Thursday, 20 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Thursday, 20 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 23 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, the world and all that dwell in it. He has founded it upon the ocean and set it firmly upon the waters.

Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Those with clean hands and pure heart, who desire not what is vain.

They will receive blessings from the Lord, a reward from God, their Saviour. Such are the people who seek Him, who seek the face of Jacob’s God.

Thursday, 20 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 7 : 10-14

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.”

But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel.”

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about two great servants of God, whose life and events surrounding his life are related or are parallel to one another. In the first reading today from the Book of Judges, we heard of the amazing birth of a son to a couple who had not been able to have any children, because the wife was barren for many years. This son was Samson, one of the famous Judges or leaders of the people of Israel after Moses and before the days of the kings.

Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, we heard of the account of the miraculous conception and birth of another servant of God, St. John the Baptist, to his father and mother, who had also not been able to conceive any child previously because Elizabeth, his mother was barren. St. John the Baptist would go on to become the Herald of the Messiah, the one who called the people to repentance and baptism, in order to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming.

In both instances, both servants of God were born to two sets of parents, each of whom had not been able to have any child. But God proved that everything was possible for Him, and in fact, there was also another servant of God, namely Samuel, the one who anointed kings Saul and David of Israel, who was also born from a barren mother. In all of those instances, the child miraculously conceived and born, were given to the Lord to a life of commitment, consecrated to God’s cause.

Each one of them was called by the Lord to different missions, but eventually, all of them were for the good of the people of the Lord, with Samson’s role being crucial at the time when the people of Israel were oppressed by the Philistines, liberating them from the tyranny of their oppressors with his mighty strength, while St. John the Baptist came just before the coming of the Messiah, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord, by calling the people to repent from their sins, and therefore, opening their hearts and minds to God Who was about to come to them.

If we read on about their lives and ministry among God’s people, we will notice that even though they have been blessed with power and wisdom by God, but it was not that their lives or ministries became any easier. On the contrary, they encountered great challenges and difficulties, temptations and persecutions. For Samson, he was tempted by a woman whom the Philistines asked to help for defeating him by cutting off his hair and thus remove his enormous strength. Meanwhile, for St. John the Baptist, he was opposed by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, and also by the king, and he also doubted for a while in his mission.

But in the end, both of them remained true to their mission, and paid with their lives, their commitment to follow God to the very end. Samson, having been betrayed by Delilah, blinded and bereft of his strength, prayed to God for one final strength to defeat his enemies, the Philistines. He pulled off the pillars of the place where many Philistines gathered to mock him, and the whole place collapsed, killing numerous people among the unbelievers.

Meanwhile, St. John the Baptist was arrested by king Herod after he accused him of adultery with his brother’s wife, Herodias. St. John the Baptist remained firm in his conviction despite being imprisoned, and Herodias plotted to have him killed, by tricking Herod, and successfully managed to get the head of St. John the Baptist, when Herod made vows before his guests and officials that he could not undo.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why is it that we listened to the story of these two servants of God today? That is because, as Christmas is quickly approaching now, we are all called to reflect on our own lives, on our actions and deeds in life, and on how we have lived our lives so far. Have we been faithful to God all these times? Or have we instead allowed ourselves to be taken over by the many temptations of this world?

We are called to a life that is attuned to the Lord’s will and follow the good examples set by the two holy servants of God whose life we have heard about. This is our calling for this Christmas, to appreciate better God’s love for each and every one of us, which is so great, that He was willing to provide everything to reconcile us back to Himself, and liberate us from the tyranny of our sins.

If God has loved us so much, then it is only right that we also love Him equally, and devote ourselves to Him from the depth of our hearts. Let us turn our minds and hearts to Him, and let us be more willing to listen to God speaking in our hearts, deepening our relationship with Him through prayer, and by loving one another as He has commanded us to do. Let this Christmas be the moment of a profound change in our lives, that we may be converted from sin to righteousness, and be forgiven from our sins snd faults.

May the Lord continue to guide us, and may He bless us in all of our good endeavours and works. May He bless us in our preparation for Christmas in this blessed season of Advent. Amen.