Sunday, 2 December 2018 : First Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin the new liturgical year and the season of Advent, the season and the time that the Church has put in place, in order for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the time of Christmas. In this season of Advent, we are commemorating a two-fold time of expectation, remembering first of all the historical arrival of the Lord and Saviour of the world, and then, even more importantly, now we are also expecting and preparing for the coming of Our Lord at the end of time.

Thus, if at the end of the liturgical year we commemorate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King, celebrating the glorious kingship of Our Lord, then at the beginning of the liturgical year, in the season of Advent, we anticipate that coming of the glorious King to come, Our Lord and Saviour, He Who has once come into this world, and Who will come again as He promised us all. That is the essence of Advent, which came from the word Adventus, which means, ‘coming’, reminding us of the focus of this important season before Christmas.

It is important that each and every one of us are aware of the importance of the season of Advent before we progress into the celebrations of Christmas time or season, or else we can easily lose our focus and be distracted by the many improper and inaccurate ways of how Christmas has often been celebrated all around the world. Otherwise, our celebration of Christmas will become increasingly meaningless and its true nature be forgotten and overlooked.

In our world today, Christmas has become ever increasingly commercialised and becoming more and more materialistic in nature. And that is the secular Christmas as we are often familiar with, with all of its glamours and celebrations, revelries, parties and with all sorts of joyful and pleasurable activities, a time in the year that we often always look forward to, as a time of rejoicing and happiness together with our family and loved ones.

However, there are more and more evidences of increasing secularisation and commercialisation of Christmas, in the expansion of merchandises and gifts, objects and goods being linked and related to Christmas. We look towards Christmas as a time for shopping, for parties and gatherings, and even for time when we are able to show off our preparations and ways of celebrating Christmas to others. But in the midst of all that, we forget the One Whom we truly should rejoice and celebrate with, that is the Lord Himself, Our God.

Now, let us imagine, if in a birthday party and celebration, there are plenty of revelries, rejoicing and merrymaking, but the one whose birthday is celebrated is left out, forgotten and ignored by all those who take part in the celebration, is that something that is right? Of course it is not. How can we ignore the most important person whose celebration is all about? But that is exactly what we have done, in how Christmas is often celebrated.

We do all of our Christmas preparations and celebrations, and yet, we overlook Christ in all of those preparations. Instead of remembering that Christmas is primarily and mainly about the celebration and joy for the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, we focus on other matters such as how to enjoy our Christmas vacation, and what we are to buy during the festive seasons. We put our focus on materialistic and worldly things instead of focusing ourselves on the Lord as we should have.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we ought to reexamine our own preparation for Christmas, and how we are planning to celebrate it. First and foremost, we must put Christ once again at the very centre of our lives and at the heart of our every celebrations. That is how we make Christmas meaningful to us, and how we become more appreciative of what we are celebrating every year.

Indeed, Christmas is a time for rejoicing and to be happy, but we must take care that our rejoicing and happiness do not become excessive and lacking the focus on the Lord. Many of our celebrations are too materialistic in nature, where everyone are trying to please one another, to look good in front of each other, and where demands for gifts and revelries become ever increasingly excessive and inappropriate.

And we often celebrate Christmas long before the actual day of Christmas. There is a reason why Christmas season itself only begins with the Christmas day, and not before, and that is because, the time of Advent that we are entering into now, is the time for us to prepare ourselves in our hearts, minds, and in our whole beings, that we will be able to celebrate Christmas with the right intention, purpose and with the right mindset and understanding of what it is that we are celebrating.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we now enter into the season of Advent, let us spend more time with the Lord, and try our best to reconnect ourselves to Him, through more time and effort to be spent in prayer, and in living our lives closer and closer in accordance to His will. Let us make the upcoming season and celebration of Christmas to be a more meaningful and fruitful one.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us through this journey of life, that in this season of Advent, we may become ever closer to Him, and that we may be able to distance ourselves from the many temptations of the world. Let us all turn towards Him with a renewed faith and commitment to live our lives, each and every day, more and more attuned to His will. Amen.

Sunday, 2 December 2018 : First Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 21 : 25-28, 34-36

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “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 the 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. Be on your guard : do not immerse yourselves in a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you unaware, like a trap! For, like a snare, will that day come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is going yp happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Sunday, 2 December 2018 : First Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Thessalonians 3 : 12 – 1 Thessalonians 4 : 2

May the Lord increase, more and more, your love for each other and for all people, as He increases our love for you. May He strengthen you, internally, to be holy and blameless before God, Our Father, on the day that Jesus, Our Lord, will come with all His saints.

For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learnt from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 2 December 2018 : First Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Sunday, 2 December 2018 : First Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 33 : 14-16

The days are coming when I shall fulfil the promise that I made in favour of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause to sprout the Shoot of righteousness from David’s line; He will practice justice and righteousness in the land.

In those days Judah will experience salvation and Jerusalem will live in safety. He will be called YHVH-Our-Righteousness.