Monday, 6 December 2021 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures, we are reminded of the healing and liberation that God is bringing us through His Saviour, His own only begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him, all of us have received the guarantee and assurance of salvation, through our faith in Him. He has revealed to us God’s most amazing and infinite love, and His desire to forgive us our sins as well as reconciling us to Himself.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard how God reassured His people of the coming of salvation for all of them, and God Himself will come to succour them and to provide for them. He shall bless them and reveal to them His love and all that He will do for them. All of these eventually will come true through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour. Through the coming of His light into this world, He reveals the Way of Holiness as mentioned, the Way of Light out of the darkness of evil and sin.

It was a most reassuring message that the Lord gave to His people, especially to those who still remained faithful to Him despite the history of many disobedient and rebellious actions that the people of God had done in the past years, decades and centuries. He still remembered them and loved them, and sent prophets and messengers, one after another to help them, to guide them to the right path, ever patiently hoping for them to return to Him and be reconciled with Him.

That was exactly what happened on our Gospel today, the coming of His long promised salvation, in the person of Jesus Christ, Who revealed the truth of God to the people, and healed a paralytic man brought upon Him through the roof, because there were simply so many people that were assembled around the Lord to listen to Him. I am sure many of us knew this well-documented miracle, as the Lord told the paralytic that his sins had been forgiven, and made him to be able to walk and move freely once again.

Yet, as we heard from that same Gospel passage, the Lord’s actions were not truly welcomed by some among His own people, especially the powerful elites, the members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were among the very influential persona in the community of the people of God. Those people were unhappy, displeased and even infuriated at hearing the Lord forgiving the sins of the paralytic man, not knowing that it was indeed well within His power and right to do so. They hardened their hearts and minds against God, refusing to believe in the truth. They had even charged the Lord of blasphemy for having done what God alone can do.

Ironically, those same Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were supposedly the most intelligent, knowledgeable and understanding of the truth of God as contained within His Law and in the words of His prophets. They were the guardians and caretakers of God’s Law and commandments, and the teachings and words of the prophets were kept by them, even by heart. Yet, when seeing everything unfolding exactly as how the prophet Isaiah himself and the other prophets had mentioned, they still refused to believe in God.

It was this same attitude that God had to face for so many years while patiently sending His people His prophets and messengers, reminding them of His love and truth. Yet, He never gave up on us and kept trying to bring us to Himself. And we should also compare the attitudes of the Pharisees to that of the companions of the paralytic man, who had so much faith in the Lord that they were willing to climb up with the paralytic man to the roof, a no small feat, and helped the man to reach the Lord to be healed.

The question that all of us should ask ourselves is, who do we want to be like? Do we want to behave like the Pharisees in their ways, in refusing to humble themselves to the Lord and in keeping their pride and arrogance? Or do we want to be like the paralytic man and his companions instead, who sought the Lord, our Salvation and Light, our Hope and Prince of Peace with true and genuine faith? This is something that we have to ponder carefully in our hearts as we continue to prepare ourselves in this blessed season of Advent, for the coming of the joyous Christmas celebrations.

Today, all of us should be inspired by the faith and dedication, the good examples and virtues shown to us by our holy predecessor, whose feast we celebrate today, the renowned St. Nicholas of Myra. Many of us may recognise him more as the origin of the ubiquitous Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas and many other personas that were inspired upon the original saint. However, many of those personas did not tell us anything at all about who the true St. Nicholas of Myra truly was. He was a truly devoted man of God, who loved God with all his heart and also did the same for his fellow men.

We may see St. Nicholas of Myra more as an elderly bishop who truly loved children and liked to give them presents. This he actually did as part of his pastoral works and approach among his flock, from which eventually sprang, the legend of St. Nicholas, that eventually was corrupted into Sinterklaas and Santa Claus. But the true St. Nicholas of Myra was not just a loving shepherd to his flock, but an ardent and faithful defender of the faith.

He was an ardent defender of the true faith in the midst of the Arian heresy and schism caused by the priest Arius, during the heated debate and discussions at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. He stood up against those who sought to corrupt the true faith and pervert the truth of God for their own worldly desires and ambitions, as the heresiarch Arius and his supporters had done. In one tradition, it was even told that the faithful St. Nicholas hit the heresiarch when the latter in his speech spoke such utter falsehood that it enraged him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we recall the Scripture passages today and reflect on the life, courage and examples showed by St. Nicholas of Myra and many other saints, let us all be inspired by the genuine faith that others had for God, and the love that they also had for Him. Are we willing and able to commit ourselves thoroughly to God, and dedicate ourselves and our efforts to serve Him for His greater glory?

May the Lord be our Guide and Strength, and may He give us all the courage to remain faithful throughout our journey of life. May God be with us all, and may He empower us all in our everyday lives, that we may ever be inspirations ourselves in how we live our faith, at all times. Amen.

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