Friday, 23 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and draw ever closer to Christmas, we are all reminded of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, into our midst. The Lord has sent us His messenger and herald to prepare the path for His coming into this world, and He has fulfilled that promise, with the coming of St. John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to be the one to prepare the way for the Lord. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, all these happened so that the Lord might come and rescue us all from our troubles and bring us into His loving presence once again, and that is the reason why we rejoice this Christmas.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the prophet Malachi, speaking about the coming of the days of God’s messenger, who would come to prepare the hearts and minds of the people, to prepare for the coming of the Lord, which was also alluded to in the words of the prophet Malachi. Malachi was one of the last prophets chronologically in the Old Testament era, who ministered to the people of God a few centuries before the Lord’s coming, and his words of prophecy further set the expectation of the coming of God’s salvation, which the people of God looked forward to, as they heard the words of reassurances that God had made through His many prophets, including that of Malachi.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the one whom Malachi and the other prophets had been prophesying about, the one to prepare the path for the coming of the Lord. His miraculous conception and birth truly became knowledge among the people, as he was conceived by his mother at the age well-past childbearing and after being barren for so many years. His coming, conception and birth were also announced by the Angel of God before his father Zechariah, whose doubt led him to become mute before the moment as we heard in our Gospel today, that once the baby was named John as the Angel spoke of, Zechariah was miraculously able to speak once again. All of these and the later events in the life of St. John the Baptist serve as a reminder for us that as we approach the coming Christmas season with expectation and joy.

St. John the Baptist went on to call the people of God to be converted and to turn away from their sinful paths, and this is also therefore a reminder for all of us that as we approach Christmas, we should also prepare ourselves in heart and mind to turn towards the Lord, to return our focus upon Him, and to make Him the centre of our upcoming Christmas celebrations and rejoicing. We should not be distracted by the many temptations and distractions all around us, all the glamour and merrymaking surrounding the often secular and worldly Christmas celebrations. We have to be committed to the Lord and renew our faith in Him, and serve Him with ever greater conviction and zeal. We should do our best to make sure that we celebrate Christmas in the right way, and with the right predisposition and mindset.

That is why we should make use of this short remaining time before Christmas, whatever is left this Advent season to deepen our understanding of Christmas and its true meaning, its significance and importance for us. Today we should therefore spend some time to reflect upon the life and works of one St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, a Polish priest and philosopher whose life and work should inspire us to become ever more worthy of God, ever more connected to Him, and ever closer to Him. St. John of Kanty was remembered for his great intellect and philosophical as well as theological prowess, as he became great professor and instructor, helping many of his students and followers to understand better their faith in God, as well as the many mysteries and aspects of the Christian faith.

Not only that, but the same St. John of Kanty was also well remembered for his great love for God, his personal piety and holiness, and especially also for his great compassion, love and care for the poor and the suffering all around him. He was known for his care for the needy students at his university and faculty, helping to support them whenever and wherever it was possible. He also spent time and effort to care for the poor and the needy in his community, and at wherever he was visiting and ministering. He lived his life simply and full of devotion, spending not more than what was necessary for him, and he made several pilgrimages on foot all the way to Rome. The faith and humility that St. John of Kanty showed in his life should be inspiration for all of us to follow in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore seek the Lord with a new heart, with a new commitment to follow Him and to devote our time and attention to Him, and from this upcoming Christmas celebration, to put Him back as the centre and focus of our lives. Let us all follow the examples set and shown by St. John of Kanty, doing our best to walk faithfully in the path that God has shown us. First let us all start by changing our Christmas celebrations from one that is worldly and self-centred into one that is centred on God, as well as love and life-giving, inspired by the love and generosity which St. John of Kanty has shown to those who were less fortunate all around him. Let us also remember that Christmas is all also possible, and that we can rejoice exactly because God has shown us His most generous love and kindness, compassion and grace.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, empowering us with the love and courage to do our best in our lives, to be ever more loving and generous to each other. Through our faithful and worthy Christmas celebrations, where Christ is at the very focus and heart of our joy, let us all inspire more and more people that each one of us may be the shining beacons of God’s hope, light and truth. Let us show our love and generosity to those around us and not be distracted by the worldly glamour and desires. May all of us draw ever closer to God and be blessed as we approach the glorious and joyful season of Christmas. Amen.

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