Wednesday, 18 December 2019 : 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 the coming of the Lord’s salvation and the hope which all of us have received in sharing that joy the Lord has promised to His people. We heard first of all from our first reading, how the prophet Jeremiah spoke of the time of the coming of God’s day of salvation when He would send to His people the Saviour and Deliverer.

And if we understand the context and condition upon which the words and prophecy of Jeremiah was delivered, we will appreciate even better and more of how significant this promise of the Lord was to the people to whom Jeremiah had delivered the words of the Lord. At that time, when the prophet Jeremiah performed his ministry, the southern kingdom of Judah was in its very last throes of its existence.

The great empire of Babylonia was threatening the existence of Judah, having destroyed the earlier empire of Assyria who had in turn destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel over a century prior and brought most of the northern tribes of Israel into exile in far-off lands. Babylonia had conquered Assyria and all other smaller nations, and it was just some time before it would crush Judah and conquer Jerusalem.

Yet, despite all their troubles and trials, caused by their disobedience against God, the people of Judah still continued to sin and disobey God, and they did not put their trust in Him. They mocked and rejected Jeremiah, and made him to suffer if we read on through the rest of the Book of the prophet Jeremiah. Nonetheless, as we heard from what the prophet spoke of in today’s first reading, God still loved His people despite all that they have done.

He was still faithful to the Covenant that He has made with them and with their ancestors, a Covenant that He constantly renewed again and again, as the prophet Jeremiah mentioned how God saved His people during the time of their Exodus from Egypt, when by His great power and through the Ten Plagues and other miracles, God brought His entire people Israel out of their slavery in Egypt under the Pharaohs.

And Jeremiah mentioned how God would no longer be remembered as the One Who saved His people from the Egyptians and their slavery, for He would save them yet once again, out of their then present predicament and problems, mentioning how God would remember His people and bring them back into the lands that once belonged to their ancestors, mentioning the northern kingdom of Israel in that same prophecy.

This was a prophecy of what was to come, that although Judah and Jerusalem would be destroyed because the people continued to sin and lead wicked lives in opposition to God, but God would still lead them to freedom as He has once done before because truly, He loved them all very much. And that promise and prophecy would indeed come to fulfilment many decades later, when King Cyrus of Persia freed the descendants of Israel and allowed them to return to their homeland.

And now, all of us have known how God had yet done another even more wonderful act in saving His people, and this time it is not just the children of Israel that God has saved, but indeed, all of mankind, for God has extended His salvation to all the peoples, of all the nations and of all the races, through none other than His own beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Whom He had sent into this world to be our Saviour.

It was what the Lord reiterated to St. Joseph in our Gospel passage today, when he was reluctant to take Mary to be his wife when he heard that Mary somehow had become pregnant with a Son. The Lord reassured St. Joseph that Mary was pregnant with the Child Who was to become the Saviour of all, God’s own Son Whom He had sent into this world to be the One by Whose hands, not just the sons and daughters of Israel, but all the children of mankind would be saved.

Thus, the Lord would then be known not just as God Who saved the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, and neither would He be known as the One Who freed the Israelites from the exile in Babylon, but forevermore, by His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross, He would be known as the Ever Loving God, full of compassion and love for His children and all of us, His beloved people, that He was willing to endure the full burden of the Cross for the sake of our salvation.

It is indeed timely that we are all reminded of all these wonderful loving acts of God just within a week from Christmas, so that each and every one of us may remember what is all of our Christmas preparations and celebrations are for, and how we should put the Lord, Our Saviour at the very centre and focus of all of our wonderful joy and festivities this Christmas. If we have not done that yet, it is not yet too late for us to reorientate ourselves now.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as today’s Scripture passages have reminded us all of how loving and compassionate God has been to us, that in Christmas He has given us all the wonderful and most perfect gift of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, let us all dedicate ourselves to God and His love for us, and make our upcoming Christmas celebration truly meaningful. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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