Saturday, 10 December 2016 : 2nd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we go through midway through the season of Advent, we are presented through the Scripture readings about the messenger of God and herald of the Messiah, John the Baptist. He came before the Saviour Himself in order to prepare His path, just as the prophet Elijah was sent many centuries before him to call the people of God back to the Lord and to repent from their sins.

At that time, the people of Israel, particularly the northern kingdom had often sinned against God and did not faithfully the way shown to them by their ancestors, following their kings who led them into sin, into the worship of the pagan gods and idols, of Baal, Asherah and many other false gods. They made the people to become wayward and diverge from the path God had shown them. And thus, Elijah came at that time, called by God to be His messenger, to call the people who have fallen into the darkness and call them to return to the light.

He encountered challenges and difficulties, and kings like Ahab hunted him down because of his refusal to back down from calling the people of God to repentance and for his denouncing of the kings and the pagans. Many other people who have followed the Lord had equally been put into suffering and pain, and many even lost their lives in consequence.

The people and their leaders, the kings persisted in their wickedness and many of them refused to listen to the prophet Elijah. They remained in their sinful ways and committed even more sins. The same happened to John the Baptist who came into the world to call the people of God back towards God’s path. Indeed, at his time, while the nature of the problem is kind of different, the essence is the same, that many had erred and he was sent to call them back to the light.

At that time, the people of God were more faithful than they were at the time of the prophet Elijah. However, many of them went through living and obeying God without understanding why they ought to obey the Law. And instead, their leaders and elders have misused their power and authority to gain benefits for themselves, resulting in them oppressing the people with the Law and gaining influence and fame for themselves.

That was why John the Baptist came to the people, to straighten their path and also the path of the Lord when He comes. Certainly, there were quite a few oppositions and challenges, from those same leaders, the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, the elders and the priestly caste, who saw John as a challenge and rival to their power, teaching authority and influence.

In the same manner therefore, they also opposed Jesus our Lord when He came, and with even greater ferocity, for both John and our Lord came to right the mistakes of their ways as the prophet Elijah had once come to oppose the false ways of the kings of Israel who led the people into sin. And that is something that each and every one of us should also take note of as we go through this season of Advent.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, John and Elijah called upon the people to repent from their sins, to reject those sinful ways and to turn back towards the Lord. In the same manner therefore, we have all been called to turn back towards God, and cast away all those sins that have separated us from Him. However, that is where we also need to look at the examples we have just discussed in order to note the resistance and the difficulties for us to repent.

This time of Advent, we need to spend time to reflect on our actions in life thus far. We need to reattune ourselves to the Lord, and reject our sinful past. But temptations and the lures of sin will always be there, and thus it will not be easy for us to go through this path of preparation. Nonetheless, we really have to begin somewhere, or else, we will never move on in our path to seek God and His love and grace.

Let us all pray to the Lord and ask Him for strength, courage and faith, so that we may draw ever closer to Him, and that we will be able to turn our ways and follow the path of the saints, and not the stubbornness of the kings and the elders of Israel of the past. Let us all make the effort this Advent to help one another, calling upon each other to seek the Lord and be forgiven our sins. May God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 10 December 2016 : 2nd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Matthew 17 : 10-13

At that time, the disciples of Jesus asked Him, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?” And Jesus answered, “So it is : first comes Elijah to set everything as it has to be. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but they did not recognise him, and treated him as they pleased. And they will also make the Son of Man suffer.”

Then the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.

Saturday, 10 December 2016 : 2nd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Psalm 79 : 2ac and 3bc, 15-16, 18-19

Listen, o Shepherd of Israel, You Who sit enthroned between the Cherubim. Stir up Your might and come to save us.

Turn again, o Lord of hosts, look down from heaven and see; care for this vine, and protect the stock Your hand has planted.

But lay Your hand on Your instrument, on the Son of Man Whom You make strong for Yourself. Then we will never turn away from You; give us life, and we will call on Your Name.

Saturday, 10 December 2016 : 2nd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Sirach 48 : 1-4, 9-11

Then came the prophet Elijah like a fire, his words a burning torch. He brought a famine on the people and in his zealous love had them reduced in number. Speaking in the Name of the Lord he closed the heavens, and on three occasions called down fire.

How marvellous you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Who could ever boast of being your equal? You were taken up by a whirlwind of flames in a chariot drawn by fiery horses. It was written that you should be the one to calm God’s anger in the future before it broke out in fury, to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and to restore the tribes of Jacob.

Happy are those who will see you and those who die in love, for we too shall live.