Saturday, 6 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the testimonies of faith through the Scripture passages we heard, and we listened how St. John the Evangelist and Apostle spoke of the three testimonies of the water, Blood and the Spirit. These testimonies all agree that the Lord has come into the world, and He has done all that He had said He would do amongst us, and through the witnesses of the Apostles and the saints, His marvellous love for us had been made evident.

And the love of God was made real and evident in none other than the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who willingly assumed our human flesh and be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to dwell among us, that God’s love become a reality and a tangible experience for all of humanity, through the singular act of ultimate love which He has given to all of us.

In the Gospel passage today, we heard of the series of the ancestors of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to show that He was born into the race of man, which after many generations eventually came from God. Thus, everything in a sense come to a full circle, as God Himself became counted among those He had created, but yet, at the same time, He remained God as ever, never diminished in His majesty and authority, and neither was His divinity changed in any manner.

All of these was simply because of God’s great and incomparable love for all of us mankind, those whom He has willingly made to become His own adopted sons and daughters. It was God’s love for us that He gave us the ultimate gift above all else, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, born into our midst, and through Whom, He willingly revealed to us the full extent of His love, made evident none other than through the cross, upon which hung the Most Holy and Precious Body of Our Lord.

He Himself said to His disciples, that there is no greater love than for someone to lay down his or her life for a friend. And Jesus Our Lord has considered us all His friends, as those who are precious to Him. By His willing sacrifice, He endured all the entirety of the unimaginably heavy burdens of our sins, our combined faults and mistakes, all of our disobedience and shortcomings, by bearing the heavy cross, all the way to Calvary.

The testimonies mentioned earlier in today’s discourse prove this great love of God, as at the moment of the crucifixion and death of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, that through water, the holy water of baptism, all of us have been saved by accepting Him as Our Lord and Saviour, and becoming God’s own children. Through the water of baptism, we are united to the loving sacrifice of Our Lord which saves us and redeems us.

At the time when the Lord Jesus was baptised in the water of the River Jordan, the testimony of the water and the Spirit came ringing true, witnessed by many. The Holy Spirit descended from the heavens, and the voice of God the Father Himself declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Most Beloved of all, through Whom He would made all of His designs on us mankind into a reality.

And last of all, the testimony of the Blood is the strongest of all, for the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Himself was spilled from the altar of the cross of Calvary. The Blood purifies us and saves us, just as the blood of the sacrificial lambs and animals became the offerings for the forgiveness of the sins of Israel in the ages past. The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord has washed us clean, through the works of the Holy Spirit and by the will of the Father, and by the obedience of the Son, working together to effect and bring about our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us need to reflect on our own lives, on whether we have understood all these beautiful and wondrous mysteries of Our Lord, Who loved us so much that He was willing to forgive us our many sins and overlook our trespasses, so long as we are willing to be forgiven, and willing to repent from our sinful ways. God has loved us so much, in so many ways, and yet, many of us have not realised this, and we still continue to live in sin and disobedience against Him.

As Christians, all of us believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord and He is God’s ultimate expression of love for us mankind, His people, His beloved children. Therefore, as we are all also made God’s children through adoption, by the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ into this world, God sharing in our humanity and dwelling among us, let us all walk faithfully in His ways and show our exemplary faith and ways, that hopefully many others will come to see the truth as well and believe.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen our faith and empower us all to become ever more courageous in living our faith with devotion, day after day. May God bless us all, and sanctify us, that all of our works and endeavours will always be for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Saturday, 6 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 1 : 7-11

John preached to the people, saying, “After me comes One Who is more powerful than I am; I have baptised you with water, but He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit.”

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth, a town of Galilee, and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And the moment He came up out of the water, heaven opened up before Him, and He saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove. And these words were heard from heaven, “You are My Son, the Beloved, the One I have chosen.”

Alternative reading

Luke 3 : 23-38

When Jesus made His appearance, He had reached the age of thirty years. He was known as the Son of Joseph, whose father and forefathers were : Heli, Matthat, Levi, Melchi, Jannai, Joseph, Matthathias, Amos, Nahum, Esli, Naggai, Maath, Mattathias, Semein, Josech, Joda, Joanan, Rhesa, Zerubbabel, Shealtiel, Neri, Melchi, Addi, Cosam, Elmadam, Er, Joshua, Eliezer, Jorim, Matthat, Levi, Simeon, Judah, Joseph, Jonam, Eliakim, Melea, Menna, Mattatha, Nathan, David, Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahson, Amminadab, Adnim, Arni, Hezron, Perez, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, Serug, Reu, Peleg, Eber, Shelah, Cainan, Arphaxad, Shem, Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, Enoch, Jared, Malaleel, Cainan, Enos, Seth and Adam – who was from God.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 3 : 23, 31-34, 36, 38

When Jesus made His appearance, He had reached the age of thirty years. He was known as the Son of Joseph, whose father and forefathers were : Heli, Melea, Menna, Mattatha, Nathan, David, Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahson, Amminadab, Adnim, Arni, Hezron, Perez, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, Cainan, Arphaxad, Shem, Noah, Lamech, Enos, Seth and Adam – who was from God.

Saturday, 6 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt the Lord, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He Who tells Jacob His words, His laws and decrees to Israel. This He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Saturday, 6 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 5-13

Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through Blood. Not only water but water and Blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to Him for the Spirit is truth.

There are then three testimonies : the Spirit, the water and the Blood, and these three witnesses agree. If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favour of His Son. If you believe in the Son of God, you have God’s testimony in you.

But those who do not believe make God a liar, since they do not believe His words when He witnesses to His Son. What has God said? That He has granted us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life, the one who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

I write you, then, all these things that you may know that you have eternal life, all you who believe in the Name of the Son of God.

Friday, 5 January 2018 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we continued the discourse of the Scriptures, with a similar theme to yesterday’s Scripture readings, that is on faithful discipleship and servanthood to God. In today’s Gospel passage, all of us heard about the calling of the Apostle Nathanael, also known as St. Bartholomew, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord, who was once a learned scholar and a wise man of Israel.

In the Gospel passage, Nathanael met the Lord and initially he had his reservations about believing in Jesus, as he was well versed in the Scriptures, and he knew that the Messiah was not supposed to come from Nazareth in Galilee, but from Bethlehem in Judea, not knowing that Jesus was indeed born in the town of Bethlehem when Mary and St. Joseph went there for the Imperial census.

But the Lord revealed His truth to Nathanael, and he came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord of all, the One Who was promised to us mankind, because he recognised Him in his innermost being, in the depth of his heart and mind, that Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour of the world because He is the proof and living reality of God’s great love for us all, His beloved children.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today, from the Epistle of St. John, we heard again of this love which God has given us, and all of us are called to imitate the love that God has shown to each one of us. If we say that we belong to the Lord, and are indeed His children, then it is just natural that we have to walk in the same way as Our Father, and obey His laws and commandments.

Unfortunately, many of us are still not doing what we should be doing. We prefer to follow the devil and commit sins and wicked things heinous and evil in the sight of God Our Father, as if Satan is our father instead of God. That is the sad truth and reality of world today, where more people, even Christians, lived in accordance with the ways of the devil rather than following God’s commandments and laws.

This is where all of us as Christians should give examples to our brethren, that we live our lives to the best of our abilities, trying to practice whatever it is that we believe in, first of all by our capacity and ability to love, since love is the most important aspect of our faith in God, Who is love and Who has shown us perfect and complete love. First of all, we should love God with all of our strength, placing Him at the centre of our loves.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we should do everything with God first and foremost in our minds. We should not do everything with the focus on our own selves and our own personal ambitions and desires. Then, after we have done so, we should also love our fellow brothers and sisters, our fellow men in the same manner, and not be selfish, concerned only with ourselves.

Let us all seek to be ever more faithful to the Lord, Our Loving God and Father. Let us all devote more of our time, effort and attention to be ever closer to Him, so that we may draw ever closer to Him and eventually find our way to receive the fullness of the eternal glory He has promised each one of us, His beloved children, who believe in Him and walk in His ways. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.