Thursday, 3 December 2020 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Thursday, 3 December 2020 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1-2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Thursday, 3 December 2020 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22-23

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of God in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the wonderful love of God for each and every one of us, of all that He has planned for us and also promised to us, since the very beginning, that all of us are to enjoy forever the true happiness and great prosperity and joy with Him in His heavenly glory. This is what the Lord has always intended for us, and He will lead us to that.

In our first reading today we heard the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah regarding the coming of God’s salvation and grace, the promise He made of the liberation and rejoicing of all the faithful, freed from their bondage and their shamefulness, and returning to God’s loving embrace, they shall not be sorrowful or suffer any longer. And this prophecy if we note, is remarkably similar to what we have also heard in the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle.

In the Book of Revelations, the Lord showed His Apostle St. John the vision of what will happen in the future, at the time that the Lord Himself had appointed, for the end of the world as we know it, the judgment of all the living and the dead, and the final defeat of Satan and his forces of evil and wickedness. The Lord revealed that in the end, all the faithful shall suffer no more, shed tears no more, and not be sorrowful any more, for their Lord and Master is with them, and they are to enjoy forever the fruits of their labours and faith.

This is the completion of what the Lord had revealed first through Isaiah and the other prophets, which had been affirmed by His Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Although at the time of His first coming, He did not bring all of us mankind into eternal happiness and joy, but all these are part of God’s plan, and He revealed that, He shall return in the end, to complete perfectly all that He has revealed and promised to us.

That is why, in this season of Advent, we prepare ourselves in heart, mind and body, especially in our spiritual readiness to celebrate the occasion of Christmas. And as we prepare ourselves, we have to take special attention and care not to fall into the trap of celebrating just the materialistic and secular Christmas as how the world celebrates it, with lots of merrymaking and joy, lots of gifts and lavish celebrations and feasts, and yet, without Christ at the centre of it all.

We all ought to know that we rejoice in this season and expectation of Christmas not just because we celebrate the Lord’s coming as it had happened a long time ago. Indeed, we rejoice because we have seen the salvation of Our God, coming in the flesh, in the Son of Man, the manifestation of God’s perfect love and compassion for us, as we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, in how He showed pity and love for the people who followed Him for many days and were hungry, miraculously feeding them all with just a few loaves of bread and several fishes.

Through that show of love, the Lord wants us all to know just how beloved and precious we are to Him, and we are indeed so fortunate because of this. And that is why, in Advent, we also look forward and rejoice because of our expectation of the Lord’s return, His second coming, when He will come again as a triumphant and conquering King, and He will gather us all together, His people, and if we remain faithful, righteous and just, in the end, we shall be deemed worthy of the Lord’s eternal glory and true joy with Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, too many of us are too distracted with our busy lives and other preoccupations that we end up getting ourselves ever more distanced and further away from God. And we have given little time and attention for the Lord, despite all that He had done for us, all the love He has shown us. Instead, we kept ourselves busy trying to attain for ourselves worldly glory, satisfaction, wealth and all other false sources of happiness that kept us away from being able to find our true happiness in God.

In this season of Advent, let us take some time to reflect on our lives, our actions and how we have lived our lives thus far. Have we been faithful to God, or have we instead taken His love and compassion, His kindness and grace for granted, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all discern in what way we can be better disciples and followers of God from now on, and let us all make best use of this time of Advent in order to renew ourselves and our faith.

May the Lord help us and guide us throughout this season of Advent, that we may grow ever deeper in faith and will be able to prepare and celebrate the true joy of Christmas together as one Christian community, all of God’s beloved people. Let us all share our joy with each other, and inspire one another to live ever more faithfully in Christ. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.