Friday, 21 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 39-45

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

Friday, 21 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 32 : 2-3, 11-12, 20-21

Give thanks to YHVH on the harp and lyre, making melody and chanting praises. Amid loud shouts of joy, sing to Him a new song and play the ten-stringed harp.

But His plan stands forever, and His heart’s design, through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH – the people He has chosen for His inheritance.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in Him, for we trust on His holy Name.

Friday, 21 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Song of Songs 2 : 8-14

The voice of my Lover! Behold He comes, springing across the mountains, jumping over the hills, like a gazelle or a young stag. Noe He stands behind our wall, looking through the windows, peering through the lattice.

My Lover speaks to me, “Arise, My love, My beautiful one! Come, the winter is gone, the rains are over. Flowers have appeared on earth; the season of singing has come; the cooing of doves is heard. The fig tree forms its early fruit, the vines in blossom are fragrant. Arise, My beautiful one, come with Me, My love, come.”

“O My dove in the rocky cleft, in the secret places of the cliff, let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice. Your face – how lovely! Your voice – how sweet!”

Alternative reading

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18a

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day, they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about.

Thursday, 20 December 2018 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scripture speaking to us about the prophecy on the coming of the Messiah, which was first revealed through the prophet Isaiah, in our first reading today as he spoke to the king Ahaz of Judah. In the face of the king’s false humility before God, in refusing to ask for God’s signs despite his life and actions being filled with sin and disobedience against God, Isaiah prophesied the coming of God’s great sign.

And that prophecy was fulfilled completed in the Good News that the Archangel Gabriel brought to Mary, the young virgin woman of a small village of Nazareth in Galilee, who was to be the mother and bearer of the world’s salvation. That was exactly what the prophet Isaiah told to king Ahaz, that the Woman will give birth to a child, and that child will be named Emmanuel or Immanuel, which means, ‘God is with us’. And Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God Most High.

The essence of today’s Scripture readings is therefore about God fulfilling His prophecy and promises, despite of mankind’s refusal to believe and their stubbornness in sinning and rebellion against Him. God showed His faithfulness in the Covenant that He has established for us, His beloved people. He loves each and every one of us, and that is why, He wants to be with us, and He wants us not to be lost from Him, but be reconciled and be reunited with Him.

And to that extent, He promised that salvation will come, and that Saviour indeed has come, through Mary, the Virgin who was promised by the prophet Isaiah, as the one who would bear the Messiah. Mary accepted the role she has been prepared for, and despite her initial discomfort of hearing such a surprise news from the Archangel, she surrendered herself completely to the will of God, and allowed God to work His wonders in this world through her.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us have forgotten what Christmas and its significance truly is for us. We celebrated it wrongly and focused on the wrong things during our Christmas joy and celebrations. We spent a lot on gifts, new clothes, parties and lavish food and drinks, and yet, in all of our Christmas celebrations, there was barely any space for the One for Whom we ought to be rejoicing for.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ is often not the focus and centre of our celebrations in Christmas, despite the very fact that Christmas is the day when Christ was born into this world. Let us imagine how wrong and inappropriate it is for a great celebration to be made for someone’s birthday, and yet, at the celebrations and parties, the birthday person was forgotten and ignored?

That is exactly what we have often done with Christ, Our Lord, Who has loved us so much that He was willing to come down to us, embracing our humanity, and being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He became the hope for all mankind. His suffering and death on the cross became for us, the source of eternal life and salvation from death and hell. He has given everything for us, for our lives and for our safety, but have we given ours to Him?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we draw closer to Christmas, let us always ask ourselves what we can do more in order to celebrate Christmas meaningfully, and how we can be better Christians, in loving God in the same way as He Himself has loved us so dearly. Let us all turn ourselves to God, and devote ourselves, following the example of none other than Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, who devoted her life so thoroughly to God, and allowing God to do everything through her.

Let our lives be like Mary, in our love for God and in our obedience to Him. Let our response to His call be like Mary’s, that we are faithful servants of His, and His will be done for us, and not our own. Let us follow the example of the obedience of Christ, Whose obedience to His Father’s will, allowed Him to fulfil the work of salvation He completed on the cross. May our upcoming Christmas celebration be truly meaningful and fruitful, following the example of Mary in our own lives. Amen.