Tuesday, 22 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of the Lord’s providence and help for us, His strength and love for each and every one of us. We are reminded that the Lord is a loving God and Father Who listens to us and all of our needs. He will not abandon us in our hour of need, and He is always by our side at all times, no matter what happens.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel, regarding how Samuel the great prophet came to be born. His mother Hannah had been without child for many years despite being in a loving marriage to her husband Elkanah. Her husband’s other wife, Penninah often mocked Hannah for her barrenness and often showed off just how many children she had with Hannah.

Hannah came to the Lord in sorrow and frustration because of this, and she prayed to the Lord to help and rescue her from her troubles. The Lord heard her prayers, and He blessed Hannah with a child, who was to be known as Samuel. Hannah had promised that if she had a son, she would dedicate and offer him to the Lord, and thus, in our first reading today, we heard Hannah joyfully coming to the Lord and offered Samuel to be God’s servant.

And thus that was how Samuel, the prophet of God was born and came to be in the service of God. His mother Hannah had more children with her husband, Elkanah, as a sign of God’s love and favour, while Samuel grew up strong in faith under the tutelage of Eli, the Judge and priest of Israel, and eventually became a great prophet and Judge himself, leading the people of Israel just before the days of the kings.

The Lord showed His love and kindness to Hannah, and she rejoiced after the period of her humiliation and suffering. Our Psalm today is the great song of joy that Hannah sang, full of God’s Spirit, declaring the greatness of God and how fortunate all of us have been to be beloved by God. The Lord has not forgotten His people, and the same was then echoed as we heard of the great song of rejoicing that Mary sang in our Gospel today, known as the Magnificat.

Mary was visiting her cousin Elizabeth at the time, who had been long barren and was unable to conceive a child just like Hannah, but by the Lord’s grace, she came to bear St. John the Baptist, and Mary found that what the Lord had revealed to her through the Archangel Gabriel was indeed true, that her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived and had a child in her old age.

And Mary herself as we knew, came to have Child without any human relations, since by the power of the Holy Spirit, God Himself came to dwell in her and through her, He would be born into the world, as the Saviour long promised by Himself. All of these and the joy of the Holy Spirit in her made Mary to rejoice such, for all the wonders of God’s love and glory that He has shown to all of His people. It was truly a great and joyful moment, that each and every one of us ought to share as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to understand just how wretched and miserable our existence once had been, as through sin we have been sundered from God’s love and grace. And it was thanks to God’s enduring love for each and every one of us that we have been saved from our predicament and troubles, and the sure path towards eternity of joy and happiness have been shown to us. And this Christmas we celebrate all of these, that God Himself has intervened on our behalf, and did everything in order to save us.

Therefore, let us all prepare ourselves that within the time left for us to get ready for Christmas, we will be able to redirect our focus and attention to the Lord, and thus celebrate the joyful festivities of Christmas in a Christ-centric manner, to rejoice in the love that God has shown us, that He willingly gave Himself to us, dwelling among us and suffering and dying for our sake on the Cross. We rejoice in this ultimate expression of God’s everlasting love, and let us share our joy with one another, always. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 46-56

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour! He has looked down upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His Name! From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden.”

“He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more. The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone.

YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up. YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts.

He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Samuel 1 : 24-28

When the child was weaned, Hannah took him with her along with a three year old bull, a measure of flour and a flask of wine, and she brought him to YHVH’s house of Shiloh. The child was still young.

After they had slain the bull, they brought the child to Eli. Hannah exclaimed : “Oh, my lord, look! I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to YHVH. I asked for this child and YHVH granted me the favour I begged of Him. I think YHVH is now asking for this child. As long as he lives, he belongs to YHVH.”

And they worshipped YHVH there.

Monday, 21 December 2020 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are reminded to refocus our attention towards the Lord and the faith that Mary, His beloved Mother has shown. As we draw ever closer to the celebration of Christmas, our attention is brought to Mary’s role in the salvation of the world, by her humble acceptance of the role that was entrusted to her, and her obedience to God’s will.

Mary, the Mother of God, was just a simple and humble woman in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, someone without pedigree and status, without much wealth, and yet, she has been honoured far greater than anyone else, to be the Mother of God and to bear the Saviour of the world in her. Of course, the Lord has prepared herself specifically and preserved her from the state of sin, and by grace therefore made her to be a worthy vessel of the Divine Saviour and as Ark of the New Covenant.

However, it was also her genuine and pure love for God, for her Son, and her obedience in total fullness of grace that kept her as a truly worthy servant of God and also a great role model for all of us as Christians. Her love for God and her faith are things that we should be inspired to follow in our own lives, and we should live our lives just as Mary had lived hers, placing God above all else and as the priority and focus in our lives.

This is a timely reminder for all of us just as we are about to enter into the glorious mystery and joyful celebration of Christmas. Ultimately, Christmas is not about ourselves and all the joyful merrymaking and pleasures that we desire from all the festivities and celebrations. Christmas is about God’s love, reaching out to us through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, born into the world through Mary, His mother.

We are all called to love God in the same way that God Himself had dedicated Himself to us, cared for us and spent time looking for us and calling on us to repent from our sinful ways. That is indeed the true essence of Christmas for us, the celebration of God’s love in our midst. We rejoice because of the hope that Christ has brought us, the light that He has restored to us amidst the darkness of the world.

We have to appreciate fully just how beloved and fortunate all of us have been, to have God Who truly cares for us and desires for us to be saved and reconciled with Him, that He had done everything for that purpose. We celebrate this love at Christmas, and therefore, we are called to reflect on the way that we celebrate Christmas, not through mindless and meaningless extravagance but through genuine love and devotion to God.

Today, let us all model ourselves on the examples of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as well as the other holy men and women, saints and blesseds of the Lord. In particular, we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Canisius, the great Doctor of the Church and Jesuit priest who was remembered for his great dedication to the Lord, his commitment to many works for the greater glory of God, his patient labours in spreading the Good News and truth of God among the people.

St. Peter Canisius was born in what is today part of the Netherlands, and he joined St. Ignatius of Loyola and other men in the newly founded Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. At that time, at the height of the reformation era in Europe, St. Peter Canisius and his fellow Jesuits were crucial in their role of ministering to the people and bringing back numerous people back to the Church through their efforts.

St. Peter Canisius was especially known for his efforts in evangelisation in the areas now part of Switzerland and Germany, and through his famous Catechism, many people rediscovered the true meaning and importance of the Christian faith, and many returned to the true faith they left behind out of ignorance and misunderstandings of the true Christian teachings.

And lastly, St. Peter Canisius was also known for his devotion to Mary, and his works on Mariology was also quite well remembered. In fact, he is credited with the last part of the prayer ‘Hail Mary’ that every one of us know very well, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’ Through this, all of us are reminded by St. Peter Canisius, of the important role that Mary as the Mother of God has in our salvation, for truly, she is our great helper and intercessor before her Son in heaven.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore be inspired to live our lives in the manner that the faithful people of God, as represented by Mary herself and by St. Peter Canisius, had done in their own lives. Let us all make good use of the remaining time of Advent to prepare ourselves well that we may celebrate Christmas well, with proper understanding and appreciation of its importance to us. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.