Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 15 : 29-37

At that time, from the place where Jesus healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman, He went to the shore of Lake Galilee, and then went up into hills, where He sat down. Great crowds came to Him, bringing the dumb, the blind, the lame, the crippled, and many with other infirmities. People carried them to the feet of Jesus, and He healed them.

All were astonished when they saw the dumb speaking, the lame walking, the crippled healed, and the blind able to see; and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I am filled with compassion for these people; they have already followed Me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away fasting, or they may faint on the way.”

His disciples said to Him, “And where shall we find enough bread in this wilderness to feed such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered, “Seven, and a few small fish.”

Jesus ordered the people to sit on the ground. Then, He took the seven loaves and the small fish, and gave thanks to God. He broke them and gave them to His disciples, who distributed them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the leftover pieces filled seven wicker baskets.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 25 : 6-10a

On this mountain YHVH Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, meat full of marrow, fine wine strained. On this mountain He will destroy the pall cast over all peoples, this very shroud spread over all nations, and death will be no more. The Lord YHVH will wipe away the tears from all cheeks and eyes; He will take away the humiliation of His people all over the world : for YHVH has spoken.

On that day you will say : This is our God. We have waited for Him to save us, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation. For on this mountain the hand of YHVH rests.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Damascene, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scripture passages the revelation of God’s wonderful plan for each and every one of us. We heard from our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, in which the prophet spoke of the upcoming time of grace, in the presence of God, where peace and harmony, love and compassion will be the order of the day.

And this was spoken at the time when the world and the people of God were so full of hatred, divisions, injustice, warfare and conflict among themselves. People were divided among themselves and they refused to live peacefully. Instead, they sought to enrich themselves materially and to satisfy the many needs and desires of their body, the ego and the pride of their hearts. As a result, that was why there was plenty of suffering and sorrow.

Even to this day, surely we can see how mankind have not yet overcome that issue. In fact, they may have been even worse, as we can see how mankind are becoming ever more self-centred, materialistic and hedonistic, often thinking only about themselves first and not worrying about the sufferings of others, even those who are needy in their midst. Wars and conflicts have arisen because of this innate selfishness present in us.

We cannot overcome this tendency amongst us to bicker and fight with one another, exactly because we are burdened by our many worldly attachments in life. We are also swayed by that pride, ego and greed within us. As a result, we grow ever more and more conceited, proud and wicked in our actions, and we grow more distant from the Lord. This is exactly what Satan, our great enemy wanted with us.

Satan uses all of the means in his ability to trick us, to pull us away and to tempt us into following our desires and attachments to the many worldly goods and things we often find around us. Satan does this as he does not want us to be saved and to reach the eternal and true happiness and glory in God. God wants each and every one of us to turn away from all these wicked and unbecoming attitudes, for He loves us and wants us to find our way to reconcile with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must reflect on what the Lord Jesus spoke to His disciples in our Gospel passage today. He prayed to the Father, thanking Him in joy because of the revelation which He had made through the Holy Spirit to the disciples and the people, all those who followed Him, those who were often considered to be less intellectual, less wise, and less in the knowing of the matters of the world.

And all these happened while the wise and the learned refused to believe in Him or to follow His way. Many of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests and the teachers of the Law showed us this attitude. They stood by their pride, their ego and their intellect and understanding, refusing to listen to God trying to speak to them and make them see the truth. This is the same attitude I mentioned earlier, in how we mankind often give in to the many temptations of life.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St. John of Damascus, or St. John Damascene, a faithful bishop and servant of God who lived during the early Middle Ages in what is now Syria, where Christians lived under the rule of the enemies of the faith. St. John of Damascus lived at a challenging time when there were heresies and divisions in the Christian community just as they were also oppressed by their rulers.

But St. John of Damascus defended the faith as best as he could, be it from external threats and pressures, and also addressing the issue of internal divisions and heresies present among the people, especially that of iconoclasm, which at that time was supported even by the Roman Emperor and the highest secular and religious authorities. St. John wrote extensively in defence of the true faith and kept the people in good faith despite these challenges.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have seen from St. John of Damascus is the example for us to follow, in how we should live our lives. Instead of being so self-centred and focused so much on the many temptations of life, we should instead follow in the footsteps of the saints, like St. John of Damascus, in how we ought to live our lives, with faith in God and centred upon Him, and not in our own self-centred nature and egoism.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life, and may His blessings be with us, that in each and every things we do, in our every actions and deeds we will always bring greater glory to God, and may He continue to watch over us, that we may continue to grow in faith, day after day. Amen.