Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after a long time of preparation and expectation we have experienced and journeyed through in the season of Advent, we have finally arrived at the beginning of the Christmas season with this Christmas Vigil Mass. This night we gather together as one community and one Church in celebrating the moment of the great appearance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world, as He was born of His Mother Mary in Bethlehem, the city of David over two millennia ago.

This night we remember that most beautiful and wonderful night when light and hope are restored to all of us who have lived in a world filled with darkness and sin. That was the night when God’s long awaited salvation has finally come, the moment when God revealed before the people the extent of His most magnificent and enduring love, as He showed His love to us manifested in the flesh, in Christ Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God alike, the Divine Word Incarnate, fully God and fully Man. Through Him, the love of God has been made concrete and manifest, and He became tangible, approachable and reachable to us.

The Lord reassured all of His people in our first reading tonight taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, as He told them of the coming of the time of renewal for Jerusalem and for the nation of God’s people. They would be renewed and enlightened, redeemed and made whole once again. These were significant words of hope, encouragement and love for a people who at that time had been troubled with the continuing downwards fortunes of their nation. For by the time of the prophet Isaiah, the old glory of Israel under King David and King Solomon were long gone, their kingdom divided and the northern half of which had been destroyed earlier on by the Assyrians.

For a people who were then beset with many troubles and worries, persecuted and oppressed by their neighbours, and for the faithful who remained true to their faith in God despite the evils and wickedness of even many among the people of God themselves who chose to abandon the Lord for the various pagan idols, those words spoken by the Lord must have been a great consolation and encouragement, a gift of new hope and light that God has always been with His people, and He will send to them His salvation, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, who also mentioned how the Saviour would be born of a Virgin, and the mention of the Builder marrying the metaphorical Jerusalem, representing the people of God.

It means that God would indeed come to dwell among His people, and He would come to deliver them from their troubles and sufferings. He would reveal to them the path to follow towards eternal life and true happiness through Him. All these happened as foretold as Mary, the one whom God had prepared to be the Mother of God and Saviour, wedded St. Joseph, the heir of King David. She also bore within her womb, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God Most High. As such, the Saviour that was born that day in Bethlehem was truly the Heir of David, as prophesied by the prophets.

For St. Paul himself in our second reading, in the Acts of the Apostles, spoke of how God guided His people and how He had promised King David, His faithful servants that the Saviour of all would come from among His descendants. Thus, on that day in Bethlehem two millennia ago, what so many people had awaited for a very long time, awaiting for the salvation of God, had come to fruition at last. A people who had long laboured and waited in the darkness have seen a great light, the Light of God’s salvation and truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season and begin our joyous Christmas celebrations, let us all continue to constantly ask ourselves, what is Christmas and its meaning to all of us? What is the significance of Christmas and how we are going to celebrate Christmas joyfully and with proper understanding and appreciation of what it is all about. Otherwise, it will be very easy for us to lose focus and end up celebrating Christmas with a lot of festivities and merrymaking, and yet, all those joy and celebrations were superficial and meaningless.

We all know how commercialised Christmas has become in the recent years and decades. Christmas has become so commercialised and secularised that many had mostly ignored its true meaning and purpose, and instead of celebrating Christ and His coming into our world, the Love of God made Man, we are celebrating our own vain desires and wishes for pleasures, comforts and worldly joy. Instead of remembering how much beloved we are by God and all that He has done for our sake and our salvation, we end up being distracted by the many temptations of worldly grandeur and pleasures.

What is Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the time for us to celebrate and remember the most wonderful love of God, given to us so generously and unconditionally. And having received that great and amazing love, it is then just right and proper for us to show the same love for our fellow brothers and sisters, to pass on the love that God has given us and to remind ourselves that we are truly fortunate to be so beloved by God and also by one another. This is how we should celebrate Christmas, with genuine love for God and for our fellow men, and not for our own vainglory.

Let us also remember that there are many of our brothers and sisters out there who may not be able to celebrate Christmas in the way we do. There are many out there who are unable to celebrate Christmas because they are not even free to express themselves and their Christian faith, and are persecuted daily for their faith. And there are also others who are too poor and marginalised to be able to celebrate Christmas in the manner that many of us are familiar with. Many of these brothers and sisters of ours are even struggling to make ends meet each day, and struggle to have enough food to sustain themselves everyday.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Christmas celebration tonight and beyond a more meaningful one by refocusing our celebrations on Christ and not on ourselves. Let us all moderate our festivities and merrymaking and not forgetting all others who may not be so fortunate as us in being able to celebrate the Lord’s coming. And if we are able to, let us share our joy and love with those who have little or none, and bear to them, our own brethren, the light of God’s hope and the warmth of His love, that they all too may share in the true joy of Christmas together with us.

May the Lord, our God and Saviour, born and celebrated this Christmas day, be with us always and bless our Christmas celebrations, that they may be fruitful and wholesome. May God empower each and every one of us with His love and with the Hope that He has brought into our midst, that we may become the beacons of His light and hope in our daily lives and always. May all of us have a most blessed Christmas season ahead, Merry Christmas and God bless! Amen.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 1 : 1-25

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

So she gave birth to a Son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph gave Him the Name Jesus.

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Matthew 1 : 18-25

This is how Jesus Christ was born : Mary His mother had been given to Joseph in marriage, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a Son. You shall call Him ‘Jesus’ for He will save His people from their sins.”

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet : The Virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and He will be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When Joseph woke up, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

So she gave birth to a Son and he had not had marital relations with her. Joseph gave Him the Name Jesus.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 16-17, 22-25

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after He had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, He led them out by powerful deeds.

After that time, God removed Saul and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.

It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus. Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming Whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.'”

Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 4-5, 16-17, 27 and 29

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.”

Blessed is the people who know Your praise. They walk in the light of Your face. They celebrate all day Your Name and Your protection lifts them up.

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.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 62 : 1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, for Jerusalem I will not keep silent, until her holiness shines like the dawn and her salvation flames like a burning torch. The nations will see your holiness and all the kings your glory. You will be called by a new name which the mouth of YHVH will reveal.

You will be a crown of glory in the hand of YHVH, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will you be named Forsaken; no longer will your land be called Abandoned; but you will be called My Delight and your land Espoused. For YHVH delights in you and will make your land His spouse.

As a young man marries a virgin, so will your Builder marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so will your God rejoice in you.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the last day of the Advent season, marking the end of our almost month-long preparation for the coming of Christmas, and we are reminded of the coming of the long-awaited salvation of the world through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. The Lord has always held His promise and kept His part in the Covenant He has made with each and every one of us.

The Lord has revealed His plans for us, from the beginning, as He revealed from the very moment that mankind fell into sin, how He would send His Saviour through the Woman who would bear a Son, and through that Woman, the power and dominion that Satan, the evil one, had over us would be totally crushed and destroyed. He would send His salvation through the descendants of Man, through Abraham His servant and the House of David, the one He had chosen to be King over all of His people.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel of the account of what transpired at the time when King David had been secure in his reign and power over the land of Israel and beyond, and had settled in his kingdom and dominion, and wanting to build a house for the Lord, just as he has already built and established his palace in the city of Jerusalem. The King spoke with the prophet Nathan who then relayed God’s message and words to him afterwards.

God told David that it was not him who would build a great House for His sake, and instead, it would be his own son that would build that House, the great Temple that would be built in Jerusalem, by the hands of King Solomon, David’s son, as God Himself had spoken and promised to David himself. God reassured David that his kingdom and house would be forever secure and firm, and this was firstly a reference to the succession of his own Solomon to rule after him, at the zenith of the power and majesty of the old kingdom of Israel.

However, it was also an indirect reference and revelation to David and also to the rest of the people of God, that He would send His Saviour, the Messiah, to be born into the House of David, as His rightful Heir and Son, to gather back the people of God once again, and to rebuild the glorious kingdom of God, with all of God’s people reconciled and reunited to their Lord and Creator. Little did the people know then that, it was the Lord Himself Who endeavoured to come to us.

He willingly embraced us and by His incarnation in the flesh, as the Son of Man and Son of God alike, in the person of Jesus Christ, He has fulfilled all the promises that He had made to all of us His beloved ones, from the very beginning of time. Christ has come into this world to restore His people and to reunite all of them, not just the Israelites but also including all the rest of the children of Adam, all of mankind who have been sundered from God through sin.

Zechariah in our Gospel passage today, in his famous Canticle of Zechariah, full of the Holy Spirit, singing a great hymn of thanksgiving and praise, for all that God had done for him and for all mankind. He has become a father after a long wait for a son, and God gave him a son, and not only that, but that son was the one to be the Herald of the Saviour of the whole world. St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah was the one to proclaim the coming of Christ, and Zechariah, seeing all of these glimpses of the glory of God to come, sang in great glory praising God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore spend some time to reflect today, as we prepare for the great celebration of Christmas beginning this very night. Let us remind ourselves again why we are celebrating Christmas, and what Christmas truly means to each and every one of us. Is Christmas merely just yet another holiday and celebration? Is it merely another time for feasting and merrymaking, but forgetting about Christ Our Lord, our Saviour, Whose coming into this world is the reason for all of our joy and celebrations?

Let us all therefore seek the Lord anew, with a new faith and love for Him, and let us all enter into the season of Christmas and celebrate it with full understanding and appreciation of God’s love, which has been manifested in Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of us all. Let us all bear the Light and Joy of the true Christmas spirit, and proclaim the truth and salvation of God to all the nations. May God bless us all, and may He bless our wonderful Christmas celebrations to come. Amen.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 67-79

Zechariah, filled with Holy Spirit, sang this canticle, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has come and redeemed His people. In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes.”

“He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant, the oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.”

“And you, my child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, and to enable His people to know of their salvation, when He comes to forgive their sins. This is the work of the mercy of our God, Who comes from on high as a rising sun, shining on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace.”

Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week 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.

Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week 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.”