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.”

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we are almost at the end of the Advent season and the start of the Christmas celebrations, through what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the life, work and faith of St. John the Baptist, whom the Lord had sent into this world just before His coming and revelation to the world, to prepare His way and to proclaim His coming to everyone, so that all may know of the Lord’s salvation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Malachi, we heard the words of the Lord revealing to His people that He would send His messenger ahead of Him to prepare the way for His own coming. This was a prophecy of the coming of God’s Messiah, the Saviour Whom He has promised to all of His people for a very long time. And the coming of this Messiah would be preceded by a Herald, the one sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour. This Herald is none other than St. John the Baptist.

St. John the Baptist came into this world to prepare the way for the Lord, which happened through the miraculous pregnancy of Elizabeth, who was Mary’s relative, and that happened despite Elizabeth having been in an advanced age and had been barren, unable to bear a child at all. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, his father in the Temple and proclaimed to him the Good News, that the son he would soon bear through his wife Elizabeth would be the one prophesied to proclaim the coming of the salvation of God.

He was born into this world and was dedicated to God from his infancy and youth, to be the servant of God Most High, and became the instrument through whom God prepared the revelation of His great plan of salvation to all of us. God sent St. John the Baptist into the midst of His people to call them all to repentance, to call them to remember their sins and wickedness, and resolve to overcome all those evil and wicked deeds that they had committed. The Lord called on all of them to embrace His mercy and love, and through his baptism, St. John the Baptist prepared the hearts and minds of many to welcome the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded in the same manner, as we are all now about to celebrate Christmas, have we prepared ourselves well in order to be ready to welcome the Lord, the One Whom we are celebrating this Christmas for, into our hearts and minds? Or have we instead been too busy and distracted by the many concerns, the many busy commitments and tight schedules we have, our work and preoccupations that we ended up forgetting God, ignoring and sidelining Him in our busy lives and shutting Him out from ourselves.

Then, many of us have also been too distracted with the many distractions and temptations of the secular Christmas, and how it has been celebrated all around us. Many people have forgotten the true reason and meaning of Christmas, and this sadly include many of those who have called themselves as Christians. We do not have to look far, brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, let us all just look at ourselves and our attitudes towards the Lord and our faith in Him. How many of us can confidently say that we have truly devoted ourselves to Him?

Today, all of us should spend some time to reflect on how we can be better disciples and followers of our Lord, in living our faith in a more genuine and committed manner in our lives. Let us all also look for inspiration from the saint whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, who was a Polish priest and theologian renowned for his great piety and dedication to the Lord. He was involved in theological teachings and many other works among the people of God.

But what is most remembered from his actions were his compassionate nature and the efforts he put in reaching out to the poor and the people suffering all around him in his community. He also helped to support the students in the university he was teaching in, providing support and assistance whenever and wherever he could, while at the same time doing his best to do many other good works for the Lord and His Church. St. John Cantius devoted his life to follow the Lord and to live out the Christian faith in his daily living.

Are we able to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all reflect on this, and spend the remaining time on these last two days of the Advent season to reorientate our lives if we have not yet done so thus far, so that we may once again focus our attention and our lives towards the Lord. May God be with us all too, and may He strengthen us in our resolve and faith to live our lives ever more faithfully in the service of His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Malachi 3 : 1-4, 23-24

Now I am sending My messenger ahead of Me to clear the way; then suddenly the Lord for Whom you long will enter the sanctuary. The Envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says YHVH of hosts. Who can bear the day of His coming and remain standing when He appears? For He will be like fire in the foundry and like the lye used for bleaching.

He will be as a refiner or a fuller. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. So YHVH will have priests who will present the offering as it should be. Then YHVH will accept with pleasure the offering of Judah and Jerusalem, as in former days.

I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before the day of YHVH comes, for it will be a great and terrible day. He will reconcile parents with their children, and the children with their parents, so that I may not have to curse this land when I come.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 4th 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 Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the great love and providence by which God had generously and marvellously cared for us since the very beginning. God has never looked away from us or ignored us when we are in our hour of great distress. Through various ways, He has always reached out to us and wanted to bring us all back to His embrace, to be reunited with us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel in which the mother of Samuel, Hannah, was about to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord as she herself had promised. At that time, Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah, who also had another wife named Penninah. Hannah had not been able to have any son or child with Elkanah while Penninah had borne many sons and children to Elkanah. Children back then were highly regarded as symbols of fertility and prestige for the women, and the apparent barrenness of Hannah was often seen as as sign of someone being cursed or unworthy, and Hannah experienced exactly just that.

Penninah also often bullied Hannah and took pride at the fact that she had borne many children for her husband, while Hannah had none. Although Elkanah did love Hannah more than Penninah, but the fact that she did not have a child and could not bear one still weighed very heavily on her mind. It was at that occasion then that Hannah came seeking the Lord at the House of God, in the presence of the Judge Eli, praying before God and seeking His help and providence. She begged the Lord for His assistance and for her to be rescued from her predicament.

The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and answered her, and she miraculously bore a child, whom she had promised to the Lord if she were ever to bore one. Her firstborn son was named as Samuel, and was offered to God to be His servant forever. Hannah was very grateful to the Lord for all that He had done for her, praising Him and thanking Him for all that He had blessed her with. Through Him, her shame and predicament had been overcome, a light and hope had returned back to her face and heart once again.

The Lord had done the same to all of us through Mary, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The Psalm today is Hannah’s song of rejoicing and thanksgiving, for all that the Lord had done for her in removing from her the stain of humiliation and suffering due to her earlier barrenness. And after having offered and entrusted Samuel to the Lord, she was blessed with more children with her husband Elkanah. And in the Gospel passage, we heard Mary, great song of rejoicing that is similar to Hannah’s great song of rejoicing, the Magnificat.

In the Magnificat, Mary, full of the Holy Spirit sang a great song of praise, thanking God for all the wonders He had done for His beloved people, ever since the very beginning of time. God has always ever been faithful to His people and He has always showed His kindness to them, and to all those who have devoted themselves to Him, He has brought them His grace and blessings, as He had done to Abraham and David, fulfilling His promises to them, and bringing into this world its salvation, through none other than Christ, Who was then in Mary’s womb.

As we listened to those words and recalled God’s great and amazing deeds done for our behalf, and as we progress ever closer to Christmas in just a few days’ time, all of us are encouraged to spend the time to deepen our relationship with God, to remember His love and all the blessings He has given us all these while throughout our lives. We are also called to rediscover the love which we should have for the Lord, and to be thankful for everything that He had done for our sake, and foremost of all, for His coming into this world which we celebrate this Christmas.

As the famous words in the Gospel of St. John mentioned, God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, to be born into the world, the Divine Word Incarnate, to be born of His mother Mary and revealed to the whole world, to all of us, so that through Him, all of us who have lived in darkness may come to see the great light and hope that God alone can bring to our midst. Through Him, the world has the reason to rejoice again, and all of us can finally see hope at the end of our earthly journey, to look up to the hope of everlasting joy and peace in God’s presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore focus our attention on the Lord, and do our best to make our upcoming Christmas celebrations a more wholesome and meaningful one. Let us make this Christmas a time of renewal of our faith in God and a rejuvenation of our love for Him. May God be with us all and may His light and hope rekindle in our hearts to continue to desire to seek Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 46-56

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour! He has looked down upon His servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed.”

“The Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His Name! From age to age, His mercy extends to those who live in His presence. He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden.”

“He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He held out His hand to Israel, His servant, for He remembered His mercy, even as He promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.