Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the Second Sunday of the season of Advent. We gather together this Sunday to prepare ourselves for the coming of the joyous celebrations of Christmas as we should have done throughout this past week of the Advent time. This Sunday marks the time when we have to reflect on whether we have indeed understood the true importance and significance of Christmas, and whether we are able to deepen our connection and relationship with God, through our spiritual preparations and willingness to open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord into them. Through the passages of the Sacred Scriptures we have just heard, we are reminded to return our focus on the Lord this Advent and Christmas, and to rededicate ourselves to Him and to His cause.

This Sunday, as with all the Sundays of Advent, we focus on one particular Aspect of Advent, and that is Peace for this Sunday. Peace is an important aspect of our Advent and later on Christmas celebrations, as we remind ourselves that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose Nativity or birth we commemorate in Christmas, is the Prince of Peace. The Lord’s coming will usher in the new age of peace, harmony and cooperation, and there will be no more discord between everyone. However, it does not mean that the Lord’s coming immediately will lead to cessation of all conflicts, wars and destructions caused by our actions in this world. Instead, what is promised and guaranteed is that, when the Lord comes again at the end of time, He shall bring unto us everlasting peace, as He will free us from the bondage of sin, evil and death for all eternity.

As we heard from our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the coming of the Messiah or the Saviour of God, Who has been prophesied to belong to the line and house of David, as Isaiah spoke of the Shoot that would rise from the stump and Root of Jesse. Jesse was David’s father, and hence one the ancestors of the Lord, as the Lord Jesus was born into the House of David as his Heir, just as the prophecy of Isaiah had mentioned. Through His foster-father St. Joseph, the Lord Jesus is the direct Heir and the One Who will sit on the Throne of David, as the King over all of His people. Back then, the people of God awaited the coming of the Messiah or Saviour, Who was told to be the Son and Heir of David, not realising that a Baby born in Bethlehem that time, was indeed the long awaited Saviour.

That is because they expected their Saviour to be a mighty conquering King, sent by the Lord to end their misery and to gather all of them into a liberation campaign against their oppressors and rulers, reestablishing the glorious kingdom of the days of David and Solomon. They did not realise that while it is God’s intention to lead all of His beloved and faithful ones to eternal glory and peace, that will yet happen in the future and not at the time of His first coming into this world. That Child born in the poor stable in the outskirts of Bethlehem, rejected by all the innkeepers and others, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is therefore God’s instrument through Whom He would restore the link between Him and mankind, long sundered by our disobedience and sins, our wickedness and evils.

Through Christ, His own begotten Son, born into this world, Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate, God willingly revealed Himself and the fullness of His love to all of us, restoring the true meaning and purpose of His Law and commandments, and restoring the Covenant which had been forsaken and neglected between Him and His people. Christ is the One mentioned by the prophet Isaiah as the One Who will be the Judge of all the peoples of all the nations, and He would indeed be a Sign to all of them, raised up high for all to see. No one back at the time of the prophet Isaiah all the way to the time of the Lord Jesus Himself could have foreseen what this actually meant, until the moment when the Lord took up His Cross, with all the sufferings and pains, the punishments due to all of us, and chose to be raised on that Cross, to be the salvation for the whole entire world.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, the salvation of all the peoples and the nations have been revealed and brought as assurance to us, because He willingly assumed the role as the Mediator of a New and Everlasting Covenant between us and God. He is the Eternal High Priest Who offered nothing less than His own Most Precious Body and Blood, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb slaughtered and sacrificed on the Altar of the Cross, to be the worthy offering and sacrifice for the atonement of all of our sins. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we reflect on the Aspect of Peace of Advent in this Sunday, we are reminded that through Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, we have been made as the sharers of a new and everlasting Peace between us and God.

Through the outpouring of His Most Precious Blood and through the shedding of His Most Precious Body, Christ Our Lord has become the fulfilment of all that the Lord has promised His people, just as St. Paul briefly mentioned it in our second reading today in his Epistle to the Romans. Through Christ, Whose birth we rejoice in and commemorate in Christmas, we see the power of God liberating all of us from the bondage and dominion of sin, evil and death, as by His incarnation and assumption of our humanity and existence, and by dying on the Cross, He shared with all of us the death to our past existence and sinful lives, and by His glorious Resurrection, He proved to us that death does not have the final say over us, and that there is life and existence beyond death, which we shall share with Him on the end of times, the last days, forevermore.

By His most generous offering of love on the Cross, the Lord Jesus our Saviour truly had brought His Peace upon us, the Peace that God has promised His people, the peace of knowing that we have been reconciled with God, and that we shall enjoy the bounty and blessings of eternal life and true joy with Him, at the end of our journey, if we are truly faithful to Him. While that peace is yet incomplete at the moment, due to sin still being present all around us in our world past, present and future, but we have to hold on to that faith, believing that at the time of His choosing, He shall come again in glory as promised, and will bring unto us the perfect and everlasting Peace, that will last and endure forever, when evil will finally be utterly defeated and crushed, and no more tears, sorrow or suffering will remain in the world to come.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we then need to do now is to make good use of this season of Advent to prepare ourselves that we may worthily celebrate the upcoming joy of Christmas. Each and every one of us are reminded that it is often our preoccupations with worldly desires and glory, and the temptations all around us which often distracted us and misled us in the journey towards the Lord. In our Gospel passage today, we heard St. John the Baptist calling on all the people to return towards the Lord with faith, embracing His compassion and mercy, and to be changed in the heart and mind as they received baptism of water from him, as a sign of commitment to follow the path of the Lord. Many came to St. John the Baptist seeking to be baptised and showing their sincerity in embracing God’s love and mercy.

But there were also those who doubted him and refused to believe in him, like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who came to St. John the Baptist and questioned him on the authority and the legitimacy of his actions, essentially questioning and doubting the works and wisdom of the Lord and the Holy Spirit, Who guided St. John the Baptist to do what he had done, in preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. It was therefore of those same people that St. John the Baptist rebuked with very strong words like ‘brood of vipers’ and telling them off for their pride and ego, by which they closed their hearts and minds against God’s truth, and misleading the people of God under their care by their own vanity, greed and desire for worldly power and glory. This same reminder is also directed at all of us, brothers and sisters, that we do not end up walking down the same path as they had done.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make good use of this time and season of Advent therefore to prepare ourselves well for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Let us all remember how our Prince of Peace had brought God’s Peace into our midst, returning the peace between us and God, and leading us on the way towards His everlasting peace, joy and glory. As we prepare ourselves to celebrate Our Lord’s coming into this world, let us not forget that we do not just remember His past arrival into this world, two millennia ago, but in fact we also rejoice because of His eventual coming in glory, that we all await, when He shall judge all the living and the dead, and bring all those whom He deems to be worthy, into His eternal kingdom of true bliss and happiness in His presence.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and King, continue to guide us and strengthen us in faith, particularly during this time and season of Advent, so that each and every one of us may indeed make good use of this time and opportunity to reaffirm our faith in Him and to prepare ourselves well in all aspects so that we may indeed make best use of the upcoming time and season of Christmas, and celebrate it most properly and worthily, becoming inspiration for all of our fellow brothers and sisters, by our lives’ examples and good works. May God bless us all in our every good works, efforts and deeds, and may He bless us in our every endeavours for the greater glory of His Name. Let us bring God’s Peace into the midst of our communities and families, and may Peace reign forevermore in our Christian family. Amen.

Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 3 : 1-12

In the course of time John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea and began to proclaim his message, “Change your ways, the kingdom of God is now at hand!” It was about him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said : A voice is shouting in the desert, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make His paths straight!'”

John had a leather garment around his waist and wore a cloak of camel’s hair; his food was locusts and wild honey. People came to him from Jerusalem, from all Judea and from the whole Jordan valley, and they were baptised by him in the Jordan as they confessed their sins.

When he saw several Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he baptised, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who told you that you could escape the punishment that is to come? Let it be seen that you are serious in your conversion, and do not think : We have Abraham for our father. I tell you that God can raise children for Abraham from these stones! The axe is already laid to the roots of the trees; any tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire.”

“I baptise you in water for a change of heart, but the One Who is coming after me is more powerful than me; indeed I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will baptise you in Holy Spirit and fire. He has the winnowing fan in His hand and He will clear out His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn in everlasting fire.”

Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Romans 15 : 4-9

And we know that whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, for both perseverance and comfort given us by the Scripture sustain our hope. May God, the source of all perseverance and comfort, give to all of you to live in peace in Christ Jesus, that you may be able to praise in one voice God, Father of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Welcome, then, one another, as Christ welcomed you for the glory of God. Look : Christ put Himself at the service of the Jewish world to fulfil the promises made by God to their ancestors; here you see God’s faithfulness. The pagans instead give thanks to God for His mercy, as Scripture says : Because of that, I will sing and praise Your Name among the pagans.

Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

He delivers the needy who call on Him, the afflicted with no one to help them. His mercy is upon the weak and the poor, He saves the life of the poor.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him, and He will be blessed by all nations.

Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Second Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 11 : 1-10

From the stump of Jesse a Shoot will come forth; from his roots a Branch will grow and bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and power, a Spirit of knowledge and fear of YHVH.

Not by appearances will He judge, nor by what is said must He decide, but with justice He will judge the poor and with righteousness decide for the meek. Like a rod, His word will strike the oppressor, and the breath of His lips slay the wicked. Justice will be the girdle of His waist, truth the girdle of His loins.

The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them. Befriending each other, the cow and the bear will see their young ones lie down together. Like cattle, the lion will eat hay. By the cobra’s den the infant will play. The child will put his hand into the viper’s lair. No one will harm or destroy over My holy mountain, for as water fills the sea the earth will be filled with the knowledge of YHVH.

On that day the “Root of Jesse” will be raised as a signal for the nations. The people will come in search of Him, thus making His dwelling place glorious.

(Usus Antiquior) Second Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Offertory, Secret Prayer of the Priest, Communion and Post-Communion Prayer

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Offertory

Psalm 84 : 7-8

Deus, Tu conversus vivificabis nos, et plebs Tua laetabitur in Te : ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam Tuam, et salutare Tuum da nobis.

English translation

O God, turning, You will bring us life, and Your people shall rejoice in You. Show us, o Lord, Your mercy and grant us Your salvation.

Secret Prayer of the Priest

Placare, quaesumus, Domine, humilitatis nostrae precibus et hostiis : et, ubi nulla suppetunt suffragia meritorum, Tuis nobis succurre praesidiis. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Be appeased, we beseech You, o Lord, by the prayers and offerings of our lowliness, and where no support of merits is at hand, do You hasten to us with Your aid. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

Communion

Baruch 5 : 5 and Baruch 4 : 36

Jerusalem, surge et sta in excelso, et vide jucunditatem, quae veniet tibi a Deo tuo.

English translation

Arise, o Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that comes to you from your God.

Post-Communion Prayer

Repleti cibo spiritualis alimoniae, supplices Te, Domine, deprecamur : ut, hujus participatione mysterii, doceas nos terrena despicere et amare caelestia. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Filled with the food of spiritual nourishing, we humbly beseech You, o Lord, that by our partaking of this mystery You would teach us to condemn earthly and love heavenly things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

(Usus Antiquior) Second Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Holy Gospel

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum – Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

Matthew 11 : 2-10

In illo tempore : Cum audisset Joannes in vinculis opera Christi, mittens duos de discipulis Suis, ait illi : Tu es, qui venturus es, an alium exspectamus? Et respondens Jesus, ait illis : Euntes renuntiate Joanni, quae audistis et vidistis.

Caeci vident, claudi ambulant, leprosi mundantur, surdi audiunt, mortui resurgunt, pauperes evangelizantur. : et beatus est, qui non fuerit scandalizatus in me. Illis autem abeuntibus, coepit Jesus dicere ad turbas de Joanne : Quid existis in desertum videre? Arundinem vento agitatam? Sed quid existis videre? Hominem mollibus vestitum? Ecce, qui mollibus vestiuntur, in domibus regum sunt.

Sed quid existis videre? Prophetam? Etiam dico vobis, et plus quam Prophetam. Hic est enim, de quo scriptum est : Ecce, ego mitto Angelum meum ante faciam Tuam, qui praeparabit viam Tuam ante Te.

English translation

At that time when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him : “Are You He Who is to come, or do we look for another?” And Jesus making answer, said to them, “Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen.”

“The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them, and blessed is he who shall not be scandalised in Me.” And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold those who are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings.”

“But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My Angel before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You.’.

(Usus Antiquior) Second Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Gradual and Alleluia

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Psalm 49 : 2-3, 5 and Psalm 121 : 1

Ex Sion species decoris ejus : Deus manifeste veniet.

Response : Congregate illi sanctos Ejus, qui ordinaverunt testamentum Ejus super sacrificia.

Alleluja, Alleluja.

Response : Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus. Alleluja.

English translation

Out of Zion the loveliness of His beauty, God shall come manifestly.

Response : Gather all of you together His saints to Him, who have set His covenant before sacrifices.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Response : I rejoiced at the things that were said to me, we shall go into the house of the Lord. Alleluia.

(Usus Antiquior) Second Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Epistle

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Lectio Epistolae Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos – Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Romans

Romans 15 : 4-13

Fratres : Quaecumque scripta sunt, ad nostram doctrinam scripta sunt : ut per patientiam et consolationem Scripturarum spem habeamus. Deus autem patientiae et solacii det vobis idipsum sapere in alterutrum secundum Jesum Christum : ut unanimes, uno ore honorificetis Deum et Patrem Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Propter quod suscipite invicem, sicut et Christus suscepit vos in honorem Dei. Dico enim Christum Jesum ministrum fuisse circumcisionis propter veritatem Dei, ad confirmandas promissionem patrum : gentes autem super misericordia honorare Deum, sicut scriptum est : Propterea confitebor Tibi in gentibus, Domine, et Nomini Tuo cantabo.

Et iterum dicit : Laetamini, gentes, cum plebe ejus. Et iterum : Laudate, omnes gentes, Dominum : et magnificate eum, omnes populi. Et rursus Isaias ait : Erit radix Jesse, et qui exsurget regere gentes, in eum gentes sperabunt. Deus autem spei repleat vos omni gaudio et pace in credendo : ut abundetis in spe et virtute Spiritus Sancti.

English translation

Brethren, what things so ever were written, were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind, toward one another, according to Jesus Christ, that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wherefore receive one another, as Christ had also received you, unto the honour of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written : “Therefore, I will confess to You, o Lord, among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Your Name.”

And again He said : “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people.” And again : “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and magnify Him, all you people.” And again, Isaiah said : “There shall be a root of Jesse, and He Who shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.” Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Usus Antiquior) Second Sunday of Advent (I Classis) – Sunday, 4 December 2022 : Introit and Collect

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Introit

Isaiah 30 : 30 and Psalm 79 : 2

Populus Sion, ecce, Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes : et auditam faciet Dominus gloriam vocis suae in laetitia cordis vestri.

Qui Regis Israel, intende : qui deducis, velut ovem, Joseph.

Response : Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper : et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

People of Zion, behold, the Lord shall come to save the nations, and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart.

Give ear, o You Who rule Israel, You Who lead Joseph like a sheep.

Response : Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Collect

Excita, Domine, corda nostra ad praeparandas Unigeniti Tui vias : ut, per ejus adventum, purificatis Tibi mentibus servire mereamur : Qui Tecum vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

English translation

Stir up our hearts, o Lord, to prepare the ways of Your only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve You with purified minds. You Who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.