Friday, 31 December 2021 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name. Proclaim His salvation day after day.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them; let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before the Lord.

He Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Friday, 31 December 2021 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 18-21

My dear children, it is the last hour. You were told that an antichrist would come; but several antichrists have already come, by which we know that it is now the last hour.

They went out from us though they did not really belong to us. Had they belonged to us, they would have remained with us. So it became clear that not all of us were really ours. But you have the anointing from the Holy One, so that all of you have true wisdom.

I write to you, not because you lack knowledge of the truth, but because you already know it, and lies have nothing in common with the truth.

Thursday, 30 December 2021 : Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to continue to remember that this is still now part of the Christmas season, and all that we have heard today reminded us that God in His ever enduring and supreme love for all of us have given us the perfect gift in Jesus, His most beloved Son, Whom He sent to the world to be part of our lives, to be the Bridge that brought us closer to Him and helped in reuniting and reconciling us to Himself. Too often we have been caught up in our busy life schedules and forgot about all these, ignoring God and His ever generous love.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, the Apostle reminded all the faithful to keep in mind their Christian calling, that is to follow the Lord and His path, to love Him more than anything else by their words and deeds, and not to succumb to the temptations of worldliness among other things. St. John reminded us all because it is very easy for us to love the world more than we love God, for the world often offers us easy pleasures and quick satisfaction that can tempt us to desire more of them.

St. John reminded all of us that the Word of God, the Word of Life has come upon us and dwells in our midst. He is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Word of God made flesh, the Son of God born through His mother Mary as the Son of Man, entering into our world and gracing us with His love, the perfect manifestation of God’s Love, made fully tangible and approachable, that all of us may know the truth of God, His love and ever generous compassion towards us. It is all these that we have been celebrating this Christmas season.

It is the same Jesus Christ Whom as a young Infant, was brought to the Temple of Jerusalem, the House of God to be offered to God, as in accordance to the Law of Moses, as we heard in our Gospel passage both today and yesterday. The old prophetess Anna confirmed again what the old man of God Simeon had already spoken regarding the Child Jesus, before His parents, Mary and St. Joseph, who heard how this Child indeed would become the Saviour of all and amaze all by His power and deeds. It is this same Child that would later on grow to become the One to bear the Cross of suffering, dying and offering His own life for our sake.

For Christmas is indeed inseparable from the Passion of the Lord and His Resurrection at Easter. Through Christmas and all that we celebrate, we remember God Who has made Himself tangible to us, and sharing in our human existence, resolving to take upon Himself all of our sufferings, our human sufferings due to our sins, which would not have been possible without the Incarnation, and bore it upon Himself as the worthy offering in atonement for our sins. Through that act of supreme and most selfless love, God had redeemed us and saved us, assuring us who keep our faith in Him, the assurance of eternal life and true joy.

Yet, as mentioned just earlier, it is very easy for us to forget about all these, and forget why we call ourselves as Christians in the first place. In a world filled with a lot of selfishness and various temptations, of pleasures of the flesh, of wealth and glory, of fame and influence, power and others, we often sidelined the Lord and ignored His ever generous love, choosing instead to listen to Satan and all the temptress’ seductions, believing in their lies instead of God’s truth and ever enduring love for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we continue to celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us always remind ourselves and one another of the reason of our celebrations and rejoicing. Let us not be easily swayed and tempted by the excesses of worldly pleasures and instead seek the true joy and happiness that can be found in God alone. Let us all be good role models to one another and inspire everyone whom we encounter in our daily lives with the light and hope of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In these dark and difficult times, let us bring hope and encouragement to others, especially to those who are suffering and sorrowful without anyone to console or help them.

May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us in our every good works and endeavours, and may He continue to inspire and encourage us to be the bearers of His light and hope in our world today. May our love for the Lord continue to grow and remain strong despite the challenges and trials we may encounter in life. Amen.

Thursday, 30 December 2021 : Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 36-40

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon Him.

Thursday, 30 December 2021 : Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 7-8a, 8b-9, 10

Give to YHVH, you families of nations, give to YHVH glory and strength. Give to YHVH the glory due His Name.

Bring gifts and enter His courts. Worship YHVH with holy celebrations; stand in awe of Him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, “YHVH reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Thursday, 30 December 2021 : Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 12-17

My dear children, I write this to you : you have already received the forgiveness of your sins, through the Name of Jesus. Fathers, I write this to you : you know Him, Who is from the beginning. Young men, I write this to you : you have overcome the evil one. My dear children, I write to you, because you already know the Father.

Fathers, I write to you, because you know Him, Who is from the beginning. Young men, I write to you, because you are strong, and the Word of God lives in you, who have, indeed, overcome the evil one. Do not love the world, or what is in it. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the craving of the flesh, the greed of eyes and people boasting of their superiority – all this, belongs to the world, not to the Father.

The world passes away, with all its craving, but those who do the will of God remain for ever.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 : Fifth Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are called to reflect on the Law and commandments of God, on what each and every one of us have received through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, all the truth and love that He has shown us. We have to live our lives virtuously and commit ourselves wholeheartedly as a holy people that God had called and chosen, and to whom God had sent His own beloved Son, that all of us may be saved through Him.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard the the Apostle exhorting the faithful to be genuine in their faith, in how they ought to be following Christ, in all that He had done throughout His life. We are all called to be genuine and authentic witnesses of Christ’s truth and love in our respective communities and societies. Otherwise, we are no better than hypocrites and those who profess to be faithful and yet had no love or true faith in the Lord. This is why all of us are reminded by St. John to practice what we believe in our lives.

St. John especially exhorted all of us to be loving just as the Lord Himself has shown His love to us. We ought to follow Him with all of our strength and might, and do whatever we can to live our lives in accordance to the path that He has shown us. We should be truly genuine in our desire to follow Him and to commit ourselves to His path. We must not only show lip service but instead, obey the Lord’s commandments wholeheartedly, resist the temptations to sin and be ready to lead a good Christian life and be exemplary in that life and faith to our fellow brothers and sisters.

In our Gospel passage today we heard the account of the time when the Lord Jesus was presented at the Temple of God in Jerusalem in accordance to the Law by Mary and St. Joseph. At that time, they were met with the devout man of God named Simeon who was already very old and had been waiting and expecting the coming of the Lord and His salvation for a long time. He has been told that he would live to see the Saviour of the world with his very own eyes, and he did finally see Him as he beheld Jesus that day at the Temple of God.

It was there too that he proclaimed God’s words on the Child Jesus, speaking of the Sign that He has shown the world by His coming and all the wonders that He would do in fulfilling the many prophecies that had been made regarding Him. Simeon also spoke of what Mary herself would experience in the days to come, a premonition of her sorrow at the time of the Crucifixion, when she herself would witness her Son’s agony, suffering and death, and thus having her heart pierced with the greatest of sorrows.

What we have heard in our Gospel passage today is again another example of obedience to God, as the Presentation of the Lord was done in accordance with the Law of God, and marked the moment that the Lord was revealed and committed to the ministry that He had been sent to this world for. He was consecrated to God and marked as the One through Whom all that God had planned for the salvation of mankind would be fulfilled perfectly. It was the dedication of Christ as the future High Priest of all, preceding his role as the One to offer the worthy sacrifice for the atonement of our many sins.

Today, all of us as Christians should remind ourselves to be faithful to God and to dedicate ourselves to Him. And we should also emulate the good examples and inspiration given to us by the great saint whose life and works we celebrate today. St. Thomas Becket, also known as St. Thomas of Canterbury was the renowned Archbishop of Canterbury during the High Medieval era England, in his great passion serving the people of God and in his ministry, in his refusal to let the English king from having his ways in manipulating and controlling the Church, and finally his well-known martyrdom.

St. Thomas Becket was born into a merchant family who rose to become an efficient administrator and later on gained the trust and respect of King Henry II, the King of England. The king made St. Thomas Becket his Chancellor, and entrusted to him the governance of his kingdom. He became a close confidant of the king, and this was one of the main reasons why he was nominated by the king to become the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important position in the Church in England and also the leader of the Church and the other bishops in that kingdom.

The king most likely had wanted to bring the Church and its administration, as well as its income and wealth closer to the royal control. However, if he thought that by appointing his close friend, St. Thomas Becket, that he could achieve this, he was totally wrong. For St. Thomas Becket, after he had been formally appointed, ordained and enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he began to fiercely defend the independence of the Church from the secular control, especially from the king and his nobles. He strongly resisted the king’s efforts to interfere in the affairs of the Church.

The conflict between the king and Archbishop continued to grow such that there had been multiple tensions in which St. Thomas Becket stood his ground firmly against the king and his corrupt nobles’ actions and efforts. St. Thomas Becket even had to endure more than one exile for his dedication, having to flee to mainland Europe due to the threats against him. In the end, the Archbishop remained firmly faithful to the very end, and when the frustrated king spoke in his drunken rambles, some nobles went to St. Thomas Becket to murder him in cold blood, which enraged all of Christendom.

The faith and dedication showed by St. Thomas Becket should be a great inspiration for us to follow, in obeying the Lord and His laws and commandments, and not to fall into the temptations of this world. We have to follow in the footsteps of St. Thomas Becket in remaining virtuous and true to his calling despite the corrupt attitudes of his contemporaries and all those who pressured him and others to disobey the Lord by their own selfish and sinful actions. His courage and devotion to God should be our source of great strength and inspiration.

Let us all turn towards the Lord with renewed faith, vigour and zeal, and may the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, so that we may always be courageous in living our faith despite the challenges we may encounter in this world. May God bless us all and our every good endeavours for His greater glory. Amen.