Sunday, 26 December 2021 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 41-52

Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, as was customary. And when Jesus was twelve years old, He went up with them, according to the custom of this feast. After the festival was over, they returned, but the Boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it.

They thought He was in the company, and after walking the whole day they looked for Him among their relatives and friends. As they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem searching for Him, and on the third day they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all the people were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

His parents were very surprised when they saw Him, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Your father and I were very worried while searching for You.” Then He said to them, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand this answer.

Jesus went down with them, returning to Nazareth, and He continued to be subject to them. As for His mother, she kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and age, and in divine and human favour.

Sunday, 26 December 2021 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 1-2, 21-24

See what singular love the Father has for us : we are called children of God, and we really are. This is why the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children, and what we shall be has not, yet, been shown. Yet, when He appears in His glory, we know, that we shall be like Him, for, then, we shall see Him as He is.

When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God. Then, whatever we ask, we shall receive, since we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. His command is, that we believe in the Name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that, we love one another, as He has commanded us.

Whoever keeps His commands remains in God and God in him. It is by the Spirit God has given us, that we know He lives in us.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. Let the Word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise.

And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

Sunday, 26 December 2021 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 83 : 2-3, 5-6, 9-10

How lovely are Your rooms, o YHVH of hosts! My soul yearns; pines, for the courts of YHVH. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy, the pilgrims whom You strengthen, to make the ascent to You.

O YHVH of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, o God of Jacob! Look upon our shield, o God; look upon the face of Your Anointed!

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Psalm 127 : 1-2, 3, 4-5

Blessed are you who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your toil; you will be blessed and favoured.

Your wife, like a vine, will bear fruits in your home; your children, like olive shoots will stand around your table.

Such are the blessings bestowed upon the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosperous all the days of your life.

Sunday, 26 December 2021 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Samuel 1 : 20-22, 24-28

And Hannah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son and called him Samuel because she said : “I have asked YHVH to give him to me.” Once more Elkanah went to the Temple with his family to offer his yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow to YHVH. Hannah would not go along but she said to her husband, “I will bring the child there as soon as he is weaned. He shall be presented to YHVH and stay there forever.”

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.

Alternative reading (Reading from Year A)

Sirach 3 : 3-7, 14-17a (Greek Septuagint – Sirach 3 : 2-6, 12-14)

For the Lord established that children should respect their father; He confirmed the right of the mother over her children. Whoever honours his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself.

Whoever honours his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother.

My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins.

Saturday, 25 December 2021 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have finally come to the moment of our glorious celebration of Christmas, as we gather together on this Christmas Day rejoicing together because the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Saviour has come upon us and He has fulfilled God’s promises for our salvation, our liberation from the certain destruction and annihilation due to our many sins. He has shown us His ever generous love, compassion and mercy, and God has never given up on us. He even gave us all His only begotten Son, that through Him we may be saved and have eternal life.

In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the glorious proclamation of the Lord to His people, proclaiming the coming of the King to the people of God, to Zion or Jerusalem, the city of God. Through His coming into the midst of His people, God Who is their King would free them all from their troubles, their sufferings and break free their fetters and the chains that were holding them. He would restore their joy and glory to them, so that they would no longer be in shame and suffering from their predicaments.

For the people of God, it was truly words of reassurance that they must have heard from the prophet Isaiah, as they were back then beset by many troubles, having been oppressed by their neighbours and facing many threats even to their own independence. The remnant kingdom of Judah, the southern half of the old united kingdom of Israel held its position precariously amidst rivalling great powers of the region, while the northern kingdom of Israel had been laid waste and destroyed by the Assyrians years earlier and its people brought off to exile.

The Lord showed His people that if they remained faithful to Him, they have no need to worry and be fearful, and they and their cities would be saved, as God would reveal His power and saving help before all, and gather all of His faithful ones and make them once again to be His beloved flock and people. This is the same promise that God had made and renewed repeatedly over the years, which He gave through His many prophets, and especially through the prophet Isaiah, who spoke many prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah.

In our second reading today, taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author of the Epistle spoke of the Lord Who has sent His own Son into this world, that by appearing in the flesh, He has become the manifestation of the love that God has for each and every one of us. He, the Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate came down upon us to dwell among us that the power of God’s Word may be reflected through all who have witnessed His mighty works, the foremost of which is how He has lifted us all up from our sins and from the darkness surrounding us, by His sacrifice on the Cross.

For that is exactly how He rescued all of us, His beloved people. He sent us down His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, that by His coming in the flesh, He has shown us the means out of the darkness surrounding us. He has come down to us, the Word that was made flesh, as mentioned by St. John in the beginning of his Gospel that we heard today, so that His words and His truth may become tangible and accessible to us. He is no longer unreachable to us and has made Himself as One Who is approachable, crossing the chasm that once existed between us due to our sins.

Sin borne out of our disobedience, our wickedness and evil deeds have sundered us away from the love of God, but God’s love has overcome even our many sins, as He willingly assumed our humble human existence to be reconciled and reunited with us. He assumed our human appearance and existence because He wants us to know that we belong to Him and we should no longer be separated from Him. He came to us as our Good Shepherd, full of love for us and full of His most compassionate and generous mercy.

Through His coming into the world, He has become for us the beacon of Hope and brought to us the undimmed Light of salvation. He became the New Adam and the New Man, showing His perfect obedience to His Father’s will, and through His willingness to bear all of our sins and their consequences, bearing those burden on His shoulders, by picking up His heavy Cross, He was scourged and suffered for us on our behalf. And by His offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood on the Altar of the Cross, He offered for us, on our behalf before His Father, the perfect offering of sacrificial love in atonement for all of our sins.

Yet, despite everything He has done for our sake, we still often ignored and even rejected Him, preferring to sin rather than to love Him and follow His path. And as we come to celebrate Christmas, many of us scarcely even remember Him and less still placing Him at the centre and as the focus of all of our rejoicing and celebrations. That is because we have often been swayed by the secularised and over-commercialised Christmas as we have often been exposed to in our world today.

As Christians, all of us are called to remember our faith and love for God. We are called to remember just how beloved and dear we are to our Lord. And knowing that we are truly beloved by Him, then it is only right that we recognise that love and strive to love the Lord wholeheartedly if we have not done so yet. In Christmas, we are celebrating this love of God made evident and real, tangible and accessible through the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Therefore, all of us should reflect this in the way we are celebrating the joy of Christmas.

It means that we should not end up celebrating Christmas with great excesses and merrymaking, in order to satisfy our own desires for pleasure and comfort, for earthly goods and wants. Instead, our Christmas celebration and joy should come from the genuine desire we have in loving God and in thanking Him for all that He has done for us. We celebrate this Christmas because God has done so much for us, in extending His love and mercy towards us through Christ, His Son, Whom He had sent to our midst in order to show us all His love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all share our Christmas joy and blessings with one another, with our fellow brethren who need them the most. Many of our brethren out there are in fact unable to rejoice this Christmas in the manner that many of us are able to do. Some are suffering even from remaining faithful, in those parts of the world where being Christians may mean certain suffering and death. Not only that they have to celebrate Christmas in secret, but they must also practice their faith in secret or else risking persecution and death. And many others still are suffering and in difficult times, especially as we know how these past two years had been difficult for so many of us.

Many people had lost their loved ones or are still suffering the effects of the current pandemic, as well as its related complications and negative impacts on the communities all around the world. This Christmas should be an inspiration to all of us, especially if we have received more joy and blessings than others, for us to generously share those joy and blessings with those who have little or none of them. Let us all not turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their plight and need, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all share the true joy of Christmas, that is the joy in the Light and Hope that Christ our Lord and Saviour had brought into our midst, in His coming into the world that all of us now have the assurance of eternal life and true happiness with Him. Let us be the bearers of this joy, this Hope and Light that we have received from Him, and help others who are suffering, sorrowful and are in difficult moments, to be able to see the Light and the Hope of God’s salvation, through our faith and actions.

May the Lord, our Saviour and King, born to us and celebrated this Christmas day, continue to be with us and bless us all in our every good endeavours and deeds. May God give us the strength, courage and joy to live in our world today with true Christian virtues, and bear with us the joy of His love and grace, now and always. Wishing all of us a most blessed and happy Christmas! Amen.