Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

2 Samuel 7 : 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When the king had settled in his palace and YHVH had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the Ark of God is housed in a tent.” Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for YHVH is with you.”

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : Are you able to build a house for Me to live in? I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth.”

“I will provide a place for My people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over My people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. YHVH also tells you that He will build you a house.”

“When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son. Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we are almost at the end of the Advent season and the start of the Christmas celebrations, through what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the life, work and faith of St. John the Baptist, whom the Lord had sent into this world just before His coming and revelation to the world, to prepare His way and to proclaim His coming to everyone, so that all may know of the Lord’s salvation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Malachi, we heard the words of the Lord revealing to His people that He would send His messenger ahead of Him to prepare the way for His own coming. This was a prophecy of the coming of God’s Messiah, the Saviour Whom He has promised to all of His people for a very long time. And the coming of this Messiah would be preceded by a Herald, the one sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour. This Herald is none other than St. John the Baptist.

St. John the Baptist came into this world to prepare the way for the Lord, which happened through the miraculous pregnancy of Elizabeth, who was Mary’s relative, and that happened despite Elizabeth having been in an advanced age and had been barren, unable to bear a child at all. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, his father in the Temple and proclaimed to him the Good News, that the son he would soon bear through his wife Elizabeth would be the one prophesied to proclaim the coming of the salvation of God.

He was born into this world and was dedicated to God from his infancy and youth, to be the servant of God Most High, and became the instrument through whom God prepared the revelation of His great plan of salvation to all of us. God sent St. John the Baptist into the midst of His people to call them all to repentance, to call them to remember their sins and wickedness, and resolve to overcome all those evil and wicked deeds that they had committed. The Lord called on all of them to embrace His mercy and love, and through his baptism, St. John the Baptist prepared the hearts and minds of many to welcome the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded in the same manner, as we are all now about to celebrate Christmas, have we prepared ourselves well in order to be ready to welcome the Lord, the One Whom we are celebrating this Christmas for, into our hearts and minds? Or have we instead been too busy and distracted by the many concerns, the many busy commitments and tight schedules we have, our work and preoccupations that we ended up forgetting God, ignoring and sidelining Him in our busy lives and shutting Him out from ourselves.

Then, many of us have also been too distracted with the many distractions and temptations of the secular Christmas, and how it has been celebrated all around us. Many people have forgotten the true reason and meaning of Christmas, and this sadly include many of those who have called themselves as Christians. We do not have to look far, brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, let us all just look at ourselves and our attitudes towards the Lord and our faith in Him. How many of us can confidently say that we have truly devoted ourselves to Him?

Today, all of us should spend some time to reflect on how we can be better disciples and followers of our Lord, in living our faith in a more genuine and committed manner in our lives. Let us all also look for inspiration from the saint whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, who was a Polish priest and theologian renowned for his great piety and dedication to the Lord. He was involved in theological teachings and many other works among the people of God.

But what is most remembered from his actions were his compassionate nature and the efforts he put in reaching out to the poor and the people suffering all around him in his community. He also helped to support the students in the university he was teaching in, providing support and assistance whenever and wherever he could, while at the same time doing his best to do many other good works for the Lord and His Church. St. John Cantius devoted his life to follow the Lord and to live out the Christian faith in his daily living.

Are we able to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all reflect on this, and spend the remaining time on these last two days of the Advent season to reorientate our lives if we have not yet done so thus far, so that we may once again focus our attention and our lives towards the Lord. May God be with us all too, and may He strengthen us in our resolve and faith to live our lives ever more faithfully in the service of His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Malachi 3 : 1-4, 23-24

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of YHVH comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 4th 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 Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the great love and providence by which God had generously and marvellously cared for us since the very beginning. God has never looked away from us or ignored us when we are in our hour of great distress. Through various ways, He has always reached out to us and wanted to bring us all back to His embrace, to be reunited with us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel in which the mother of Samuel, Hannah, was about to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord as she herself had promised. At that time, Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah, who also had another wife named Penninah. Hannah had not been able to have any son or child with Elkanah while Penninah had borne many sons and children to Elkanah. Children back then were highly regarded as symbols of fertility and prestige for the women, and the apparent barrenness of Hannah was often seen as as sign of someone being cursed or unworthy, and Hannah experienced exactly just that.

Penninah also often bullied Hannah and took pride at the fact that she had borne many children for her husband, while Hannah had none. Although Elkanah did love Hannah more than Penninah, but the fact that she did not have a child and could not bear one still weighed very heavily on her mind. It was at that occasion then that Hannah came seeking the Lord at the House of God, in the presence of the Judge Eli, praying before God and seeking His help and providence. She begged the Lord for His assistance and for her to be rescued from her predicament.

The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and answered her, and she miraculously bore a child, whom she had promised to the Lord if she were ever to bore one. Her firstborn son was named as Samuel, and was offered to God to be His servant forever. Hannah was very grateful to the Lord for all that He had done for her, praising Him and thanking Him for all that He had blessed her with. Through Him, her shame and predicament had been overcome, a light and hope had returned back to her face and heart once again.

The Lord had done the same to all of us through Mary, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The Psalm today is Hannah’s song of rejoicing and thanksgiving, for all that the Lord had done for her in removing from her the stain of humiliation and suffering due to her earlier barrenness. And after having offered and entrusted Samuel to the Lord, she was blessed with more children with her husband Elkanah. And in the Gospel passage, we heard Mary, great song of rejoicing that is similar to Hannah’s great song of rejoicing, the Magnificat.

In the Magnificat, Mary, full of the Holy Spirit sang a great song of praise, thanking God for all the wonders He had done for His beloved people, ever since the very beginning of time. God has always ever been faithful to His people and He has always showed His kindness to them, and to all those who have devoted themselves to Him, He has brought them His grace and blessings, as He had done to Abraham and David, fulfilling His promises to them, and bringing into this world its salvation, through none other than Christ, Who was then in Mary’s womb.

As we listened to those words and recalled God’s great and amazing deeds done for our behalf, and as we progress ever closer to Christmas in just a few days’ time, all of us are encouraged to spend the time to deepen our relationship with God, to remember His love and all the blessings He has given us all these while throughout our lives. We are also called to rediscover the love which we should have for the Lord, and to be thankful for everything that He had done for our sake, and foremost of all, for His coming into this world which we celebrate this Christmas.

As the famous words in the Gospel of St. John mentioned, God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, to be born into the world, the Divine Word Incarnate, to be born of His mother Mary and revealed to the whole world, to all of us, so that through Him, all of us who have lived in darkness may come to see the great light and hope that God alone can bring to our midst. Through Him, the world has the reason to rejoice again, and all of us can finally see hope at the end of our earthly journey, to look up to the hope of everlasting joy and peace in God’s presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore focus our attention on the Lord, and do our best to make our upcoming Christmas celebrations a more wholesome and meaningful one. Let us make this Christmas a time of renewal of our faith in God and a rejuvenation of our love for Him. May God be with us all and may His light and hope rekindle in our hearts to continue to desire to seek Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 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.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 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.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 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.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we come ever closer to the celebration of Christmas in just a few more days, all of us are reminded that God loves us all, and we are all precious and cherished by Him. We should be grateful and feeling very fortunate to have been treasured in such a way by our loving God, and to have experienced His most wonderful love and grace. God has always ever been patient in loving us despite our many transgressions and mistakes, as He wants us to return to Him and rediscover the love that we all should have for Him.

The Lord has promised us all His salvation, and has always proved His love for us from the very beginning, never abandoning us even in the moments of our greatest distress. He has always put us all first and foremost in His thoughts, and He always endeavoured to reach out to us, trying to find us and to redeem us so that we may not be forever lost to Him. And that was why He came down into our midst, through His most Blessed Mother Mary, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God, who went to visit Elizabeth, her cousin in our Gospel passage today.

Elizabeth recognised Mary and the One inside her womb, the Saviour of the whole world and the Lord Himself, the Divine Word Incarnate, Who has taken up the human existence and form in the flesh, to bring His salvation into our midst. The Lord has revealed Himself to us, the fullness of His love, through His incarnation and then His birth into this world. The world that was once in the darkness and in the shadows of evil and wickedness has finally seen the truth, love and salvation from God.

That is the true essence of Christmas, which often sadly had been forgotten by the world, by many of us, even we who called ourselves as Christians. We have forgotten what the Lord had done for us and sidelined Him because we have little faith in Him. We are easily distracted by the many temptations and worldly desires present in this world. These had misled us down the wrong path and caused us to be separated further and further away from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are therefore reminded of the need for us to respond to God’s love and to answer His call. He has called all of us to follow Him and to entrust ourselves completely to His care and to believe in His hope and light, in His truth and way. But in order to do so, first of all, we need to reject firmly the temptations of our worldly concerns and desires.

Today, all of us are celebrating the feast of a great saint whose life, works and devotion to God and His Blessed Mother Mary can be great source of inspiration and strength for all of us. St. Peter Canisius was a renowned Jesuit priest and teacher of the faith, who dedicated his life in serving God. Born as Peter Kanis in what is today the Netherlands, the future saint would come to join the Society of Jesus together with other famous saints like St. Francis Xavier and its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Peter Canisius dedicated himself in the many efforts of Counter Reformation in what is today Germany, seeking to undo and repair the damages caused to the Church and the communities of the faithful by the false teachings of the heresy of Protestantism back then. He laboured hard among the people, teaching the faith and revealing the truth about Church teachings and tenets, in a way that is both understandable, respectful and conciliatory.

He once remarked that the right manner and attitude must be used in persuading the lapsed ones to return to the Holy Mother Church, saying that if a forceful method is used, then it may end up preventing the healing of the division within the Church of God. To that extent, he continued to work hard to bridge the divisions among the people of God, and managed throughout his efforts to convert and convince many to abandon their rebellion and return to the true Church of God.

St. Peter Canisius was also well known for his Catechism, which was widely published and reproduced, which resulted in the great rejuvenation of faith among the people and the increase in the number of people who began to appreciate the true teachings of the Church more, and many others deepened their under his guidance and through their understanding and exposure to his works. He was also known for his Mariology and devotion to the Blessed Mother of God, and was credited with the last line in the Hail Mary prayer, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius in his faith and dedication to the Lord. Let us all devote ourselves ever more to Him and His Blessed Mother, while reminding ourselves of what we are celebrating this Christmas, of Christ Our Lord, Whose love for us and His generous mercy and compassion has saved us from certain destruction. May God be with us always, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.