Saturday, 18 December 2021 : 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 Scripture, we are reminded as we get ever closer to Christmas, of how the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us and gave us the perfect love that He manifested in the flesh, in our midst, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God Most High and the Son of Man, born of Mary, His mother and part of the family of St. Joseph, His foster-father and becoming the Heir and Son of David, King of Israel.

As we heard from our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, God promised His people that He would come to bring them liberation and salvation from their many troubles. And as God has revealed to them all throughout the past history, through many prophets and messengers, He would send His deliverer, the Saviour to come as the Heir of David, sending His only begotten Son to be the One to lead all of His beloved ones out of the darkness and into the Light of His salvation and truth.

God did not give up on us all, His beloved ones and He did everything He could to gather us all in, scattered throughout this darkened world full of sin and evil. He has always reached out to us, calling on us all to return to Him and to find our way to His presence. He wants to forgive us all our sins, and that is why, He gave us so great a deliverance and a Deliverer through Christ, Who came to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, indwelling in Mary, His mother, as told by the Angel of the Lord to St. Joseph, Mary’s legal husband and foster-father of the Lord.

By this action, God Himself has descended into the world, to live in our midst, Emmanuel, God is with us, a reminder that all of us are truly precious to God and greatly beloved by Him. God so loved the world that He has given us all His only Son, that through Him all will have life and be saved. That is the truth about the Good News that God has brought to us and revealed before all of us. And this is what we have to remind one another as we continue to progress through this season of Advent, to prepare ourselves so that we may celebrate Christmas worthily and appreciating the true significance and meaning of Christmas.

Let us spend some time to look at how we usually look at Christmas, how we perceive it and treat it year after year. Doubtless to say, many among us treat is as a festive and joyous occasion, but too often we are distracted by the many temptations of worldly excesses, as surely we know how we are often inundated by the commercialised perception and marketing of the secular Christmas. These are distracting us from the true essence and meaning of Christmas, as the One Whom we should be focusing on and celebrating about has often been sidelined and forgotten.

Instead, we treat Christmas as a time of feasting, merrymaking and celebrations to entertain ourselves, our ego and our desires. We seek to outdo one another in the grandness of our celebration and in the expenses we spent to celebrate, as well as desiring for many good things to please ourselves, whether in the celebrations themselves, in the company of people whom we celebrate with, and in the presents we exchange and receive, desiring and hoping to get better things for ourselves, or to revel in all the festive mood and all.

But we forget entirely why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. We forget why we, as Christians, are called to focus above all, Christ and His saving work, His kindness and compassionate mercy, the wonderful love by which He made fully manifest God’s enduring love and providence for all of us His people, through His ministry and work, His revelation of God’s truth, and finally, through His own volition, embracing a most painful suffering and death for our sake, by taking up His Cross. He suffered and died so that through those, we may all be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the remaining time we have in this season of Advent, as we are coming ever closer to Christmas, let us all spend some time to reflect on how we perceive and plan to celebrate this Christmas. It is indeed right and proper for us to celebrate in Christmas as we should. However, we have to celebrate it with proper understanding and appreciation of God’s love for us made evident and clear in the flesh, through Christ His Son, that our celebrations are centred on the One Whom we ought to be rejoicing about.

Let us all therefore do our best to inspire one another to renew our Advent journey and reflection, so that we may come ever closer to greater appreciation and understanding of God’s work of salvation and love for us, in all that He had done for our sake. Let us all turn towards Him with genuine love and devotion, and do what we can to live a good and faithful Christian life, so that in whatever we say and do, we will always strive to be worthy of God, in all things, and worthy to welcome Him into our hearts and our lives, as we should do, this Christmas. May God bless us all and be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 18 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 18-24

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 disgrace 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’ fo 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 awoke, he did what the Angel of the Lord had told him to do, and he took his wife to his home.

Saturday, 18 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 12-13, 18-19

God, endow the King with Your justice, the royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

He delivers the needy who call on Him, the afflicted, with no one to help them. His mercy is upon the weak and the poor; He saves the lives of the poor.

Praised be YHVH, God of Israel, Who alone, works so marvellously. Praised be His glorious Name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory! Amen. Amen.

Saturday, 18 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 23 : 5-8

YHVH further says, “The day is coming when I will raise up a King Who is David’s righteous successor. He will rule wisely and govern with justice and righteousness. That will be a grandiose era when Judah will enjoy peace and Israel will live in safety. He will be called YHVH-Our-Justice!”

“The days are coming,” says YHVH, “when people shall no longer swear by YHVH as the Living God Who freed the people of Israel from the land of Egypt. Rather, they will swear by YHVH as the Living God Who restored the descendants of Israel from the northern empire and from all the lands where He had driven them, to live again in their own land!”

Friday, 17 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the moment when we are just one week away from Christmas. We are therefore being expressly reminded of why we celebrate Christmas and what we are preparing for in this season and time of Advent. It is important that we really understand this so that we may enter into the great celebrations and joy of Christmas with the right intention and the right purpose, that we may appreciate truly the true meaning of Christmas.

We have heard from our Scripture passages today the truth about the identity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, born into this world as the Son and Heir of Adam, Abraham and David, as prominently highlighted in our Gospel passage today, in the entire genealogy or lineage of our Lord Himself from the very first days of mankind in Adam and through to his descendants, and to Abraham, the father of nations, and then through Israel and to David, the great King of Israel, to whom the Lord had promised that his kingdom and house would last forever.

Then in our first reading passage today we heard how Jacob, also known as Israel, was giving his last words and wishes, and blessings to all of his sons. He gave them his last exhortation and words of God’s wisdom, and it was at that very same occasion that Jacob spoke peculiarly regarding Judah, one of his sons, saying that the sceptre of power and rule shall remain in Judah, and how the reign over the people of God shall remain in his house forever, a promise that came true as David, the great king of Israel was born from the tribe of Judah, to whom God renewed the same promises He had made.

The Lord Jesus was thus born into the House of David, as His long promised Heir, born into the family of Joseph, the heir-general of King David, the foster-father of the Lord. It is through the Lord Jesus, Son of God Most High and Son of Man alike that God has revealed fully His intentions to us, His everlasting and enduring love for each and every one of us. God gave us all His only begotten Son that through Him and His actions, His perfect obedience and the ultimate loving sacrifice that He would make and offer on the Cross, God would be reconciled with us and we shall see His glory and receive true joy from Him.

That is why as we enter into this final stretch of the Advent season, we are all called to spend the time to reflect carefully on how we have been preparing ourselves to welcome the Lord at Christmas. For Christmas is not just merely a celebration of the Lord’s historical coming into this world, but even more importantly, is the celebration of the Light and Hope that He has brought upon each and every one of us, His people, who are still living in the darkness of this world. He has come into our midst, bearing forth His love manifested before us, that we may see and come to know of God’s love for us.

Have we loved God in the same way as He has loved us, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has always ever generously extended His love and compassion towards us, but we often disregarded His love and ignored Him. How many of us have not even factored Him into our celebrations? In our preparations to celebrate Christmas, with all its joyous activities. We must not forget that the Lord must be at the centre of all of our joy and festivities in Christmas. After all, it was God’s most wondrous gift to us that He had given us to redeem us and to bring us once again back into His loving embrace.

Many of us do not really know or understand the true significance of Christmas, and this became serious obstacle preventing us from being able to celebrate Christmas worthily and meaningfully. Too many of us are focused too much on the festivities and merrymaking that we treat it just like another holiday and time to celebrate. Many of us have also forgotten what Christmas truly means, and in the way we celebrate it, we focus excessively and model our celebrations after the secular Christmas commemorations which are plenty all over around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make the effort from this day onwards to reorientate ourselves around our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Let us love Him and serve Him ever more faithfully with each and every passing moments. Let us also make our upcoming Christmas celebrations one that is truly focused on Our Lord and one that is really worthy of welcoming the Lord into our midst, as we must remember that Christmas is not just about celebrating our Lord’s historical coming into this world, but more importantly is about welcoming Him into our hearts, into our families and homes.

May the Lord continue to guide us in all of our endeavours, and help us as we continue to journey through this season of Advent, that we may come to celebrate His upcoming Nativity with great joy and true understanding of how much He has loved us all these while, and how by His coming into our midst at Christmas, He has shown us a new Hope and Light, to dispel the darkness and despair of our lives. May God bless us always, now and evermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 1-17

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.

Friday, 17 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills justice. He will defend the cause of the poor, deliver the children of the needy.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him, and He will be blessed by all nations.

Friday, 17 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 49 : 1-2, 8-10

Jacob then called his sons and said, “Gather round, sons of Jacob. And listen to your father Israel!”

“Judah, your brothers will praise you! You shall seize your enemies by the neck! Your father’s sons shall bow before you. Judah, a young lion! You return from the prey, my son! Like a lion he stoops and crouches, and like a lioness, who dares to rouse him?”

“The sceptre shall not be taken from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to Whom it belongs, and Who has the obedience of the nations.”

Thursday, 16 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listen to the words of the Lord contained in the Sacred Scriptures, we are yet again reminded repeatedly as we have often been throughout this season of Advent, to recall the great love that God has shown us, the mercy and grace that He has bestowed upon us throughout our lives, all the opportunities and chances that He has given us. He has always been so kind and generous to us, but it is we who often disregarded His kindness and love, spurned His mercy and generosity.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the words of encouragement of the Lord Who reminded His people that His love is always upon them and that they are always His precious and beloved ones no matter what. He reminded them all, who have faced sufferings and challenges, trials and tribulations that they endured, how all of those will pass and they will once again enjoy the bounty of God’s grace and blessings. He calls on all of them to have faith in Him and to entrust themselves in His love.

God will not abandon His faithful ones and He will always care for them and provide for them, just as He has repeatedly done in the past, throughout our history. He has always loved us despite the many less than faithful attitudes that we have shown Him, our stubbornness and constant refusal to embrace His love, compassion and mercy. He still loves us even though we have sinned and disobeyed Him, and sent us all the promised Saviour, His own most beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our fated destruction and to free us from facing the fate of eternal damnation.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the mention of St. John the Baptist by the Lord Himself, Who spoke wonderfully about the one who had come before Him to prepare His way among the people of God. St. John the Baptist was indeed the Herald of the Messiah, the one prophesied to usher in the time of God’s great grace and salvation. He did all he could, obeying the mission entrusted to him, so that the people who heard him and his cries for repentance may realise their sinfulness and need for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and therefore seek to be reconciled to Him.

By speaking of St. John the Baptist and by affirming and praising his efforts, the Lord Himself has also reassured us that His time of grace and salvation has come upon us, and He has fulfilled the promises which He had made earlier through His many prophets and messengers. He would not abandon all of us in the darkness, but will always do His best to reach out to us and to gather us to Himself. That is why God gave us the sure path to eternal life and sent us His Son, the reason why we celebrate in the upcoming Christmas season, and why we prepare ourselves this time of Advent, to prepare our hearts, our minds and our whole beings to welcome the Lord.

That is why we are reminded today, that as we progress through this season of Advent we must really spend the time to reflect on what Christmas truly means to all of us, and how we are going to celebrate it. Are we going to give in to the excesses of Christmas merrymaking and celebrations and end up making it into a celebration of our own ego and desires, rather than to celebrate it for its true meaning and importance to us? The Lord’s coming into our midst in this world is the true significance of Christmas as because of that, all of us have hope once again through Him.

It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas most joyfully and indeed, we should celebrate it to the best of our ability, but we must always centre everything on the Lord, the One Whose birth is what Christmas is all about. We rejoice not because we like all the parties and celebrations, and not because we expect the finest food and things, gifts and presents, but because we know that through the Lord we have seen His light and hope, that in the darkness of our world, God’s light will still triumph together with us. That is the true essence of Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all therefore make good use of these remaining few days of Advent to carefully reflect and discern if we are truly ready to celebrate Christmas worthily and properly, and we should do our best to prepare ourselves if we are not yet ready to welcome the Lord with all of our heart. And let us also share the joy we have through Christ, our Christmas joy with one another, especially when there are just so many people out there who may now be suffering or sorrowful, and our brothers and sisters out there who may not be able to celebrate Christmas the way we are celebrating it. May God be with us all always, and may He bless each and every one of us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 16 December 2021 : 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.