Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Gaudete Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Matthew 11 : 2-11

At that time, when John the Baptist heard in prison about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples, asking Him, “Are You the One Who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus answered them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see : the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and Good News is reaching the poor; and how fortunate is the one who does not take offence at Me!”

As the messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John : “When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear fine clothes live in palaces. What did you really go out to see? A prophet?”

“Yes, indeed, and even more than a prophet. He is the man of whom Scripture says : I send My messenger ahead of You to prepare the way before You. I tell you this : no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward from among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Gaudete Sunday) or Purple/Violet

James 5 : 7-10

Be patient then, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. See how the sower waits for the precious fruits of the earth, looking forward patiently to the autumn and spring rains. You also be patient and do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Beloved, do not fight among yourselves and you will not be judged. See, the judge is already at the door. Take for yourselves, as an example of patience, the suffering of the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s Name.

Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Gaudete Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Psalm 145 : 7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Gaudete Sunday) or Purple/Violet

Isaiah 35 : 1-6a, 10

Let the wilderness and the arid land rejoice, the desert be glad and blossom. Covered with flowers, it sings and shouts with joy, adorned with the splendour of Lebanon, the magnificence of Carmel and Sharon. They, my people, see the glory of YHVH, the majesty of our God.

Give vigour to weary hands and strength to enfeebled knees. Say to those who are afraid : “Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God Who rewards, the God Who comes to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For the ransomed of YHVH will return : with everlasting joy upon their heads, they will come to Zion singing, gladness and joy marching with them, while sorrow and sighing flee away.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Offertory

Psalm 84 : 2

Benedixisti, Domine, terram Tuam : avertisti captivitatem Jacob : remisisti iniquitatem plebis Tuae.

 

English translation

Lord, You have blessed Your land. You have turned away the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people.

 

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Devotionis nostrae Tibi, quaesumus, Domine, hostia jugiter immoletur : quae et sacri peragat instituta mysterii, et salutare Tuum in nobis mirabiliter operetur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

May the sacrifice of our devotion, we beseech You, o Lord, be continually offered to You, both to carry out Your designs in this holy Mystery and wonderfully to work in us Your salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

 

Communion

Isaiah 35 : 4

Dicite : pusillanimes, confortamini et nolite timere : ecce, Deus noster veniet et salvabit nos.

 

English translation

Say, you faint hearted, take courage and do not fear, behold our God will come and will save us.

 

Post-Communion Prayer

Imploramus, Domine, clementiam Tuam : ut haec divina subsidia, a vitiis expiatos, ad festa ventura nos praeparent. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

We implore Your clemency, o Lord, that cleansed from our sins, these divine aids may prepare us for the coming festival. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John

John 1 : 19-28

In illo tempore : Miserunt Judaei ab Jerosolymis sacerdotes et levitas ad Joannem, ut interrogarent eum : Tu quis es? Et confessus est, et non negavit : et confessus est : Quia non sum ego Christus. Et interrogaverunt eum : Quid ergo? Elias es tu? Et dixit : Non sum. Propheta es tu? Et respondit : Non.

Dixerunt ergo ei : Quis es, ut responsum demus his, qui miserunt nos? Quid dicis de te ipso? Ait : Ego vox clamantis in deserto : Dirigite viam Domini, sicut dixit Isaias Propheta. Et qui missi fuerant, erant ex pharisaeis. Et interrogaverunt eum, et dixerunt ei : Quid ergo baptizas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elias, neque Propheta?

Respondit eis Joannes, dicens : Ego baptizo in aqua : medius autem vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. Ipse est, qui post me venturus est, qui ante me factus est : cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrigiam calceamenti.

Haec in Bethania facta sunt trans Jordanem, ubi erat Joannes baptizans.

 

English translation

At that time, the Jews sent from Jerusalem, priests and Levites to John to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed, and did not deny, and he confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

They therefore said unto him, “Who are you that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What did you say of yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord, as said by the prophet Isaiah.” And those who were sent were of the Pharisees, and they asked him, and said to him, “Why, then, did you baptise, if you are not Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”

John answered them, saying, “I baptise with water, but there had stood One in your midst, Whom you do not know, the same One, He Who shall come after me. Who is preferred before me, the latchet of Whose shoe I am not worthy to loosen.”

These things were done in Bethania beyond the Jordan, where John was baptising.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Psalm 79 : 2-3 and Psalm 79 : 2

Qui sedes, Domine, super Cherubim, excita potentiam Tuam, et veni.

Response : Qui Reges Israel, intende : qui deducis, velut ovem, Joseph.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Excita, Domine, potentiam Tuam, et veni, ut salvos facias nos. Alleluja.

 

English translation

You, o Lord, Who sits upon the Cherubim, stir up Your might, and come.

Response : Give ear, o You Who rule Israel, You Who leads Joseph like a sheep.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : Stir up Your might, o Lord, and come, that You may save us. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Philippenses – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippians

Philippians 4 : 4-7

Fratres : Gaudete in Domino semper : iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus : Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis : sed in omni oratione et obsecratione, cum gratiarum actione, petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.

Et pax Dei, quae exsuperat omnem sensum, custodiat corda vestra et intellegentias vestras, in Christo Jesu, Domino nostro.

 

English translation

Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpassed all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Usus Antiquior) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Introit

Philippians 4 : 4-6 and Psalm 84 : 2

Gaudete in Domino semper : iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus : Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis : sed in omni oratione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.

Benedixisti, Domine, terram Tuam : avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men, for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous, but in everything by prayer let your requests be made known to God.

Lord, You have blessed Your land. You have turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

Collect

Aurem Tuam, quaesumus, Domine, precibus nostris accommoda : et mentis nostrae tenebras, gratia Tuae visitationis illustra. Qui Vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

 

English translation

Incline Your ear to our prayers, o Lord, we beseech You, and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of Your visitation, You Who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, 14 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the message of the Sacred Scriptures, we heard today the readings on the prophet Elijah both from the Old and the New Testament, speaking about this particular prophet who was among the greatest of the prophets of old. The prophet Elijah was the archetype of the many prophets whom God had sent to be among His people, and his works among the Israelites were recorded in the Book of Kings.

Why do we then focus on the prophet Elijah today and what is the significance of this to all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because if we look more deeply into the readings we have just heard and understood what the Lord had said in our Gospel passage today, we will appreciate better the nature of the readings of the Scriptures today, which in fact mentioned to us the fulfilment of the long promised salvation of God as fulfilled through those whom He had sent into this world.

For the prophet Elijah was among the few of the children of man who did not experience death at the end of his earthly life, a fate which he shared with Enoch from the Book of Genesis, one of the earliest patriarchs and ancestors of man, as well as with Mary herself, the Mother of God, who according to our faith, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory and did not experience death in the way that we mankind experience it.

The prophet Elijah was taken up into heaven in a great flaming chariot as seen by his successor, prophet Elisha, who continued the works of the prophet Elijah after he left this world. It was then told that the prophet Elijah would one day come again to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Saviour of God. It was popularly believed by the Israelites that Elijah would indeed come again at the appointed time of God, to announce God’s salvation to all.

This is where the prophet Elijah often became associated with St. John the Baptist, the one whom God had sent into this world just prior to the arrival of the Lord and Saviour Himself, born of Elizabeth, the relative of Mary, the Mother of Our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist was compared to the prophet Elijah and was mentioned as having the spirit of the prophet Elijah. In any case, through St. John the Baptist and his works, what has been prophesied about God’s salvation came to fulfilment.

God was making all that He has promised to be fulfilled, as He has promised. Everything that God has said will come true exactly as He has said it, only that the time of the fulfilment is known to God alone and not to us. That is why we must put our trust in Him alone and not worry, for God will save us all His people and fulfil what He has promised to us without doubt. The issue is that many of us have not been faithful to Him and we chose to ignore His truth and His offer of salvation.

Many of us have become too preoccupied with worldly matters, desires and concerns that we end up getting more and more distant from God. And our faith became a mere formality and we do not practice our faith with genuine sincerity, as we chose rather to advance our own worldly ambitions and desires, rather than putting our trust and faith in God. And that is why our faith became empty and many of the celebrations of faith like Christmas has become just another one of worldly joys and pleasures.

That is why it is prompt and timely for all of us to be reminded by what we have heard in our Scripture passages today, as we are reminded of what Christmas truly means to us, the coming of the Saviour of God into this world in order to save us, just as He has promised and which He proclaimed through His servant, St. John the Baptist, the one who had in him the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah and bearing the mission to proclaim God’s salvation to all, preparing His way for Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how do we then as Christians prepare ourselves well during this time of Advent that we may reorientate our lives to be aligned once again with God and with His ways? It is by turning ourselves to God wholeheartedly and purifying ourselves of our greed and desires, our attachments to this world and our pride and ego in us. And we should look upon the good examples set by our holy predecessor, whose feast we celebrate today, namely St. John of the Cross.

St. John of the Cross was a great saint, a holy man and a member of the Carmelite Order, known for his great role in the reform of the well-known religious order together with St. Teresa of Avila, and eventually led to the foundation of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. At that time, the Carmelite Order had become wayward in the practice and customs of their livelihood, work and direction, and as a result, some began to call for a reform of the way the Carmelite Order ought to proceed.

St. John of the Cross helped St. Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelites at a challenging time for the Church and the faith, when many people were leaving their faith and the Church at the height of the Protestant reformation, and also caused by the rampant corruption within the Church in general. St. John of the Cross and his fellow reformers wanted to restore sanctity and purity to the revered Carmelites order to help in the efforts to oppose the impacts of the reformation in what is to be known as the Counter-Reformation.

They all set forth to purify the Carmelites from the corrupt practices and ways accumulated in the past years and steering the order back to its original path and way, and of course all these were not without stiff opposition and challenges, as there were many of those within the order who opposed St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and their reform effort. He was attacked, criticised and ridiculed, and yet, he remained firm in his commitment and his faith in God.

Eventually this led to the foundation of the Discalced Carmelites order as the newly reformed segment of the Carmelites who embraced the reforms of St. John of the Cross and his fellow reformers. Eventually the original, old Carmelites order itself was also reformed by others in the subsequent years, leading its members back towards God and their love and devotion for Him rather than worldly attachments that had corrupted the order in the past.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having heard of the life, works and examples set by St. John of the Cross, let us all also reorder and reorientate our lives if we have been wayward and disobedient all these while, if we have allowed the many concerns and attachments of the world to mislead us into the false paths. Let us all turn towards God with faith and with zeal, with vigour and energy as what was once shown by St. John of the Cross, our model in faith.

May the Lord continue to guide us in this journey of faith, and may all of us have a blessed season of Advent, making best use of the time and opportunities to seek God for healing and forgiveness, and to love Him once again with all of our hearts and with all of our might. Amen.