Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd 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, all of us are reminded during this time and season of Advent to be focused on God and the salvation which He has brought upon us into our midst. Through Him we have received the assurance of eternal life and glory, of liberation from the darkness of this world, from despair and bondage to sin and death. Through the Lord alone we have received this Hope, and received the assurance of the path out of our predicament, as through Him we know that we shall be triumphant together with Him, just as He has conquered and defeated sin, evil and death by His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection from the dead.

We are reminded that the same Lord and God Who spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today, is the same Lord Who has come into our midst at Christmas, that moment two millennia ago, as a small, little Child born in Bethlehem, in order to save the whole entire world and creation, all of us His beloved ones just as He had promised. Back then, when the prophet Isaiah spoke of the words of the Lord’s assurance and hope, he told them all of the things that God has done for the people, and what He would do, if the people would just embrace Him and His love. God has always constantly been patient and kind on all of His people despite their repeated and stubborn disobedience and wayward attitudes.

That is why, at that time, when the people of God encountered a lot of hardships and misfortunes, Isaiah came bearing God’s hope and reassurances for the people, to remind them just how fortunate they are to have God by their side, ever encouraging and supporting them despite those same people having often betrayed and disregarded Him, ignored Him and made Him truly angry because of their sins and wickedness. God loved all of His people and wanted them all to be reconciled to Him, and to this extent, He extended His love and mercy, His generous forgiveness and grace to all of those who were willing to embrace Him, His forgiveness and most compassionate love. God’s love and grace has always ever been freely and generously extended to us all, without exception.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people regarding the coming of God’s salvation to His people and also regarding St. John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to be the Herald and the one to announce the coming of God’s salvation. The Lord told the people that St. John was indeed the one who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Who was actually Himself. Despite the doubts and the pessimism and rejection by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom questioned and doubted the authenticity and the authority of his work and ministry, St. John the Baptist was indeed the one who came to get the way ready for the coming of the Lord and His salvation. Therefore, through what He told the people, God again reassured His people that He has truly come as He has promised, just as the coming of His herald, St. John the Baptist had been prophesied and had been fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we heard from our Scripture passages today, let us all thus spend some time to reflect upon the message that God wants us to know, in preparing ourselves well during this time and season of Advent so that we may worthily rejoice and celebrate His coming at Christmas, with proper understanding of what it is that we are celebrating and rejoicing about. Christmas is after all, the celebration of the Nativity or the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God Incarnate in the flesh, born Son of Man through His mother Mary. It is His glorious appearance in this world with His birth which we are all rejoicing about, as the coming of His Hope and Light dispelled all the darkness, evils and wickedness all around us, and showed unto us the pure and perfect manifestation of God’s ever enduring love just as we have discussed earlier.

Now, we see all around us, the many celebrations of Christmas, all the merrymaking and festivities surrounding Christmas, the secular and worldly way of how Christmas is being celebrated. We can see all the joy and happiness of all sorts, great rejoicing and festivities, of all the things and characters associated with Christmas, but One particular figure is often missing from all of those celebrations. And what is that, brothers and sisters? It is none other than the Lord Himself, the very One Who should have been the focus and centre of all of our celebrations and rejoicing, but ironically often forgotten and ignored on the day of the celebration and commemoration of His birth and appearance in this world.

This is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be spending more time and effort to return ourselves to the true spirit and celebration of Christmas, and this Advent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do so. Throughout the Advent season we have constantly been reminded of what it is that we are celebrating in this upcoming Christmas, of the love and graciousness of God, His ever enduring and present love and mercy in our midst, and all that He had done for us. As God’s people, each and every one of us should hence do our best to respond to that love, and strive to give Him thanks for all that He has done, for everything that He has blessed us with, and commit ourselves to a life that is truly worthy of His love and kindness, of all the blessings that He has granted to us.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life and may He bless each and every one of us, in our every endeavours and efforts, our good works and commitments, so that we will always be faithful to Him and will continue to persevere in our obedience to Him and His Law. May God be by our side always as He has ever done, and may He lead us to the path of righteousness and eternal joy. Amen.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 7 : 24-30

At that time, when John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began speaking to the people about John. And He said, “What did you want to see, when you went to the desert? A reed blowing in the wind? What was there to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But people who wear fine clothes and enjoy delicate food are found in palaces.

What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For John is the one foretold in Scripture in these words : I am sending My messenger ahead of You to prepare Your way. No one may be found greater than John among those born of women, but, I tell you, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

All the people listening to Him, even the tax collectors, had acknowledged the will of God in receiving the baptism of John, whereas the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in not letting themselves be baptised by him, ignored the will of God.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 29 : 2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b

I extol You, o Lord, for You have rescued me; my enemies will not gloat over me. O Lord, You have brought me up from the grave, You gave me life when I was going to the pit.

Sing to the Lord, o you His saints, give thanks and praise to His holy Name. For His anger lasts but a little while, and His kindness all through life. Weeping may tarry for the night, but rejoicing comes with the dawn.

Hear, o Lord, and have mercy on me; o Lord, be my Protector. But now, You have turned my mourning into rejoicing. O Lord my God, forever will I give You thanks.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 54 : 1-10

Rejoice, o barren woman who has not given birth; sing and shout for joy, you who never had children, for more are the children of the rejected woman than the children of the married wife, says YHVH.

Enlarge the space for your tent, stretch out your hangings, lengthen your ropes and strengthen your stakes, for you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will take possession of the nations and inhabit cities that have been abandoned.

Do not be afraid for you will not be deceived, do not be ashamed for you will not be disgraced. You will forget the shame of your youth; no longer will you remember the disgrace of your widowhood. For your Maker is to marry you : YHVH Sabaoth is His Name. Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel : He is called God of all the earth.

For YHVH has called you back as one forsaken and grieved in spirit. Who could abandon His first beloved? says your God. For a brief moment I have abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will gather My people. For a moment, in an outburst of anger, I hid My face from you, but with everlasting love I have had mercy on you, says YHVH, your Redeemer.

This is for me like Noah’s waters, when I swore that they would no more flood the earth; so now I swear not to be angry with you and never again to rebuke you. The mountains may depart and the hills be moved, but never will My love depart from you nor My covenant of peace be removed, says YHVH Whose compassion is for you.