Monday, 23 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (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 messenger of God whom He has revealed through His prophets to be the one who would prepare the path for the coming of the Messiah, as we heard from the prophet Malachi in our first reading today, as the prophet spoke of the coming of the messenger who is also the prophet Elijah, to prepare the path for the coming of the Messiah.

It is timely for us today to listen to these readings from the Scripture to remind us of what this person and servant of the Lord had done for our sake, when he did what the Lord had commanded him to do, in all the works he had done, in calling the people to repentance and to turn away from their sins, and instead embracing the truth of God and prepare themselves to welcome the Lord’s Saviour Who was about to come.

And this servant of God was none other than St. John the Baptist, the one sent to prepare the way for Christ, born of his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. It was this same Zechariah whom we heard from in our Gospel passage today, singing praises to God, thanking Him for all that He has done for His people, at the time when his son, St. John the Baptist was born. St. John the Baptist was born at the time when Zechariah and Elizabeth were both already very old and past the childbearing age.

At first, when an Angel of God came to Zechariah proclaiming how he and his wife would have a special child even in their old age, as the one whom God has promised to His people for a long time, Zechariah did not believe at first and doubted the Angel, saying that he and his wife could not have a child at such an age. As a result, he was struck dumb and could not speak until everything that the Lord has spoken came true, as Elizabeth became really pregnant and gave birth to St. John the Baptist.

What we have heard today in our Gospel passage was the moment of great joy and wonders that happened to Zechariah, as right after St. John the Baptist was born, Zechariah was freed from his dumbness. Zechariah gave out praise to God, and everything came to be as the Lord willed it. And that child would go on to become a faithful and dedicated servant of God, dedicating his whole life to the service of God, calling many people to repentance and to turn towards God, baptising them in the Jordan as a symbol of their renewal.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, then what is the significance of what we have heard in our Scripture passages today? It is that each and every one of us should appreciate first of all just how much God had done for us, in giving us so great a gift of salvation, that through His Son, He has willingly come to dwell in our midst, embracing our humanity to be a Man, through Whom all of us have received the reassurance of new hope and new life in Him, guaranteed by nothing less than His own Blood and life.

God sent us all of His prophets and messengers, right up to St. John the Baptist, all with the intention to remind us and to help us to find our way to Him, that we may be touched in our hearts and minds, that we may be able to see the love that He has showered us with, and which He has generously given to us in Christ, His Son, which we celebrate with much joy in Christmas, celebrating the moment when His love has manifested in our midst in the flesh.

And because of this, then we are also then called to follow in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist and innumerable other followers and disciples of the Lord who have dedicated their lives and all for the sake of the Lord, especially today that of St. John of Kanty, as his feast day is celebrated on this day. St. John of Kanty was also known by his Latinised name of St. John Cantius, a great and renowned philosopher and teacher of the faith from what is now Poland.

St. John Cantius was remembered for his great contributions in the area of Catholic education and philosophy, being not just a priest but also a great Professor of theology at the famous University of Krakow. He was a brilliant and intelligent man, just as he was also pious and faithful in all of his deeds. St. John Cantius however had to go through trials and difficulties, facing false accusations and lies from his fellow academics and forced out of his teaching role in the university, and sent instead to a parish.

St. John Cantius was fearful and worried of the challenges he had to face in the parish that was beset with difficult tasks, and yet, he gave it his all and dedicated himself completely to fulfil the missions entrusted to him and did his best for the sake of his many parishioners, who eventually grew to love him and were touched by his holiness and tireless efforts to reach out and minister to them. Eventually he could return to his teaching role at the university and continued to dedicate himself to his last days.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John Cantius was a great and intelligent man, and yet at the same time, he was filled with love for God, as well as great humility and also generosity and love for his fellow men. His great qualities and personal holiness should indeed become our inspiration and strength, our beacon of light and hope, that we should follow in our own journey of faith in our lives. Are we able to walk the path that St. John Cantius had walked on, brothers and sisters in Christ?

As Christmas is truly already upon us, just two days from now, let us all ask ourselves if we have made use of this season of Advent meaningfully to prepare us to celebrate worthily and meaningfully the upcoming joy of Christmas? If we have not done so, then perhaps we may want to recall again what the faithful servants of the Lord, St. John the Baptist and St. John Cantius had done, and remember that as God’s faithful people, all of us are called to be witnesses for Him in our world, and what better way to do so than to be exemplary in our Christmas celebrations, truly focused and centred on God?

Let us all seek the Lord with all of our hearts and with all of our strength from now, beginning from our upcoming celebrations of Christmas, that we should out God once again at the centre of our lives, our existences, our families and communities. May God be with us all, and may He bless us all in our journey of faith and Christmas preparations. Amen.

Monday, 23 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Monday, 23 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4bc-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Monday, 23 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Malachi 3 : 1-4, 23-24

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of YHVH comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.