Sunday, 20 December 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the Fourth and Last Sunday of Advent which means that we are about to come into the great celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity or birth in Christmas. And this Sunday we focus on the last of the four Advent themes, and this is the theme of ‘Love’. And it is fitting that we focus our attention on this theme of ‘Love’, because ultimately, that is what Christmas is truly all about, the genuine and pure, boundless and great love that God has for each and every one of us.

For we celebrate in Christmas, the birth of the Saviour of the world, the manifestation of God’s eternal and perfect love, in the Flesh, that the Lord willingly embraced and took upon our humanity, by the indwelling and incarnation of His divinity, the Son and Divine Word, as Man, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus, the Holy One of God was conceived in the womb of Mary, Son of God and Son of Man in One.

This is the culmination and fulfilment of all that God had long promised His people and all of His servants, just as we heard from the Scripture readings today. In our first reading today, we heard God speaking to king David of Israel through the prophet Nathan, when the king wanted to build a great House for God. That House would eventually be built by David’s son, king Solomon, as the famed Temple of Solomon, the place of the great worship of God.

God told David that it would be his own son that would build the House for His Name and dwelling, and while He has blessed David and made his reign and rule strong, he would also bless his son and descendants, and promised David that his house will last forever. While this was indeed a direct reference to how God would bless Solomon and his descendants, but in truth, it was also a hidden prefigurement of Christ and His coming.

King Solomon and the descendants of David did not remain completely faithful to God, and many among them led the people into sin and wickedness, and thus, the kingdom of Israel and Judah met its end at the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians respectively. It seemed that the promises of God had come to naught, but in truth, just as the Israelites believed it, the Lord would fulfil His promises yet, by sending them the Messiah Who was to be born of the House of David.

However, what they did not know was that, this Messiah is also none other than the Son of God just as much as He is the Son and Heir of David, the One Who would occupy the Throne of David and therefore, fulfil God’s promises. As the Eternal God Himself has now descended into this world and become King for His own people, His kingdom shall last forever, and all those who follow Him, will receive from Him the eternal life and glory promised to them.

This is what the Archangel Gabriel himself revealed to Mary as we listened to in our Gospel passage today, at the Annunciation, when the Lord through Gabriel finally announced the coming of His salvation, long awaited and expected by His people. This is the true proof and manifestation of God’s eternal love and His enduring compassionate care for each and every one of us, all children and descendants of Adam who had strayed from His path, that God has always loved us all and wanted us to return to Him and be reconciled with Him.

It is God’s pure love that we remember today, as we focus on the ‘Love’ as the most important aspect of our Advent preparation. Without Love, then Christmas would not have happened, and without Love, there would not have been salvation for all of us. God would not have forgiven and saved us, or spared us from the fate that awaits us due to our rebelliousness and sins. Through our disobedience and rebellion, we have fallen into sin, and because of our sins, we should have fallen into damnation and eternal suffering in hell.

But the Lord loves each one of us dearly, and He does not want us to suffer that fate. He could have easily destroyed us for our rebellion and disobedience, but He clearly did not do so. When He sent Adam and Eve away from the Gardens of Eden, He did so to let us all know that what we have done were not correct and right, and we have to suffer the consequences of our sins. Yet, as a loving Father, He did not leave us all alone. He still cared for us and wanted us all to be reconciled to Him.

It was this love that allowed Him to be so patient with us and to reach out to us with such great affection, despite the attitudes which many of us had shown Him, our ingratitude, our lack of faith and stubbornness, our constant embracing of sin and evil. He sent us His own Beloved Son, Who entered into the world and dwelled among us so that all of us may know of His love, that is not just something that is distant and imaginary, but as something that is real and genuine, and brings us hope and light even in the deepest of darkness, love that is sincere and selfless, perfect and compassionate.

I invite all of us now to reflect on the Lord our God and Saviour, Whose coming into this world we are going to celebrate in Christmas that is about to come. I want us all to reflect on the great love that God has shown us, the reason why He restored the joy and light to our lives. And we do not have to look far, brothers and sisters in Christ. Turn our gaze towards the crucifix, and we shall see there, the same Christ, the Baby born and celebrated at Christmas, hung on the Cross for the salvation of the world.

That is a further proof of God’s love, that not only just that He willingly took up our form, existence and humanity, born as a little Child in Bethlehem, but that same Jesus Christ, willingly took upon Himself our sins and the many punishments due to our sins and our rebellions, and bore all these upon His shoulders, bleeding and bruised for our many trespasses. But He bore all these willingly out of love for us, that we may not perish but live through Him.

By His suffering and death on the Cross, and by sharing in our humanity, Christ Our Lord has made us to share in His death, and then leading us through His Resurrection, He leads us into a new life and existence of grace, one that is not subject and bonded to sin and death, showing us the path forward to an eternity of true joy, happiness and glory with Him.

There is no question that God loves us all very much, that He has willingly done all of these for us, and in how He had been very patient with us and making His intention clear to us in wanting us to repent and turn away from our sins, and embrace His salvation. But the question now is, do we love Him then just as much as He has loved us?Have we ever appreciated just how beloved and fortunate we are because of God’s love?

As we are about to enter into the joyous celebrations of Christmas, those questions must be in our minds and hearts, that we may reflect on and reevaluate the way we perceive and look at Christmas. If Christmas is just another merry-making time and an occasion for us to celebrate with lavish parties and revelries, then we are not celebrating Christmas in the right way.

And if we are trying to outdo one another and are too focused on the material aspects of Christmas and its celebrations, then we are not celebrating Christmas in the right way either. Our celebration of Christmas must of course first and foremost be centred on Christ, on the love that God has shown to each and every one of us, even to the worst of sinners, that He clearly wants to embrace us and be reconciled with us, and love us fully as He has always intended.

This is what we really need to consider as we spend this Sunday focusing on this theme of ‘Love’. Not the love of ourselves but the love of God, and how much we love God and also our fellow neighbours, our brothers and sisters all around us. That is the true essence of Christmas, the fulfilment and manifestation of God’s love in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. And we rejoice with Him because through Him we have been saved!

Now, what can we do then in order to make our Christmas celebrations more meaningful? We should share God’s love with one another, especially through this difficult year and through all that many had suffered earlier on this year, and many yet still suffer this very moment and will endure more hardships in the next few months to come. We must be the bearers of God’s hope and peace, His joy and love to one another, particularly those who have none or little of these.

That is how we should celebrate Christmas as Christians, that we rejoice not for ourselves, but for the whole community, together with God. In that way then we will fully be able to appreciate how important Christmas is to us, and how the love of God allowed us all to cheer up, be happy and hopeful once again, because we know that in Christ, and through Him, the Lord Who is always ever faithful has fulfilled His promises to us, and by His love, we shall enjoy forever His eternal glory.

Let us all renew our faith in the Lord and strengthen our love for Him. And if we have not done so, from now on, let us live our lives differently, by focusing on the Lord rather than on ourselves, and be filled with true Christian love, for each and every one of our fellow brethren. Let us all be faithful bearers of God’s love, and through that bring hope, peace and joy in our community, wherever we are. May God bless us all and guide us all to a most wonderful, blessed, fruitful and loving Christmas celebration to come. Amen.

Sunday, 20 December 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 26-38

In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

The Angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the Angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call Him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the kingdom of David, His ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and His reign shall have no end.”

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the Holy Child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”

Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the Angel left her.

Sunday, 20 December 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Romans 16 : 25-27

Glory be to God! He is able to give you strength, according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus. Now is revealed the mysterious plan, kept hidden for long ages in the past.

By the will of the eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them. Glory to God, Who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, forever! Amen.

Sunday, 20 December 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

I will sing forever, o YHVH, of Your love, and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

You said, “I have made a Covenant with David, My chosen one; I have made a pledge to My servant. I establish his descendants forever; I build his throne for all generations.”

He will call on Me, “You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.” I will keep My Covenant firm forever, and my love for Him will endure.

Sunday, 20 December 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

2 Samuel 7 : 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When the king had settled in his palace and YHVH had rid him of all his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I live in a house of cedar but the Ark of God is housed in a tent.” Nathan replied, “Do as it seems fit to you for YHVH is with you.”

But that very night, YHVH’s word came to Nathan, “Go and tell My servant David, this is what YHVH says : Are you able to build a house for Me to live in? I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, as the name of the great ones on earth.”

“I will provide a place for My people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over My people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. YHVH also tells you that He will build you a house.”

“When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you; and I will make his reign secure. I will be a Father to him and he shall be My son. Your house and your reign shall last forever before Me, and your throne shall be forever firm.”