Friday, 30 November 2018 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 4 : 18-22

At that time, as Jesus walked by the lake of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come, follow Me; and I will make you fish for people.”

At once they left their nets and followed Him. He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

At once, they left the boat, and their father, and followed Him.

Friday, 30 November 2018 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 18 : 2-3, 4-5

The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands. Day talks it over with day; night hands on the knowledge to night.

No speech, no words, no voice is heard – but the call goes on, throughout the universe, the message is felt to the ends of the earth.

Friday, 30 November 2018 : Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Romans 10 : 9-18

You are saved, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and, in your heart, you believe that God raised Him from the dead. By believing from the heart, you obtain true righteousness; by confessing the faith with your lips, you are saved.

For Scripture says : No one who believes in Him will be ashamed. Here, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; all have the same Lord, Who is very generous with whoever calls on Him. Truly, all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call upon the Name of the Lord without having believed in Him? And how can they believe in Him, without having first heard about Him? And how will they hear about Him, if no one preaches about Him? And how will they preach about Him, if no one sends them?

As Scripture says : How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of Good News. Although, not everyone obeyed the Good News, as Isaiah said : Lord, who has believed in our preaching? So, faith comes from preaching, and preaching is rooted in the word of Christ.

I ask : Have the Jews not heard? But, of course, they have. Because the voice of those preaching resounded all over the earth, and their voice was heard, to the ends of the world.

Thursday, 29 November 2018 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this say we heard the story of the downfall of two cities, that is of Babylon and Jerusalem, each from the Book of the Revelations and from the Gospel of St. Luke. In those stories, we heard of the fall of the great city of Babylon and how the Lord and His Angels and saints stood triumphant against the forces of the wicked. And then, similarly, in the Gospel, we heard of the downfall of Jerusalem as prophesied by the Lord Jesus.

In order to understand the meaning and purpose of these two passages, we must first understand the context and history in which these two references to two great cities took place in the minds of the people of God at that time. The city of Babylon and Jerusalem were both great cities of historical past, and were capitals of great kingdoms, the former one of the Babylonians, while the latter was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Israel, under kings David and Solomon.

The Babylonians were the archetype of the wicked after what they have done to the people of God and the kingdom of Israel and Judah, having not just ended the line of kings that were continued unbroken from David to the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, but also the destruction city of Jerusalem itself, considered the Holy City of God, because of the Temple built by Solomon containing the Ark of the Covenant as the tangible and real presence of God in the midst of His people.

Therefore, in the memory of the people of God, the city of Babylon, where the Babylonians ruled much of the then known world from, that city would naturally become a very hated and despicable place. And this reference of the place of evil and wickedness was likely the reason for the attribution of the city of Babylon in the story we heard today from the Book of the Revelations of St. John the Apostle.

That story was basically the promise of God’s salvation and liberation for His people, from the tyranny and oppression of the wicked, that the power of the wicked, no matter how powerful they may seem to be, will eventually be broken and the evil ones will be overthrown. This is symbolically represented by the downfall and destruction of Babylon, which will never rise again, showing to the people of God, the ultimate triumph over evil.

Similarly, and interestingly, is the choice of Jerusalem in the Lord’s prophecy over the city as we heard in the Gospel today. That is because the Lord lamented the attitude of the people of Israel, many of whom, especially the majority of their religious and secular leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the scribes and the teachers of the Law who refused to believe in the truth that the Lord was bringing them, and instead, just as their ancestors persecuted the prophets, those people persecuted the Lord and His disciples.

Thus, the downfall of Jerusalem kind of parallels the downfall of Babylon mentioned in the first reading, again with the understanding of the oppression of the faithful by the wicked and by those who refused to follow God. And with that, came persecutions and difficulties, challenges and many temptations to leave behind our faith and to embrace the seemingly easier and more acceptable path of the world.

But this is what the devil always planned in order to prevent us from ever being able to reach out to God’s salvation and grace. He is doing all that is within his power and ability to lure us mankind further and further away from God. We must resist his temptations and his efforts, and persevere through the challenges and difficulties, no matter how difficult it is. There will be moments when we will be tempted to give up, but we must always remember, that in God alone lies our only hope and true path to freedom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us now therefore turn towards the Lord and faithfully dedicate ourselves anew to serve Him and to be good witnesses of our faith. Let us grow ever stronger in our faith, and commit ourselves with ever greater courage and strength. May God bless us all and be with us, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 29 November 2018 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”

Thursday, 29 November 2018 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Thursday, 29 November 2018 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Revelations 18 : 1-2, 21-23 and Revelations 19 : 1-3, 9a

After this I saw another Angel coming down from heaven. So great was his authority that the whole earth was lit up with his glory. In a strong voice he cried out : “Fallen is Babylon the great! Fallen! She has become a haunt of demons, a lodge for every unclean spirit, a nest for any filthy and disgusting bird.”

A powerful Angel picked up a boulder the size od a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “With such violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, never again to be seen. Never again will tunes of harpists, minstrels, trumpeters and flutists be heard in you. Never again will an artisan of any trade be found in you. Never again will the noise of the mill be heard.”

“Never again will the light of a lamp shine in you. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. Because your traders were the world’s great and you led the nations astray by your magic spell.”

After this I heard what sounded like the loud singing of a great assembly in heaven : “Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the world with her adultery. He has avenged His servants’ blood shed by her hand in harlotry.” Once more they sang : “Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever!”

Then the Angel told me, “Write : Happy are those invited to the wedding of the Lamb.”