Wednesday, 16 December 2020 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 45 : 6b-8, 18, 21b-25

From the rising to the setting of the sun, all may know that there is no one besides Me; I am YHVH, and there is no other. I form the light and create the dark; I usher in prosperity and bring calamity. I, YHVH, do all this.

Let the heavens send righteousness like dew and the clouds rain it down. Let the earth open and salvation blossom, so that justice also may sprout; I, YHVH, have created it.

Yes, this is what YHVH says, He Who created the heavens, – for He is God, Who formed and shaped the earth, – for He Himself set it : “I did not let confusion in it, I wanted people to live there instead!” – for I am YHVH and there is no other.

Who announced this from the beginning, who foretold it in the distant past? Is it not Me YHVH? There is no other God besides Me, a Saviour, a God of justice, there is no other one but Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all you from the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other. By My own self I swear it, and what comes from My mouth is truth, a word I say will not be revoked.

Before Me every knee will bend, by Me every tongue will swear, saying, “In YHVH alone are righteousness and strength.” All who have raged against Him will come to Him in shame. But through YHVH there will be victory and glory to the people of Israel.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 : 3rd 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 the Scripture, all of us are reminded that as Christians, we have the obligation to listen to the words of the Lord, our Father and Creator, our Lord and Master, and follow Him in the examples and the truth that He had revealed to us and taught us. This is our calling as Christians, and through this time and season of Advent, we are once again reminded of this calling and obligation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah, we heard the words of the Lord speaking of the coming of the days when Israel and all the other nations will no longer be sinful and be wicked, but will follow the Lord and obey His laws and listen to His will. The prophet spoke of the time to come when all the nations will come bearing gifts and homage to the Lord, and the descendants of Israel would no longer be disobedient and sinful.

The prophet Zephaniah lived and ministered to the people of God in the kingdom of Judah during the time and reign of the king Josiah of Judah, near the end of the era of the kingdom, and not long before the time when the Babylonians would come and destroy both Judah and Jerusalem, and exile most of its people. He ministered to the people during a pivotal moment of the people of God’s livelihood

At the time of king Josiah, there had been a temporary rejuvenation of the worship of the Lord among the people, led by king Josiah himself who courageously and enthusiastically purged the worship of the pagan idols and gods, destroyed the altars of those idols and removing the corruption of the pagan worship from the lands of Israel. Unfortunately, this period of renaissance and reform did not last long, and after king Josiah’s premature death in the Battle of Megiddo, the people reverted back to their sinful ways.

The Lord therefore reminds us through these Scripture readings that we are all called to remove from ourselves the corruption of sin, of pride and worldly desires, of greed and all the other obstacles that had prevented us from finding our way to the Lord through faith. He wants us to open our hearts and minds to Him, that we may listen to us and do what His will has led us to and guided us to. As what we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord through His parable of the two sons wants to remind us to be obedient to Him, and not just to pay Him lip service and empty faith.

The Lord wants us to know that to be obedient to Him is far more important than all the sacrifices and offerings that the people offered Him at the Temple, and to follow His ways is much better than to be a hypocrite who says one thing and profess to believe and yet, acting in a totally different manner. And this is especially true considering that at the time of the Lord’s ministry and the early Church, many among the Jewish authorities refused to believe in the Lord and continued to walk down their flawed path and hold on to their beliefs.

All these happened while many among the Gentiles, especially among the Greeks, who were drawn towards the Lord, and welcomed the Lord’s disciples into their midst. And despite persecutions and challenges that faced the Church during those years, the Church kept on growing and became stronger, as more and more people came to believe in God and many responded to the Lord’s call from among the nations.

The Lord has brought His light to the nations, and many people had seen this light and been called to be saved. But how are we responding to God’s call in our lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we going to be like the son in the Gospel parable, who said that he would obey and in the end never carried out or obeyed his father’s will? Or will we be the one who wants to do the father’s will?

All of us have been given the choice to walk down either the path of obedience and faith, or the path of wickedness, individualism and separation from God. All of us have been called to choose our path going forward in life, and thus, let us all discern carefully our choice and let us all rediscover that genuine faith that each and every one of us ought to have in the Lord.

May the Lord be our guide and our source of strength, and may He bless us through our respective journeys in life, especially as we journey through this blessed season of Advent. May our Advent journey be fruitful and be filled with our sincere love and devotion towards the Lord. May God bless us always, in each and every moments of our lives, and in our every good endeavours. Amen.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 28-32

At that time, Jesus went on to say, “What do you think of this? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said to him, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ And the son answered, ‘I do not want to.’ But later he thought better of it and went.”

“Then the father went to his other son and gave him the same command. This son replied, ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what the father wanted?” They answered, “The first.” And Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you : the publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven. For John came to show you the way of goodness, and you did not believe him; but the publicans and the prostitutes did. You were witnesses of this, but you neither repented nor believed him.”

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 and 23

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

But His face is set against the wicked to destroy their memory from the earth. The Lord hears the cry of the righteous and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves the distraught. But the Lord will redeem the life of His servants; none of those who trust in Him will be doomed.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Zephaniah 3 : 1-2, 9-13

Woe to the rebellious, the defiled, the city that oppresses. She did not pay attention to the call nor accept the correction; she did not trust YHVH nor did she approach her God.

At that time I will give truthful lips to the pagan nations that all of them may call on the Name of YHVH and serve Him with the same zeal. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia they will bring offerings to Me. On that day you will no longer be ashamed of all your deeds when you were unfaithful to Me; I will have removed from your midst the conceited and arrogant and My holy mountain will no longer be for you a pretext for boasting.

I will leave within you a poor and meek people who seek refuge in God. The remnant of Israel will not act unjustly nor will they speak falsely, nor will deceitful words be found in their mouths. They will eat and rest with none to threaten them.