Thursday, 3 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

On the eighth day, the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Thursday, 3 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 3cd-4, 5-6

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

With melody of the lyre and with music of the harp. With trumpet blast and sound of the horn, rejoice before the King, the Lord!

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon, and the stars You set in their place – what is man, that You be mindful of him; the Son of Man, that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little less than a god; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number, and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Thursday, 3 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 29 – 1 John 3 : 6

You know that He is the Just One : know then that anyone living justly is born of God. See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Beloved, we are God’s children and what we shall be has not yet been shown. Yet when He appears in His glory, we know that we shall be like Him, for then we shall see Him as He is. All who have such a hope try to be pure as He is pure. Anyone who commits a sin acts as an enemy of the law of God; any sin acts wickedly, because all sin is wickedness.

You know that He came to take away our sins, and that there is no sin in Him. Whoever remains in Him has no sin, whoever sins has not seen or known Him.

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Philippians 2 : 1-11

If I may advise you, in the Name of Christ, and if you can hear it, as the voice of love; if we share the same Spirit, and are capable of mercy and compassion, then I beg of you, make me very happy : have one love, one spirit, one feeling, do nothing through rivalry or vain conceit.

On the contrary, let each of you gently consider the others, as more important than yourselves. Do not seek your own interest, but, rather, that of others. Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ had :

Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in His appearance found as a Man.

He humbled Himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross. That is why God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which outshines all names, so that at the Name of Jesus all knees should bend in heaven, on earth and among the dead, and all tongues proclaim that Christ Jesus is the Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures we are reminded of the necessity for us to discern carefully our path in life, and to follow the way that the Lord has shown before us, not to fall into the trap of falsehood and the path of heresies, by which Satan is trying to pull us away from God and from His salvation. God has given us His truth, and those who claimed otherwise than this truth, are the servants of the devil.

In today’s Gospel reading, we have heard the story of the life and work of St. John the Baptist, the herald and servant of the Lord, who was to be the last one to come to prepare the way for the coming of God’s Saviour, that is Our Lord, Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist went to live in the desert, and spent his time calling on the people to turn away from their sins and to repent their past wickedness in life.

He performed the baptism with water at the River Jordan, with many people who came to him, wanting to be baptised by him, and as symbol of their penitential intention. Many would have thought that he was the Messiah who has been prophesied to come by the earlier prophets, by virtue of his wisdom and his call for the people to repentance, but St. John the Baptist openly said before those who asked him, including the Pharisees who doubted him, that he was not the Messiah, but merely the one who was to prepare the way for Him.

In this, we see the contrast between the two, on one hand, St. John the Baptist, faithful and yet humble servant of God, and on the other hand, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were often proud and boisterous about their faith, but they did not act in the manner that God had wanted them to be. The latter rejected the truth of God as revealed through St. John the Baptist, which we had seen in our Gospel passage today, in how they doubted St. John the Baptist and mocked him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of two other holy and devout servants of Our God, who have also encountered many challenges and difficulties throughout their respective ministries. They are St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two of the original Doctors of the Church, whose many works and inspiring writings helped to shape the doctrine and the teachings of the Church in its early years, especially during the time when there were numerous heresies and falsehoods.

St. Basil the Great was the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, an area in Asia Minor, while St. Gregory Nazianzen was the Archbishop of Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. These two holy men lived and ministered to the people of God at a crucial time, when the faithful and the Church were beset by many heresies, especially that of Arianism, which denied the equality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the Father, as well as many other heresies, syncretic and false faith.

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, in their respective areas of responsibility, and in whatever they could do, committed their lives to the service of God, and to the benefit of those flock that has been entrusted to their care, and even more. They were also known for their care and concern for their flock, in their physical and material well-being, on top of their concern for the spiritual benefits of their people.

The divisions and bitterness caused by the many heresies at that time, were not easy to be overcome. Nonetheless, the great efforts of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen have been instrumental in the reunion of the many divided branches and segments of the Church and the faithful, and many were reconciled to the true faith by their efforts, and by their hard work and tireless dedications.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard and discussed today, should be inspiration for each and every one of us, in how we should put our trust in God and keep ourselves away from all the lies and falsehoods of the devil, the false prophets and all those who are working not for the greater glory of God, but for their own glory and for the purpose of Satan. We should remain strong and faithful to the Lord despite all the challenges we encounter in life.

May the Lord help us, through the examples of His holy saints, faithful servants who devoted their lives to serve Him, St. John the Baptist, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and the many other holy and devout men and women of God. May He bless us all, now and always. Amen.