Tuesday, 22 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the coming of the end of times which is certain to happen to us and to this world. The Lord Himself, His prophets, messengers and more have spoken about it, of the time when the final triumph over evil shall come, and all the faithful people of God will be gathered together to live forever in God, free from the bondage of sin, evil and death forevermore, and to assume once again the state which they had once lost because of their disobedience and sins against God that also sundered them from the fullness of His grace and love. That is what God has always intended from the very beginning, that is for us all to be with Him in perfect love and harmony, to exist with Him forever in grace and joy.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the vision of the great and triumphant Son of Man, Who is also the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who at the vision of St. John, wore His victorious crown and holding a great sickle by which He would rend the whole world, separating those who are worthy from those unworthy of God and His salvation and grace. That is a premonition of what will happen at the end of time, when the Lord Himself will gather all those who are faithful to Him and bring them to the eternal life and inheritance that He has already promised to them from the very beginning of time. From the time when we first fell into sin, God has promised His salvation to us, and will send us His deliverance through none other than His Son, Jesus Christ, the Triumphant One.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus speaking of the premonition of what would happen to Jerusalem and its Temple, the destruction and all that would be inflicted upon the city and its people in due time. In about four decades after the Lord spoke of it, the rebellion of the Jewish people led to a punitive expedition and siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed and conquered by the Romans, and the magnificent Temple built by King Herod the Great was thoroughly looted, destroyed and crushed to its foundations, that nothing of it was left right up to this day. It was a proof that whatever the Lord Himself had predicted would happen, will indeed happen as He has said.

From the perspective of those who lived during those times, they might indeed think that the end of times would be coming soon, well within their lifetimes, and even some of the Lord’s disciples and Apostles also believed so. But the truth is none of them are aware of the fullness of knowledge of what will truly happen, and when everything will come to happen. No one could have predicted when the city and Temple of Jerusalem were destroyed, and when it happened, it came like a whirlwind, suddenly and must have been a real surprise for almost everyone. No one could have expected that the magnificent city and Temple of Jerusalem could have been destroyed in such a way, and at such a time. Yet, all happened as it is preordained by God, and He alone knows the time and the occasion that will happen.

The same therefore will happen to the end of times, which will come at a time we least expect, and no one, not even anyone in the Church, or any of the Apostles know of the exact timing of the Lord’s Second Coming and the end of all as portrayed and revealed to St. John in the Book of Revelations. What was known to us is just a glimpse of what will happen, and the Lord Himself said on multiple occasions as recorded throughout the Gospels, that this will come most unexpected for everyone, and one may be having their daily lives as usual at one moment, and then immediately it happens the very next moment. Thus, what is important for us all to remember is that, we must never take our faith in God for granted, and we have to be ever vigilant, preparing ourselves for this eventuality.

As Christians, each one of us are called to be exemplary in life and to do our very best in answering God’s call and to live our lives in the manner that He has taught us and shown us, by His own examples. Just as He has loved us so wonderfully, in reaching out to us and to those among us who have been forsaken and rejected by others, He has shown us the example of perfect and selfless love that each one of us as Christians ought to have. Unless we make good use of the time and opportunities presented to us, the talents and abilities, gifts and blessings granted to us, we cannot truly be worthy of God, and if we are not careful or vigilant enough, we may end up being caught on the wrong side at the coming of the Lord’s judgment. Do we want to wait until it is all too late for us, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Cecilia, whose life, faith and dedication to God should inspire in each one of us as Christians to be better and more committed disciples of the Lord. St. Cecilia was born to a noble Roman family who forced her to marry a young pagan nobleman named Valerius. St. Cecilia had made a solemn vow of virginity, dedicating herself solely to God, and maintaining her sanctity throughout her most pious and chaste life. She is known as the Patron Saint for musicians because according to tradition, she sang from her heart to the Lord at her own wedding, showing her genuine faith and commitment to God. And when her marriage was about to be consummated, she told her husband that an Angel of the Lord stood guard protecting her, and would strike him down should he attempt to violate her sacred virginity dedicated to God.

Her faith and piety was such that her husband and his brother were converted to the Christian faith, as especially her husband having witnessed the aforementioned Angel of God appearing before St. Cecilia and crowning her with a crown of roses and lilies, marking her purity and virginity. They were all eventually persecuted together with many other Christians during one of the intense persecutions against the Church and Christians by the Roman state. They were all martyred for their faith, and they gave their lives for the glory of God, dedicating themselves to the mission entrusted to them, to inspire many more people through their lives and examples. Through St. Cecilia and her faith, and her courage to maintain her purity and obedience to God, all of us can see how we too are called to be faithful to the Lord in the same way as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reevaluate our focus and emphasis in life, and see what we can do to make sure that our lives are worthy of God and maybe even be good models and inspirations for one another. Are we willing and able to make the commitment to God and to live our lives ever more worthily from now on? Are we willing to do our best to live in the way that God has shown us and led us to do? May the Lord continue to guide us all through life and strengthen us in our resolve to follow Him, and to distance ourselves from wickedness and sin. May God bless us always, and may He remain with us, by our side, leading us through the path to eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Luke 21 : 5-11

At that time, while some people were talking about the Temple, remarking that it was adorned with fine stonework and rich gifts, Jesus said to them, “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another of all that you now admire; all will be torn down.” And they asked Him, “Master, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

Jesus then said, “Take care not to be deceived, for many will come claiming My title and saying, ‘I am He, the Messiah; the time is at hand!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and troubled times, do not be frightened; for all these things must happen first, even though the end is not so soon.”

And Jesus said, “Nations will fight each other and kingdom will oppose kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and plagues; in many places strange and terrifying signs from heaven will be seen.”

Tuesday, 22 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 95 : 10, 11-12a, 12b-13

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” He will judge the peoples with justice.

Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; let the sea and all that fills it resound; let the fields exult and everything in them.

Let the forest, all the trees, sing for joy. Let them sing before the Lord Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Revelations 14 : 14-19

Then I had this vision, I saw a white cloud and the One sitting on it like a Son of Man, wearing a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. An Angel came out of the sanctuary, calling loudly to the One sitting on the cloud, “Put in Your sickle and reap, for harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe.”

He Who was sitting on the cloud swung His sickle at the earth and reaped the harvest. Then another Angel, who also had a sharp sickle, came out of the heavenly sanctuary. Still another Angel, the one who has charge of the altar fire, emerged and shouted to the first who held the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle and reap the bunches of the vine of the earth for they are fully ripe.”

So the Angel swung his sickle and gathered in the vintage, throwing all the grapes into the great winepress of the anger of God.