Sunday, 2 January 2022 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 3-14

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who in Christ has blessed us from heaven with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in His presence. From eternity He destined us in love to be His adopted sons and daughters through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will.

This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness which He granted us in His Beloved might finally receive all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by His Blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us His mysterious design, in accordance with His loving kindness, in Christ.

In Him, and under Him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of Him Who disposes all things according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Sunday, 2 January 2022 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

He spreads snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down hail like pebbles; who will stand before His icy blasts? But He sends His word and melts the snow; He makes His breeze blow, and again the waters flow.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Alternative Psalm

Wisdom 10 : 15-21

It was she who rescued an innocent and holy people from a nation of oppressors. She entered the soul of God’s servant and through him withstood terrible kings with signs and wonders.

To the holy people she gave the wages of their labour, leading them in a wonderful way, giving them shade during the day and the light of the stars at night.

She brought them across the Red Sea, but drowned their enemies and later washed them ashore from the depth of the abyss. So the righteous looted the godless, singing hymns, Lord, to Your holy Name, and one in heart, they gave thanks for Your saving hand.

Wisdom gives speech to the dumb and makes infants speak clearly.

Sunday, 2 January 2022 : Second Sunday after Christmas (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 31 : 7-14

For YHVH says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say : ‘YHVH has saved His people, the remnant of Israel!’”

“Look, I will bring them back from the land of the north, gather them from the ends of the earth, the lame and the blind, mothers and women in labour – a great throng will return. They went away weeping, they will return in joy. I will lead them by the streams of water, on a level path so that no one will stumble, for I am Israel’s Father and Ephraim is My firstborn.”

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock. For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror.”

“They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings – the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden; no more will they be afflicted. Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well.”

“I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow. I will fill the priests with abundance, and satisfy My people with My bounty – this is YHVH’s word.”

Alternative reading

Sirach 24 : 1-12

Listen to Wisdom singing her own praises and extolling herself in the midst of her people. See, she opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself before the Almighty.

I came out from the mouth of God and covered the face of the earth like a mist; although My dwelling place is in the highest heavens, My throne is within a pillar of cloud. I alone have seen and understood the vault of the skies and strolled through the depths of the abyss, taking possession of the raging sea and of the earth as well, with all its people and nations.

In all of these, I looked for a place to rest; in which territory would I set up My abode? Then the Creator of the Universe commanded Me, He Who created Me assigned the place of My rest, “Pitch Your tent in Jacob; Israel will be Your homeland.”

He created Me from the beginning, before time began, and I will never cease to be, I celebrate in His presence the liturgy of His Holy Dwelling and this is why I settled in Zion. The Lord let Me rest in His beloved city and Jerusalem is the heart of My Kingdom. I took root in the people God has favoured, in the land of the Lord, in their inheritance.

Saturday, 1 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Blue

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the first day of the solar Gregorian calendar year, marking the New Year and the beginning of a year ahead that I am sure we all hope to be better than last year and also the previous year before that. And today, the Church also celebrates a great Solemnity in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God or Theotokos, on this Octave or eighth day of Christmas, capping the great eight day celebrations of the Christmas Octave, although the Christmas season itself will still continue through the Epiphany this coming days and beyond.

First of all, the importance of this great Solemnity cannot be underestimated, as the belief in Mary as the Mother of God is a fundamental and essential Christian tenet that is inseparable from our believe in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour as God Himself, incarnate in the flesh. That is why today’s celebration is a fitting reminder of the true nature and importance of Christmas, a reminder for us all why we celebrate and rejoice during this Christmas season, a time for us to remember the love of God manifested to us in the flesh and appearing before us in Christ.

For at the time when the Dogma of the Divine Motherhood of God was officially proclaimed by the Church at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus almost a thousand and six hundred years ago, there had been a lot of arguments and divisions amongst the members of the Church regarding the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The debates were whether He was truly the Son of God or just a mere Man, and whether He was the Co-Eternal and Co-Equal Son of God or subordinate to the Father. These divergent ideas and teachings had led to a lot of heresies which had misled many among the faithful and caused divisions in the Christian communities.

That was why, beginning with the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, the Church and its many leaders have already gathered together and inspired by the Holy Spirit to safeguard the true teachings of the Church as handed down to all of them and which we have also now received, from the hands of the Apostles and their successors. Firstly, the relationship between Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour and the Father was clarified, that He is not only just the Son of God, but is also Co-Equal and Co-Eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, not subordinated but in equal and indivisible unity within the Holy Trinity, the One Triune God that yet maintains its distinct identities, One God in Three Persons.

This became the Nicene Creed as we know it today, which was then further updated at the subsequent Ecumenical Council of Constantinople to become the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed that we are still using regularly to this day. Through this Creed and the many other decisions by the venerable and courageous Church fathers inspired by the Holy Spirit, those who sought to subvert and change the teachings of the Church to suit their own self interests and ambitions were thwarted and many of those who have fallen to the heretical teachings and thoughts eventually returned to the Holy Mother Church.

Nonetheless, there were still disagreements and controversies surrounding the nature of Christ until that time particularly with regards to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord as there were disagreements between those who thought that Mary, as a mere woman could not have been the Mother of God, the same Infinite God and Creator of all the Universe. They thought how it was possible for a woman, a created being to become the mother of the One and Eternal God and Creator, for a created being to become the Mother of the Creator. This was the argument of those who also held the view that Jesus the Man was distinct and separate from the Divine Son of God.

Hence, they used the terms such as the Mother of Christ, or the Bearer of Christ in their references of Mary, highlighting that Mary was merely the mother of the human Jesus Christ, and not the Mother of God. But this view was totally flawed in that in the true nature of Our Lord, we can never completely separate His human and divine natures. Instead, as affirmed by the Ecumenical Councils at Ephesus and Chalcedon, the Lord and Saviour, Son of God and Son of Man is indeed one and only Person but with two distinct yet inseparable natures, Divine and Human at the same time. Each natures are distinct from each other and yet perfectly and completely united in the one Person of Jesus Christ.

And naturally therefore, if Jesus Christ is not just Man but also God, then Mary being His mother, as the one who bore Him in her womb, is also the Mother of God and not just the mother of Jesus Christ the Man. Just as Christ’s Divine and Human natures are inseparable, we cannot separate Mary’s motherhood of Christ from the fact that she is indeed the Mother of God. She was indeed full of grace and blessed among all women as said by her cousin Elizabeth, because she alone from all the creatures of the Lord was to bear the Almighty God Himself in the flesh, in her womb.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect today on Mary as the Mother of God, today all of us are also called to look to her examples and dedication to the Lord. She is not just honourable because she is the Mother of God but because she is also truly dedicated and faithful in her own way as well. She has obeyed the Lord wholeheartedly and followed Him throughout His life and ministry, ever since He was still in her womb, and then after He was born and then grew up, she still cared for Him, followed Him even throughout His works and then even through to the foot of the Cross. She remained true and faithful to the mission which God has entrusted to her.

Today we look up to Mary, who is not only just the Mother of God but also the mother of us all. For through His incarnation in the flesh, Our Lord has become part of our humanity and by sharing in our nature and in entrusting His own mother to us from the Cross, He has made all of us to be Mary’s own adopted children. She has watchfully guided us all and has never ceased praying for each and every one of us, and hoping that we can also follow her examples and also the examples of many of our faithful brothers and sisters, that we may also be truly faithful to God in all things.

Today we may then be wondering why is it that we are celebrating this occasion on the New Year’s Day. This is important because on this New Year’s Day, all of us are called to start the year right and not to continue living our lives in the manner that is not proper and unbecoming of our calling as Christians if that is what we have been doing all these while. All of us ought to remember that first and foremost, as Christians all of us are called to live our lives faithfully in accordance to the Law and the commandments that God has placed before us, which He has taught us and revealed to us through His Church.

If we call ourselves as Christians, then it is only right that all of us commit ourselves to a new life in God, to be true followers of Our Lord and be genuinely dedicated to Him in the way that Mary, the Mother of God and our mother had done. As we rejoice for her sake today, let us remember how all of us should also listen to her and her Son, in how we live our lives so that we do not end up being hypocrites in our Christian faith. That is why, as we begin this current new year, all of us should do our best and spend the time and effort to begin a year that is new, blessed and filled with true joy in Christ. The Lord has given us many opportunities in life and as such let us not forget to give Him thanks and to show our gratitude towards Him for His ever enduring patience and love for us.

In our lives in this new year, let us do whatever we can to be a source of light and hope, inspiration and strength to one another, especially to our brothers and sisters who are now suffering and are filled with sorrow and despair. In whatever way we can, and at least even through prayer, let us reach out to those who need our help, our love, care and attention. Just as Christ, Our Lord and Saviour has brought us the light of God’s salvation and revealed to us the wonders of His love, let us all pass on the light, love and all the wonders we have received to our fellow brothers and sisters.

Today, we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Peace, and hence it is an appropriate time for us to also dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace in our world. We all know how conflict and troubles had affected our world and many innocent people out there. If we do not actively make strides to go forth towards bringing Gos’s peace and harmony into our midst, then let us know just how our year and livelihood could be ruined by the conflicts, disagreements and hatred that are all around us. As Christians, all of us are called to pray for peace and to always work hard in championing the cause of peace.

Let us all do our best to live out our new year with ever greater faith in God and be ever fuller in love for Him, as we all gather together to celebrate this new year. And as we rejoice in all the new year celebrations, let us not forget to put Christ back at the centre of our hearts, our lives and existence so that we may live our lives from now on with Him as the focus and the inspiration for everything that we say and do.

Let us follow Mary, the Mother of God and our loving mother that we may be ever more righteous and obedient in following the Lord and in living our lives as role models to our fellow brothers and sisters, as genuine Christians at all times. And let us not forget to share our joy and blessings with others, especially those who have little or none to rejoice with this new year. Let us bring hope to the downtrodden and those who are in need of strength, encouragement and hope.

May God bless us all and may He empower each and every one of us so that we may grow ever stronger in faith and that we may always ever strive to seek Him and to walk in His ways. May our new year be blessed and be filled with joy, through Christ our Lord, through His light and hope. May God be with is all, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 1 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Blue

Luke 2 : 16-21

So the shepherds came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him, they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the Angels had told them.

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived.

Saturday, 1 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Blue

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! That is, Father! You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.