Tuesday, 11 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 18 : 12-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you, when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it, than about the ninety-nine that did not go astray.”

“It is the same with your Father in heaven. Your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to perish.”

Tuesday, 11 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 95 : 1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to YHVH a new song, sing to YHVH, all the earth! Sing to YHVH, praise His Name; proclaim His salvation, day after day.

Recall His glory among the nations, tell all the peoples His wonderful deeds. Say among the nations, “He will judge the peoples with justice.”

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before YHVH Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice, and the peoples, with fairness.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 40 : 1-11

Be comforted, My people, be strengthened, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, proclaim to her that her time of bondage is at an end, that her guilt has been paid for, that from the hand of YHVH she has received double punishment for all her iniquity.

A voice cries, “In the wilderness prepare the way for YHVH. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley will be raised up; every mountain and hill will be laid low. The stumbling blocks shall become level and the rugged places smooth. The glory of YHVH will be revealed, and all mortals together will see it; for the mouth of YHVH has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry.” and I say, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty as the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of YHVH blows upon it. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will forever stand.”

Go up onto the high mountain, messenger of Good News to Zion, lift up your voice with strength, fear not to cry aloud when you tell Jerusalem and announce to the cities of Judah : Here is your God! Here comes YHVH Sabaoth with might; His strong arm rules for Him; His reward is with Him, and here before Him is His booty. Like a shepherd He tends His flock : He gathers the lambs in His arms, He carries them in His bosom, gently leading those that are with young.

Monday, 10 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Lord Who extended upon us the wonders of His merciful love and the forgiveness that He is willing to give us, His beloved ones. He has given us good hope in the midst of the darkness and the uncertainty surrounding our lives in this world. Yet, unfortunately, the sad reality of this world is that, many of us are still ignorant of God’s love and mercy being ever present in our midst.

Why is that so? That is because we mankind are often too distracted by the many temptations and allures of worldly things that prevent us from realising just how much God loves us. We put our trust easily in things such as money, power, fame and influence, societal positions and honour, adulations and human ambitions, which give us satisfaction and pleasures of the body and mind, but which in truth, continue to enslave us to sin.

And that is how sin continues to reign over us mankind, ever since we started to disobey God and instead follow the temptations of Satan. And sin has become like a veil that darkened our sight and prevent us from seeing in righteousness and realising the love of God. And it is also a very dangerous disease that will continue to affect us and grow ever stronger in its hold in our whole being, corrupting us body, mind, heart and soul.

That is why, many of us are sick, although we may appear to be perfectly healthy in the body. Yes, that is because although our physical body may be healthy, but the sin present in us is the true sickness that is often overlooked and ignored, until the time when it is too late for us to rectify this major problem we have in our lives, that is when we look back with regret for having indulged in our sinfulness right to the last day when judgment comes for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, unlike any other worldly and earthly diseases and sickness that can be cured or even if incurable, affects only the physical body and not the soul, sin affects all aspects of our life, and unless we get rid of sin from our lives, then sin will continue to harm us and affect us. Sin is the fruit of disobedience against God, and so long as we remain in the state of sin, we cannot be with God.

The only healing for sin, is God’s grace and forgiveness. He alone is capable of forgiving sins, as the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law rightly pointed out in today’s Gospel passage. However, the one important fact that they failed to realise is that, while they criticised Jesus for seemingly healing the blind man by forgiving his sins and saying that God alone could forgive sins, they failed to see that Jesus is that one and only True God, from whom everyone can receive forgiveness for their sins.

And do we all realise that God has also extended this forgiveness through those whom He has appointed in this world to be His ministers and servants? He established His Church in this world, and entrusted to St. Peter, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, by the words, “And I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, for whoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whoever you unbind on earth will be unbound in heaven.”

This was the authority given by the Lord to all of His priests, His bishops, all those who have followed in the footsteps of the Apostles to whom He imparted this power and authority, the power to forgive sins. Each of the bishops in the Church trace their authority to the unbroken line of succession right from the Apostles themselves, and similarly, the priests are also ordained by those same bishops.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to proceed through this time of Advent, the Scripture readings today are in fact inviting us to listen to the Lord calling upon us to return to Him, to be reconciled with Him and to be forgiven from our sins. The opportunities have been given to us, and we can readily find priests and anyone who have been given the authority to forgive our sins. But the next question then is, are we willing to be forgiven and are we able to commit to follow God’s path and abandon our past sins from now on?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to reflect on how we can make a difference in our lives from now on, and how we can devote ourselves with a new commitment to love God with all our hearts and minds, with all of our efforts and strength form now on? Let us all spend this Advent season to love the Lord more and to devote ourselves to Him, seeking forgiveness from all the sins we have committed by going to confession, and regularly taking part in the Holy Mass. May the Lord be with us all, now and always. Amen.

Monday, 10 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 5 : 17-26

At that time, Jesus was teaching and many Pharisees and teachers of the Law had come from every part of Galilee and Judea, and even from Jerusalem. They were sitting there, while the power of the Lord was at work to heal the sick. Then some men brought a paralysed man who lay on his mat.

They tried to enter the house to place him before Jesus, but they could not find a way through the crowd. So they went up on the roof, and removing the tiles, they lowered him on his mat into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.”

At once the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to wonder, “This Man insults God! Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” But Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them, “Why are you reacting like this? Which is easier to say : ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? Now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

And Jesus said to the paralysed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” At once the man stood before them. He took up the mat he had been lying on, and went home praising God. Amazement seized the people and they praised God. They were filled with a holy fear, and said, “What wonderful things we have seen today!”

Monday, 10 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 84 : 9ab-10, 11-12, 13-14

Would that I hear God’s proclamation, that He promise peace to His people, His saints. Yet His salvation is near to those who fear Him, and His Glory will dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness have met; righteousness and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will reach up from the earth while justice bends down from heaven.

The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its fruit. Justice will go before Him, and peace will follow along His path.

Monday, 10 December 2018 : 2nd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 35 : 1-10

Let the wilderness and the arid land rejoice, the desert be glad and blossom. Covered with flowers, it sings and shouts with joy, adorned with the splendour of Lebanon, the magnificence of Carmel and Sharon. They, my people, see the glory of YHVH, the majesty of our God.

Give vigour to weary hands and strength to enfeebled knees. Say to those who are afraid : “Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God Who rewards, the God Who comes to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For water will break out in the wilderness and streams gush forth from the desert. The thirsty ground will become a pool, the arid land springs of water. In the haunts where once reptiles lay, grass will grow with reeds and rushes.

There will be a highway which will be called The Way of Holiness; no one unclean will pass over it nor any wicked fool stray there. No lion will be found there nor any beast of prey. Only the redeemed will walk there. For the ransomed of YHVH will return : with everlasting joy upon their heads, they will come to Zion singing, gladness and joy marching with them, while sorrow and sighing flee away.