Thursday, 2 December 2021 : 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 the Scriptures, we are all reminded that we must place our faith and hope in the Lord, and in Him alone. We should not easily be distracted by temptations and by fear to abandon God for other false idols and other false assurances of this world. Through what we have heard today we are again reminded that despite all the challenges that we face in this life, we can always put our trust in the Lord.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which God spoke to His people through Isaiah regarding the Lord’s providence and glory, all that He has done for His beloved ones and how He has trampled on the mighty and the proud, all those who have disobeyed Him and oppressed His people. And He spoke of these things not based on mere words alone, but He Himself has shown it with real actions throughout history.

God has showed His power to the people of Israel, long before the days of Isaiah, as we all knew, how He liberated the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, how He delivered them from their slavery in the land of Egypt and brought them out free through ten great plagues that He sent to Egypt for their constant stubborn refusal to let the people of God go. And surely we all also know of the story how God opened the Red Sea and made His people walk on the dry seabed and crushed the armies and chariots of the Egyptians sent after them.

God has always guided His people throughout history despite their history of constant disobedience and rebellions against Him, by sending His servants, the Judges and the leaders and messengers that He had given His people to lead and guide them all to Him, to help them to live righteously according to the Law that He had given and revealed to them, and the Covenant that He had made with them. He has remained faithful and committed to His Covenant and sent them messengers and prophets to remind His people to do the same.

Then, during the time of the prophet Isaiah himself, God has shown His love and providence for His people yet again. The forces of the Assyrians and their king, which had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the Arameans and other great nations that had troubled the people of God for a long time, came to Jerusalem and other cities of Judah, besieging them with such a mighty force that there could not have been anything for them to do but to be defeated or to surrender.

Yet, while previously the people had depended on other means, on alliances and other means of this world to protect and provide for themselves, and all these failed, God came and listened to the prayers of His faithful ones, of which Isaiah himself was present in that occasion, and it was written that God sent His mighty Angels to destroy the whole army of the Assyrians overnight, that out of such a great host little remained, and the king of Assyria had to return to his homeland in shame.

All of those examples and proofs were more than sufficient to show that God is indeed a sure assurance and a solid bedrock for us to depend on and to build our foundations on, just as we listened to the Gospel passage today of the famous parable of the Lord on the foundation of sand and the foundation of solid bedrock. That parable is a reminder to all of us that we must not depend on things that are not fully trustworthy, and in God alone we can be fully committed without fear.

In our fast changing world today, especially for the past two years or so, we all know how the coronavirus pandemic had impacted our world and most of our society, wherever we are in the world. The world that we once knew was gone. The security and iron bowl that many of us had once had, are now no more, and many people, as we knew, lost their jobs and livelihood during the pandemic, and many more were affected in the months that passed.

Even to this day, while there are increasingly more glimpse of hope and light at the end of the darkened tunnel, but there are still many uncertainties and there are still many fears that we have. Many of us fear of falling sick and dying, and many of us fear losing our loved ones and friends. Many of us fear losing our job and livelihood, and many of us fear of how the world will turn out to be, and how next year, next month, next week and even tomorrow will be like for us.

Today, through what we have heard in our readings from the Sacred Scriptures, we are reminded that we have to trust the Lord more. The things that we used to depend on may have failed us, but God will not fail us. We have to persevere and have trust in Him, knowing that in the end, no matter what challenges and trials we may face, we shall triumph in the end together with God, Who will always remember those who are faithful to Him.

And what is important for us to do now is for us to help one another, to remember that we are all brothers and sisters in the same Lord, our God and Father. To each one of us, God has given unique talents, capabilities and opportunities, and in this pandemic and unfortunate situation that we are facing now, we are all called to be less selfish and more caring towards one another, to share whatever excess we have for those who have less or even none.

We must remember that even in the midst of our misfortune, there are still many others who are facing even greater misfortunes. We must help one another and love each other, and not be divided and be selfish in our actions. For we may not realise it, but in fact, God is working through us, through our seemingly small and little actions of love, to show His love and providence to us. He has called us in our hearts and minds to do these, but are we all willing to respond to His call and do as He asked us to do?

Let us all discern carefully how we can be more Christ-like in our actions and how we can be more generous in giving and in sharing our love with one another especially during these difficult times that we are all facing now. Let us all put our faith in God, our solid foundation, and help one another to rebuild ourselves, our families and our world, together with the grace and blessings of God. May God bless us all and our good endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 2 December 2021 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 7 : 21, 24-27

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My heavenly Father. Therefore, anyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts according to them, is like a wise man, who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house. But it did not collapse, because it was built on rock.”

“But anyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible collapse that was!”

Thursday, 2 December 2021 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 117 : 1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a

Alleluia! Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good, His loving kindness endures forever. It is better to take refuge in YHVH than to trust in the help of humans. It is better to take refuge in YHVH than to trust in the might of princes.

Open to me the gates of the Just, and let me enter to give thanks. This is YHVH’s gate, through which the upright enter. I thank You for having answered me, for having rescued me.

Save us, o YHVH, deliver us, o YHVH! Blessed is He Who comes in YHVH’s Name! We praise You from the house of YHVH. YHVH is God; may His light shine upon us.

Thursday, 2 December 2021 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 26 : 1-6

On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah : We have a strong city, He Himself has set up walls and fortifications to protect us. Open the gates! Let the righteous nation enter, she who is firm in faithfulness. You keep in perfect place the one of steadfast mind, the one who trusts in You.

Trust in YHVH forever, for YHVH is an everlasting Rock. He brought down those who dwell on high, He laid low the lofty city, He razed it to the ground, levelled it to the dust. Now it is trampled, the poor and the lowly tread upon it.