties. Christmas is not just another festive season when we exchange gifts and enjoy ourselves with our families and friends. In truth, it is much, much more than all of those.

In Christmas, we remember the historical birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, through Whom God has revealed His grace and love, and by Whose sacrifice on the cross, He has redeemed all those who believed in Him and brought them to reconciliation with Him. But it is not just an annual remembrance of the time that has passed and has no significance to us.

That is because as the Lord Himself promised to us, just before He ascended in glory to heaven, that He will come again at the time of His choosing, when He will judge all the peoples, and those who are caught unprepared and living in a state of sin, and not being repentant, will be thrown into hell with Satan and his fellow fallen angels, where we will have eternal regret.

Each and every one of us as Christians need to internalise that call which St. John the Baptist made, and which the prophet Malachi prophesied about. ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is about to come!’ is the message we need to listen to, and which we need to reflect upon. And we need to ask ourselves, what is it that we are doing or we have been doing to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, if that is going to happen suddenly, for example, tomorrow. Are we ready for Him? More importantly, are we worthy of Him?

Let us all heed the examples and the piety of St. John of Kanty, a holy and devout servant of God whose feast day we celebrate today. St. John of Kanty or St. John Cantius was a Polish priest, philosopher and theologian who was renowned for his many works and writings, but even more so for his deep devotion to the Lord, his charitable life and almsgiving to the poor.

He lived humbly and showed generosity towards his neighbours. He cared for those who are in need, and as a teacher and scholar, he also cared for the students who were in need of assistance, in the university where he was also working at as a professor and academic. His dedication to the Lord and to his fellow men and women inspired many others down the centuries even until this very day.

All of us should follow in his footsteps, and especially in our Christmas celebrations this year and henceforth. Let us not give in to the culture of excess, materialism and hedonistic attitudes, by celebrating Christmas with much glamour and fanciness, and yet without compassion, love and generosity. Instead, we should share our joys and blessings with others, especially those who are poor and in need.

Let us strive towards a more meaningful Christmas celebration, one that is centred on Christ, and not on ourselves. And rather than worrying on the wrong things, on superficial matters of Christmas celebrations, we should spend our time giving our love, care and attention for those who are in need, being more charitable and generous upon one another.

May the Lord continue to guide us on our path, that we may grow ever deeper in faith, and will be able to devote ourselves more wholeheartedly following the footsteps of our holy predecessors, St. John the Baptist, St. John of Kanty and many others, that we will be ready and be worthy when the Lord comes again, even if He does so suddenly, and we will be worthy of receiving His eternal glory and inheritance. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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