Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of the coming of the Lord’s salvation to His people, of the coming of God’s providence and liberation to His faithful ones. In our first reading we have heard about the moment when the prophet Daniel was delivered from the hands of his enemies while in the Gospel passage we heard of the Lord’s own ominous warning to the people and the city of Jerusalem.

In our first reading today, we heard of the predicament of the prophet Daniel who was forced to be thrown into the lions’ den by the machinations and plots of his enemies, who resented him for his courageous opposition to pagan worship and the pagan idols of Bel, the chief god of the Babylonians and the dragon of Bel. Daniel managed to prove that the priests of Bel were frauds and the dragon he defeated by the power and wisdom of God.

As a result, the enemies of Daniel among the nobles and the courtiers ganged up and plotted against him. Daniel was forced to endure the lions’ den, which the enemies of his hoped that the hungry lions, purposefully kept hungry and unfed that they would devour Daniel. But the Lord was with Daniel and protected him from his enemies and from the lion. In the end, the prophet Daniel was freed by the king and all of his enemies who slandered him were thrown instead to the lions and were immediately devoured.

Meanwhile, in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the prophetic and ominous warning that the Lord Jesus shared with His disciples and followers, of the coming of the destruction of Jerusalem, the city and its Temple, and how everything would be overturned and their world would be shattered. This was a revelation of what was to come, and eventually would come true with the downfall of Jerusalem just a few decades after the Lord’s death and resurrection.

Yet, amidst all the challenges and difficulties that the faithful people of God would have to face, all the bitter struggles and sufferings that they had to go through, the humiliations and betrayals that they had to endure, God reassured them again and again that He would be with them, and that despite all the trials and tribulations, in the end, the faithful ones will be triumphant together with God.

This is the kind of faith that all of us must have, brothers and sisters in Christ, the kind of faith that has allowed so many of the holy martyrs and saints of the Church to persevere through even the most brutal and terrible persecutions and oppressions of their faith and the Church. They all trusted in God and placed their faith in Him, and as a result, they remained firm and resolute even when faced with most severe of troubles, just as how the prophet Daniel remained firm in his conviction and faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we are all called to reflect on our own lives and whether we have been truly faithful to God in all of our actions and deeds thus far. If we have not yet lived our lives thus far with faith, then now is perhaps the good time for us to recollect ourselves and redirect our lives, our efforts and our attention towards the Lord, and take the necessary steps to make ourselves closer to God and to be more loving and faithful towards Him.

Let us all grow to trust more in God, and let us put ourselves in His loving embrace from now on, knowing that even when our lives are terrible, our trials are difficult and are seemingly insurmountable, God will never stop loving us and as a result, we should also devote ourselves in the same manner. Let us no longer worry or be too concerned with our own well-being, but learn to put our trust more in God.

May the Lord our God be with us always, and may He continue to love us all, each and every days and moments of our lives. May He bless all of our good works and endeavours, that we all may always work for the greater good and the glory of God. Amen.

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and its waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near.”

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 3 : 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74

Dew and frost, praise and exalt Him forever.

Ice and cold, praise and exalt Him forever.

Frost and snow, praise and exalt Him forever.

Days and nights, praise and exalt Him forever.

Light and darkness, praise and exalt Him forever.

Lightning and clouds, praise and exalt Him forever.

Earth, praise and exalt Him forever.

Thursday, 28 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 6 : 12-28

So the administrators and satraps went to the king and reminded him about the prohibition, “O king, did you not publish a decree that anyone who prays or makes petition to any god or man except to you would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “Yes, and the decree stands, in accordance with Medo-Persian laws which cannot be altered or annulled.” Then they said, “But the Jewish exile Daniel pays no attention to you and to your decree. Three times a day he still prays to some God other than you.”

Greatly aggrieved at what he heard, the king decided to help Daniel. He made every effort till sundown to save him. But the men kept coming to him and insisting, “Remember, o king, that under the Medo-Persian laws every decree or prohibition issued by the king is irrevocable.” The king, therefore, could not help giving the order that Daniel be brought and thrown into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, Whom you serve faithfully, save you.”

A stone was placed at the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with that of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might remain unchanged. Then the king returned to his palace and spent a sleepless night, refusing food and entertainment. Very early next morning, he rose and hurried to the lions’ den. As he came near, he called in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the Living God, did your God, Whom you serve faithfully, save you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “Live forever, o king! My God sent His Angel, who closed the lions’ mouths, so that they did not hurt me. God did that because I am innocent in His sight. Neither have I wronged you, o king.”

The king felt very glad and ordered Daniel released from the lions’ den. No wound was found on him, for he had trusted in his God. At the king’s order, the men who had accused Daniel were thrown into the lions’ den, together with their wives and children. No sooner had they reached the floor of the den than the lions lunged at them and tore them to pieces.

King Darius wrote to the nations, to peoples of every language, “Peace to you all! I decree that throughout my kingdom people should reverence and fear the God of Daniel. For He is the Living God, and forever He endures; His Kingdom will not be crushed, His dominion will never cease. He rescues and He delivers; He performs signs and wonders both in heaven and on earth. And He came to Daniel’s rescue saving him from the lions’ tooth and claw.”

Daniel greatly prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the messages from the Scriptures reminding us all of the reality that being a follower of the Lord will often mean that we will encounter challenges, trials, upset, humiliation and persecution while we walk in the path of God, and we will likely face pressures and temptations to abandon our path and to walk away from the way of the Lord.

Yet, through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, we heard of the Lord reassurance that He would be with those who are ever faithful to Him. He will not abandon them to the darkness and neither will He allow us to face destruction. Yes, there will be challenges in our path and throughout our journey, but as long as we remain true to our faith and persevere strongly in our commitment to God, He will be faithful to us and to the Covenant He has made with us all.

In our Gospel passage today, we are reminded of the fact that God will always be by our side even though things may be difficult for us. God has always provided for us in everything that we need, giving us strength and encouragement in our most difficult moments, as He promised us the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit as He reiterated in our Gospel passage today, that His disciples do not need to worry about what they were to say or do, as the Lord Himself will guide them.

Ultimately, all these are reminders to us all that God will always triumph in the end, no matter what we the faithful had to endure in part of our daily struggles in life, as being faithful disciples of the Lord. If we keep up our hope in the Lord and remain true to Him, we will certainly not be disappointed as God Himself will be by our side, vouching for us and keeping for us the inheritance that He has kept for us.

In our first reading today, we heard yet another occasion of how God remained true to His promises and care for His faithful ones, as we heard from the Book of the prophet Daniel the story of how God eventually delivered His people Israel from the hands of their oppressors, as the last Babylonian king, Belshazzar met his end and the end of his kingdom. King Belshazzar was being very disrespectful to God, as he and his nobles made use of the sacred vessels seized from the Temple of God as drinking vessels as a mockery to God.

At that very occasion, the Lord showed a great sign that would usher in the end of the great and proud kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, as God’s own hands traced the words on the wall of the palace in plain view of the king and all of his nobles, proclaiming the end of Babylon and its imminent takeover by the Persians under king Cyrus who would be the one to emancipate and free the exiles of Israel in Babylon and allowed them to return to their homeland.

And what God said through the prophet Daniel came true that very night as the Persians overthrew the rule of Belshazzar and crushed forever the ones who insulted the honour and glory of God by their wicked acts. And God was faithful to His people having atoned for their sins, remembering them at all times and brought them back to the lands which once belonged to them and their forefathers.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all therefore reminded that as Christians all of us must not be afraid to follow the Lord and to commit ourselves to Him because ultimately, God is forever faithful to the Covenant which He has established with us. He will not forget about us, but He will reward us all who remain truly faithful to Him, enduring and persevering through various trials and challenges in our journey towards Him.

Now, we are all challenged to remain truly faithful to the Lord, to take up our crosses in life and follow the Lord. Are we able to dedicate ourselves with zeal and be committed to serve the Lord’s greater glory from now on? Are we willing and able to stand up for our faith when the situation demands of it? Are we able to live our lives from now on with genuine love for God and to be witnesses of His truth at every moments of our lives?

These are the questions that we should have with us, to remind us and to strengthen us in our resolve to be faithful Christians from now on. May God be with us always and may He strengthen us and empower us in our journey, now and always. Amen.