Monday, 17 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we draw ever closer to the coming of Christmas day and season, our focus and attention is brought directly to the very reason why we rejoice and why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. As we all should know, Christmas is the celebration of the birth or the nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the moment when He was born into this world about two thousand years ago in the small city of Bethlehem.

That is why today’s readings focus on this aspect of Christ’s coming into the world, particularly in His being born into our humanity, as the descendant of David, and because of that, also as the descendant of Abraham, the father of the people of Israel and many other nations, and though not mentioned in the whole list of genealogy that is our Gospel passage today, but He is therefore born as a Son of Adam, the first of all mankind.

And this is linked to the first reading passage we heard today, from the Book of Genesis, in which we heard of the moment when Jacob, also named Israel, the father of Israel, was dying and gathered all of his children before him to grant them a blessing each. And among all the blessings that Jacob gave to his sons, the progenitors of the twelve tribes of the Israelites, it was peculiar that Judah, though not the oldest, but he received a special blessing.

Again in that blessing we heard of something like a prophecy of what was to come. And it came true with David, of the tribe of Judah, who became the chosen king of Israel, to whom God promised that his house would remain in power forever, and that his house will be forever firm, a fulfilment of what Jacob has said to his son Judah in the blessing he gave him. And all of the prophecies and revelations are fulfilled completely in none other than Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

We heard of the history of mankind in today’s Scripture readings, because the Lord wants us all to recall all that He has promised us, all that He has given us and shown us throughout the long history since the beginning of time, and how faithful He has been to those promises, by the arrival of His salvation into this world, in the person of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.

We need to understand, first of all, why we need salvation in the first place, and that goes back all the way to the time of the first man, Adam and Eve, whom at the beginning of creation, fell from grace and disobeyed God, because they chose to listen to the temptations and lies of Satan rather than to remain in God’s love. And because of that, sin entered into our lives, and because of sin, we have become separated from God’s love.

Sin has no place before God because God is all good and perfect, and sin is a stain and corruption that is abhorrent to God. And because of that, due to our sins, we cannot be in the presence of God and would have to suffer eternity in the darkness beyond God’s love, to suffer the absence of God’s grace in our midst, which is what hell is all about. And hell is truly very real, brothers and sisters in Christ. Unless we get rid of sin, there is no hope for us.

But we cannot get rid of sin, and the corruption and sickness that is sin cannot be healed and removed from us, save for God’s action alone. And since the beginning, although God had to send mankind into exile on earth for our disobedience, but He has promised us, that His salvation will come, and the time of reckoning will be there for us, through a Woman, through whom the power of the devil, the deceiver, will be forever broken.

Throughout history, God promised His people and renewed the promise He has made about His salvation. To His faithful ones, Abraham, David and all, He has made Covenants as proofs of His faithfulness and love for each and every one of us. And the final and perfect fulfilment of His promises, is none other than the coming of the Messiah that was promised. The word Messiah means Saviour, and while the people of Israel had different understanding and idea of what salvation God would bring to them, but He revealed it all, through Jesus Christ, Our Saviour.

He chose to assume the flesh of man, so that, according to St. Paul, He could become the New Adam, through Whom the race of man can be saved and absolved from their sins. While the first and old Adam disobeyed God, Christ, as the New Adam, would be the perfection of obedience to the will of God, His Father, and by that obedience, which He took even unto the point of suffering and death, is the source of our salvation.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were instructed to offer sacrificial offerings of animals in atonement of their sins, as the sin and burnt offerings before God. The priests took up the offerings and offer the offerings for the forgiveness of their sins as well as for the sins of the people. The blood of the offerings was sprinkled as the sign of the Covenant with God and the forgiveness of sins.

And Jesus Christ became our eternal High Priest, the One and True High Priest, Who offers not the body and blood of animals, but His own Body and His own Blood, for He is both God and Man united in His person, and that offering is the only perfect offering that is worthy for the atonement for all of mankind’s sins. And He offered this sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross, accepting the heavy burden of the cross, obeying His Father’s will, and thus attain for us the eternal life promised to those who have faith in Him.

Today, as we reflect on the great love which God has for each one of us, that He was willing to endure all the pains and sufferings, the punishments for our sins, we should spend some time thinking about our own lives in this world. God is willing to forgive us our trespasses and faults, and He has given us the opportunity through His Saviour, Jesus Christ, Whose birth brought hope to a world filled with darkness of sin and despair.

And the celebration of Christmas is indeed about the joy for us for having that hope, which God has given us through Christ. But have we realised that many of us are still in need of healing and forgiveness for our sins? Many of us have not lived our lives as how we should have lived it, in obedience to God, and instead, we continued to live in the state of sin. But God is always patient, and He always remembers His love for us.

This Christmas, let us make our celebrations more meaningful, by preparing ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually to welcome and rejoice in God’s coming, by living our lives in a better way from now on, turning away from sin and becoming more obedient to God’s will, and grow deeper in our faith in Him. Let us also confess our sins to a priest at the soonest available opportunity, before the time of Christmas, so that we may find our peace with God, and be worthy to celebrate the true joy of Christmas.

May the Lord be our guide, and may He continue to strengthen us in our faith and resolve, so that we may come ever closer to Him, and find the true joy of our life, the joy of being reunited with God and being forgiven from our sins, this Christmas. May God bless us all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 17 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 1-17

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.

Monday, 17 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills justice. He will defend the cause of the poor, deliver the children of the needy.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him, and He will be blessed by all nations.

Monday, 17 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 49 : 1-2, 8-10

Jacob then called his sons and said, “Gather round, sons of Jacob. And listen to your father Israel!”

“Judah, your brothers will praise you! You shall seize your enemies by the neck! Your father’s sons shall bow before you. Judah, a young lion! You return from the prey, my son! Like a lion he stoops and crouches, and like a lioness, who dares to rouse him?”

“The sceptre shall not be taken from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to Whom it belongs, and Who has the obedience of the nations.”