Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of the truth of our Lord’s salvation just as we continue to proceed through this season of Christmas, that He, the Word of God and the Word of truth has come into this world and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, to be the Saviour of all. We focus our attention today in His honour, to reorientate ourselves and our lives once again that we may indeed be centred on Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our Gospel passage today, we again heard of the same introduction to the Gospel of St. John that we have also heard during the Christmas Mass at daytime and which the Church has once decreed to be read at the last part of the Mass as the Last Gospel. In that passage we heard the proclamation of the unchanging truth of the salvation in the Word of God, Who was with God since the beginning, and Who was God.

And this same Word of God has become the Son, the Son of God Most High, begotten not created, sharing in the divinity of the Father and part of the Holy Trinity. The Word has come down into the world and became Flesh, the Son of God and the Divine Word became Incarnate as the Son of Man through Mary. Through Him we have seen the salvation of God and the love of God has also become tangible and accessible, no longer just a distant promise or hopeful wish.

We celebrate during this Christmas season the manifestation of this love in the Flesh, in Jesus Christ, the true focus and the true reason for all of our rejoicing and celebrations. This is why we need to hold this truth and this realisation with us, with firm conviction and with genuine commitment to the Lord, that despite whatever we may encounter, whatever we may be tempted with, we may remain committed to the path that the Lord has shown us.

The Lord has revealed His salvation to us and all of us have received this assurance and the fulfilment of God’s promise. He has shown that He has not abandoned us in our time of need. In fact, He has reached out to us and reassured us, embracing us even more. But sadly, many of us have not appreciated this love and this care that the Lord has shown us. Instead, we chose to follow the false leads of the false prophets and leaders that led us down the path of disobedience and sin.

This is what St. John also spoke of in our first reading today, as he spoke of the antichrists present all around us. All these antichrists are those who seek to subvert the truth of God and use falsehoods and lies to advance the interest of the evil ones. We have to be careful lest we end up falling into these traps of lies and falsehoods. That is why we have to hold firmly to our faith in God, to His truth and all that He has revealed to us and preserved in His Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember at the end of this current year that we should always keep in mind our path in life and take care that we do not fall down the wrong paths. As we look forward to a new year ahead, let us all remind ourselves that the Lord is our sole truth and our sole focus in life, and we should move forward with this being kept in mind all the time.

Today, let us all look at the examples and the life of Pope St. Silvester I, also known as Pope St. Sylvester, so that we may know how we can move forward in life as faithful Christians from now on. Pope St. Silvester was the Pope and therefore leader of the entire Universal Church at a time of great change both for the Church and the world at the time. He succeeded Pope St. Miltiades whose reign as Pope coincided with the end of the official persecution of Christians with the famous Edict of Milan by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.

Pope St. Silvester I reigned for over two decades during the time of great change and renewal of the Church, as it emerged out of the terrible persecutions of the previous decades and centuries. Pope St. Silvester I guided the Church through all those years, and helped to restore order amidst confusions and the divisions that happened due to the persecutions and the chaos that happened.

There had been many divisions in the Church, especially because of the many false leaders and heretics who misled the faithful to wrong teachings and paths. In the end, many fell and followed those false leaders, and it was Pope St. Silvester I and the many other faithful bishops, priests and leaders of the Church who worked tirelessly in order to restore the truth of God to the Church and the Christian faithful.

This culminated in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea that happened during the reign of Pope St. Silvester. Although the Pope himself did not attend the Ecumenical Council, but through his legates and representatives, he helped to lead the Church together through the discussions and deliberations, and managed to come together with the canonical and orthodox definition of the faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the life and examples of Pope St. Silvester I, as well as through the concerted effort of the Church leaders at that time in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, steering the Church and the faithful through the difficult and divisive moments in its history, let us all therefore remind ourselves to keep being faithful to God and hold onto our Christian faith.

Let us all enter into the new year with a new hope, and bring hope to one another, and do our best to live our lives as faithful Christians and be exemplary to each other, that we may inspire more and more people to follow the Lord. And as we are still celebrating the season of Christmas, let us all bring the hope and joy of Christmas, the hope in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to all those who are still suffering and are in the darkness of despair and sorrow this year, that the Light of Christ may heal all of them and bring them to salvation. Amen.

Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 1-18

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him.

He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name. These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to Him openly, saying, “This is the One Who comes after me, but He is already ahead of me, for He was before me.”

From His fullness we have all received, favour upon favour. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-only-Son made Him known : the One, Who is in and with the Father.

Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 95 : 1-2, 11-12a, 12b-13

Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless His Name. Proclaim His salvation day after day.

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.

He Who comes to judge the earth. He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.

Thursday, 31 December 2020 : Seventh Day within Octave of Christmas, Memorial of Pope St. Silvester I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 2 : 18-21

My dear children, it is the last hour. You were told that an antichrist would come; but several antichrists have already come, by which we know that it is now the last hour.

They went out from us though they did not really belong to us. Had they belonged to us, they would have remained with us. So it became clear that not all of us were really ours. But you have the anointing from the Holy One, so that all of you have true wisdom.

I write to you, not because you lack knowledge of the truth, but because you already know it, and lies have nothing in common with the truth.