Thursday, 1 December 2022 : 1st 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 Scriptures, we are reminded that the Lord our God is our Rock and Foundation, and in Him alone we will find a firm and steady support for ourselves, regardless of whatever trials, hardships and struggles we may encounter throughout life. The Lord alone is the source of our true strength and without Him we shall have nothing and our existence has no meaning at all. Yet, many of us still chose to build our lives upon unstable and shaky foundations, based on worldly things, resources and matters, and not on the Lord and His providence. We have often left the Lord out of our lives and put Him aside when in truth He should have been at the very centre of our lives.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the words of the Lord speaking to His people through Isaiah regarding what He will do to them, in providing for them, protecting them and leading them into glory, rescuing them from their troubles and their enemies. They shall once again see happiness and true joy through God’s providence and love. Back then, during the time of the ministry and work of the prophet Isaiah, the people of God left in the land of Judah, the southern half of the once united kingdom of Israel, were facing great trials and challenges, as their enemies rose up all around them, threatening them and drowning them by their great power. Yet, the Lord reassured them that if they remained firm in their faith in Him and trusted in Him, God will always be by their side and they will be saved in the end.

At that time, the kingdom of Israel, the northern domain of the people of God, north of Judah had just recently been destroyed by the conquering and rampaging Assyrians who crushed the entire kingdom of Israel, subjugating its people to humiliation and exile, bringing many of them to the distant lands away from their homeland. Their constant refusal to listen to the Lord, their sins and wickedness had brought about that consequence, as they were all humbled from their haughty attitude against the Lord’s faithful, His many prophets and messengers whom they had persecuted and rejected. However, it did not mean that God did not love His people or forsake them. He still loved them, but those wayward ones indeed had to face their consequences first, and know that what they had suffered, came because of their own actions and choices.

Then, the Assyrians also came up against Judah after they had crushed the Israelites. King Sennacherib of Assyria brought a massive and powerful army against the kingdom of Judah and laid siege to Jerusalem itself. Conventionally, by the wisdom and understanding of the world, the people of Judah and Jerusalem were doomed, and they should have shared the fate of their northern brethren. Yet, while Sennacherib uttered blasphemies and nasty words against God and His people, the people of Judah, who had been faithful to the Lord by the leadership of their king Hezekiah, remained firm in their faith and were not swayed by the persuasions, coercions, threats or ridicule by the king of Assyria. The Lord did not abandon His people and He stood by them, exactly just as what we have heard in our first reading today.

That is because while Sennacherib boasted in the greatness of his worldly power, the might of his army and his vast armaments, the Lord reminded him and humbled him, telling him just how futile his boasting and how fleeting his power and glory actually were. The Lord sent His mighty Angels to stand guard over His City, and He sent them to crush the armies of the Assyrians, where the whole vast multitudes of Sennacherib’s army was destroyed, and the king of Assyria had to return back to his lands in shame. According to the Scriptures and historical evidence, he was assassinated by his own sons soon after, marking the most ignominious end for this king who had boasted against God and uttered blasphemy against Him. Meanwhile, the people of Judah and Jerusalem were saved and triumphant, under the power of their Lord and true King, God Himself.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard then of the Lord’s parable of the houses, in which He highlighted two houses built upon two different foundations, one of insecure and shaky sand, and the other of solid and firm rocky foundation. In that parable, the Lord Jesus highlighted how all those who had no real and genuine faith in Him are like those who built their houses upon the unsteady foundation of sand, and gave examples of those who called on Him and claimed to know Him, and yet in their hearts and minds, they had no place for God and God is not at the centre or the focus of their hearts and minds. The Lord reminded us all therefore that if we are truly to call ourselves as Christians, then we must indeed have genuine faith in Him, and we cannot merely be faithful on the outside, but is empty of faith inside.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter and progress through this season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, let us all therefore reflect on our faith and life, whether we have indeed been true believers of Christ and His truth, and whether we have made Him the firm foundation of our lives, or whether we have chosen to make other worldly things and matters as the foundations of our lives instead of God. We do not have to go and look far beyond what we can see in how many people celebrate Christmas. Christmas has become so secularised and focused on many worldly forms of pleasures and joys that we end up losing sight of what Christmas is all about, and what we are in fact celebrating. We must not forget that the Lord Jesus is truly the reason why we rejoice as we prepare for the glorious celebrations of Christmas.

That is why, let us all purify our hearts and minds, and clear our thoughts and discern carefully our way of living, and our preparations for Christmas in particular so that we may indeed be worthy to celebrate it with proper disposition, understanding and faith. Let us all lead by example through our lives so that we may help others to see the truth of God, and anchor our lives firmly on Him, our Rock and our Strength, our Foundation and our Salvation. May the Lord continue to bless and guide us in our journey of faith, and may He empower us all to remain faithful and committed in our Christian living, now and always, evermore. May all of us have a truly blessed and fruitful Advent. Amen.

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