Prayer for the Repose of the Soul of Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (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 all reminded of the calling which all of us have received as Christians to be faithful followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in all things and at all times. We are all reminded that as Christians we are all God’s called and chosen people, and we have received from Him the assurance of joy and eternal life that will be ours if we keep our faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. He shall never abandon us, and everything will be fine for us if we continue to walk in the path that He has shown to us. We are all reminded that the very reason why we celebrate Christmas season that we are still very well within, is indeed Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. Without Christ, there can be no Christmas, and our Christmas celebrations would have been meaningless and without purpose.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words from the Apostle St. John in his Epistle to the faithful people of God regarding the reminder that all the faithful must always hold on to the faith which they have in the Son of God, the Saviour born unto us through Mary, His blessed Mother. For even at the time of the Apostles, of St. John and the other earliest leaders of the Church, there had been significant troubles and divisions affecting the Church and the faithful due to those selfish, wicked and unscrupulous people seeking to mislead and misguide the people of God down the wrong paths. Even since the earliest days of the Church there had been those who subverted and changed the teachings of the Lord to suit their own desires and wishes, their own ambitions and purposes.

As such, the Apostles and the other leaders of the Church, and then their successors, the Popes and bishops all throughout the past two millennia of the history of the Church has to contend and oppose all those who seek to divide and mislead the flock of the Lord’s faithful. Everyone has always ever been reminded of their obligation and faith in the One and only True God, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, Who has shown unto us the Love of God manifested in the flesh, appearing before us that we all may know that whatever we are believing in is not just a bluff or myth, unlike the many other beliefs and faiths in the pagan idols and gods. Our faith in God, in the one and only True God, is the foundation of our lives and existence in this world. It is very important therefore that we all take our faith in God seriously.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the calling of the very first disciples of the Lord, which happened just right after He embarked on His ministry, with His baptism at the Jordan and temptations at the desert. The two disciples of St. John the Baptist who decided to follow the Lord when St. John himself told them that the One he had just baptised was the Lamb of God, the Holy One of God, came to the Lord Jesus in Galilee, enquiring about Him and stating their desires to follow Him. According to the Church traditions, one of those two disciples of St. John the Baptist was St. Andrew the Apostle, the brother of St. Peter the Apostle, which was why he was also often known as St. Andrew the First-Called. It was therefore likely that St. Andrew introduced the Lord to his fellow fishermen there at Galilee.

That was how the Lord called His first disciples, St. Andrew the Apostle and his brother, St. Peter the Apostle, as well as the two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, St. James the Apostle and St. John the Apostle. Those four fishermen of the Lake of Galilee then chose to follow the Lord, abandoning their fishing boats and nets, so that in the words of the Lord, they might become the ‘fishers of men’. They devoted their whole entire lives to the Lord and followed Him throughout His ministry and beyond, together with the many other disciples the Lord had also called, to bring forth His Good News and truth to the whole entire world. Through the efforts and hard works of the Apostles and all those holy men and women who had devoted themselves to the Lord and to the works of evangelisation, the love and truth of God has been delivered to many more people, who have been saved through Christ as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect upon these words from the Sacred Scriptures, let us all reflect upon what our calling in life as Christians are. Each and every one of us have been called to a specific mission in life by the Lord, Who has bestowed upon us myriads of His various gifts, graces, blessings, talents and abilities. The Lord has called each and every one of us to follow Him as well, and we ought to follow Him faithfully, not easily swayed by the falsehoods of the world and by the temptations of worldly desires, ego, pride and greed. As Christians, we have to hold onto the Lord closely and remain faithful to Him in the manner how the Apostles and the many other disciples of the Lord had given their all, and even their whole lives in service to the Lord.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are still in the midst of the Christmas season and time, we can see how the world has mostly returned to its usual busy life and schedule. While even at Christmas celebrations and joy, Christ has often been forgotten and ignored at the celebration of His birth and coming into this world, what happens now, just barely more than a week after Christmas Day, is even more telling of how many in the world, even amongst us Christians, have forgotten about Christ, and all that He had done for our sake, in bringing that new Hope and the assurance of eternal life to us. How about us, brothers and sisters? Have we done the same as well? Have we sidelined the Lord and ignored Him in our lives, and only remembering Him when we have need for Him?

Let us all therefore commit ourselves to a new life and existence in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, putting Him back at the centre and as the main focus of our lives. Let us all remember the faith that the Lord’s Apostles, His countless saints and martyrs, who had given their all in following and serving the Lord. Let us all walk in their footsteps and be inspired to continue carrying out whatever missions and vocations that the Lord had called us to do, in our own respective lives. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Papal Funeral Mass of Pope Benedict XVI will be on 5 January 2023

Pope Francis will preside over the Papal Funeral Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, 5 January 2023 at 9.30 am Central European Time (UTC + 1 hour)

Pope Benedict XVI (16 April 1927 – 31 December 2022)

Pope Benedict XVI, 265th Pope, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has passed away peacefully at 9.34 am Rome time on the last day of the Year of Our Lord 2022, 31 December 2022.

May he rest in peace. Requeiscat in Pace.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 35-42

On the following day John was standing there again with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” On hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. He turned and saw them following, and He said to them, “What are you looking for?”

They answered, “Rabbi (which means Master), where are You staying?” Jesus said, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where He stayed, and spent the rest of that day with Him. It was about four o’ clock in the afternoon.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard what John had said, and followed Jesus. Early the next morning he found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means the Christ), and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John, but you shall be called Cephas” (which means Rock).

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 7-8, 9

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its peoples. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy before the Lord.

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

Wednesday, 4 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 7-10

My little children, do not be led astray; those who do what is right are upright, just as Jesus Christ is upright. But those who sin belong to the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning.

This is why the Son of God was shown to us, He was to undo the works of the devil. Those born of God do not sin, for the seed of God remains in them; they cannot sin because they are born of God. What is the way to recognise the children of God and those of the devil? The one who does not do what is right is not of God; so, too, the one who does not love his brother or sister.

Special Request for Prayers for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

A prayer for the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (from Vatican News)

Let us pray.
Almighty and Eternal God,
You are the everlasting health of
those who believe in You.

Hear our prayers for your sick servant Benedict
for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy,

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church marks the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, just as we continue to progress through this Christmas season. On this day we recall the very Name of the Lord that He has been given and revealed to us through the Archangel Gabriel. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary, the Mother of the Lord that she would bear within her the Son of God Himself, and that this Son ought to be named Jesus. Through this Name, Jesus or roughly Yeshua in the old Hebrew and Aramaic, we come to know the Name of the Lord Himself, made approachable and utterable for us, so that by His coming into our midst, He might restore us all and renew us, just as He had done with His loving sacrifice on the Cross.

We may be wandering, why is it that we celebrate the Name of the Lord with a Feast like this day? A person’s name is very important, as first of all, it marks that we are building a genuine relationship with someone whose name is known to us and vice versa. While strangers and acquaintances are mostly not known to us by name, and most of us do not bother to know them by their names, knowing a person’s name is often the first step in the often long and complicated process of establishing relationship. Hence, as the Lord revealed His Name to us, it shows us that He is willing to come close to us and to know us personally, just as He has chosen to come down into this world, becoming Incarnate as the Son of Man. Thus just as we celebrate Christmas season, we should also spend more time reflecting on the mystery of God’s Incarnation, that He has become tangible and approachable by us, with a Name that we can call and speak of.

We also have to understand that in the past, among the first chosen people of God, the Israelites, the Holy Name of God was considered so sacred and holy that this Name cannot be mentioned or uttered at all. Hence, while His Name is usually written as the Tetragrammaton of YHVH, which leads to what is mentioned as Yahweh in some of our contemporary worship music, it cannot and should not be pronounced in any normal occasion, as this added on to the mystical nature of the Holy Name of God and meant to highlight just how infinitely great God is beyond our ability to fathom Him, just as in the Old Testament God is considered as being mighty and unapproachable by any of the mortal beings. It is in fact a taboo for anyone to utter or try to say the Name of the Lord, and only the High Priest was allowed to do so, and even only at a particular time in the year.

Therefore, the fact that the Lord has provided us with a Name that is approachable and utterable, Jesus, the Name that is above every other names as we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians in our first reading today, revealed that He truly wants to make us to be able to approach Him, and for Him to be with us, and that God is no longer One Who is distant and infinitely beyond our reach. He has became one like us, assuming our humble human reality and existence, so that He truly becomes Emmanuel, God Who is with us. He is no longer a distant God Who reigns over His people with impunity and only punishes all who disobey Him. He has become God that is manifested and personified in all of His love for us, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through this same Name, we have been saved.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard again of the salvation which has come into our midst through Jesus Christ, that by His Name and His works, we have been reconciled with God. Through His Name, we have received the fullness of God’s grace and love, and we know of that God and Man united in the same person of Jesus, by Whom we have been redeemed from the precipice of destruction and death, because He obeyed His Father’s will so perfectly that He became for us all the source of hope and the assurance of eternal life. In the Name of Jesus, which we hang on to with faith and hope, we know that God is truly with us, knowing us and understanding us. He made Himself available and accessible to us so that we may reach out to Him as well, and turn towards Him with hope and confidence, that through Him there is path to light and eternal life.

Yet, at the same time we are also reminded that while we have received great graces and favour through the Name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, but we also must still not take the Name of the Lord in vain, even after He has made Himself approachable to us. It is one of the Ten Commandments that stated to us, ‘Keep holy the Name of the Lord’ or ‘Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain’. This same commandment and Law still applies to us, and we have to hold His Name with the highest regard. There had been quite a few instances when people have been misusing the Lord’s Name and treated His Name with disdain and utter disrespect, even using them with expletives and vulgarities among other things most unbecoming of our attitudes with regards to the Lord’s Holy Name. The sad thing is that even many of us Christians have done that as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all heed what St. Paul mentioned in the first reading today again as he spoke regarding the Holy Name of Jesus. The Name of the Lord is the Name above every other names, to which all knees shall bend, be it in Heaven, on earth, or below the earth, that is in hell and in the underworld. It means that this Name, while indeed approachable to us, is still the Most Holy Name of our Sovereign and Almighty God, to which the Angels and all of us ought to obey and bend our knee in worship, and even Satan in all of his power has no authority before the Name of the Lord, and had to bend his knee as well. After all, the Lord has a Universal dominion and authority, and even Satan has to obey Him. That is why, we must never (again) take the Lord’s Name in vain or disrespect Him in that manner.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to celebrate the joyful season and time of Christmas, let us all reflect carefully upon the role that our Saviour, Jesus Christ has in the history of our salvation that by His coming into this world which we celebrate at this Christmas season, He had made Himself approachable and tangible for us, to make God’s love within our reach, dwelling in our midst as God Who is always ever present among His people, Emmanuel. This Christmas we are reminded yet again that Christ has manifested Himself before us, and give us His Name as the assurance for a new hope and light that illuminates our path towards the future with Him. Let us not forget about Christ in our Christmas joy and festivities, and let us return Him to the rightful position at the heart of our every celebrations, and also enthrone Him within our hearts, always ever keeping His Holy Name with the utmost honour and respect.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we have been saved, be with us always, and may He continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith, so that we may continue to persevere in faith and do our very best to commit ourselves to a life fully dedicated to Him and worthy of His love and grace. Let us all invoke His Name from now on with faith, and strive to be ever more worthy of uttering His Name, at all times. May God bless us always, in all of our efforts and endeavours, now and forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Alternative reading (Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus)

Luke 2 : 21-24

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. When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.

And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.